How Goats Became the Mascots for Protective Mothers
By the Stop Abuse Campaign’s own GOAT Barry Goldstein.
At a Time When We Need a Smile and a Chuckle
In a cruel world where family courts protect abusers who cause pain, suffering and death, we have been waiting for change. Instead, a new day has brought more tragedy from the Coronavirus. To this miasma has come our beloved heroes. Our goats, unlike the judges, believe there is nothing more important than protecting the kids. Our mascots bring us laughter, smiles and hope just when those precious commodities are in such short supply. Many of my friends have heard me speak about the goats and now seems like a particularly good time for me to tell the story of how the goats joined the protective mothers’ movement.
I joined a group of protective mothers for rallies and lobbying in Washington, DC. Connie Valentine and I had an appointment with the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) and we were concerned it would be canceled because some fools on the hill were threatening to shut down the government.
At the same time, our national parks were having a serious problem concerning out of control poison ivy. Someone had the bright idea of bringing goats to the parks because they like to eat poison ivy. The plan was working perfectly. The goats were enjoying their ivy and the baby goats would wander to the fences where park-goers would play with them.
And then Congress decided to shut down the government. The poor goats were sent back home and deprived of their poison ivy. The story I read said the ivy was like a salad bar for goats. I immediately realized the goats were the perfect mascots for the Protective Mothers Movement because unlike too many humans, goats always protect their kids. We realized Congress had lost its way and needed a GPS (Goat Protection Society).
Although the government shut down, OVW made Connie and me their last meeting. This turned out to be really valuable. The next year, I was invited to serve as one of the national experts participating in a roundtable discussion co-sponsored with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This meeting led to a finding by OVW that the standard custody court practices were harming battered women and their children. As a result, OVW issued grants to courts in four states to reform their practices.
The Goats as Mascots
Working in the Protective Mothers Movement, you meet the best people and suffer the worst results. There is just so much pain and suffering that it is sometimes hard to continue. This is where the goats have been a godsend.
Once we started talking about our connection with the goats, friends started showering me with pictures and videos of goats from around the world. Inevitably this brings a smile or a chuckle or even a belly laugh. This is so valuable because of the nature of what we face trying to reform the broken court system.
At the Stop Abuse Campaign, we are constantly talking about the goats. This serves to relieve the constant stress of working in such a painful field. Initially, the goats preferred poison ivy pie, but after trying the strawberry pie at Grandmas during the Battered Mothers Custody Conference, the goats had a new favorite.
The goats quickly became international heroes because the broken custody court system is a worldwide problem. I was invited to speak at an international conference in Australia about the failure to protect children in custody courts. The organizers surprised me with a special gift. It was a jacket and on the jacket were pictures of our beloved goats.
What the Goats Mean to Protective Mothers
Since they joined our movement, I have learned so much about goats. Friends on Facebook and in the outside world constantly share stories, pictures and videos about our heroes. I see goats standing in trees, running in their pajamas, jumping on trampolines and clearing brush to prevent wildfires.
We live in a world where family courts repeatedly send children to be murdered by abusive fathers and then deny they made a mistake. The courts seek to punish mothers for trying to protect their children by forcing children to live without their primary attachment figures. Children cry themselves to sleep after another day forced to live with their abuser. All while the family courts fail and refuse to consider the highly credible scientific research that could have saved the children.
This is why the goats are so valuable. In the unending days of pain and gloom, goats bring us the light of smiles, chuckles and belly laughs. This helps us in the work to reform the broken courts and simply to endure. All the while, the goats tell us what the judges never seemed to learn. The first priority is to protect the kids.
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Domestic Violence Writer, Speaker, and Advocate
Barry Goldstein is one of the leading domestic violence authors, speakers, advocates, and a frequent expert witness.