Protective mothers protect their children from an abusive parent who is attempting to obtain custody of their children.
These cases often involve child abuse and child sexual abuse as well as domestic violence. New research from the Department of Justice shows that in more than 80% of decisions, judges in custody court cases award custody or unsupervised visitation to dangerous abusers.
Violent parents are not good role models.
The Saunders Study, a major study by the National Institute of Justice, found bad practices were behind most of the worst decisions. These include a belief in Parental Alienation Syndrome, a lack of knowledge about domestic violence and child abuse, and the discredited belief that women frequently fabricate allegations of child abuse and domestic violence.
Judges must be tougher on abusers if they are to protect children.
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Have you left your violent partner? Are you thinking of leaving? As a protective mother you are not alone. Check out our resources page for protective mothers.
A mother’s impulse to love and protect her child appears to be hard-wired into her brain, a new imaging study shows.
Domestic violence is a crime. Why do judges overlook that when making custody decisions?
Plus, a great deal of crippling domestic violence isn’t physical (it may be entirely emotional or financial) and as such is technically legal. That means there are a lot of divorces involving domestic violence that don’t have police records, only the word of the victim.
An improperly-trained or prejudiced judge is likely to assume the protective mother is making these allegations in order to get a leg up in custody through a discredited theory called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). And as such, a logical response to her “push” is to “push back” in the opposite direction.
Tales of documentation proving domestic violence or child abuse going “missing” from files are also fairly common among this group.
How often does this happen?
What’s the relationship between child abuse, domestic violence and the family courts?
Men who abuse their partner are much more likely to abuse their children, so there is a lot of overlap. Each form of violence can happen without the other, but it is important to remember that both direct abuse and living with an abused mother are Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Why would someone who abuses their children want custody of them?
Doesn’t CPS investigate allegations of child abuse?
How do courts assess for domestic violence or child abuse?
Another place where psychologists fail protective mothers is with evaluations; it’s common that an abuser will “look” more normal during an evaluation than the woman he has abused who is in danger of losing her children. And one of the stranger misapplications of psychological testing is using the Able test (which tests for sexual attraction to children) as evidence that someone did, or did not, sexually abuse a child. This is like using someone’s checking account balance to “prove” they didn’t steal money.
How can a judge justify putting a child at risk for abuse?
Do all of these cases look similar and follow a similar path?
I know substance abuse is a common problem among battered women. What’s the appropriate decision when there is a battering father and a drug-addicted mother?
The same logic applies to mental illness; the intense stress of being abused exacerbates it, and acute symptoms are likely to fade once there is separation from the abuser. Many people can successfully parent with mental illness if they have proper support. Some mothers abuse their children, but will stop once they are separated from their abusive partner, and some won’t. All of these risk factors and variables can be weighed successfully by someone with genuine expertise in child abuse. When left to court ordered mental health evaluators, what’s likely to happen is that a laundry list of each parent’s mistakes and weaknesses is formed. And the person with the most money and the most power is likely to have the shortest list. That’s rarely the protective mother.
I’m in an abusive relationship. I have kids. I’m about to leave. I’m scared my husband will do this to me. What should I do?
Call your local domestic violence shelter, even if you don’t plan on staying there. DV shelters may have a resident lawyer or paralegal who can provide advice and help you with the necessary paperwork. Keep documentation of anything that can be considered evidence of child abuse and domestic violence, including police reports, medical records, and all reports with CPS. Learn about the laws in your state, and reach out to support groups.