The Genocide of Battered Mothers and their Children

Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Battered Women Take Custody Battles to White House

In domestic law on July 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

A year old article, but the image caught my attention.
The Center Quilt:
“Hand Prints” by my own daughter, when she was two.
The only thing I have left of her.
She was handed over to the ‘abuser’ who has through the use of the courts- forced my daughter to grow up with out her mother and with a known, admitted and convicted ‘batterer’ – HAL RICHARDSON, TOPEKA, KANSAS.

Research shows that ‘batterers’ are 70% more likely to abuse their children than non batterers. FATHERS RIGHTS, to punish, torture and kill.

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A quilt made by protective parents. Each panel represents a child or family lost to or being fought for in the court system.(WOMENSENEWS)–On Mother’s Day, busloads of battered moms and advocates for abused children will roll into Washington, D.C.

They’ll hold a vigil outside the White House in an effort to persuade President Obama to take up their cause of reforming a family court system that they say all too often puts children into the hands of abusive parents.

For some it marks a new and somewhat frightening degree of public exposure. Some of the protesters will be shrouded in scarves, hiding from their abusers or a court system they fear will punish them for speaking out.

A quilt made by protective parents. Each panel represents a child or family lost to or being fought for in the court system.
busive parents, it also bankrupts and punishes the protective parents who fight for them. At the same time, they say it’s hard to reform the system because

“They’re whistleblowers,” said vigil organizer Connie Valentine, policy director for The California Protective Custody Association, based in Sacramento. “The system doesn’t look kindly on whistleblowers. It’s a difficult situation because we have seen enormous judicial retaliation against mothers who step up in front of the problem.”

Efforts to quantify the problem are just beginning but protective parents claim it is widespread. A study done by the Williamsburg, Va.-based American Judges Foundation in the early 1990s showed that in 70 percent of challenged cases, battering parents involved in custody battles persuaded authorities the victimized parent was unfit for sole custody, according to a spokesperson from the foundation.

Valentine and other advocates for protective parents call the family courts broken and corrupt and say the system not only puts children into the hands of abusive parents, it also bankrupts and punishes the protective parents who fight for them. At the same time, they say it’s hard to reform the system because the people it hurts are hiding from abusers and anxious to avoid publicity.

Shifting Ground

But Valentine feels the ground shifting. “I think we’re in the early stages of a civil rights movement for protecting children from physical and sexual abuse.”

She said the Internet is helping battered mothers come together. “E-mail has helped. It’s a good part of the reason for all of the advocacy,” Valentine said. “Women are beginning to see that it’s not their fault and that they are just pawns in the game.”

Mo Hannah, psychology professor at Siena College, near Albany, N.Y., used the Internet to organize the first annual conference for battered women seeking custody in 2004, after her own difficult custody battle.

This past January marked the seventh gathering, which meets annually in Albany and is the major organizing and networking event of the year for protective parents.

“The first conference was about getting people to talk and validate their experiences,” Hannah said. “But as the conferences continued it became very clear that we needed a national movement. Now the conference is just sort of an umbrella or structure that encourages people to share with each other.”

Over the seven years, women have met at the conference and formed smaller groups, such as the Massachusetts Protective Mothers for Custodial Justice.

“Mass Moms,” as it has come to be known, brings together women who have gone through custody battles with those currently in the throes. Volunteers accompany women to court and on lawyer visits and play a general shepherding role.

“We stand next to a woman who is fighting for her children while she pleads and receives orders,” one Mass Mom told Women’s eNews at January’s Battered Mothers Custody Conference.

These volunteers have all been through their own custody battles and declined to be named for fear of retribution from their ex-husbands or the court system. Many have gag orders associated with their own cases. It is this type of fear of retribution that has helped keep the protective parents movement under the radar.



    The parents of a slain Central Texas woman have won custody of her children from the parents of her ex-minister KILLER husband now in prison .

    In domestic law on July 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Amazing that FATHERS RIGHTS would even be a question in keeping custody of Children after Murder Conviction of killing the children’s Mother – but it is. You can thank all the Fatherhood Funding and programs and Father exaltation for this.Apparently we as a society believe in fathers so much that prison daddy’s (Thanks Eric Holder) even mommy murderers– that children some how NEED their Father. (or FATHERS/KILLERS family – more than their mothers) even mothers family.

    Thousands of dollars spent on just this one case.

    KERRVILLE, Texas — The parents of a slain Central Texas woman have won custody of her children from the parents of her ex-minister husband now in prison for her killing.

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    The Kerr County jury voted after eight hours of deliberation on Friday to award custody of the 10- and 15-year-old daughters of Matt and Kari Baker to Jim and Linda Dulin of the Waco suburb of Woodway.

    The Dulins had sued for custody of their granddaughters, who had been wards of Oscar and Barbara Baker of Kerrville since their father was indicted and jailed in 2009.

    The verdict was greeted with tears from all sides, including from the two girls. The eldest girl wept as she sat between friends, while the youngest wept as Barbara Baker held her.

    Meanwhile, the Dulins embraced each other and cried. Matt Baker, who is serving a 65-year prison sentence for murder in the 2006 drugging and suffocation of his wife, shook his head.

    Prosecutors at the former Baptist minister’s murder trial argued that he had killed his wife so that he could take up with his mistress and tried to make Kari Baker’s death appear to be a suicide by overdose. Only pressure from the Dulins compelled police to re-open the case and determine that she had been murdered.

    A court-appointed adviser who conducted home studies on both the Baker and Dulin homes had recommended that the Dulins be awarded custody for several reasons, including the “unhealthy emotional environment” she says exists in the Baker home. The adviser, Stephanie Trulson, said Matt Baker and his parents continue to blame the Dulins for Matt Baker’s incarceration.

    Testimony during the nine-day trial focused on allegations by two women that Oscar Baker had molested them decades ago when they were foster children of the Bakers. Baker denied the allegations. Another focus was the Bakers’ insistence of the innocence of their son and the Dulins’ campaign for his prosecution and conviction. The Dulins argued that the Bakers had brainwashed the children into believing that their maternal grandparents were evil and were persecuting their father.

    Members of the extended Dulin family expressed sadness for the girls’ anxieties and grief. “My heart hurts for the girls right now,” Lindsey Pick, Linda Dulin’s niece, told the Kerrville Daily Times.

    A friend of the Bakers, Ron Canter, also was sad. “It’s been a very trying experience for both parties. No one wins,” he told the San Antonio Express-News.



    The Case Against Joint Physical Custody

    In domestic law on July 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm
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    We’ve come a long way since we were children and mothers were routinely given full custody of the children and fathers frequently disappeared and less frequently received a standard visitation schedule of every other weekend visits. In fact, we’ve come so far that now many courts don’t call it “visitation” but more aptly, “Parenting time”.

    We have seen the damage done to children raised without male role models. We have learned our lessons. Now we believe that any child deserves to share as much time as possible with both parents, if they are willing. Most courts will now consider a joint physical custody request and many states will now grant it barring any information presented that would make this sort of arrangement unhealthy for the children.

    Although a child’s need for a healthy relationship with BOTH parents can’t be denied, I believe the extreme turn toward promoting shared custody of children is yet another trend with unforeseen consequences to children and families, alike.

    Because of the newer popularity of these arrangements, I know more and more families who share custody. Of all the families I know, none are truly satisfied and most have an extremely unhealthy family dynamic. I am sure cases exist where both parents and all involved children are very satisfied; however I think this is the exception rather than the rule unfortunately.

    So what has gone wrong?

    In theory joint custody sounds terrific. The children get the best of both worlds, time with both parents. They grow up without any of the trauma associated with divorce because they remain in frequent contact with both parents who interact as a solid co-parenting unit, just like in an intact family.

    The problem is the reality rarely looks like this. The reality is that many parents are simply “settling” for shared custody because they fear the money, time and emotional energy they would lose in a full custody fight. Some parents consider the way their ex-spouse parented within the marriage to be of little consequence and don’t foresee any problems with sharing. Many parents consider their own needs and the benefits of shared parenting on their own schedules, logistically. This can be a huge motivation for newly single parents to share custody. Raising kids alone is hard work. Sharing the responsibilities is certainly appealing.

    But then reality sets in for many of these parents and their children. Some children truly thrive on consistency and often the only type of consistency available in a shared custody arrangement is the consistency that nothing will be consistent! As children grow, their needs change and they have more and more need to develop roots within their community. It can be difficult or impossible for a child to feel settled when their physical environment is changing all the time. When kids become teens, their social network can become seemingly more important than their familial network and being taken away from sports, activities and friends to spend equal time in another environment will often not work at all. Those are all factors that most parents can’t control unless they live in the same area as each other.

    But there are problems that even parents who are neighbors often can’t avoid. It is not unusual for divorced parents to “come out of their shell”, to change and alter how their parent their children without the influence of another adult to take into consideration. Shared parenting situations require that both parents continue to take into consideration each other’s needs, concerns and opinions and work together. When one or both single parents try to “grow into their own” as single parents, working together can seem impossible. You might find that many of the areas you used to agree on are no longer areas of agreement. You might find values and standards that you took for granted within the marriage are nothing like you thought they would be. You might find that one parent or both are too busy or too tired to enforce the rules or communicate the rules between the households. Disciplinary consistency is almost impossible in joint custody homes.

    Many of the same conflicts that existed during the marriage and led to divorce will be present, often at even higher levels, in the post-divorce relationship. How you split expenses and child support can be simple in shared custody situations or it can be excruciating.

    When one or both parents remarry, the opportunity for problems grows exponentially. Now, not only are you trying to continue to peacefully and respectfully co-parent between two parents who could not even get along well enough to remain married but add in one or two additional new parents to the mix who bring with them their own expectations, values, interests, concerns and opinions. Parents who managed to peacefully co-parent before are often taken aback completely when the other parent remarries and suddenly changes in many ways.

    Last, but certainly not least, there is the baggage. Like it or not, both women and men often carry emotional baggage that they have yet to heal from their divorce. This baggage all to often is transferred onto the kids. All of the all-too-common mistakes made in Top 12 Divorced Parenting Mistakes still appear in shared parenting situations, quite often. And when they do, the consequences can be heightened as the opportunity for conflict, alienation, putting children in the middle, emotionally inappropriate parenting and lack of discipline grow with the frequency of transferring kids between homes.

    Parents should think long and hard about the short and long term challenges of shared parenting for their children and themselves. Every relationship is different and unique and brings with it challenges that some may be able to work through and others simply won’t. Shared parenting shouldn’t ever be entered into as a compromise for parents who both want full custody. Instead it should always be entered into as a choice made for the children who both deserve as much time as possible with both parents.



    ‘It Should Not Hurt to Be a Child’ But Family Courts make sure that it does.

    In domestic law on May 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    The soul-destroying, long-term consequences of child physical/sexual abuse and neglect obviously merit a year-round focus, but media attention to such awareness campaigns helps encourage parents, especially mothers, to seek help if they suspect child abuse.

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    At the same time, however, the long and exhausting journey that parents must take to secure protection for endangered children, often involving legal battles costing many thousands of dollars, is rarely mentioned.

    Who wants to hear that no amount of money can assure justice in systems that disbelieve children and distrust protective parents?

    In the worst cases, custody is reversed and the protective parent may be denied any contact with his or her child.  The message: failure to be a “friendly parent” is worse than child physical or sexual abuse.

    Rarely prosecuted by the State, intra-familial abuse allegations are relegated to a domestic relations court of equity where a serious crime against a child is reduced to a civil law question of property. Such courts, in  contrast to the traditional adversarial nature of a courtroom, allow judges to apply injunctions or writs instead of monetary damages, according to the principle of “fairness. ”

    Family courts in most (if not all) jurisdictions are considered “courts of equity.”  A recent New York case in which the Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether a teacher imprisoned for molesting boys can see his own child illustrates the limits of an approach that considers a child just a piece of property to be divided.

    The systemic failures and practices that place abused or at-risk children in the care or custody of a dangerous parent are well known, but it has taken over 15 years for these agonizing and sometimes tragic cases to be officially recognized as serious problems in our judicial and CPS systems.  

    The Catch 22 nature of a parent’s duty to report, and penalties for failure to protect, sinks protective parents in the quicksand of family court litigation. Very little help is available from public agencies or non-profits.  Abusers know they have unparalleled opportunities to abuse and control their children and ex-partners with few consequences. 

    Last month, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) held a Roundtable at George Washington University Law School, sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence with help from the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project.  Judge Susan Carbon, OVW director, , and participants from other federal agencies listened to a panel of mothers and a courageous 13-year-old share their experiences in family court. 

    In the experts’ panel, we shared our extensive knowledge of how CPS and family courts can fail abused children and their protective parents.  A report on the roundtable will be posted soon on the OVW website.

    Policies forcing children to reunite with their sexual assault perpetrators need immediate re-evaluation.  These are just of few of the many changes recommended by advocates and legal/mental health professionals.

    The worst betrayal a child can endure is sexual/physical abuse or neglect by a parent.  Assuring a child that if they tell they will be protected, but then failing to protect heaps betrayal upon betrayal. 

    We need to carry through on our promises to children.   This is the next  level of child abuse awareness our society needs!

    From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running From the Family Courts and What to Do About It, by Amy Neustein, Ph.D. and Michael Lesher, J.D., Northeastern University Press, 2005.

    Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody edited by Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D and Barry Goldstein, J.D., The Civic Research Institute, 2010.



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