Thursday, October 30, 2008

Patriarchy Reasserted: Fathers’ Rights and Anti-VAWA Activism

Patriarchy Reasserted: Fathers’ Rights and Anti-VAWA Activism

Filed under: Angry fathers, Child Custody, Child custody for fathers, Children's rights, Corrupt Judges, Corrupt bastards, Custody for dads, Custody for moms, Custody laws, Domestic Law, Domestic Violence, Family Courts, Fatherhood groups, Fathers Rights, Fathers Rights Websites, Noncustodial Mothers, Protect yourself from FR groups, Studies completed, father custody, fathers fighting for custody — justice4mothers @ 3:26 am

A new article just published, really nails the issue being discussed.  Written by Molly Dragiewicz.  Here’s an excerpt:

Despite the repetition of FR pronouncements that domestic violence is not about patriarchy, sex, or gender, FR discourse on VAWA reveals the centrality of patriarchy, sex, and gender to their efforts. My analysis of FR discourse about VAWA found calls for formal equality, calls for the reassertion of patriarchy, and objections to women’s authority to be central. The intensification of anti-VAWA rhetoric in the form of calls for “fathers’ rights” not only fails to challenge feminist research and theorizing on violence, but also points to the centrality of the relationship between patriarchy and men’s violence against women. FR emphasis on reasserting patriarchy is paradigmatic of backlash, but FR groups are not just talking to themselves. Many complicated connections exist to mainstream fatherhood and marriage promotion initiatives and liberal and conservative politics that are yet to be investigated. The use of FR Web sites as places for like-minded men to seek out and receive peer support for violence-supportive attitudes is a serious concern for those interested in decreasing domestic violence, especially when we recognize their similarity to batterer accounts. The compatibility of FR commentary on VAWA with patriarchal peer support for violence against women should not go unnoticed.

This inquiry has limitations inherent to a discourse analysis of FR Web sites on VAWA. As a qualitative study, it is not representative of the total number of themes or the frequency with which they are found in all FR attacks on VAWA. Rather, this is an exploratory study that categorizes many different claims according to important themes. The sources that I cite here represent commentaries and arguments that are posted over and over again on many FR Web sites, and there is a great deal of continuity between the sites, but we cannot know about the reception of these claims from looking at Web postings alone. Additional studies that look at a larger number of sites using quantitative approaches would help to develop our understanding of this field. Additional work is needed to investigate more fully the relationships between the different sites, including cross-membership, and the funding relationships between FR and other groups across the political spectrum. Research that combines analysis of Web sites with materials made available to members but not posted online, and studies that compare FR group activities with their Web presence are still needed.

The good news is that the escalation of fathers’ rights rhetoric and other forms of backlash indicate that feminism is hitting a nerve in its criticism of patriarchy. The following quotation exemplifies the extent to which members of FR groups perceive that feminism has resulted in substantive changes for women and men:

[W]hen I lived in Democrat-ruled San Francisco, and was accused by my estranged wife of domestic violence, the ideological Feminist/leftist/democrats were in control of Family Court Services, the Criminal Courts, the prosecutors office, Social Services, and all the attendant government-funded NGOs whose purpose was to brutally and methodically separate fathers from their children. This was a world of purchased justice, wherein the Feminist Left were the rulers, and any man accused—regardless of his political affiliations (and I was at that time a Democrat)—was an instant enemy in the eyes of the State Apparatus. (LaSalle, 2007)

There is plenty of room for further research and advocacy against violence, and it is important to remember that multiple forms of violence, not just men’s violence against women, are shaped by gender. We need to understand the tactics of backlash and how they work in order to advance efforts to protect victims of abuse and decrease the occurrence of violence. Because of their preoccupation with issues related to battering and their bountiful Web presence, FR groups provide a plethora of opportunities for studying the specific dynamics of backlash against perceived feminist gains related to violence policy. 

I understand that many scholars have been slow to respond to FR rhetoric for a variety of reasons, but it is important to recognize that FR groups’ organization around violence against women is having a negative impact on battered women and their children. Survivors, service providers, and attorneys report the adverse impact of FR activism (Booth vs. Hvass, 2002; Jaffe & Crooks, 2004; Kaufman & Davis, 2006; Morrill, Dai, Dunn, Sung, & Smith, 2006; Rosen & O’Sullivan, 2005; Waits, 2003). Battered women’s organizations note that battered women have problems with abusers receiving custody at divorce (Varcoe & Irwin, 2004). FR group members have also sued shelters and other domestic violence service providers (Blumhorst v. Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, 2005; Booth v. Hvass, 2002).  Despite their lack of success, such lawsuits are a waste of time and money for agencies that are already unable to fully meet demand for services (California Women’s Law Center, 2003). Rather than seeing FR groups as marginal, we need to understand the relationships between their cause and the other efforts that allow them some measure of influence.  Finally, FR groups’ literal and figurative emphasis on patriarchy provides ample opportunities for theorizing its relationship to masculinity and violence that are increasingly important in an era of federally funded fatherhood and marriage promotion initiatives.

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence (LC), more than 58,000 children a year are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States.

 

The Leadership Council - Press Release Sept 22, 2008

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

How Many Children Are Court -Ordered Into Unsupervised Contact With an Abusive Parent After Divorce?

Contact: Joyanna Silberg, PhD, Executive Vice President
tel: (410) 938-4974 or email Joyanna Silberg

Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

According to a conservative estimate by experts at the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence (LC), more than 58,000 children a year are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States. This is over twice the yearly rate of new cases of childhood cancer. 

Experts at the LC consider the crisis in our family courts to constitute a public health crisis. Once placed with an abusive parent or forced to visit, children will continue to be exposed to parental violence and abuse until they reach 18. Thus, we estimate that half a million children will be affected in the US at any point of time. Many of these children will suffer physical and psychological damage which may take a lifetime to heal. The Leadership Council urges citizens to work with legislators and agencies in their communities to examine this problem, review state agency policies and procedures, and develop legislative and policy solutions that help ensure safety from violence for children following divorce.

How We Obtained This Estimate:

No one knows the exact number of children who are left in the unprotected care of an abusive parent following their parents' divorce. The Leadership Council has studied the problem and using the best available research has attempted to come up with a conservative estimate of the problem. We estimate that each year, 58,500 minor children are placed at risk for injury because the courts ordered them into the unsupervised care of a violent parent.

The estimate is meant to be conservative and was obtained using the figures in the following table. The research that we used to obtain these figures is explained in more depth in the following section.

Number of children affected by divorce each year

1,000,000

Number of families with allegations of child abuse and/or severe domestic violence (13%)

x.13

=130,000 cases

When investigated, percentage of cases found to be valid or suspected to be valid. (Research suggests that the number is between 43 and 73%, with most data showing the rate is closer to 70%. To be conservative we will use 60%)

X .60

=78,000

Percentage of children left unprotected. (Research suggests that the number is between 56-90%, with most data showing the rate is closer to 90%. A conservative estimate is 75%)

X .75

Estimate of children in the U.S. who are left in the unprotected care of an abuser after their parents' divorce

=58,500

The research:

Estimates suggest that between 1 and 1.5 million children experience the divorce of their parents each year -- ultimately 40% of all children are affected by divorce.1,2,3

It is difficult to determine the number of divorcing families affected by violence. The Women's Law Center of Maryland analyzed an extensive dataset, which consists of a random sampling of all divorce and custody cases filed in Maryland during fiscal year 1999. Domestic violence (including child abuse) was alleged by at least one party in 240 cases out of 1,847 (13.0%).4

This is likely an underestimate as court records often fail to note domestic violence5 and other studies have shown higher rates. For example, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), looking solely at court records, found documented evidence of domestic violence in 24%-55% of custody court records depending on the state.6

In addition, studies suggest that in divorces marked by ongoing disputes over the custody and care of children, there is often a history of violence in the family and a likelihood that the violence will continue after the separation. In many cases, the violence involves severe battering and/or the use of weapons.7

To be conservative we will go with 13%. So how many of these allegations are likely to be valid. Research suggests when allegations of child abuse are investigated, approximately 50-73% are found to be valid.8

However, when courts get involved in determining custody, children are rarely protected from the violent parent. In at least 75% of cases the child is ordered into unsupervised contact with the alleged abuser. (Research has found results ranging from 56-90%; a conservative estimate is 75%).9

So how many children whose parents divorce are left in the unprotected care of an abuser each year in the United States ? Thus a conservative estimate based on available research is that approximately 58,500 are left at risk of physical and psychological injury after being ordered into the unsupervised care of an abuser after their parents divorce. This number includes both those who are left in the sole care of an abuser and those who are required to have unsupervised visits.

Compare this to the number of cases of childhood cancer per year. In 2004 the incidence rate of newly diagnosed childhood cancers in the U.S. was 22,586.10

Most people who divorce do so early in their marriage,.3 and children who are court-ordered into the custody of, or unsupervised visitation with, an abuser will be at risk of abuse until they reach adulthood. Consequently, at any point in time it is likely that a half a million children are left unprotected from a violent parent after their parents' divorce.

References

1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2000). Divorce - Helping Children Adjust. http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ4KZADH4C&sub_cat=0
(“Every year, more than one million children in the United States experience the divorce of their parents.”)

2. National Institutes of Mental Health. (2002, October 15). Preventive Sessions After Divorce Protect Children into Teens.
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2002/preventive-sessions-after-divorce-protect-children-into-teens.shtml
(“About 1.5 million children experience the divorce of their parents each year—ultimately 40 percent of all children.”)

3. Shiono, P. H., & Quinn, L. S. (1994, Spring). Epidemiology of Divorce. Future of Children, 4 (1). Available at http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/vol4no1ART2.pdf
(Each year since the mid-1970s, more than 1 million children have experienced a family divorce.”)

4. The Women's Law Center of Maryland. (2004). Custody and financial distribution in Maryland: An empirical study of custody and divorce cases filed in Maryland during fiscal year 1999. Towson, MD.
http://www.wlcmd.org/pdf/CustodyFinancialDistributionInMD.pdf
(“Domestic violence (including child abuse) was alleged by at least one party in 240 cases out of 1,847 (13.0 percent). Of these, 169 allegations were made by women and 36 by men.”)

5. Kernic, M.A., Monary-Ernsdorff, D. J., Koepsell, J. K., & Holt, V. L. (2005). Children in the crossfire: Child custody determinations among couples with a history of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 11 (8), 991-1021.
(Researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center in Seattle , studied divorce cases and found that in 47.6% of cases with a documented, substantiated history of domestic violence, no mention of the abuse was found in the divorce case files. Similarly the National Center for State Courts that a screening process [utilized by the mediation program] revealed a much higher incidence of domestic violence than a review of court records alone would have indicated [see ref 6 below]).

6. Susan Keilitz et al, Domestic Violence and Child Custody Disputes: A Resource Handbook for Judges and Court Managers , prepared for the National Center for State Courts; State Justice Institute," NCSC Publication Number R- 202, p. 5.

7. Johnston, J. R. (1994). High-Conflict Divorce. The Future of Children, 4(1), 165-182, p. 167.

8. Research used in substantiation estimate:

Brown, T., Frederico, M., Hewitt, L., & Sheehan, R. (1997). Problems and solutions in the management of child abuse allegations in custody and access disputes in the family court. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 36 (4), 431-443.
(Researchers reviewed court records of some 200 families where child abuse allegations had been made in custody and access disputes in jurisdictions in two states, observed court proceedings and interviewed court and related services' staff. The allegations of abuse were usually valid. 70% were determined to involve severe physical and/or sexual abuse. The overall rate of false allegations during divorce to be about 9%, similar to the rate of false allegations in noncustody related investigations.) 

Faller, K. C., & DeVoe, E. (1995). Allegations of sexual abuse in divorce. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 4 (4), 1-25.
(Researchers examined 214 allegations of sexual abuse in divorce cases that were evaluated by a multidisciplinary team at a university-based clinic. 72.6% were determined likely; 20% unlikely; and 7.4% uncertain. Of the 20% of cases that were judged to be false or possibly false cases, only approximately a quarter (n = 10) were determined to have been consciously made. The remainder were classified as misinterpretations.)

Thoennes, N., & Tjaden, P. G. (1990). The extent, nature, and validity of sexual abuse allegations in custody and visitation disputes. Child Sexual Abuse & Neglect, 14(2), 151-63.
(Researchers examined court records in 9,000 families in custody/visitation disputes. In the 129 cases for which a determination of the validity of the allegation was available, 50% were found to involve abuse , 33% were found to involve no abuse, and 17% resulted in an indeterminate ruling. [*note: Court records provide less reliable than evaluations by multidisciplinary teams trained in recognizing child abuse].)

Jones, D.P.H., & Seig, A. (1988). Child sexual abuse allegations in custody or visitation disputes: A report of 20 cases. In E.B. Nicholson & J. Bulkley (Eds.), Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody and Visitation Cases: A Resource Book for Judges and Court Personnel. Washington, DC: American Bar Association, pp. 22-36.
(This article reports on 20 cases evaluated by the C. Henry Kempe Centre which involved both sexual abuse allegations and a parental custody dispute. 70% of cases were found to be reliable and 20% of the cases appeared fictitious.)

McGraw, J.M., & Smith, H.A. (1992). Child sexual abuse allegations amidst divorce and custody proceedings: Refining the validation process. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 1(1), 49-61.
(This study describes 18 cases of child sexual abuse allegations made during divorce and custody disputes. The cases were reviewed using the clinical process of validation used at the Kempe Center in Denver, Colorado. The number of cases categorized as founded was eight [44.4%].  In two cases [ 11%]) there was insufficient information to make a determination, and five were judged to be based on an unsubstantiated suspicion. Three cases were judged to be fictitious [16.5%], only one of which came from a child.)

Paradise, J. E., Rostain, A. L., & Nathanson, M. (1988). Substantiation of sexual abuse charges when parents dispute custody or visitation. Pediatrics, 81(6), 835-9.
(Researchers systematically evaluated child sexual abuse cases in a hospital-based consecutive series and one author's practice were systematically reviewed. Abuse allegations made within the context custody or visitation dispute [39% of the sample] were compared with cases in which custody or visitation was not an issue. Cases involving custody problems were found to involve younger children [5.4 vs 7.8 years]. Sexual abuse allegations were substantiated less frequently when there was concomitant parental conflict [nonsignificant] but were nevertheless substantiated more than half of the time.)

Trocme, N., & Bala, N. (2005). False allegations of abuse and neglect when parents separate. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29(12), 1333. (PDF)
Using data from the 1998 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS-98), this paper provides a detailed summary of the characteristics associated with intentionally false reports of child abuse and neglect within the context of parental separation. The national study examined abuse and neglect investigated by child welfare services in Canada.
When there was an on-going custody dispute the substantiation rate by CPS was 40% and an addition 14% were suspected but there wasn't enough evidence to make a final determination. 12% were believed to be intentionally false. Allegations of neglect was the most common form of intentionally fabricated maltreatment. Substantiation rates varied significantly by source of report, with reports from the police (60%), custodial parents (47%), and children (54%) being generally most likely to be substantiated, while noncustodial parents (usually fathers) have a lower substantiation rate (33%), and anonymous reports being least likely to be substantiated (16%). Of the intentionally false allegations of maltreatment tracked by the study, custodial parents (usually mothers) and children were least likely to fabricate reports of abuse or neglect.

Hlady, L.J., & Gunter, E.J. (1990). Alleged child abuse in custody access disputes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14(4), 591-3.
(Researchers reviewed the charts of all children involved in custody access disputes seen by Child Protective Services (CPS) at British Columbia's Children's Hospital in 1988. Of the 370 such children evaluated by CPS, 34 involved allegations of child sexual abuse (CSA) that arose during custody/access disputes. These children's physical examinations were then compared with the 219 children seen during the same one-year period for alleged CSA not involving custody/access disputes. A similar percentage of positive physical findings were found in both groups. It is concluded that the concern that allegations of CSA that arise during custody/access disputes are likely to be false is not borne out by these findings.)

9. Research used in this estimate:

Neustein, A., & Goetting, A. (1999). Judicial Responses to Protective Parents, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 4, 103-122.
http://www.haworthpressinc.com/store/SampleText/J070.pdf (go to page 109 of pdf)
(Examined judicial responses to protective parents' complaints of child sexual abuse in 300 custody cases with extensive family court records. The investigators found that only in 10% of cases was primary custody was given to the protective parent and supervised contact with alleged abuser. Conversely, 20% of the cases resulted in a predominantly negative outcome where the child was placed in the primary legal and physical custody of the allegedly sexually abusive parent (see p. 108). In the rest of the cases, the judges awarded joint custody with no provisions for supervised visitation with the alleged abuser.)

Lowenstein, S. R. (1991). Child sexual abuse in custody and visitation litigation: Representation for the benefit of victims. UMKC Law Review, 60, 227-82.
(This study examined 96 custody and visitation disputes involving allegations of child sexual abuse from 33 states. Visitation was the principal issues in 36 cases. The father was alleged to have sexually molested their child in each of these 36 cases. Yet in two-thirds (24) of these cases the alleged perpetrator was granted unsupervised visitation.
Custody was the principle issue in 56 cases. In 27 of the 56 cases (48%) mothers lost custody. In 17 of these cases (63%) the mother lost custody to a father alleged to be a perpetrator. In two cases (3.6%) fathers lost custody. No father lost custody to a mother whose household included an alleged perpetrator (either the mother, a stepfather, the mother's boyfriend, or one of mother's relatives).

Kernic, M.A., Monary-Ernsdorff, D. J., Koepsell, J. K., & Holt, V. L. (2005). Children in the crossfire: Child custody determinations among couples with a history of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 11(8), 991-1021.
(Examined the effects of a history of interpersonal violence on child custody and visitation outcomes. Mothers in cases with a violent partner were no more likely to obtain custody than mothers in non-abuse cases. Fathers with a history of committing abuse were denied child visitation in only 17% of cases.)

Saccuzzo, D. P., & Johnson, N. E. (2004). Child custody mediation's failure to protect: Why should the criminal justice system care? National Institute of Justice Journal, 251, 21-23. Available at http://ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/jr000251.pdf
(Researchers compared 200 child custody mediations involving charges of domestic violence with 200 mediations that did not. Joint legal custody was awarded about 90% of the time, even when domestic violence was an issue.)

See also:
Johnson, N. E., Saccuzzo, D. P., & Koen, W. J. (2005). Child custody mediation in cases of domestic violence: Empirical evidence of a failure to protect. Violence Against Women, 11(8), 1022-1053.

10. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. (2007). United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2004 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute. Available at: www.cdc.gov/uscs .

For more information see:

Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Myths that place children at risk during custody disputes. Sexual Assault Report, 9 (3), 33-47. (PDF)

American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence. (2006). 10 Myths About Custody and Domestic Violence and How to Counter Them. Washington, DC: Author. http://leadershipcouncil.org/docs/ABA_custody_myths.pdf

More research is available from the Leadership Council web site
www.leadershipcouncil.org

The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence is composed of national leaders in psychology, psychiatry, medicine, law, and public policy who are committed to the ethical application of psychological science and countering its misuse by special interest groups. Members of the Council are dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of children and other vulnerable populations. More information can be found at: www.leadershipcouncil.org

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jessica Gonzales- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

 

This is the first case from the U.S. involving violence against women to ever be heard before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and people can actually watch it live over the Internet.


Jessica Gonzales (now Lenahan) sadly lost her case against the Castle Rock [Colorado] police in the U.S. Supreme Court.  They held the police had no duty to protect her children by enforcing her order of protection, despite clear law in Colorado mandating that police arrest  anyone in violation of an order of protection.  The failure resulted in her ex-husband killing all three of their children.  Her case, now reframed as a violation of her human rights by the U.S. government, will be presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this coming Wednesday (Oct. 22nd).


It is officially scheduled from 3:15 to 4:15 pm (Eastern Time)in Washington, DC at 1889 F St., NW  at the corner of 19th St.  Her information will be posted on the ACLU’s web site.  For those who can’t attend in person (most readers, I suspect), but would like to hear the arguments, read the draft of what she plans to post on the ACLU web site, which ends with how to access the court’s hearing on-line.  (And one can listen in on about 5 languages, including English.) 

Note that she will testify herself, as well as be represented.  Please feel free to pass this on to others likely to be interested in seeing this case.  It is an amazing opportunity.  The IACHR court grants only a few hearings even when it takes cases.  Previously it heard issues around standing and exhaustion of remedies in this case. Feel free to pass this on to others who might want to watch this case.


All my best, Joan Zorza
Editor, Domestic Violence Report

 

*Jessica (Gonzales) Lenahan blog post *

image 
Jessica and her three murdered daughters


My name is Jessica Lenahan and I am a survivor of domestic violence.  On Wednesday I will make my second appearance before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC.  The IACHR is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights throughout the Americas.  I turned to the IACHR three years ago because the justice system in the United States abandoned me.

In June 1999, my estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, abducted my three young daughters in violation of a domestic violence restraining order I had obtained against him three weeks before.  I repeatedly contacted and pleaded with the Castle Rock Police for assistance, but they refused to act.  Late that night, Simon arrived at the police station and opened fire.  He was killed and the bodies of my three girls were found murdered in the cab of his truck.

I sued the town of Castle Rock, Colorado for failing to enforce the restraining order I had against my husband at the time. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, but they ruled that the enforcement of a restraining order wasn’t mandatory under Colorado law.  I felt utterly abandoned: the police had failed in their duty to protect me and my girls, and the government told me there was nothing wrong with that.  I was sure that I would never have my day in court or a proper investigation of what happened.  I nearly gave up at that point – I had gone all the way to the Supreme Court, and I thought that was the end of the line.

But in December 2005, with the help of the ACLU and the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, I filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  In March 2007, I testified before the IACHR – the first time I was allowed to tell my story in a legal forum.  Before this case, I never knew this regional system existed and never thought of my private issues as human rights violations.  I am the first survivor of domestic violence to bring an individual complaint against the United States for international human rights violations.

I want other people like me out there to know that this system exists to protect all of us, and that our government cannot just turn its back on us and get away with it.  Although the U.S. is always pointing its finger at other countries for their human rights violations, there are plenty of violations occurring right here at home.  International human rights bodies like the IACHR give U.S. citizens the opportunity to have a voice, particularly those who have lost everything.

It is fitting that my hearing is being held in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an important marker of what continues to be one of the most dangerous issues facing women today.


To watch a webcast of the hearing on Wednesday go to:
http://www.oas.org/oaspage/live/OASlive.asp.


For more information, contact:
*Selene Kaye, Advocacy Coordinator*
Women’s Rights Project | American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
T: 212.549.2645 | F: 212.549.2580 | skaye@aclu.org
www.aclu.org/womensrights


See previous post about Jessica’s case.
Article:
http://justice4mothers.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/opportunity-to-watch-jessica-gonzales-human-rights-case-online/

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Opportunity To Watch Jessica Gonzales Human Rights Case Online On Wednesday, October 22nd

RightsForMothers.com

October 19, 2008

Opportunity To Watch Jessica Gonzales Human Rights Case Online On Wednesday, October 22nd

Filed under: Angry fathers, Child Abuse, Children's rights, Corrupt bastards, Domestic Law, Domestic Violence, Getting screwed by the Family Courts, Getting screwed by the politicians, Speak Out — justice4mothers @ 12:00 am

This is the first case from the U.S. involving violence against women to ever be heard before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and people can actually watch it live over the Internet.

Jessica Gonzales (now Lenahan) sadly lost her case against the Castle Rock [Colorado] police in the U.S. Supreme Court.  They held the police had no duty to protect her children by enforcing her order of protection, despite clear law in Colorado mandating that police arrest  anyone in violation of an order of protection.  The failure resulted in her ex-husband killing all three of their children.  Her case, now reframed as a violation of her human rights by the U.S. government, will be presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this coming Wednesday (Oct. 22nd).

It is officially scheduled from 3:15 to 4:15 pm (Eastern Time)in Washington, DC at 1889 F St., NW  at the corner of 19th St.  Her information will be posted on the ACLU’s web site.  For those who can’t attend in person (most readers, I suspect), but would like to hear the arguments, read the draft of what she plans to post on the ACLU web site, which ends with how to access the court’s hearing on-line.  (And one can listen in on about 5 languages, including English.)  Note that she will testify herself, as well as be represented.  Please feel free to pass this on to others likely to be interested in seeing this case.  It is an amazing opportunity.  The IACHR court grants only a few hearings even when it takes cases.  Previously it heard issues around standing and exhaustion of remedies in this case. Feel free to pass this on to others who might want to watch this case.

All my best, Joan Zorza
Editor, Domestic Violence Report

*Jessica (Gonzales) Lenahan blog post *

My name is Jessica Lenahan and I am a survivor of domestic violence.  On Wednesday I will make my second appearance before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC.  The IACHR is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights throughout the Americas.  I turned to the IACHR three years ago because the justice system in the United States abandoned me.

Jessica and her three murdered daughters

Jessica and her three murdered daughters

In June 1999, my estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, abducted my three young daughters in violation of a domestic violence restraining order I had obtained against him three weeks before.  I repeatedly contacted and pleaded with the Castle Rock Police for assistance, but they refused to act.  Late that night, Simon arrived at the police station and opened fire.  He was killed and the bodies of my three girls were found murdered in the cab of his truck.

I sued the town of Castle Rock, Colorado for failing to enforce the restraining order I had against my husband at the time. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, but they ruled that the enforcement of a restraining order wasn’t mandatory under Colorado law.  I felt utterly abandoned: the police had failed in their duty to protect me and my girls, and the government told me there was nothing wrong with that.  I was sure that I would never have my day in court or a proper investigation of what happened.  I nearly gave up at that point – I had gone all the way to the Supreme Court, and I thought that was the end of the line.

But in December 2005, with the help of the ACLU and the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, I filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  In March 2007, I testified before the IACHR – the first time I was allowed to tell my story in a legal forum.  Before this case, I never knew this regional system existed and never thought of my private issues as human rights violations.  I am the first survivor of domestic violence to bring an individual complaint against the United States for international human rights violations.  I want other people like me out there to know that this system exists to protect all of us, and that our government cannot just turn its back on us and get away with it.  Although the U.S. is always pointing its finger at other countries for their human rights violations, there are plenty of violations occurring right here at home.  International human rights bodies like the IACHR give U.S. citizens the opportunity to have a voice, particularly those who have lost everything.

It is fitting that my hearing is being held in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an important marker of what continues to be one of the most dangerous issues facing women today.

To watch a webcast of the hearing on Wednesday go to:
http://www.oas.org/oaspage/live/OASlive.asp.

For more information, contact:

*Selene Kaye, Advocacy Coordinator*
Women’s Rights Project | American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
T: 212.549.2645 | F: 212.549.2580 | skaye@aclu.org
www.aclu.org/womensrights

See previous post about Jessica’s case.


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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Other Side of PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Other Side of PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome

Wow...
I'm embarrassed to admit that I finally got around to really researching PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome. Upon reading about this "syndrome" initially, I was horrified to think of the "alienated" parents who are supposedly forced to endure these horrific ex-spouses...who for no reason seem hell bent on keeping their kids from them. I jumped on the PAS bandwagon and set forth to "righting" this incredibly destructive wrong.
Flash forward to a Google search of PAS beyond the first page results...and thus the reason behind this post.
But, honestly...please don't just take my word for it, decide for yourselves, check out some of these links, be aware of the facts and make the best decision. Awareness is key towards making our world a better place.


"The PAS label "has lived a lot longer than the data that supports it". "I expect people to come up with crackpot theories. But then I expect scientists to do their jobs." Alan Scheflin, professor at Santa Clara University Law School
Editor's note: Some moms and their advocates have expressed the need to read father's rights materials on PAS. We have made a policy decision not to post any links to such information on this website. It is not surprising that you can type this topic into any search engine and find hundreds of father's rights sites promoting PAS as a legal defense or strategy for fathers in custody litigation. It is our position that if we were to link to father's rights sites promoting PAS, we would lend credence to those sources and enable them to advertise their products. We do not endorse in any way purchasing their materials. If you are curious or think it will help your understanding of the issues, we hope you will use you local library or the Internet to do so instead of furthering the father's rights agenda with your families income.


http://www.custodyprepformoms.org/pas.htm


The Truth About Parental Alienation Syndrome And The American Psychological Association
Richard Gardner, Inventor of PAS Idea
The so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome, touted by many in the Rhode Island Family Court, has been discredited by the American Psychological Association and, recently, by both the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Children╩╝s Legal Rights Journal.
Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network
http://peace4missing.ning.com

 

Labels: active-aware, child-custody, children-need-both-parents, cnbp, domestic-violence-awareness, fathers-rights, parental alienation, parental-abduction, parental-alienation-syndrome, pas Posted by Maggie's Rose at 11:51 PM

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Killer dad stalked us, mother says

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1082380.html

Killer dad stalked us, mother says
By The Canadian Press
Thu. Oct 2 - 4:47 AM

ROSEDALE, Alta. — The mother of a tot slain by his father in a murder-suicide says she had been stalked by the man for months and fled her home in fear.

Meara McIntosh, 27, sat on a deck outside that house in Rosedale, Alta., on Wednesday saying she had left because she felt it was the only way to save her son Colton from harm.

"I left here because I was terrified to be in my own home," she said.

On Sunday, her worst fear was realized when police found the three-year-old dead in a house in nearby Drumheller. He had been killed by his father, Richard Saunders, who was found dead at his side.

McIntosh said a court order forced her to hand Colton over to Saunders for the weekend despite her fears.

"I knew, statistically, it was the most dangerous time and had no intention of letting him see Colton again."

She said she is particularly distraught because "I forgot to say goodbye."

"But baby boy didn’t. He always said goodbye. He said goodbye over his shoulder and went bouncing off."

McIntosh said she left her husband because of his drug use and late nights when Colton was 10 months old.

She moved from Fort McMurray where they were living to Drumheller, but Saunders soon followed to try to rekindle the relationship, she said.

A custody dispute unfolded.

"Then the stalking started."

McIntosh said it began with suspicious footprints in the snow outside her home, vandalism and slashed car tires. She got a restraining order but after it expired she sought help — only to find none.

She said police threatened to arrest her "for making false complaints," while a social worker tried to claim she was an unfit mother. Some people in the community simply didn’t believe her.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Parental Alienation Syndrome Misused to Defeat Valid Abuse Claims in Child Custody Cases

!cid_1_1921200536@web52906_mail_re2_yahoo Contact: Rob Valente

240.354.4842 or rvalente@nnedv. org

For Immediate Release

Parental Alienation Syndrome Misused to Defeat Valid Abuse Claims in Child Custody Cases

 

In response to the increased media attention surrounding the release of Alec Baldwin’s book entitled, “A Promise to Ourselves,” the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and StopFamilyViolence.org release the following:

(September 29, 2008) Washington, DC – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), Stop Family Violence, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, four of the nation’s leading domestic violence victim advocacy organizations, call on the media and the courts to rectify the misunderstanding and misuse of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in custody cases. 

“Child custody cases are among the toughest cases courts have to handle.  And in custody cases where domestic violence is involved, the judges have an even higher responsibility to ensure that the safety of family members is not dangerously impaired by misleading – and legally unjustifiable – ‘parental alienation syndrome’ theories,” said Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“Parental Alienation Syndrome” is a claim that has been used to suggest that some parents try to undermine their children’s relationship with the other parent, typically the noncustodial parent, by making false statements about that other parent, most often in the form of abuse allegations.  In fact, actor Alec Baldwin made that claim about his own child custody case in a recent interview with Diane Sawyer.  

“PAS is being used by some abusers as a tactic to demonize parents’ attempts to protect their children from abuse, denying victims of domestic violence justice in the courts.  The fact that some parents behave badly in ordinary cases is no reason to ignore real abuse when it is presented to the court,” also stated Else. 

Joan Meier, DV LEAP’s Executive Director, said, “PAS was invented to defeat child abuse claims - and it has been remarkably successful in misleading family courts into believing that women who are sincerely trying to protect their children and themselves from abuse, are just seeking to end the children’s relationship with their noncustodial father.”

According to NNEDV, DV LEAP, SFV, and NCADV, victims of domestic violence face a surprisingly uphill battle in family court to win custody of and safety for their children.  All too often, courts award custody and unsupervised visitation to parents found to have committed domestic abuse.  Many courts handling custody cases do not understand the dynamics of domestic violence and fail to properly factor in the impact of abuse when considering the best interests of the child.

“The most important factor judges should be weighing in making custody decisions is the safety of the mother and children, and the introduction of PAS overshadows this critical need for safety,” said Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Meier states that research has shown that children become “alienated” from a parent for a variety of valid reasons, most often resulting from the parent’s own negative behavior and relationship with that child. 

“The proponents of ‘parental alienation syndrome’ are purveying invalid junk science is not even legally admissible.   PAS has been emphatically rejected by the Presidential Task Force of the American Psychological Association and by the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges.  Leading researchers in the field of custody have agreed that PAS has no scientific validity and the only courts to address the issue have found it inadmissible,” said Meier.

“With the increased media attention surrounding the release of Alec Baldwin’s book, it is important to let the public know that victims of domestic violence are being silenced through the use of ‘parental alienation syndrome.’  We cannot afford to consign thousands of children to unsafe custody or visitation with abusive parents because family courts have come to believe that abuse allegations mean nothing more than a campaign of alienation,” said Else. 

ABOUT NNEDV

The National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund (NNEDV) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing public education, training and technical assistance to maintain and develop the professional expertise of advocates working to end domestic violence.  NNEDV strives to strengthen advocates as organizers and activists in the tradition of social change movements. For more information, please visit www.nnedv.org.

ABOUT DV LEAP

The Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization which provides a stronger voice for justice by fighting to overturn unjust trial court outcomes, advancing legal protections for victims and their children through expert appellate advocacy, training lawyers, psychologists and judges on best practices, and spearheading domestic violence litigation in the Supreme Court.  For more information, visit www.dvleap.org.

ABOUT NCADV

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization formed in 1978 to establish a national network of community based programs to assist victims of domestic violence. NCADV provides support to programs and state coalitions, technical assistance, public policy and community awareness campaigns to work towards the vision of every home a safe home.  For more information, visit www.ncadv.org.

ABOUT SFV

StopFamilyViolence. org is an online national activist organization that works to organize and amplify our nation's collective voice against family violence.  SFV activists raise their voice to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives have been affected by family violence.  StopFamilyViolence. org is a project of The Tides Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. For more information visit www.stopfamilyviole nce.org