Women & Gender Studies Project, Eastern Kentucky University, Fall 2010 https://sites.google.com/site/ekuprojectprotectivemothers/
Julie Jones, Ariell Adams, Dakota Taylor, Karmin Cartmill and Crystal Wilson
Women & Gender Studies Project, Eastern Kentucky University, Fall 2010
Welcome to our web page! Our goal is to create an activist project and raise awareness about women who have had abuse perpetrated against them or their children, and then lost custody of their children to the men who have abused them. If this has just happened to you, we hope this page will save you some time. If you are a person in a public service position who may come in contact with women who fit this description, we hope you will take the time to become informed so that you can be part of the solution. This is not all-inclusive, but is meant as a primer. We have asked protective mothers to send us postcards in an effort to give those with gag orders a voice. We want to thank the mothers who participated and the protective moms and men in that movement who helped spread the word about our project.
Women in these situations are called “protective mothers”, you can learn quite a bit by searching this term on the internet. It is imperative that you learn the standard legal route, with all the terminology, common diagnosis, and junk science early on. We feel we have supplied enough here to give you a firm foundation. If you search the internet before you understand the terms, you may be taken in by groups that your enemy supports. Some of the videos are graphic and may be triggers for you if you have PTSD or anxiety issues, but they are great to share with people you are trying to explain your situation to. Here is one of those videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Activism007#p/u/4/CTvcslSAvDU This next video shows a boy being taken off of a bus by police, followed by a judge explaining how this particular man hoodwinked the system.http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2009/12/16/mattingly.tx.child.bus.cnn
As a society, it just makes sense to us that men who abuse women are punished, and these women always get custody of their children. This is one of the common myths. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html
In this situation, you may feel that the people who are supposed to help and support you have abandoned you or sold you out. This is often the case, although it is not often the person’s or agency’s intent. Perhaps you consider yourself to be a survivor, and are confused as to why you are in this situation now. Perhaps you have been accused of making false abuse accusations. Your children are taken by something called an Ex Parte order, a hearing held without your consent or knowledge where a judge gave away the custody of your children. If you have recently experienced panic attacks or symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, that is pretty normal for what you are going through. Be careful who you seek for help, it all has a way of coming out in the court room, including the confidential visits with your psychologist. It is important to pick people to advocate to you who understand these issues. It is likely you may need a mental health professional who can also be an expert witness.
We strongly suggest contacting a feminist group in your state for some help on this issue. NOW has groups in most if not all states.http://www.now.org/ Women’s shelters are designed for emergency temporary service, and this issue is beyond what most of them can help with. Hopefully that will change. NCADV is another group that can help. http://www.ncadv.org/
Often women in these situations have not given much thought to feminism, however most of your support will come from feminist agencies and the agencies they are affiliated with. Often these groups are familiar with health care professionals and expert witnesses who have supported women in your shoes, and often those professionals know attorneys who can help.
Money is always a huge issue in these cases, and attorneys who will represent you for free or at a greatly reduced rate are very hard to come by. Sometimes agencies such as Justice for Children can help, and their web site offers helpful information in the legal realm. They have submitted amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court in support of women in your shoes. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp . Here is a great site with ideas from moms who have been through it, this is their hindsight! http://www.custodyprepformoms.org/index.php
The Battered Women’s Custody Conference is a yearly convention for protective mothers in New York each January. Each year they have great classes and most if not all of the people on this page will either be there or have been active with his group at some point. Here is an interview with some of the people who have attended, this is one for you to watch if you still feel like your situation is totally unique. The basic infringements of rights, and the way the children are taken in all of these cases are very similar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5viwjaIorU8
There are two complete books on this issue written by Barry Goldstein and Mo Hannah. http://www.domesticviolenceabuseandchildcustody.com/ http://www.civicresearchinstitute.com/dvac.html
Mr. Goldstein was an attorney in this cause who helped many, and then got into trouble for standing up for what is right. Mo Hannah is a psychologist, both are very active in the protective mothers movement and the Battered Women’s Custody Conference. These books offer great insight into this issue from the perspective of both sexes, on the side of the abused, based on their work and research.
Other books are mentioned in some of the videos and on these web sites by other authors, those are great too. Often local libraries will purchase books if you request them. Anything you do to raise awareness on this issue with the general public, will help all protective mothers at some point.
In the history of feminism, men have always played an important role. Back in the days of the suffragettes, the support of a few men was enough to persuade other men to listen. This cause is no different. Some men have supported this issue and the women in it for a long time. Mr. Goldstein has given up a lot in his personal life for this cause. The men in this cause are very important to and very highly respected by the protective mothers.
A little bit about the children, often a protective mother will have to have her visits supervised. She wonders about her children, and the supervision is awkward for the children. They do not understand why the supervision is needed in most cases, and the mother is not allowed to explain. There are a few support groups on the internet, but the internet is not a safe place for all protective mothers. Face to face groups are few and hard to find. They are forming though, and the children who were taken years ago have grown up. They are also organizing and sharing their stories. When mothers are reunited with their children, sometimes the children want to know just what their mother did towards getting them back. Sometimes mothers and their children hold on to little rituals and memories during the time when they are apart. The children of protective parents have organized a group called Children Against Court Appointed Child Abuse, and some share their stories on the web site.http://ca3cacaca.blogspot.com/