This is why men who commit DV against their partners shouldn't be allowed access to their children

(294 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 07:47:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 07:57:37


AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 08:23:22

Yes I saw that a couple of days ago. When will the authorities start seeing the correlation? How many children have to suffer it be murdered in the meantime? This is one of the many things that gives me the rage. So fucking preventable.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 08:29:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

He got out of prison after serving time for DV, battled for custody, and the court decided he'd have them all year and his mum would have them in the summer and some of the holidays. WTF! angry shock

That poor family, they will never get over this. sad

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 08:49:31

Is this one of the issues with no fault divorces, as they have in the US? Or is it the court system in general that is designed to perpetuate violence against women and children?

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 12:34:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 13:04:01

Yes it is on that wide a scale isn't it sad

BubblesOfBliss Sun 03-Mar-13 14:08:04

sad angry

I have to wonder if there is more to this story. the courts while biased against women in dv situations do tend to be biased towards mothers getting custody. I hate to speculate but is it possible the mother was abusive towards the children? also at their ages (12 and 9) I'd have thought they would have some say as to their living arrangments. I wonder if neither parent was really fit to parent. either way the children we're very badly let down by the system

Darkesteyes Sun 03-Mar-13 16:30:59

Jesus when are the police and court systems going to wake the fuck up.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 16:49:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Been to google because that seemed wrong to me SGM, but it looks like when men make the effort to actually apply for custody they are equally likely to get it. I couldn't find any evidence to say that men who commit documented DV are likely to get custody though. I'm not saying it isn't true and I readily admit you are way more knowledgeable about this sort of thing than I am.. It does just seem wrong but then much of the court system is.

I just feel (and I am personally biased here) that in many cases of DV both parents are volatile. Not necessarily violent but volatile and it seemed to me that while the mother in this case may be a victim of this man's violence it doesn't also mean she wasn't the perpetrator of violence towards her children. This is obviously speculation on my part but I find it difficult to believe that a total psychopath was given primary custody of his children if the alternative was not less than ideal. Although one would hope that in the case where neither parent was fit that the child would be taken in to care. Also owing to the age of the children I would have thought the judge would have taken that in to consideration..but again I don't know.

Currently (in California) there is no specific age where the Court will consider the wishes of a child in deciding custody matters. Family Code Section 3042 requires the Court to consider and give due weight to a child's preference regarding custody if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent opinion on the issue. However, this code doesn't specify a certain age nor does it contain a standard percentage of weight for the Judge to place on child's wishes.

Plomdenume Sun 03-Mar-13 17:53:43

Trucker - Men who are violent towards their partners will very often be manipulative liars who are able to portray their partners as unable to care for their children. They will use a range of reasons, perhaps saying a woman who is quite reasonably depressed is too mentally ill to care for them - or a woman who has turned to alcohol to cope with the effects DV will be portrayed as an unstable alcoholic. The man will for years have been telling this woman and her children that she cannot cope and she is useless, so it will be very hard for her to argue otherwise to the courts and authorities.

Men whose partners leave them because of DV will also continue to use child contact as a way of controlling women, through threatening not tor return them, lying to and manipulating the children, or not turning up when he knows the woman has plans to do something.

fuzzywuzzy Sun 03-Mar-13 17:58:07

In the uk at least a violent drug addicted father will get equal access to the child, he has rights.

I've a friend who has experienced that, she was not violent and spent time in a refuge with her child.

Another father who was very violent to a friend who fled to a refuge had her whereabouts disclosed by the courts as the father had right to access to his children, during contact he has hit one of the children but the courts have ignored this & police have said as the incidents left no visible marks they can't do anything and the child is too young for her words to hold any weight.

It happens a lot.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 18:43:12

It is extraordinarily difficult to extrapolate from one v tragic event as reported, to provide that as a template for all cases. There are massive gaps in this record, tho' as a principle if a man has been violent to a child's mother there should be v large questions asked as to his fitness to care for a child (emotional resilience, toleration to conflict, control/anger issues, respect, problem-solving methods etc). Quite how a man with such a history gets to have custody over the majority of the year is unanswered, from that article - which reads a bit like a Daily Fail counter-part in Sacramento.

fuzzy some of your post is inconsistent with the accepted practices in the UK to do with DV, safeguarding and child care post separation. eg addresses of fleeing women are not disclosed for contact purposes, and police do not ime refuse to do anything as there is no outward sign of injury.

fuzzywuzzy Sun 03-Mar-13 19:00:10

Pan, this is what has happened to the women I know.

The second one was terrifying for the friend. She fled from the refuge with her children, apparently someone had turned up to serve papers on her demanding access to the children, it is allowed apparently.

Also the friend went straight to the police when her duaghter turned up from contact very distressed that her father had hit her, the police said they couldnt do anything as there were no visible marks and she was too young for her words to carry wieght, they also said he as a father was allowed to discipline. For a long time afterwards the child started wetting the bed and reufsing to go to contact as she insisted her daddy hit her, I took her once and it was horrendous she was so distressed.

The man in question had a criminal conviction for assaulting the friend during their marriage.

All I know is that it has happened.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 19:00:27

But SGM isn't extrapolating from one incident. Incidents like this happen everyday. There are patterns.

The problem is male violence. And the fact that systems are in place to ignore it, perpetuate it and normalised it, whilst isolating women and children who suffer from it.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 19:19:36

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Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 19:33:15

fwiw at my work place this week we are commencing a four-week course for young dads. Attendance isn't a choice. The overall message is that your relationship with your child is the most important one you will ever have. is a marker of how you manage your relationships with everyone else you meet.
I am (pretty) sure none of the participants will be starting off from a desire to butcher their offspring, as most dads in conflict with their ex-partners don't.

Are there statistics to show how many men who abuse their spouses, then go on to abuse their children?

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 19:51:51

Well, it's tricky SDT - abusing your female partner physically if the child is in the room, or one room separate, is classed as child abuse, in the UK. The numbers of immediate physical abuse of child linked with abuse of current spouse I don't know. It's made more trickier even by mums and dads having multiple parenting responsibilities in differing relationships. It's just..tricky to be accurate about. Anyone?

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 20:51:54

Well then, the law needs to be made less "tricky" children need to be protected and violence within the home needs to be addressed

And rather than picking apart an op maybe it would be better to pick apart the case of how a child came to be murdered at the hands of someone who "supposedly" love him

As I survived an attempt by my stepfather to murder me I will not be reading the link

Maybe those who say they are addressing the issue need to listen to those who've lived it?

Dunno, maybe I'm thick?

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 21:10:02

Iliana - it isn't the 'law' that we were picking over latterly - it was the recording of abuse instances. I do agree, if the law is tricky tho' it should be made plain - hurting children via adults/males problems should be a clear offence.

fwiw, I wasn't picking apart the OP - any cursory glance would see how it's absurdity unpicks itself, tbh.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 21:19:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 21:34:13

Yes, and does Lundy Bancroft advocate your OP's position, SGM? i.e. any incidence of DV means the child and father go without contact?

It's a fraught situation, and v delicate, with the long term interests of the child paramount, which is difficult to assess from case to case, from which blanket assumptions are fairly useless to learn from.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 22:11:31

Fwiw telling a poster who's expressing an emotion about an emotional subject that their opinion isn't valid is a silencing thing to do. A child has died, domestic violence has been involved

Just because you don't like something someone posts doesn't mean the op doesn't have a valid opinion. Listening to opinions and debating that sensitively when an op is obviously upset is a lot better than belittleling + demeaning an opinion

I also find your lack of empathy for my story slightly disconcerting

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 22:15:17

Yes, I think any, ANY incidence of dv should involve removal of contact.

After removal of contact a dv perpetrator should be placed on a perpetrator programme and once satisfactory involvement is seen then contact should be reintroduced under supervision.

Dv is too damaging to children to allow them to witness any abuse.

fuzzywuzzy Sun 03-Mar-13 22:22:25

I also think the default position for a person (be they male or female actually) who has been proven to be violent within a relationship forfeit any right to access with the children till they've completed a perpatrator programme successfully, then contact should be introduced gradually and continually assessed, taking the childrens reaction to it very very seriously.

Right now it isn't.

Dadthelion Sun 03-Mar-13 22:26:23

So if a mother slaps the father she shouldn't have any contact with the children until she's done a course?

I think if someone's violent it should be supervised or non-direct access only.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 22:31:24

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Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 22:39:14

I would like to know where the evidence is that violent men are likely to get residence orders for children. This is completely contrary to my own experience in a decade in the family courts. But if my experience is so unusual, I would like to know. What are the statistics, and where do they come from?

In my experience courts take violence very seriously: since the re L judgment in 2000 when the research of drs Sturge and Glaser was first exhaustively considered. Violence against a partner or children has been recognised as a massive parenting failure for a very long time now.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 22:45:19

Fuzzy said it so much eloquently.

Any body, male or female, who commits abuse against children should have thier access to the revoked until such a time as they have successfully addressed their issues through attendance on a perpetrator programme. Ime woman who are seen to abuse are dealt with more harshly than men, it comes across as "well men abuse, there's no point dealing with it" which is a shame for everybody involved and for men generally.

Pan, you are belittleling the op again, bad form.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 22:46:30

Spero - I've never seen that, from DV and court experience in 3 decades of experience - in fact au contraire.

It just seems we have a very ill-founded OP, which the OP isn't willing to defend.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 22:47:51

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Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 22:50:48

I am uncomfortable with fact that disagreeing with the op is characterised as 'belittling' or 'silencing'.

I would like to see some evidence to support assertions which in my experience are just not true. And when presented in such a emotive debate, using a very poor piece of fact lite journalism ... I find that worrying.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 22:56:06

Also in my experience a good proportion of violence cases - say 30% roughly - involve low level violence from both men and women - shouting, using, breaking possessions, each calling police on each other. All this in eye or ear shot of the children.

They don't get sent on violence perpetrator programmes because none are available. The success rates for such programmes seem to be extremely dubious to say the least.

So what is being advocated ? The children of these couples are removed from both of them?

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 22:56:40

Sorry 'pushing' not 'using'

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 22:58:12

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BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:00:20
Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:03:26

That link talks about CONTACT. It also does not specify whether the contact was supervised or subject to other conditions.

The op particularly said violent men are likely to get 'custody' - a term unknown in law since 1989 when 'residence' and 'contact' became nomenclature.

It really does not help this debate to assert things which are simply untrue. Violent men do not get residence orders - in my experience any way.

They may well get contact because there are ways this can be managed safely.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:03:50

And I think we need to stop calling it DV and focusing so much on specific acts of physical violence, which can be caused by shock/panic or self-defence. I'd probably kick someone if they tickled me without warning, but to call that DV would be ridiculous. Whereas my ex never hit or hurt me at all but his emotional abuse was incredibly damaging.

Violence is a symptom, not the problem in itself. Although of course men who have shown propensity for extreme violence should be treated with even more caution.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:04:37

I have lived through domestic violence as a child within the last 3 decades and have personal experience of a perpetrator of child sex abuse and violence being given rights to the children he abused. That's my statistic. 5 children abused and the courts allowed it.

Spero, I haven't seen any belittleling etc from you.

I'd like to engage in discussion but it seems pointless when some posters are trying to continually belittle the op and I may go the way of the op and find elsewhere to discuss this.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:05:26

From the link I just posted:

Contact with the other parent

If you have left home because of your partner's violence, you will probably have taken the children with you, and will probably want to continue to care for them and make a home for them. When both your children and your ex-partner (the non-resident or 'absent' parent) wish to see each other, and this can be arranged safely and without major problems, this is likely to benefit everyone concerned. However, in many cases, your safety and that of your children may be a serious concern.

Many mothers have good reason to fear any ongoing contact between their children and their former partner, but they often find that family court professionals minimise or ignore these fears because they are convinced that ongoing contact with both parents is in the interest of the children in the long-term. Many mothers who have escaped from their abusive partners therefore find it extremely difficult to protect their children from ongoing abuse because they are required by the court to comply with an order for contact.

When a parent applies for contact with his (or her) children, under the Children Act 1989, this will almost always be granted. One fundamental principle of the legislation is that the child's welfare should be paramount - and in most cases, this is assumed to be upheld by maintaining his or her contact with both parents: in 2003, only 601 out of 67,184 contact applications (less than 1%) were refused. The courts fail, in many cases, to take domestic violence seriously, despite the introduction in April 2001 of Good Practice Guidelines recommending that the dangers are highlighted at an early stage in the proceedings, so that the safety of the child and the resident parent is secured before, during and after contact visits.

In three-quarters of cases when courts have ordered contact with an abusive parent the children suffered further abuse. Some children have even been ordered to have contact with a parent who has committed offences against children. In some cases, children have even been killed as a result of contact or residence arrangements. (See References and further reading.) There are also many cases in which an abusing parent has used a contact visit to trace the mother's whereabouts, or to assault or otherwise abuse her further.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 23:06:46

Pan, what the fuck?

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:07:52

Oh, the references are on the same page smile

References and further reading

Aris, R., Harrison, C. and Humphreys, C. (2002) 'Safety and child contact' (London: LCD).
Barron et al., (1999) 'From Utility to Rights? The Presumption of Contact in Practice' International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family Vol. 13 (pp111-131).
Hester, M. and Radford, L. (1996) 'Domestic violence and child contact arrangements in Britain and Denmark' (Bristol: Policy Press).
Radford, L. Sayers, S. and AMICA, 1999: 'Unreasonable fears?' (Bristol: Women's Aid Federation of England).
Saunders, H. with Barron, J. (2004) 'Failure to protect?' (Bristol: Women's Aid).
Women's Aid has compiled a list of 29 children in 13 families who have been killed as a result of contact or residence arrangements in the last 10 years. Ten of these children have been killed since 2002. You can purchase '29 child homicides' from our Shop section.

^ That last one is particularly chilling. sad 29 children from 1994 to 2004. It's almost 10 years later now - I wonder if anything has changed?

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:09:36

Iliana, I am sorry to hear of your experience, all the more because those I know in the system take violence and abuse very seriously and it is sad and shocking when things go so badly wrong.

I completely agree that 'domestic violence' is a ridiculous and contemptible term. It is 'violence' plain and simple and should never be tolerated.

Butit isn't as simple as just saying violent men should disappear from their children's lives. Many children still love their fathers or at the very least deserve the opportunity to deal with the reality of their father in a safe way. To simply expunge him runs risk that they will either idealise or demonise him, and that isn't healthy either.

So I support safe, well managed contact if that is found to be in child's best interests. But we have vanishingly few good contact centres.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 23:09:56

Spero, in the OP's link, the court ordered the children live with their mother in the summer and their father the rest of the time, that sounds a bit beyond contact to me, but I may have misread which link you were referring to.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:10:01

[[ This is the study - 10 years old now but the website hasn't been updated during this time, on a site which is pretty up to date in general, I would take this to mean that not much has changed since this time which is awful.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:11:02

Wall LJ published a response to that piece - on ipad so can't link, but try googling it,it is well worth a read and provides another perspective.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:11:28

Like so many feminist issues, it seems the legislation is there and hence people think the issue is solved but the reality is somewhat different angry

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:12:25

Dv I would say is everything from emotional abuse through to physical abuse, good point to raise, most people do think it's just violence when in reality the emotional aspect is probably even more damaging. Interesting point I'll need to research more.

Spero, that's interesting about perp courses, do you have any idea why they are dubious at best.

And I apologise for any ignorance I may have in regards to terminology but I'm not trained in this, I've just lived through it.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:12:35

The doctrine - yes, and we only have this article to go on. I agree there must have been concerns about both parents. But until we have full story, it is just unwise and unhelpful to use this type of article as the foundations for this kind of debate.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 23:15:15

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Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:17:36

I looked at the website for the DVIP programme which is quite popular. A staggeringly high proportion simply dropped out before completion, of those who did complete a number re offended ... So their overall 'success rate' was very low.

A lot of these men are violent for so many different reasons, they have been created over years or even decades, they were often victims of abuse and violence as children themselves. S to say that a 12 week perp programme is going to 'fix' them seems naive to say the least.

I would like to see more time and money spent on empowering women not to get into relationships with them or to end relationships at first sign of violence. A lot of my cases involve women who invite these men back not their homes and their children's lives, even after police have been to install panic buttons etc.

There seems to be a view that any man is better than none. I don't know what can be done to combat this. I know it results from many sources and pressures on women.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:21:30

Bertie - the legislation is my reality, I deal with t every day.
violent men don't get residence, I am still waiting for the evidence to disprove me.

Violence is taken very seriously. In my experience the police are usually swift and effective.

Of course there are cases where things go horribly wrong and people fuck up. But that doe not mean the courts are in league with violent men.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:24:21

Spero, interesting point, I completely understand the childs perspective of either worshipping or demonising the abusive parent, but isn't that a symptom of abuse? I worshipped my stepfather but that was through fear and if I'd been asked wether I wanted contact I would have said yes, through fear. It's a minefield.

I do think, in a lot of cases, contact is well mediated by the courts but I still think society has a long way to go to address abuse.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 23:26:40

Spero I think some "red flag" teaching at an early age would be great, if possible.

Pan, SGM posted four times out of the first 25 posts which were over 12 hours or so. Thread has grown by 30+ posts in the last two hours. I don't read that as "no response", but as I think you say, you're incorporating other experience from over the years.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:27:23

Sorry for the slow replies, I'm finding this quite triggering but am glad of the space to express my experience.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 23:28:37

sad for you Iliana

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:29:26

Sorry, I wasn't meaning the after effects of abuse - I was referring to the absence of a father, particularly if he disappears when child is very young. There is then a fear that child will grow up either hating or worshiping this absent figure which is a worry for their own mental health.

The courts are guided by the pyschologists who say research proves the importance of identity. - children know they come from both a mother and a father, so to have a very negative view about one half of your genetic make up is generally seen as harmful. The best thing is to have a realistic view.

So the courts often have to grapple with the very thorny issue of what kind of contact is safe.

But I have seen the courts very prepared to make no orders for contact when the man just won't accept what he has done, siphons no remorse and makes o apologies. Sturge and Glaser said this should be the starting point before any contact is considered, and I don't know anyone I work with who would disagree.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:30:39

Aaarg! 'Offers' not 'siphons' how do I turn this bloody auto correct off...

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:32:34

Yes definitely 'red flag' teaching at schools, that is a brilliant idea. There seems to be this awful teen culture that girls are nothing if they don't have a 'boyfriend' and they are supposed to be sexually available or put up with all kinds of crap.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:34:38

Spero, the way to combat naivety is to allow people to express themselves.

Ime women who let abusers back into their homes are often the women who have been let down by the court system, I see it daily, women are assualted, they report to the police, there isn't enough evidence, abuser is released, abuser retalliates against the woman.

Maybe more needs to be done on tackling "low level" abuse in the legal system?

Why are perp courses only 12 weeks? Seems a little bit pointless.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 23:35:50

The utter absence of a figure as a father in a child's development is a damaging factor. Even knowing he was/is a poor one is a 'security' compared to having an unexplained space in their development. Children learn and adapt v quickly, as we know, and having a 'perspective' on parents is fairly crucial.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 23:38:32

I think Spero is referring to IDAP Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme, which is 22 sessions, and a review at the end. It's quite long and challenging, and I 'm not recognising the poor outcomes as reported.

IlianaDupree Sun 03-Mar-13 23:41:16

I am going have to leave the thread for the moment but will come back to it tomorrow.

Spero, identity is very important, I have my own child whose father became absent when he was a year old and I have spent a long time ensuring he is healthy and happy in his identity. But I digress and really need to step back for a while.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:41:16

Money, always money. If you put someone in a residential pyscho therapeutic placement for six months, you would likely get results but it would cost between £50 - £100k. Who will fund it?

I agree there is a problem with some abusers not being pursued or evidence not always available bt I also see the flip side of women not agreeing to get injunctions or repeatedly getting back with violent partner. Obviously, whatever damage has been done to her sense of self worth is long standing and quite outside the courts ability to help her with.

I think there are definitely degrees of violence which need different approaches - low level violence, parenting courses, supervised contact if necessary. Sadistic and repeated physical assaults should be dealt with in criminal system and no direct contact without psychiatric evaluation - and that is pretty much my experience anyway. The really violent ones are locked up.

So I think the big problem is with the 'grey' area between low and high, or where the evidence is sketchy.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 23:42:15

Some of you are probably already on this thread (too late to check) but if not, John Cruddas is looking for VAW reduction ideas:

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:43:08

I don't think violent men usually get residence. I think it's very common that abusive men get unsupervised contact, even if there is a token period of supervised. I have "seen" this happen many, many times, in RL and on here. I don't think that the courts are "in league" with violent men - I think there is a big underestimation of abuse and a strong wish to be fair and/or "see both sides" as well as an overriding view that it's in children's best interests to have a relationship with both parents in the vast majority of cases. This is what I'm disagreeing with - I think that abuse is more common than is generally thought, and I think courts are under-educated, in general, about the realities of abuse. Often it comes down to he said/she said. This shouldn't be the case, there are definite differing patterns of speech and behaviour when someone is really a victim, and when someone perceives themselves to be the victim even though they are actually the abuser. This is really hard to judge to the untrained eye/ear! I don't understand why understanding of abuse isn't seen as more important in family courts. To me, this should be absolutely paramount. There is plenty of literature and research about abuse, why is it not being used? I think that it's probably because courts don't want to go "backwards" in terms of granting fathers' access, because, again, the general public perception of abuse is much lower than the reality and it can be difficult to tell if someone is a real victim or not, so publicity/pressure from fathers' groups such as F4J etc would increase and it would generally be seen as unfair with lots of lobbying etc.

I agree that it is important/helpful to empower women not to end up in abusive relationships themselves, this is why I think it's so important that abusive fathers should NOT be awarded contact except in very carefully controlled situations. Children learn relationship patterns from their parents. Mandatory access with an abusive father is creating young people who in the future will very likely go on to accept abuse from a partner and, in turn, their children will suffer. If you want to stop abuse one of the first steps has to be breaking this cycle.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 23:43:36

I looked at DVIP - I think this is Domestic Violence Intervention programme? Don't know about IDAP results but. Am still sceptical that even 22 weeks can have much impact on a pathology that has probably developed over a life time.

Hope you are ok iliana.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:44:24

Forcing somebody to attend a perpetrator course surely defeats the entire object of the course.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb etc.

Pan Sun 03-Mar-13 23:52:36

Well, forcing is an issue. The IDAP is an alternative to being imprisoned. Also, how many DV perps will put their hands up willingly? (actually quite a few, but for v low-level offenses). IDAP has a voice for the victim who is kept informed of their perpetrators progress, or lack of, and the LA advisor and DV police unit are on the ball throughout. It isn't a panacea, but is a resource where men, as a group, get to judge each other and see themselves in context as abusers.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 23:56:50

They get a choice? So it's a bit like, pay the speeding fine or go on the "Speed Awareness Course" then? (Find me someone - anyone - who has been on that course and didn't think it was all a colossal joke?)

Pan Mon 04-Mar-13 00:02:12

It's nothing like a speed awareness course. At that level to attract IDAP, its usually at least 12 months in prison. Everything in life is a choice. <getting a bit existentialist there..>. I'd much rather see DVers do that course than while away time in prison.fwiw

BertieBotts Mon 04-Mar-13 00:11:37

True. But I thought we were discussing child contact?

Pan Mon 04-Mar-13 00:19:20

yes, in context of previous DV instances. Most IDAPers have children. And the young dads' programme I referred to above, at my work place,..somewhere above..2/3rds have a DV history. 8 out of 12 participants.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 04-Mar-13 00:30:48

The DVIP programme consists of an initial assessment, if the person fails this they're not allowed on the programme.

The programme is continually assessed with a report produced half way thro & then one at the end.

Ex failed it pretty spectacularly recently. Not surprising given he failed the initial assessment three times before passing it.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 04-Mar-13 11:05:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 11:36:33

What UK studies? I would be grateful for link. The fact that you talk of 'sole custody' makes me wonder - this hasn't been the term used in UK legal system for over 20 years now.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 11:45:02

For those interested in the debate, the link below is Lord Justice Walls 2006 response to the Womens Aid study which BertieB has linked and cited.

It is well worth a read and gives a valuable perspective on the way the courts approach these matters.

PieChips Mon 04-Mar-13 11:47:27

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StewieGriffinsMom Mon 04-Mar-13 11:50:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 11:55:06

I hope people can understand why, based on my own experience and reading what Wall LJ says - at the time he was the President of the Family Division so his word counts for an awful lot - I just don't accept that the family law system in the UK fails to take violence seriously.

What is interesting to note is that out of the 29 cases of children killed by their father in a ten year period, only five were involved in court proceedings and 3 of those five involved consent orders - when both parents turn up and agree the terms of an order. Wall LJ recommends a more rigourous investigation of consent orders to make sure both parties are giving free and full consent. But I don't see how it is the court's 'fault' if parties turn up with an order they say they are happy with. The courts are legally obliged to support families to make agreements under the 'no order principle' of the Children Act.

If there are UK statistics showing that violent men often succeed in getting residence orders then I would really like to see them as I would find that shocking.

offensivenickname0403 Mon 04-Mar-13 11:57:45

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Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 12:00:55

As our little friend so aptly demonstrates the world is full of all kinds of dickheads and sadly, some of them breed.

I think in all the circs the courts do a good job in trying to balance what the children need - identity and safety.

jellybeans Mon 04-Mar-13 12:01:53

I agree. men who have committed DV should not have unsupervised contact.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 04-Mar-13 15:49:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CaptainSensible1 Mon 04-Mar-13 16:01:54

I can't agree with that statement at all. As spiro said, the courts try their hardest to do a good job with the childrens welfare the major concern.

Dadthelion Mon 04-Mar-13 16:15:42

What I notice is, and I can only think it's the influence of the Patriarchy when the genders are split it's men one side, women and children the other side.

It's as if children are more the woman's than man's.

I'd also like to see the evidence that courts are weighted towards men's rights rather than women and children's.

In the UK it seems to me the courts try and keep to the status quo and try to be fair.

Schooldidi Mon 04-Mar-13 16:30:21

I have only dealt with children who have suffered dv as a teacher. One of the pupils in my form when I first started teaching was ordered to have contact with her father even though he had severely beaten her mother in front of her and had beaten her older brother on numerous occassions.

It was not supervised contact that he was granted (I think it started as supervised but was moved to unsupervised even though she was clearly terrified of him), she was basically forced to spend every other weekend at his house, where she was too scared to speak in case he hit her like she had watched him hit her mother and brother. She was an emotional wreck, she cried over the most trivial things at school because she was scared of upsetting anybody or being in trouble, she made up ilnesses every time she was due to have contact with him. Those effects were massively in evidence without him ever having hit her, or even threatening to hit her. Her mother continued to fight through the courts to deny him access, but it wasn't til she was old enough for the court to take her views into consideration that she was allowed to cease contact, and she was given couselling. Overnight she was a different girl. It was like a massive weight had been lifted off her shoulders, she suddenly made more friends, her schoolwork improved. From her standpoint she wishes her father had had no more contact once her mother left him, she wishes her father had had no more contact from the first time he hit her mother.

That was only one girl's story but there are a number of other pupils I have taught who have been in similar situations.

Hullygully Mon 04-Mar-13 16:49:47

How lovely to see Pan back! Shall I report myself now Pan and save you the trouble?

BertieBotts Mon 04-Mar-13 17:04:50

I think we're basically saying the same thing, in that I think the courts try to be balanced. But balanced is not always fair or right. If it gets to the point of court proceedings, then there's clearly some kind of conflict there. One or both parents aren't playing ball. I think the likelihood that DA has been present is probably far more likely than in the general population of relationships with children which split up.

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Mar-13 17:11:03


AbigailAdams Mon 04-Mar-13 17:26:09

Are those eyebrows for Pan, Kate?

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 04-Mar-13 17:59:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MmeLindor Mon 04-Mar-13 18:14:36

What is your problem with SGM? I have chatted with you over the years, on a variety of topics and have never had such a response as you have posted towards SGM on this thread. It surprises me.

It is belittling to dismiss her OP as absurd, and to accuse her of being over-emotional and it is absolutely not on to say that she is using the murder of a child to further her own agenda.

OliviaAllOverTheSpamMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Mar-13 18:16:40


TunipTheVegedude Mon 04-Mar-13 18:18:15

Kate, there are some personal attacks still standing on this thread that really need to go. I reported one earlier but haven't had a response.

Hullygully Mon 04-Mar-13 18:20:24

Wow, do you all need tweezers at MNHQ? Getting a little overgrown over there.

NinthWave Mon 04-Mar-13 18:40:11

I reported one earlier too. I rarely post in this topic but lurk a lot, and this isn't the first time I've seen Pan poke at the OP.

I doubt he would have posted that sort of response if, for example, I had been the OP.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 04-Mar-13 18:40:33

I don't get this thing that courts are always so careful about DV.

2 women I know who were in violent relationships:

The first one, the judge ordered her to sleep upstairs and him to sleep downstairs while their divorce was going through. He was sleeping in her fucking living room - the man who had threatened to kill her and had attacked her and received a police caution for it. Eventually she had to move back to her parent's house because she simply didn't feel safe with him in the house (doubtless because she was an hysterical, over-reacting woman as the judge implied). This was 2 years ago.

Second one, woman fled with her DS to refuge, boy was 11 years old and asked who he wanted to live with. He chose the father because the father was living in the family home, near his school, all his friends and had a steady job and money, playstation etc. Because er, Mum had had to flee to a refuge. This was 4 1/2 years ago.

How come everyone knows women like that, if the courts take DV so seriously?

I can understand if it was a decade ago, but it's not - both those cases, with documented DV, ended in the women either losing c&c or her home (or both) because the violence against them wasn't considered a bar to the men living in the family home or getting c&c.

MmeLindor Mon 04-Mar-13 18:48:07

With respect, MNHQ, I think eyebrow lifting isn't going to cut it.

I agree that the response from Pan to this OP is beyond disagreeing and that he would not have responded in the same way had someone else posted the OP.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 04-Mar-13 18:48:49

Yep. He's on a mission.

BOF Mon 04-Mar-13 18:55:34

Pan, come on, don't you feel a tiny bit embarrassed at the rudeness of haranguing a woman off her own thread in the FEMINISM section?

garlicbrain Mon 04-Mar-13 19:04:31

I'm barging in here without reading the thread (am a tad fragile atm.) This is a MAJOR issue among domestic abuse survivors. What happens normally is that the abused mother, having gone through all the pain of that and the invariably difficult separation, is suddenly directed by the authorities - family court, mediators, counsellors, social services - to respect her child's right to a father, bad as he may be, and to behave as if he were a perfectly reasonable chap. Her entirely rational fears and attempts to protect her children are treated as parental alienation.

I know several mothers going through it right now.

StickEmUp Mon 04-Mar-13 19:13:12

I fully admit im Not very intellectual and im not ashamed.
This might be stupid.

Is pan talking about not seeing your father for any reason as a bad thing?
If my father hit my mother, i am an adult, i think id be inclined not to see him, to be frank.

Putting myself in a childs position, is it wrong to deny access to a father to his children after he hit there mother (or worse)?

If i am being stupid, please be nice.
Im not a good debater but i felt the need to express an opinion.

Im fine with being pointd in the right direction if im wrong.

nenevomito Mon 04-Mar-13 19:15:07

It's an extension of an abused woman saying "he hit me etc etc... but he's such a good father".

The reality is that an abuser is not a good father.

My friend had to flee the home after years of abuse. The children stayed in the family home - after all he was such a good father hmm she was vilified for walking out on her family. He was lauded for looking after the children. She stayed for years before she left. She was a shell by the time she did.

IlianaDupree Mon 04-Mar-13 19:55:07

Good Spero, thanks, and thanks for explaining stuff.

Ime experience as a parent the courts wouldn't even consider giving my ex access, that's been in the last 10 years.

However, I volunteer with abuse victims and the police and know of some horror stories happening atm. It seems to be a big struggle for all involved to get abuse recognised/prosecute against it. I don't know what the answer is.

I'll also retract my statement for perp courses as I've remembered research which proved it failed.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 19:58:17

I completely disagree with the statement that the courts are weighted more towards men's rights than women's. the welfare of the children is the paramount consideration. And sometimes that does involve weighing up a child's need to know their father against the child's need to be safe.

It just isn't as simple as saying 'violent man' = 'no contact ever'

You need to be clear exactly what you mean by violence. Violence sufficient to merit custodial sentence? Or lesser violence such as shouting or pushing?

What about relationships where the woman is also violent? What about children who want to see their fathers? What about the men who volunteer for perpetrator programmes and complete them?

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 04-Mar-13 20:00:16

Isn't it because most perp programmes are shit though?

Aren't they mostly based on anger management, which is of course, effing useless with abusers?

The ones Lundy Bancroft runs are completely different - they absolutely don't accept any of the DV myths, he's really clear that these men don't need anger mgmt and that it's not their feelings that cause them to be violent, but their belief systems. His courses aim at tackling belief systems. But I don't know how successful they are in terms of changing an abusive man into one who isn't an abuser. Maybe someone else here does?

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:01:54

Glad you are ok Iliana. It is helpful to hear about others experiences. I am sad that there are so many negative stories. There is obviously something going wrong somewhere - but I don't accept it is because the courts favour violent men. Is it lack of resources?

I think the legal principles are sound but maybe they are just not being applied consistently across all areas.

IlianaDupree Mon 04-Mar-13 20:02:23

HQ I don't post on FWR but felt there was a purposeful attempt at derailment here.

This issue affects me, I don't want to post about but I want to hear what people have to say, not a load of personal attacks.

It makes mn a place to avoid for these issues, just saying.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:03:42

I think perp programmes are uniformly rubbish. The violent men I encounter almost always come from very dysfunctional and toxic backgrounds, there childhood were founded on seeing and being subjected to violence. That isn't going to be turned around by going to some group sessions and chatting for a few months.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:06:15

The real answer must be to intervene quickly and effectively in loves of small children - but again that is hampered by lack of resources, social workers leaving profession in droves etc.

But by time you get to 20 and you have already left behind you a trail of battered girlfriends I suspect it may be too late to bring about positive change, unless the man himself really wants to. And insight and acceptance of bad behaviour is virtually non existent in such men.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 04-Mar-13 20:07:02

No I agree.

I think in many cases, those programmes actually teach abusive men how to abuse more efficiently, without being caught.

Because they don't really get to the core of these men's deeply-held belief systems - so deeply held, that the men themselves don't even know they hold them.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:11:35

That I think is the heart of the problem. If while in the womb your mother was beaten, you are flooded with stress hormones before you are even born then as you grow up you are constantly subjected to adults who use violence against you and each other, then violence as response to any kind of stress or difficulty is going to be your default response. The only thing to make a dent in that would be massive therapeutic intervention coupled with at least a glimmer of insight.

As the gov may be pulling finding from even organisations like Kids company which are known to do effective work with children from just these kind of backgrounds, I am not holding my breath for any improvement.

IlianaDupree Mon 04-Mar-13 20:12:23

Spero, some of the "challenges" I know people are facing today are, tbvh individual perspectives of arresting officers. It is crucial, especially in the immediate aftermath of an incident to have an effective police response so the courts have the right information to base a decision on.

A lot of damage can be done to a child whilst evidence is being sought and I know this is something that efficient officers get upset about.

That's all I can say atm, bowing out for a bit, will have a read of Lundy.

AbigailAdams Mon 04-Mar-13 20:14:37

Bancroft says a man can change if none of his family and close colleagues, friends etc uphold his abuse i.e. it is made clear by all around him that his behaviour is unacceptable as well as going on one of these courses. there also has to be consequences for his actions e.g. he ends up in prison if he doesn't complete the course or his family leaves him (either temporarily or permanently). He usually deals with men who have come through the court system and are forced to attend again to drive home the point that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Reformers are few and far between.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:15:10

This is the awful Catch 22 of the system. We should only proceed to punish people on clear evidence - but sometimes it takes time to gather.

All we can do is continue to strive to get the balance right but I have to accept that some people will fall between the cracks.

AbigailAdams Mon 04-Mar-13 20:16:30

And I agree most courses just play into an abusers hands. They have to be special and very knowledgable about abuse. Bancroft freely admits abusers have fooled him before now.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:17:07

Sadly, last violent and abusive people are to surrounded by a network of caring 'normal' people who will act to reinforce what is acceptable behaviour. Generally they don't have many or indeed any healthy supportive relationships, which is an enormous part of the problem.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 20:17:34

'Most" not last. Sorry for gibberish.

AbigailAdams Mon 04-Mar-13 20:19:09

Yes Spero that is the problem. They learnt their sense of entitlement from somewhere!

MmeLindor Mon 04-Mar-13 20:21:06

'It just isn't as simple as saying 'violent man' = 'no contact ever'

You need to be clear exactly what you mean by violence. Violence sufficient to merit custodial sentence? Or lesser violence such as shouting or pushing?'

No, it isn't simple. Whether a child is physically or emotionally abused, or 'only' witnessed abuse, it is all classed as child abuse. And yes, there may be abusive women and no clear 'blame' to be ascertained.

I'd rather err on the side of caution though.

I also think that for some men, insisting on access is done to further upset and hurt the ex wife, and that if they were given only supervised access for a set period of time, they might lose interest.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 21:41:48

I don't think most of the men I deal with have a sense of 'entitlement'. They are damaged, sad losers. I often feel sorry for them. They were made, not born.

The type which I think do consider themselves 'entitled' are the more 'middle class' abusers - they are generally educated and articulated and can be very controlling. They are less likely to physically abuse their partners, but can do enormous emotional damage.

I guess where I diverge from many on this thread is that I don't see most violent men as products of an entitled patriarchy, but rather as the products of appalling upbringings, for which often both parents share blame.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 21:42:13

Articulate I mean. I guess we are all articulated.

garlicbrain Mon 04-Mar-13 22:03:19

Lol at articulated, Spero. I think you've misapprehended what was meant by 'entitlement'. A man's belief that he is entitled to more respect & consideration than his wife or child; that he's entitled to control them by fear, whatever means he chooses; his unquestioning assumption of the alpha role at home - has nothing at all to do with social standing or material privilege. They are, in every case, the outcome of events in the perp's life.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 22:20:05

I don't think a lot of these men lash out to shore up their 'alpha' status - they don't have alpha status. They are violent because they don't have any other way of dealing with frustration or sadness or anger. They know they are at the bottom of a pile of shit and this is one way of making someone else lower than them.

I am sure some men are violent for the reasons you mention, but certainly not all.

garlicbrain Mon 04-Mar-13 22:59:40

We are looking at the same things with different eyes, Spero. My understanding comes from a lifetime of abuse including having done my share of the abusing. You & I have discussed some of the things you raised - foetal stress in particular - on other threads. Whilst I'm naturally interested in the whole train of relationship abuse (in and out of the home), I'm not at all interested in being "understanding" to those who harm others for personal reasons. I understand it ever so well. I did myself a lot of damage by thinking my understanding could alter its course. Now I know better.

garlicbrain Mon 04-Mar-13 23:01:00

They know they are at the bottom of a pile of shit and this is one way of making someone else lower than them.

This is just another way of saying "shore up their alpha status." If you work with perpetrators, I really hope your assumptions about class don't inform your thinking.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 23:09:06

No, I think our disagreement is more fundamental. in a lot of cases I see acts of desparation, stupidity, cruelty, often fueled by drugs, drink and despair. I don't see the 'patriarchy' at work, I don't see people trying to shore up their status. I see desparation. Often guilt and tears afterwards... but they do it again and again.

I don't know what you mean by 'assumptions' about class. All I am saying is that the more educated and articulate men I have come across do not use their fists - they have more subtle ways of achieving control.

I don't deal with the really violent as they will be in prison. I work in the civil courts so I am either dealing with care cases which are 90% working class men who are physically violent or private law contact cases which are 90% middle class men who are abusive in other ways. So I don't make 'assumptions' on anything other than my direct experience.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 23:12:57

And I don't understand why 'understanding' is so dangerous or negative.

'understanding' doesn't mean you trust someone or ignore the fact that they are dangerous. But it does mean that you are open to understanding why someone ended up where they did. only then can you try to rescue others from the same fate.

I am reminded of the Tories lovely saying 'condemn a little more, understand a little less'.

I hope that is not what you mean.

Spero Mon 04-Mar-13 23:17:24

I've got to go to bed now.

I wrote this blog piece a while ago and was disappointed that it didn't provoke more discussion. I do think the whole problem is much more complex than simply violent men are the product of the patriarchy and should be expunged from their children's lives.

I do think there is a very important debate to be had about dysfunctional adult relationships and the impact on children and I am very sad to read that so many people have had such negative experiences of the family law system and don't feel listened to or protected.

garlicbrain Mon 04-Mar-13 23:33:55

Spero, I absolutely can't go into this any more with you, here, now. I don't feel listened to in your posts this evening - that saddens me and, once upon a time, I may have reacted to feeling unheard by taking an aggressive stance.

You may or may not be interested to learn the least helpful 'help' I've received for my problems has been delivered by those who claimed to have a better understanding of my life than I did. I feel that this is what you're telling me.

I'll just remind you that abusing others to make yourself feel better/stronger/bigger than them is despicable. I bloody understand why and how it happens - didn't you read my posts? - and it has zilch to do with external factors such as class, social environment, etc. Posh people do it too. Possibly you see more of the not-posh people in court, as abusers with money or standing generally have access to resources that let them get away with it.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 08:38:00

I am sorry you feel I am claiming to understand your life better than you do, but I am at a loss to know how you get that impression. All I am saying is that out of the hundreds of cases I have dealt with involving violent men, knowing about their histories, I draw certain conclusions.

I would never presume to tell someone over the Internet I 'understand' their experience better than they, I can see how frustrating and unhelpful that is.

But equally it is sad that you dismiss my views and experiences because I disagree with you?

Hullygully Tue 05-Mar-13 09:23:22

I don't understand the disagreement because I agree with both of you, Spero and garlic.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 09:42:10

Well indeed.

I have no doubt that many men abuse because they dislike and disrespect women, see them as lesser beings and fundamentally believe they are entitled to exercise control.

Equally there are men who abuse because they are sad and pathetic products of horrible circumstances.

I really don't see why trying to 'understand' this is a bad thing or a useless thing. I think it is very important.

betterthanever Tue 05-Mar-13 10:12:28

How many more tragic cases like the one in the OP will it take for child protection to be taken more seriously in private law cases worlwide?
Why is parental capacity taken more seriously in public law than private law? (in the UK and probably elsewhere)
Why should ex partners of abusive men have to spend thier time `understanding' the motives behind the abuse? I happen to fall in the influence of the patriachy camp but to be honest most women concentrate thier efforts on supporting, protecting, financially providing for, loving and caring for thier children.
They are NOT responsible for the actions of thier ex/partners nor should they waste time pondering their partners back story (it took me along time to realise this in my own circustmances). To be honest most do not have the energy nor time as they struggle against more patriarchy to protect thier children.
If the root cause is not removed the symtoms will keep flaring back up and usually with increased severity and frequency.
I am not as articulate as many wonderful posters on thie thread but I am glad this subject has been brought up.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 10:31:10

I am not asking the victims of abuse to 'understand' . When I was physically abused by one ex (Oxbridge educated professional) I didn't give a shit about his traumatised childhood, early death of his mother etc. I was frightened and wanted him gone.

But those responsible for allocating funds to perpetrator programmes surely do need to understand what drives and motivates violent men, if only to allocate funds most appropriately.

It also helps driving intervention in dysfunctional families because we know we have to intervene quickly to try to save children from getting caught up in cycle of abuse.

And asking courts to 'catch up' - can I refer again to the Women's Aid report. Of the 29 child murders, only 5 were in court proceedings. Of those 5, 3 involved contact resulting from a consent order - I.e. both parents had agreed direct contact should happen.

betterthanever Tue 05-Mar-13 10:33:47

It also helps driving intervention in dysfunctional families because we know we have to intervene quickly to try to save children from getting caught up in cycle of abuse. but the courts do not seem to be doing this?

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 11:48:53

Well I think they do. There was an interesting report in November from a group, I will link it when on computer that pointed out ways in which court could improve - I don't doubt there is always room for improvement.

But I just don't accept, from my own experience, that the courts are starting from such a low base, as seems to be the view of some on here. The impact of violence, not just on the immediate victim, but on those who see and hear it, are well known.

I think where things are falling down is lack of well trained, well resourced professionals who can help families and individuals before it gets so bad it goes to court.

Dadthelion Tue 05-Mar-13 12:30:46


I've just read your blog post and heartily agreed with it, you're on the same lines as Erin Pizzey who doesn't seem to be listened too much either.

When you say what happens in court and people still ignore your views why do you think that is?

Is it just women victem, men violent?

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 12:39:24

I do feel that there is a view in some quarters that men are always perpetrators and women always victims and I don't think the helps at all.

I also find it sad and ironic that Erin Pizzey received death threats for expressing views her former colleagues didn't like.

I appreciate this is a potentially a very difficult issue for many people who have been abused but it does sadden me that often responses to attempted debates about this are 'o you are victim blaming' etc, etc.

I am only interested in trying to find out the facts and what we can do, as a society, as individuals to help everyone live the best life they can.

It is NOT a fact that violent men often get residence orders and it is concerning that things like this are asserted but never backed up as I think it gives a very wrong impression of how the courts operate and is likely to frighten and upset a lot of people.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 05-Mar-13 13:31:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 13:47:20

I not care if Pizzey is credible or not - to threaten anyone with death because you don't like her arguments is despicable. If someone is wrong, debate with them don't try to shut them up with threats.

Again, your argument simply appears to come from one perspective. I do not doubt that gas lighting etc exists, I have experienced it professionally and personally.

All I am saying is that there are many reasons why we act as we do and I don't think simplistic reduction of violence down to 'men do it based on entitlement' is helpful.

Some men do, some men don't.

And women do go back to abusers or chose one abuser after another. I don't see what is wrong or dangerous in discussing this, asking 'why' and exploring what we can do to help people get it of these situations.

edam Tue 05-Mar-13 13:50:42

Sadly it is common in the UK for women and children who flee from violent relationships to be forced into contact with the perpetrator by the family courts. Women's Aid say so, and they ought to know. A friend of mine is in this situation at the moment - she was originally warned by her solicitor not to mention the DV, the restraining order, the ongoing prosecution 'because the courts don't like it and it prejudices them against mothers'. That may not be the case in every court, but there are certainly plenty that have a bizarre attitude that violence someone doesn't count when it's a man attacking the mother of his children.

It seems to me very, very basic that someone who is violent is not a good parent and not safe to be around a child, let alone have any responsibility for that child. Abusing the other parent IS abuse of the children. That should be blindingly obvious! A violent parent should have to prove they are safe and capable of taking responsibility, rather than automatically getting contact.

It is not unknown for SS to threaten women that if they don't leave, the children will be taken away, only for the courts to then put that woman and her children at risk by forcing them into contract with the perpetrator. Madness.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 13:56:45

You describe a world I just don't recognise.

It is simply untrue to say violence doesn't count if a man attacks the mother of is child.

The statutory definition of 'harm' in the Children Act was explicitly amended t include the harm done by seeing or hearing violence because Parliament recognised the overwhelming evidence about how damaging this is.

Any solicitor who advises someone to withold evidence of a restraining order from a family court is clearly mad and should be reported and hopefully struck off. If any judge in any of my cases refused to consider previous convictions, cautions or any other police involvement Iwould have immediate grounds to appeal against his or her decision regarding contact.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 14:54:31

Just to try to reassure anyone lurking - I have a case tomorrow. The mother is refusing any direct contact to father on basis he has verbally abused her and threatened to kill her. She says her little boy is wetting the bed and frightened of his father.

What will happen tomorrow is a decision will be made as to whether or not we need a fact finding hearing to determine what has happened - I assume father will deny the allegations. A full CAFCASS report will be ordered, they will do criminal record checks to see of there are any convictions or cautions for violence.

We will then come back to court in a few months and see where we go from there. No direct contact will be ordered in the interim. If the mags do order it, I would appeal and expect to win.

Pretty hard cheese for the father if the mother is in fact lying or exaggerating - which does happen. But clearly the courts have to and do err on the side of caution and keeping child safe.

FastidiaBlueberry Tue 05-Mar-13 16:54:43

I find this hang up about not wanting men's violence to be attributed to their feeling of entitlement to be a bit odd. I get that you think some of them don't have a feeling of entitlement, they're just sad losers, but I think you're missing the fact that the one person (or people) they do feel entitlement towards, is the women and children they live with.

Of course they're pathetic in the presence of well-educated, intimidating lawyers and social workers. Because they don't feel entitled in relation to them. But how can you actually hit someone, without feeling an enormous feeling of entitlement about it? Of course they don't hit the lawyers, or their boss, or their co-workers - but they do feel entitled to hit the women they live with and their children. That's what we're talking about when we talk about entitlement - not the middle class, educated privileged sort of entitlement, the average male entitlement which many many men still have vis a vis women and which it seems most adults still have vis a vis children.

Also I accept that you may have a very different experience of courts Spero, but your experience isn't being borne out by the figures. Women's Aid, Refuge and Gingerbread are saying very different things from you. I suspect it may be a bit of a postcode or other lottery going on - I've heard very heartening stories of judges not taking any shit from abusers as well as the awful ones where it is very clear that no-one in the court has even a basic knowledge of DV dynamics. If the courts really did have a consistent, zero-tolerance attitude to DV, I'd be absolutely delighted to agree with you, but sadly I think you're wrong on this. If you were right, 2 women a week wouldn't be being murdered by their current or previous partners and there wouldn't be the number of family annihilations that we're seeing.

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 17:14:35

I don't have a 'hang up'. I simply don't accept that ALL male violence is explained by this sense of entitlement. I am curious as to why this seems so impossible to accept/ understand.

I agree that my experiences seems differ vastly from others on this thread when it comes to court. But it seems very odd to hear repeated things which I know are untrue.

I have never come across or heard of another lawyer advising a client not to be forthcoming about previous documented violence from an ex for eg. This just seems insane.

All I am concerned about is that a debate on such a crucial issue proceeds with as much honesty and clarity as possible. I think dismissing my decade of experience with 100s of cases as a 'hang up' is not a worthwhile contribution to that debate.

Hullygully Tue 05-Mar-13 17:25:00

I think it's all about pain.

People in pain hit/psychologically terrorise etc whoever they can, a woman, another man if that's who they live with, a dog, a cat. Anyone with less power (so one could say "entitlement?")

People in pain try to externalise that pain and release terrific frustration and rage.

Some women do it too, to children as they are the less powerful. Some women do it to men.

Usually, but not always (sometimes there is mental haywireness), they suffered a lot of pain themselves.

Every human being on earth needs to be firmly socialised that abusing any other living creature is 100% wrong.

All social wrongs leading to terrible pain etc etc need to be addressed.

And happy people don't hit.

FastidiaBlueberry Tue 05-Mar-13 17:33:01

OK so hang up is the wrong word.

But how can you argue that a man who hits a woman, doesn't feel entitled to hit her? I'm confused about what you think is at the root of this behaviour, if not entitlement.

It's like people who use smacking as a means of discipline with their kids - we can all argue about whether it's right or not, but the reason they do it, is because they feel entitled to. They don't feel entitled to smack their colleagues, the postman or anyone else's kids - just their own, They smack their own and don't feel they shouldn't, because they feel entitled to, surely?

Isn't that what entitlement is? The feeling that you are permitted to do something specific to someone specific? I'm just trying to understand why you have such an objection to acknowledging that it's an essential part of DV - I acknowledge that it may not be present in the rare one-offs, but in an ongoing DV relationship, I can't see how it can be absent really and am trying to understand where you're coming from on this.

Hullygully Tue 05-Mar-13 17:35:12

Perhaps because they don't think that they feel entitled although they clearly do? Or they hit the thing nearest them? Does knowing yo won't be hit back make you feel "entitled"? Consciously? Is it an unconscious "entitlement"?

Spero Tue 05-Mar-13 19:53:57

I agree with hully. The root of it for some - not all - is pain not entitlement. Some of the men I deal with are quite happy to hit lots of people, not just their partners. They attack lawyers and judges too.

The worst attack I am aware of was when a female client hit a colleague of mine. Who was visibly pregnant. Was this woman lashing out due to entitlement? Or because she had just lost her child to adoption and was in terrible pain? And had no other means of expressing that pain?

I agree courts vary in consistency and quality. We need to work to improve standards across the board. I am quite wary of some magistrates courts. Tis am explain the different accounts of experiences in family courts, I work predominantly in county court.

Are you saying that the two women a week murdered by their partners are also involved in family court proceedings? I don't think so. The issues that need addressing go beyond the family courts and contact orders.

garlicbrain Wed 06-Mar-13 01:35:36

As Fastidia and Hully have also tried to explain, the aggressor feels entitled to make another suffer. Being in pain doesn't make everyone attack others; only those who feel entitled to inflict pain on others do so. I'm mystified as to why you can't see this, Spero.

Spero Wed 06-Mar-13 07:36:31

I have explained why, you can't or won't accept my explanation so I am equally 'mystified'.

I make one very simple point. not ALL male violence is explained exclusively or primarily by a sense tha they are 'entitled' to hit women. I base tis experience on hundreds of cases whee I have access to detailed family history's and psychological/psychiatric/probation reports.

I am sure a lot of men do feel so entitled. But not all.

You can agree or not, that is your privilege. But you cannot tell me I am 'deluded' or have 'hang ups' or 'can't understand'. As with all my opinions, I try to base them on the best available evidence.

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 08:43:22

Isn't it just the word that's causing probs here?

I don't think anyone consciously says to themselves, "I am entitled to hit that person/animal" (unless psychopathic etc), indeed they would know that the opposite is true: that they AREN'T allowed to hit anyone. But the feelings of rage etc are so intense and the desire for externalisation so extreme that the feelings override the moral caveat.

And once done once, it's easier the next time - especially as one then hates one victim more than ever for provoking terrible guilt that can't be processed or assimilated (you made me do it etc). And so it goes on.

Human beings are terribly violent, to each other and other species. It's never far away.

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 09:08:34

I do think it is odd that both spero and Pan who have hundreds if not thousands of hours of actual experience working in the system, are being attacked for holding views that unlike others posting on this thread, they can evidence and support with real life examples.

Asserting that once a male or female hits another male or female in a domestic setting means that they should be considered unfit to parent irrespective of the situation and the needs of the child seems much more like the witch trials of yore when a basic accusation was enough to condemn someone to death.

I don't have any of the evidence on this issue, but I cannot help thinking that someone who can physically, mentally or emotionally abuse a person who they supposedly love (or at least, loved at some point - enough to marry/live with, and have children with), is demonstrating a lack of control and a lack of conscience that does not bode well for their ability to care for their children in a loving and non-abusive manner. Maybe some can - but it is not a sign of a decent and caring person, is it?

Spero Wed 06-Mar-13 11:39:04

No it is not a good sign I agree. It can be a very bad sign, it can conclusively demonstrate that the violent person is not fit to be in society at all - hence prison sentences.

But it is very rare to have such a black and white situation. Violent men can love their children and be loved in return. To simply rub them out of existence may not be the best thing for those children. They need to know the reality of the man who has provided half their genetic makeup. And they need to be safe. The court has to juggle different needs which may be in opposition to each other.

What really worries me about these types of threads is that someone will assert something incredible that a friend told them or refer me to unidentified 'studies' that prove x or Y and then someone posts that they will never leave a violent partner because Social services will take their child.

The courts and the police are not the enemy, are not promoting men's rights in face of all logic and reason. They are aware of issue of violence and its hugely corrosive impact on a child's healthy development.

Of course things go wrong. We are all fallible. I am sad to read some of the horror stories people have. But that does not undermine the basic point that those in the system do understand and do care.

I don't want to waste time on a semantic argument - as Hully said maybe language is the problem, I recall we had a similar dispute over use of word 'privilege' a while back.

But I still find that useful, arguing over the word and its application and meaning did clarify my thought process. I think if 'entitlement' is used as a blanket word to cover ALL men in all circumstances, it is getting in the way of a proper, informed and very necessary debate.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 12:28:19

Spero I conduct research (as an academic) in deprived neighbourhoods and have spoken to both "sides" here. People who are terrified of asking for help in case SS take their children, and workers who know that SWs are people who want (in the majority of cases) to help and removal is a last resort. But the barriers between the two groups are high and topped with razor wire.

I also though that the disagreement that occurred a few pages back was, to my reading, one of semantics rather than meaning. Entitlement has come to have a political meaning as well as simply meaning someone who feels that they have the right to do something. So my main thought in reading the well informed and articulate posts by all concerned was that I'd agree that most people who hit feel, at some level, that they have some sort of right (another would might be justification) to do so otherwise they wouldn't. But also, not all of them are abusive because of a sense of entitlement in the political interpretation of the term.

Spero Wed 06-Mar-13 13:12:05

Thanks - that is sad to read but confirms my own views. It is about breaking down the barriers or at leas reducing them. And there is very little hope of that in current climate. We need people who will stay in their jobs and have time to do them well, build relationships with people etc. and I just don't see that happening, social workers are massively over stretched, community programmes are losing funding etc.

It is an interesting debate - I would still challenge assertion that violence necessarily stems form a feeling from has 'a right' to be violent - if you are dealing with someone whose physical response to stress has been determined by brain development even as a foetus then can it be right ever to say, well you are a moral agent with a choice in how you react, and you are to be blamed and condemned when you react badly.

I heard Camilla B from Kids Compamy on Radio 4 saying how she deals with a lot of the children who come to her - she doesn't say 'you are naughty or bad for reacting with violence' but rather 'you have a problem with way you respond and here are some strategies for dealing with this' she says this works well.

A lot of my clients have the emotional response of pre schoolers - any frustration or being deflected from their immediate desires can lead to instant meltdown. And I think this is because their emotional development has been stunted due to very adverse experiences in childhood. I certainly don't consider a lot of them act because they think it is their 'right' - the problem is, they are often not thinking at all.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 13:36:26

That's an interesting perspective and one I hadn't factored in: that they're not thinking about anything at all, simply reacting.

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 13:43:37

yy spero, fight response.

Andro Wed 06-Mar-13 13:53:54

A quick point or two about the article in the OP: Split residency is not that unusual in the USA because the distances involved wrt where each parent lives are often vast. The other issue is that there tends to be an attitude of 'X has paid his debt to society' and much of the metaphorical slate is wiped clean on release from prison...hence an abusive XP will often get unsupervised access or shared custody if they challenge in court.

One of the major issues in the UK is that when the police, courts or SS get it wrong, they tend to get it spectacularly which point the consequences are devastating for the 'innocent' party/parties. You don't tend to hear about the many cases where everything has worked as it should, those involved rebuild their lives and often get on with things without much comment. This leads to a somewhat unfair view, but the issue remains that people (children and adults) are still suffering because of erroneous actions on the part of the authorities. The question that needs looking at is 'how do we prevent these mistakes being made?'.

Spero Wed 06-Mar-13 14:14:05

I am afraid my view is we can't stop all mistake being made because all humans are fallible. All we can do is to try and limit the number and seriousness of those mistakes, but to do that we need proper investment in the system so at least mistakes aren't made because people are knackered and stressed.

I think a distinction has to be made between the men who just flip because they don't have any other response or emotional resilience and those men who do know exactly what they are doing and who deliberately use violence and emotional abuse to control others - these i think are the really dangerous ones, the ones who will kill their children as the ultimate act of control. I completely agree these kinds of men should not have any contact with their children, they don't tend to see children as other human beings, more their 'property'.

Andro Wed 06-Mar-13 14:37:40

I agree Spero that there will always be mistakes, but I think the way the minimise them is by the (impossible) aim of preventing them. I'm not just talking about DV here either, I'm talking about the entire spectrum of protection legislation - child protection can go terribly wrong!

My experience is this: My EXP pysically abused me infront of my children. He never hit them but emotionally abused them instead. My son was a frightened little wreck, the one time he went to hit my son was the day i left him.
Fast forward through a year of intimidation i.e putting my windows through, cutting phone wires, breaking into my house and watching me sleep!. Breeched (sp?) the non-molestation orders countless times and got nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Social services consider him a danger to children, they told me if i was to ever go back to him my DC would be put on the at risk register immediatly.

He went on to have another child with another woman, same situation with her, Violence drinking and even kidnapped her DC. She refused to leave him and as a result all her children were taken into care.

He applied to court to have visitation with my DC, It was granted albeit at a contact center. He is now pushing for unsupervised access and i am fighting it tooth and nail. So far we have had the CAFCASS report, He screamed at the CAFCASS lady threw over a table and walked out (this was ignored in court). He has to complete a domestic violence course, he is yet to do this. Court has been postponed 3 times so far until this happens. This waste of air, still has contact with my son at the contact center as an when he can be bothered to turn up.

How is it that a man like this can get contact with a child, there is a psychiatric report that says he has a personality disorder, he controls people through violence and is a danger to children. Non of this matters to court, they seem to bend over backwards to accomodate him. It is my experience that it is waited very heavily in his favour. I dread to think of the damage he could do to my DC if he was to get unsupervised contact. The courts in this country are very very wrong.

It's ok saying that it is in the childrens best interests to know both parents, My DC hate seeing him, they don't want to go and i have to force them to. As they are only 10 and 8 they have no say. If i don't take them i have been told by the judge i will be in contempt of court and there will be the possiblilty of imprisonment. I have no rights and neither do my children.

Sorry for my rant and congratulations if you got through my post blush

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 15:17:52

SparklyVampire what an awful situation for you and your dc sad

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 15:34:03

sparkly, that is truly terrible and very, very wrong, I agree. It is the law trumping all reason and sense.

edam Wed 06-Mar-13 15:49:55

Sparkly, I am so sorry the courts are abusing you and your children. I do hope the hostile people who posted early on, doubting that the courts ever ignored violence or did anything wrong read your post. It's horrific, it should never happen.

garlicbrain Wed 06-Mar-13 16:23:40

It is awful. The strain on you must be immense, Sparkly sad

I'm still feeling somewhat unheard in this part of the thread. I know women who are going through the same nightmarish processes as Sparkly. I am aware that the processes are inflicted on them by people in positions of influence, who have sufficient empathy for perpetrators that the mental health of the PWR - if not, too, the children - seems to take a back seat.

I'm tired of my lived experience being dismissed if it doesn't fit some officer's theories. My father didn't choose to be a violent psychopath: I have much sympathy for his tormented psyche. But, thanks to him, I grew up believing aggression was a normal response to emotional distress. It's idiotic to assert I don't know how this happens - it happened to me! I also know, from experience inside my own head, that Lundy Bancroft is correct when he asserts that abusers always know what they are doing.

I can imagine it's hard for those who come from 'sane', emotionally balanced backgrounds to envisage but it's really not complicated. All of life feels like a war game. Having only ever known this kind of emotional landscape, it feels obvious and natural. You think fast and take few prisoners.

Not too many people sit back and coolly calculate a program of abuse. Even my dad didn't do that; he played it by stages. But he knew what he was doing, and to what end (sometimes just for fun, in his case.) I craved a life without abuse but I didn't know how to do that. It's impossible to just decide to change it, until the time machine gets invented and we can go back to get a different upbringing. I couldn't keep a non-abusive partner because my emotional responses came from the 'war game'. I didn't even know there are people who don't live like that.

None of the above means I didn't know what I was doing: I did; my partners and close friends knew what they were doing; my father was in a whole other class of knowing. When you form relationships in a non-abusive, non-competitive fashion, it probably comes completely naturally to you but you still know what you're doing. Same thing, different rules. And these rules - the ones I grew up with - are harmful. Children should be protected from having to adopt them.

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 17:42:56

garlic I grew up in what might politely be described as an unhealthy environment and I know exactly what you are saying, it is still hard for me to repress my combative instincts, and often unsuccessful. yes kids should be protected from it, I dont think anyone disagrees? I think kids should be listened to by courts and every case should be judged individually.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 06-Mar-13 18:28:04

I hear ya garlic.

Also the awful thing about Sparklyvampire's situation is that it isn't an unfortunate one-off.

There is masses of this going on. I wish we could all put it down to just that there will be a few mistakes made here and there, but there are far too many of these sorts of cases for it to be a rare aberration.

That's where some basic blanket rules might be useful; things like you don't bother to turn up for contact three times in a row with no good (proven) reason, then you lose sole contact, for example.

Spero Wed 06-Mar-13 19:02:03

Sorry to hear what you and your children are going through Sparkly. But your children do have a voice, certainly the 10 year old. if you feel CAFCASS are not listening can you apply for a Guardian particularly to represent your children? If they are saying they dont want to see him, they should absolutely be listened to. If a Guardian is appointed, they also get their own lawyers. Something is seriously wrong if CAFCASS will ignore a violent outburst

Edam - I am not aware anyone on this thread has claimed the court 'never' gets it wrong. But this is obviously your particular drum and you bang it with vigour.

Garlic - you assert abusers ALWAYS know what they are doing. I disagree. This doesn't mean you are 'unheard', it means I don't agree with you.

garlicbrain Wed 06-Mar-13 21:43:51

Yes, OK, Spero, I get that. I'm with the man who made the study of domestic abuse his life's work, and who has helped more perps and survivors than any other expert in his field.

Hully - oh, if only we could provide everyone with the virtual silk cushions and soothing music of peace!!!

edam Wed 06-Mar-13 22:25:23

Some of the early posts have been deleted now, but there was hostility and disbelief at the idea that the courts would ever dream of forcing children into contact with abusive, violent parents. Yet we can see it does indeed happen, and it's not a one-off.

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 22:29:05

Isn't it because the law is rigid and codified and not flexible in response to individual cases. So there is now a presumption in favour of contact for both parents that is then adhered to as far as possible DESPITE the reality of an appalling situation like those described?

edam Wed 06-Mar-13 22:37:41

Spero, earlier in the thread you said: 'sometimes that does involve weighing up a child's need to know their father against the child's need to be safe.'

I think that's astonishing. Seriously, you'd place a child in danger - you think it's OK for the courts to force a child into a dangerous situation - because their 'need' to know their father is more important? More important than what, life and limb?

It's incredible that we have such a bizarre and dangerous double standard going on. Social services will order victims to leave, saying 'your children are at risk. If you do not leave, your children will be removed'. But then the courts come along and say 'you must hand your child over to this person - the one who SS think is so dangerous your children will be removed if you are anywhere near him (or her, potentially)'. Kafka should have had a time machine to study the British courts in the 21st century.

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 22:38:32

yes, what did you mean there spero?

fuzzywuzzy Wed 06-Mar-13 22:42:32

My children were forced to have contact with their abusive violent father, he continued the abuse during supported contact as my children were far too scared to say anything to anyone there and the supervisors weren't near enough to see what he was up to. Altho they promised to keep an eye on him, it's impossible to do.

The result has been that my eldest child suffers physical symptoms from the trauma, vomitting, constant stomach cramps etc and my youngest child won't speak when anyone physically hurts her, she's told me several times it's because it doesn't really matter. When she was seven she came home with a massive bruise on her arm but apparantly she decided 'it doesn't matter'.

I have psent years and £££ ensuring my children are kept as safe as possible and unsupervised contact does not happen.

My chidlren have been taught over these years, that personal safety and their opinions count for nothing, that if they are being hurt and abused they put up with it becasue the abuser has greater rights than they do.

It was only two weeks ago that contact was finally suspended by the courts.

We go back to court later this month where anything could be decided.

And my children are the lucky ones frankly. Altho I am so so so scared of how this experience is going to translate in their adult lives.

The worst thing is, I have begged social services to help us and CAHMS who both refused, social services because it is a court matter, CAHMS because the source of their anxiety ie contact would not be rmeoved so they would not help us.

So yes, abusers should be put on a perpatrator programme and kept the hell away from young vulnerable children.

It's so easy to have an opinon on the matter, I and my friends who have lived the nightmare are the ones dealing with the fall out worse still our children are living it daily.

I really do not care about the whys and the rights of perpetrators my only concern is that my children are safe and have peace of mind.

edam Wed 06-Mar-13 22:44:54

Very powerful post, fuzzy.

BertieBotts Wed 06-Mar-13 22:55:42

I think there is a danger that children who grow up not knowing their (abusive) father will idolise said father and decide to go and investigate on their own when they turn 16 or 18 or whenever they are able to, but I don't see why this is worse than having an ongoing relationship with them? At least at 16/18 they are more equipped than at, say, 6 or 8, to recognise abusive behaviour as such and to judge their father on his real actions. Of course not all 16 year olds are capable of this, but better 16 than 8?

I understand that abusive men aren't just violent because they feel like it or in a vacuum, that there are complex emotional, situational etc reasons behind it, and I do feel sympathy for them - but I feel far, far more sympathy for someone in sparkly and her DCs' situation, and while I don't want to say that one person is more important than another, it is more urgent that they be protected than that the father gets help which likely won't even make much difference. It is too late for most of these men. It isn't too late for their children - for god's sake, let's protect them and not have them growing up to repeat the same patterns over and over again!

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 22:56:15

oh fuzzy, I really really hope the courts do right by you and the kids at the next hearing sad

garlicbrain Wed 06-Mar-13 22:56:40

Oh, Fuzzy. This is heartbreaking. You must feel so trapped sad

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 22:56:57

absolutely bertie

Hullygully Wed 06-Mar-13 22:59:08

And the children ARE more important - because they have done nothing wrong. No matter the reasons etc behind the perp's behaviour, it is still that person that is the wrongdoer and needs to be kept away.

edam Wed 06-Mar-13 23:03:04

Agree, children are far more important than the perpetrator. Because they are vulnerable and because they are innocent. It is the basic duty of adults to keep children safe - not just our own offspring but other children too. What judge or lawyer wouldn't stretch out a hand to stop a toddler running into a busy road? Why then, when they step into court, are they prepared to thrust that same toddler into harm's way?

Bobits Wed 06-Mar-13 23:18:30

fuzzy - I am so sorry for what you are going through, I empathise as I am in a similar situation - its so tough sad

I ran into similar trouble with recieving help for my ds - as I was told the criteria for CAMS was high - self harm and addictive behaviour etc...

I got a referal through a lifeline with a creative therapist - who was able to take a referral through a parent. I wonder if you would also be able to resource some help for your children elsewhere?

That seems very bad advice that as contact would not be removed they could not help. Coping strategies are a big benefit and having a safe place to let out emotions so they don't build is such a help for children.

I hope your next date goes well xx

IlianaDupree Thu 07-Mar-13 01:06:30

Fuzzy sad angry really really hope the courts do the right thing and stop access permanently.

I survived that kind of thing and struggle with that perception daily, nothings changed in 20 years. Bastards.

NO kids should be falling through the gaps or subjected to abuse. So fucking angry.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 07:18:30

Bobits, I tried to get referrals several times, first time when my eldest was very very young and I had newly left ex, she was exhibiting really frightening behaviour at school, the GP referred her and CAHMS refused on the grounds she was 'not damaged enough'! I was pretty gobsmacked because if my eldest was not damaged enough I don't want my child to be damaged enough.

The school tried to refer her twice and both times they refused on the grounds that the factor causing the truama would remain in place.

They did not bother to even make an appointment to assess her.

Then school made a referral to CAF (an agency I don't know anything about to be honest), and we've not heard from them either.

I am very lucky as my children go to a school with excellent pastoral care, the SENCO was the one who noticed the pattern to my eldest's symptoms and has provided CBT which has really helped.

I have knocked on every door I could possibly think of to keep my girls safe.

The courts try to make out like I'm some crazed jealous bitch out to get revenge for ex leaving me. The truth is I left him and am trying my damndest to keep my children safe from him.

The entire culture surrounding childrens matters in court is a pass the buck attitude, no childrens agencies will get involved until my children are irreversibly damaged or worse. And I'm not prepared to risk that.

I wouldnt wish my childrens situation on my worst enemy. This man is hurting them and causing them slow deep psychological damage and everyone who should be protecting them are helping him do it.

Fuzzy im so sorry for what your DC's are going through, it's heartbreaking.

I myself am back in court on the 30th April to see if he has completed the Domestic violence course. My solicitor thinks that it will be highly unlikely that he will be granted unsupervised contact, but with anything there is always a chance. I will take as far as i need to go before i let that happen.

The problem i have found is that because he turns up to court and he turns up to contact every now and again it is seen as making an effort.
In the CAFCASS report it even praised him for obviously loving his kids because he's fighting to see them hmm.

My Son is autistic he needs stability, he doesn't get it. His needs were also overlooked in court. The judge we have been assigned is very much an old school, lets just do this to shut the silly bitch up. Not oh yeah lets look at the evidence and understand she just might have a point about her children been in danger with this man.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 09:17:04

Yes I get that too, I keep being told that he's turned up to a lot of the contact sessions so he's father of the year.

Given that I'm there every single day of my childrens lives, providing constant love and support, fighting their corner, willingthem on with love and help....well my parenting is clearly off the chart then!

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 12:28:43

'Spero, earlier in the thread you said: 'sometimes that does involve weighing up a child's need to know their father against the child's need to be safe.'

I think that's astonishing. Seriously, you'd place a child in danger - you think it's OK for the courts to force a child into a dangerous situation - because their 'need' to know their father is more important? More important than what, life and limb?'

How on EARTH do you decide that what I said there was support for forcing a child to see a violent parent? Seriously? Are you really so blinkered? are you genuine or is this some kind of game for you?

I meant exactly what I said. The court has to weigh in the scales different harms that can be caused. Sometimes the harm caused by seeing the violent father is huge and that tips the scale in one direction - no contact. Sometimes it is a lot more difficult to see which way the scales are tipping and the court will considered supervised contact or other ways of trying to make it happen.

I am sorry to read the all the awful stories and the suffering undergone by mothers and children. There is obviously something seriously wrong if people can feel so unprotected.

I have never claimed things are perfect. But I don't accept this view that the courts don't know and don't care. The law is not 'rigid and codified' , it contains a great deal of flexibility and discretion in order to attempt to deal with the myriad different circumstances and issues that face us all.

But I am frustrated and sad that there is little appetite for 'debate'. If I say something that some posters don't agree with, the response is that I am deluded or 'not listening to them'. Others have been accused of attempting to 'silence' others - for doing little else as far as I can see but not agreeing with them!

This is why I rarely venture onto the feminism board. It seems to me that there is a 'party line' and any deviation from that is not met with reasoned debate but simple repetition of what is the party line and apparent deliberate failure to read what is actually written. Just a knee jerk response - you don't agree with me, you must be wrong or trying to silence me.

And that makes me sad because it basically knocks on the head any chance of reasonable debate.

I ventured on here because I saw things being confidently asserted that ARE NOT TRUE and I think that is very dangerous for anyone lurking who could be afraid.

But I think I will have to revert to my usual policy of not bothering.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 12:50:09

the problem is the judges get to decide the fate of the chidlren.

The children are not heard till they hit ten and then in my own case ex is saying I am influencing my children.

Contact centres are not monitored either, we had a nightmare with the supevised contact centre as one of the supervisors took against me for some indescernible reason, her notes were filled with things like 'mother would not make eye contact with me' (yes it was the firsttime I had been in the same room as ex since he had been arrested for trying to kill me, I think my fear was entirely justified) and she wrote that my children had conversations stating I locked them in the basement.....I have no basement! My children at the time spoke only in Urdu to ex as he insisted on it and this supervisor didn't speak the language, nobody even gave my questions levity, nobody asked the supervisor to tell us how she could come up with these transcripts if she didn't speak the language spoken by the children. She missed out essential facts like ex hurt my youngest during contact, or that they would come out distressed and questioning me as to why ex kept denying he used to hit them. None of this was in the notes.

When I formally complained to the contact centre, I got a reply stating that the supervisor was very professional!

Who do contact centres answer to? Their notes ruin lives.

Then one is also at the mercy of judges, you get a judge with old fashioned views or one who is having a bad day, that's it.

Maybe theoretically the courts are amazing, in reality, there are resident parents up and down the country continuing to be abused by their ex's via their ex's rights over the children.

I don't think anything takes precedence over a childs right to a calm and happy environment and peace of mind.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 13:07:01

I have always been told by CAFCASS that children 6 or under are usually unable to assert views in opposition to the resident parent, so it is unlikely their wishes can ever determine a case, but will not be ignored.

From between 7-12 is a grey area depending on the individual's maturity and understanding and over 12 they pretty much decide for themselves.

It is not my experience that a child of 10 or under is ignored. If you feel your child is being ignored, I urge parents to consider applying for a separate Guardian.

I have only met a handful of judges over the years who I thought were blinkered idiots - the vast majority have clearly thought very long and hard about their decisions and take it seriously.

I don't know why my experiences over 10 years seem so different to many on here. It is worrying.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 13:08:07

Good contact centres are essential, I agree. But many have shut and I doubt there will be funding over next decade for any more. So I don't know what we do with that.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 13:34:45

How does a guardian get appointed?

under the age of ten my children have been ignored, my eldest has really suffered.

Btoh children told the CAFCASS officer that they were scared and that he made them sad. My mum was sitting in one fo the CAFCASS sessions and the officer got my chidlren to set up a dolls house, my chidlren put in me, grandparents aunts and uncles etc, and when the CAFCASS officer suggested a dad they threw it away! They've still been subject tp contact.

I've been thro a few contact centres over the past few years and like I said my situation is one of the better ones.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 14:16:43

Rule 16(2)(a) of the Family procedure rules 2010 provides that a party to proceedings may apply for the appointment of a children's guardian. The child is then apart to the proceedings, represented by his or her Guardian.

The Practice Direction concerning this says the decision is exclusively the courts and the court must consider a variet of factors including 'where the child may be suffering harm associated with the contact dispute' and 'where the views and wishes of the child cannot be adequately met by a report to the court' and 'where an older child is opposing a proposed course of action' and 'where there are serious allegations of physical, sexual or other abuse in relation to the child or there are allegations of domestic violence not capable of being resolved with the help of [CAFCASS].

This would seem to fit a lot of the circumstances where people complain CAFCASS are not taking them seriously or listening to the children.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 14:21:05

But just to be clear, the Practice Direction also makes it clear that making a child a party is an unusual step and will only happen in cases which involve a issue of significant difficulty - but it is worth an argument if you say your child's clearly expressed wishes are being overlooked, particularly if your child is 10 or older.

Hullygully Thu 07-Mar-13 14:21:42

spero, I really don't think that it is the case that there is no room for debate, I think it's that people's personal experiences and those of people they know are simply entirely different to the court world that you are describing!

Hullygully Thu 07-Mar-13 14:23:04

making a child a party is an unusual step and will only happen in cases which involve a issue of significant difficulty - but it is worth an argument

this is part of the problem - "it is worth an argument" it IS an argument, there is no "right" to a Guardian to reperesent the children and absolutely no guarantee of being awarded one. It is "unusual"

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 14:31:20

It is unusual in private law cases - it is mandatory in care proceedings.

It is unusual in private law cases because vast majority don't involve significant issues of violence and abuse. But if you feel that you are getting raw deal from CAFCASS and children aren't being heard, then absolutely apply for it.

Maybe I am jaded because it is ONLY from the feminist boards that I have been followed onto other threads and bullied by one particularly charmless poster who I am glad to see now appears to have fucked off. She would turn up on threads to accuse me of being a 'rape apologist'. Interestingly, she appeared to believe I was a man because clearly no one with a vagina could express the heresy I was apparently spouting.

I don't think I am alone in my wariness of the feminist board, from what I have read from others.

And sorry, but people are generally NOT saying to me, well that's interesting, your experience is very different from men, lets investigate why that might be so... They are saying - you believe in forcing children to see violent fathers, you are not listening to me, you have a 'hang up'. I really don't get the impression that many want to discuss or even listen to an argument that challenges their world view.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 14:32:18

'Mine' not men. I don't think my ipad likes me. Maybe it considers me an agent of the patriarchy.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 14:51:25

Spero, this is a very emotive subject especially for those of us in the middle child contact proceedings.

I'm sorry if you feel bullied or shouted down, I know I perosnally get very frustrated with people who refuse to believe me.

Your advice tho has been very constructive, at least now I knnw I have further options past the next hearing should god forbid things go badly.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 14:57:41

I know it is very emotive, and I hope I try to cut people some slack when they are obviously scared and frustrated or in despair.

I don't feel bullied or shouted at - certainly not by anyone going through this.

I just feel there are a minority of posters who have very little constructive to offer but who just turn up on threads like this to repeat the same message and who don't want to listen to anything different.

There is lots wrong with what is happening and lots we could collectively try to do to make it better - we desparately need more and better funded contact centres, like you say so that better information can be gathered and shared about how some of these men act in contact and how the children respond.

We need to educate men and women as early as possible about relationships and what is acceptable behaviour and what isn't. We need to provide help and support to women who want to escape such relationships. We need fast access to effective and properly monitored and researched violence perpetrator programmes.

I am just so fed up with hearing - courts don't understand, don't know about violence, its all a conspiracy to protect the menz blah, blah blah.

And I am beyond pissed off that people think it is ok to assert blatant and dangerous untruths and then fail to come up with their supporting 'evidence'.

Hullygully Thu 07-Mar-13 16:12:27

I don't know much about the nitty gritty of the proceedings at all (would be interested to).

I know some women having a terrible time, and also some men having a terrible time, kids and courts wise.

But no matter how why what etc I absolutely disagree with forcing a child of any age to see a person they don't want to, no matter their age.

HopingItllBeOK Thu 07-Mar-13 17:03:06

The problem with that stance, Hully, is that there could be a variety of reasons why the child doesn't want to see the NRP anymore. It could be that they are scared of them (and I would wager that is the most common reason) but it could also be that the PWC has run down the NRP to the child or tried to turn the child against them, they could feel as if they were being disloyal to the PWC by saying they want to see the NRP or they may feel trepidation at seeing the NRP now the situation has changed and they don't all live together anymore, they may fear that the NRP doesn't love them anymore since they don't live with them, so say they don't want to see them to protect themselves from future hurt. None of those things are a good reason to stop all contact.

Fwiw my experience of the family court, on a purely personal basis, was that the safety and needs of the children were overlooked in favour of their father's wishes. Domestic abuse allegations were minimised or actively covered up, criminal convictions for violence weren't considered relevant, a consistent lack of interest on their father's part over several years was considered a reason to accelerate contact rather than introduce it gradually and as yet, over 6 months in to the court process the children (who are both well over the age of 10) have not been asked their opinion or wishes. My personal experience has certainly been that best practice is not always adhered to in the pursuit of a swift resolution and I fail to see how progressing from supervised contact once a year for 3 hours to overnight contact for 4 days at a time within a year without asking the children if they actually want any contact at all can possibly be stated as being in the children's best interests.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 17:03:54

You would be very welcome to come to court with me - the Bar Council told me it would be ok as long as everyone else consented and you respected confidentiality.

I remember making this offer many moons ago in one of the perennial 'Social workers are Evil baby Snatchers' threads and quelle surprise, no one ever took me up on it.

I am not sure what is meant by 'forcing' a child to go to contact. Judges recognise they cant order a child to be dragged kicking and screaming to contact. the most they can say is that mothers are expected to support and encourage children to go.

further, a significant proportion of my contact cases are representing fathers who have done nothing wrong but whose former partners are determined to wreck contact and continually frustrate contact orders for no good reason - o child is ill again, child has birthday party etc etc.

So there is another side to the coin as well.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 17:07:05

Hoping - where are CAFCASS? Are they not reporting? Your children absolutely have to be spoken to and their wishes and feelings examined. What does your lawyer say? D you have a lawyer?

What you are describing is unlawful. The court has to consider the child's welfare as the paramount consideration. If there is o information before the court as t child's wishes and feelings, would argue very strongly that this whole procedure is unlawful.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 17:37:20

I've had to take my children crying & hysterical to contact. If I didn't ex would say I was refusing to adhere to the contact order & it would have been worse for me. My experience has always been that the courts wil take exs side as a default position.

I've had to miss a few contact sessions over the years due to one or both children being unwell, these have always been bought up in court as me lying and obstructing contact, fortunately I have always had doctors notes to back up the absences. Even then I've been questioned repeatedly and told I was lying.

I've seen many children over the years physically carried into contact despite the child kicking and screaming & refusing to go in.

HopingItllBeOK Thu 07-Mar-13 17:41:55

Cafcass's pre-court report said a section 7 would be done and recommended contact be started in a contact centre and supervised by them. In court it was said that they would use their family room rather than a contact centre to save costs, but contact would be wholly within that room. This was agreed to by all parties, to be reviewed 6 months later after 2 contact sessions. When it came to making the arrangements for the first contact, the court order had arrived and since it was vague and didn't stipulate using the family room, I was informed it would be entirely within the community. I was told at the same time that a section 7 wouldn't be considered until after one if not two contact sessions had taken place, so that the children could make an informed decision. The review took place a couple of weeks ago, whereby it was progressed to unsupervised contact both days of a weekend in 5 months time, due to the father's prior engagements. I was informed via my solicitor (who Cafcass had previously refused to engage with) that if I did not agree then they would consider me obstructive and inform the judge of that. As it is now unsupervised, Cafcass are no longer involved.

I self represented for the initial hearing, after having telephone advice from a solicitor. After the family room 'error' and my noticing that the initial Cafcass report entirely omitted my allegations of all forms of abuse other than physical and minimised the physical abuse claims, I retained that solicitor and he represented me in court at the review hearing.

I would actually really like to take up your offer of attending court with you, Spero as you seem to be on the ball and consider all sides and frankly, I could do with my faith in the system being restored. I don't think I am in your area though, and I think it would be a bit macabre to sit in on someone else's highly emotive case as an impartial observer, just to satisfy my own curiosity. I do respect you for making a general offer though as it shows you have utter faith in yourself as being in the right, which implies either a strong moral and ethical code or a huge amount of God complex self delusion. Since your posts indicate compassion and I have seen you accept that an area isn't your strong point and defer to someone else, I don't think it is the god complex wink

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 17:56:14

Fuzzy - is this happening at a contact centre? I am shocked and surprised. If a child is screaming and hysterical I cannot see how contact can be remotely successful or enjoyable for anyone. The centres I know would refuse to facilitate such contact if a child was so visibly distressed. D the children calm down when contact starts or do they continue to show such strong reactions? I appreciate you may not know what happens after. This is alone to my experience, and I agree it is potentially abusive to persist in contact when child shows such a reaction.

Hoping, thanks, I hope I don't have a god complex. I am just confident enough in what I know of the law and the way I practice to welcome anyone to scrutinise it.

It sounds as if you were badly let down by CAFCASS - I hope your solicitor is working to redress this.

HopingItllBeOK Thu 07-Mar-13 18:39:08

My current solicitor is as much use as a chocolate teapot and a sight less tasty so I'm looking around for a new one. Preferably one who will actually raise issues in court, listen to my concerns and tell me if they are valid and then act on those which are, follow through on promises they make and maybe even send me a periodic statement of costs to date. I'm a fussy, demanding bugger like that.

Any recommendations for solicitors in the NE who have a set of teeth gratefully received.

Anyway, less about me wink The posts from people here have shown that it is not a tiny minority of cases where things go wrong and children are distressed or harmed by ordered contact, rather that it is endemic and those cases where all goes well are the outliers. It is heartening to hear that there are cases where everything goes as it should, as that indicates that the law allows for common sense to prevail. It's just a shame that it is so often not implemented in that way.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 07-Mar-13 18:58:23

This happens in the contact centre, the contact centre staff picked up one of the children and tried to drag him kicking and screaming into the contact centre, my friend stepped in and stopped them at that point, the contact centre staff subsequently reported that she had prevented the child from having contact! The reports stated they were guiding the child into the contact centre, I saw it happening and was shocked at the report, the courts of course took the contact centres word over my friends and I was not there to corroborate her correct version of events.

I have seen other children being picked up and taken to contact, I've watched tiny babies being taken to contact and one which I can't forget cried right the way thro contact, when the baby was returned to the mother, the father toook the childs toys home with him (I mean why?), the mother had supplied a bag of toys and a change of clothing, food and nappies. None of which had been used, I was watching as the baby was crying so hard. The staff did nothing.
One child was returned to the mother after about half an hour as the father could not cope with a hysterical toddler (this happened every single session, or he would return the child if she needed to be changed, however he turned up so he was considered a good and deicated father), luckily we all tend to sit in the waiting rooms for two hours, what if the mum had gone home or something?

The contact centre staff are not trained to deal with these situation's, they are not answerable to anyone, mostly they are volunteers mostly they are lovely, mostly they are no use whatsoever. I hate that they are not answearable to anyone, but their notes can destroy a childs life.

My girls have been forced to have contact with their father altho they've been crying and pleading not to go. They eventually have settled down, however they don't play with him (because he does not engage with them, he questions them incessantly, who lives with you, what new stuff do you have, has mummy bought a TV, or he criticises them, you smell, you are too skinny, thets not a good enough breakfast that you had you mum doesnt care about you....and on and on, my girls are well fed, well dressed and clean I must add, nobody has ever accused me of neglecting my children) instead my children have made friends with the other children at the centre, which I actively encourage as it sweetens the pill so to speak.

Being within the system is a very different experience.

Dadthelion Thu 07-Mar-13 18:58:48

If I linked to Families Need Fathers it would be mainly fathers complaining about the family courts.

If I linked to Wikivorce it would be 50-50 complaining.

On Mumsnet it'll be 99% mothers.

I don't ime, think the courts are biased towards fathers or mothers, I think they do the best they can in difficult circumstances.

betterthanever Thu 07-Mar-13 20:12:37

Does anyone have any experience of a violent NRP leaving when the child is a baby (when solicitors got involved due to violence) and then reappear after years, rewrite history on their court application (i.e. claim they have only just found out the child is theirs) and have the courts just so glad the child can now meet the parent, ignore the past violence and push a settled, stable and emotionally and financially (for now) secure child into the hands of a NRP whose life has gone more off the rails in the missing years? As a parent it is also very scary that I now know very little about the NRP having not seem them for all these years (almost 8 years) and they do not live locally and I am being told I don't have a right to any information, which whilst I totally respect people's privacy I feel it will only be when/if something/anything bad happened it would be looked at? Another CAFCASS case came up in the safeguarding checks, I am told I can now nothing about that either.
I know this isn't very much info but I think you can get a general picture. The detail just makes things look even worse IMO i.e. no maintenance ever paid and hops on and off benefits to avoid (had liability order against them years ago - never enforced as went on benefits again at that time and CSA view the £5 better than nothing and goes back to benefits department from enforcement). The process is obviously being gone through slowly which is also great at putting up my solicitors fees (he is publicly funded) - thought of self repping but he still scares the hell out of me and just can't seem to get words out in court.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 20:17:01

I have had a number of cases where NRP turns up after years of no contact and the court has always moved very slowly - indirect contact, supervised contact then only direct unsupervised contact when a relationship has been established. I have never had a case where it would go straight to direct contact when a parent is effectively a stranger.

runningforthebusinheels Thu 07-Mar-13 20:18:29

Fuzzywuzy- yours and others' stories on here will haunt me. How can this be allowed to happen? angry

betterthanever Thu 07-Mar-13 20:27:06

Please could I add that of all the lawyers on MN Spero is the best at putting a `more balanced' view across but at the end of the day call me a synic, lawyers make money out of having clients, they are not charity workers. They would not get many clients esp. when legal aid goes if they defended the points many females on here make as most of their clients will be men.
If your local I will defo come in court with you spero
I really wished I had researched my sol. better as after about 3 months of not being able to put my finger on what the problem was, I realised that the reason she was the way she was with me (how she worded some things, attacked my genuine concerns), was because she was used to dealing with male clients. And don't get me wrong some of her clients had very good cases against contact blocking females, not the cases being discussed here, but I found it very worrying. I nearly posted about it on this board at the time but I didn't know how to get across from scratch what my concerns were.

betterthanever Thu 07-Mar-13 20:30:25

Sorry if I mislead the board, it is going slowly and not straight to direct contact (my bank balance knows it and my DS is noticing how he can't do as much any more) but my concerns are not being addressed and the other points I have already made. Why should me and my DS suffer this (he is very distressed) just because the other person can do it to us? He can choose to come in and out of lives when he wants, great example to my DS for the future.

betterthanever Thu 07-Mar-13 20:33:33

spero how many of those cases involved violence in the past? and how often was a relationship not established? how many had never and throughout the court case still refused to contribute anything other than emotional? (genuinely interested).

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 21:54:59

I am in Bristol.

In my experience, the violent men who have disappeared from children's lives tend to stay gone. It is quite rare for a 'missing parent' to turn up many years later. I have more cases where they disappear for six months to a year and then make an app for contact. The normal procedure is that both parents provide statements explaining what they think is best for children, CAFCASS will do enhanced criminal record checks then we come back to court to decide way forward - is a fact finding needed to establish truth of any allegations, what kind of CAFCASS report is needed, or would Social Services be better placed to report.

I have never had a case jump straight to direct contact after long absence and wild think it highly peculiar and certainly appealable of any court made that order.

Re the money point. Yes, I need to pay my mortgage. I don't have any shame in seeking to be paid for my knowledge and experience gained over many years and hard study. But if I was motivated primarily by money, I certainly would not have specialised in family law.

My taxable income is about 70k a year, which I appreciate is a very good wage. But it doesn't come close to what I would earn in commercial law for eg. Plus I have to wait months or even years to be paid, cash flow is an enormous problem and was I very nearly bankrupted last year when my income for November was £200 and for December was £89.50. I get no pension contributions, no sickness pay.

So I do resent the implication that no lawyer can be trusted, we are just fat cats in it for the money. Of course there are duff lawyers out there but the overwhelming majority of my colleagues work very hard for their money and are specialsing in this field because they are genuinely interested in and care about people. Believe me, there are much easier ways to earn a living with a law degree than family law.

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 21:58:08

Sorry, about the 'contributions' made by absent parent - the law is clear that it will not make a link between contact and financial contributions. I can understand the reasons behind this but I disagree - if you father a child but are not willing to pay towards his/her upkeep then I think that should be weighed in scales as a negative reflection on your commitment to that child.

It causes enormous stress and upset to resident parent when NRP won't pay anything and I think it should be an important factor in court's deliberations.

edam Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:26

It sounds like there is an issue about the training and behaviour of staff at contact centres. I wonder what training they are given, what rules and regulations they have to obey?

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 22:10:41

Most are run and staffed almost exclusively by volunteers which will give you a clue about how extensive the rules and regulations are.

I would like to see people's energies directed to campaigning to do something about this. In my view the most serious obstacle to safe and meaningful contact between children and violent NRP is the lack of decent contact centres.

edam Thu 07-Mar-13 23:01:43

Oh, OK, obvious scope for what one could politely call variations in quality there then. Or you could call 'fgs, this is kind of important, you are dealing with extremely vulnerable children and adults who are probably extremely tense at best, would it not be a good idea to set this up properly...' But I guess no-one wants to spend any money on it. Penny wise, pound foolish - the costs of fear, damage and insecurity are far higher than the cost of providing some decent training to ensure these centres are well run...

Spero Thu 07-Mar-13 23:11:56

Exactly. short term cost cutting = long term misery.

as of April, public funding is withdrawn from private law contact cases UNLESS violence is involved. So what will be the consequence? Suddenly a lot more allegations of violence will be flying about. Which may well be exaggerated to secure funding. People will defend these allegations. Cases will drag on, be longer, cause more pain and heartache.

Or if you can't prove that your case involves violence - and I am still not sure what the requirement is - criminal conviction? injunction? doctor's reports? - you will be left as a litigant in person to cross examine the other parent yourself.

I predict that the police are going to become the front line agency to deal with contact disputes. They are going to love that.

If you think it's bad now, it is about to get much, much worse.

HopingItllBeOK Thu 07-Mar-13 23:30:53

I'm not clear on the new rulings. When you say "unless violence is involved", does that mean the alleged victim can claim LA, thus possibly leading to an increase in spurious claims, the accused parent can claim LA, leading to an already acrimonious split finishing with violence that might not have otherwise happened to ensure the soon to be NRP gets their legal fees paid, or both are entitled? I don't see how that is better for anyone involved in an acrimonious split, or any form of family law conflict come to that.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 08:06:06

I am not clear either. The last I heard an applicant would need evidence from the police or a refuge to prove violence but that may have changed - I haven't had any emails or info yet. I don't think it was well thought through - my suspicion is the Gov wanted to remove legal aid from ALL private law contact cases until someone pointed out this would mean victims of violence would have to deal directly with their abuser, which could be very dangerous.

I will see what I can find out today -I do feel out of he loop on this one, which is either my fault for not paying attention, or a sad reflection on a poorly conceived policy.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 08:35:23

This is interesting and worrying

A survey of 2000 women - 62% were 'not sure' if excessive jealousy was a sign of abuse and 15% 'could not say' if punching was violence.

Urges a total rethink of sex and relationship education 'it would help so many people not get into bad relationships, but also stop people causing them'.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 08:40:17

Found this - to get legal aid for contact cases after 1st April. So the lesson is that you MUST report it, you must try to get help otherwise you could find yourself in a very difficult position if you are then mixed up in legal proceedings for contact after an abusive relationship.

a) To be eligible for legal aid under E above, the Applicant (“A”) will have to provide proof of eligibility from a third party so not the applicant themselves. For “A” to get public funding in a family dispute against “B” then “A” must show that;

1. B has a relevant unspent conviction for a domestic violence offence

2. Relevant police caution for domestic violence that is less than 2 years old

3. Current criminal proceedings for domestic violence that have not concluded yet

4. Current injunction or injunction that was granted less than 2 years previously

5. Current undertaking that is less than 2 years old (provided that a cross undertaking was not given by A).

6. The chair of the MARAC confirms in writing that A is at high risk of domestic violence and a plan has been put in place to protect A from B which is less than 24 months old.

7. Finding of fact made by the court of domestic violence that is less than 2 years old

8. A letter by a Doctor, Nurse or Midwife confirming that they have seen A less than 2 years ago and are satisfied that A had injuries or a condition consistent with being the victim of domestic violence and they have no reason to believe that they were not caused by domestic violence.

9. A letter from social services confirming that in the last 2 years A has been at risk from being the victim of domestic violence or a copy of an assessment less than 2 years old covering the same thing

10. Letter from a domestic violence support organisation confirming that A has in the last 2 years been in a refuge for at least 24 hours because of domestic violence by B

betterthanever Fri 08-Mar-13 09:36:20

The normal procedure is that both parents provide statements explaining what they think is best for children, CAFCASS will do enhanced criminal record checks then we come back to court to decide way forward - is a fact finding needed to establish truth of any allegations, what kind of CAFCASS report is needed, or would Social Services be better placed to report. I really wish all this was being done. I do feel a bit horid talking about lawyers in general when i talk to you spero they are certainly not all bad. I think I mentioned before with hindsight I should have done my research to have some one represent me with the relevant experience, sadly you are way out of my area but you sound perfect. but I needed a sol. very quickly due to the sudden and potentially damaging contact my exp had made. I too worry about `victims' of DV being crossed examined by thier ex partners. It really upsets me. I could never work in this field as I would be in tears most days.

betterthanever Fri 08-Mar-13 09:38:35

oh and well said spero if you father a child but are not willing to pay towards his/her upkeep then I think that should be weighed in scales as a negative reflection on your commitment to that child.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 08-Mar-13 09:40:07

The very first CAFCASS assessment that happened and the second as well I think, no criminal record checks were carried out, the first one even tried to dissuade me from fighting unsupervised contact and told me that if I went to a finding of facts hearing I would lose, as its very difficult to prove, I did it anyway and won.

That particular CAFCASS officer no longer works there.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 10:24:47

I think the lesson there is try not to let yourself be 'persuaded' against seeking findings against someone who has been violent to you or your children. Yes, it is difficult to prove something on balance of probabilities but it is not impossible.

If you don't seek findings, you run the risk of being told in future that you aren't serious, otherwise you would have pursued it at the outset.

Good luck better, with finding some decent representation - it is out there.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 10:25:56

Sorry, missed out most important part of sentence - it is difficult to prove anything without corroboration - but if you have police reports, doctors evidence, eye witness accounts, should be straightforward.

betterthanever Fri 08-Mar-13 10:51:18

I think I will move to bristol wink
Good point on seeking findings I must keep reminding myself of that and not allow myself to be diverted. Think my problem is, it was so long ago but to be honest it feels like a revolving door even though he was out of sight for almost 8 years.
And the problem is cases like this are really rare, really struggle to find support and advice on all the relvant web sites.
If our relationship was just ending with or without violence it would be a very different case. To be fair to say CAFCASS they handle so many cases I can understand they `forget' the current situation in my case and there is no issue of `reinstating contact' thier has never been any `attachment' ever, no `support' either emotional or financial ever and that it may have been a long time ago but the last time we were in each others company there was violence.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 11:11:47

I think in your circs, if the violence was 8 years ago and he has not reoffended since, the focus here will be less on violence and more about the difficulties of introducing a stranger to a child, after such a long time.

If this were my case I would want a detailed statement from him, setting out
- why he disappeared
- why he played no part in child's life for so long
- why is he apply
- what does he propose is best way of introducing himself
- does he intend to stick around or will he disappear again

you are entitled to raise and be concerned about past violence but i dont think court will have much appetite for a fact finding if there are no more recent issues of violence.

i would expect a case like this to start with exchange of letters and photos and a review after 4-6 months to see how child reacts to this.

betterthanever Fri 08-Mar-13 11:44:47

Thanks so much spero I really apprecaite your time.
He states he disappeared because he didn't think my DS was his until now! he states I told him he wasn't his. He hasn't said why he now thinks he is. I have evidence to the contrary from government agencies and solicitors letters from years ago covering a number of years. CAFCASS seem to accept mine as the truth but are, regardless of the real motive, looking at the introduction side which isn't going well so far. I do understand why they have to look at introductions and I was more than willing to try but yet have many reservations at the same time, which is difficult for my mind to process. I feel I think I know what the real motive is - CAFCASS asked me what I thought - they tended to agree!
My DS has a very full and active life, which parts do I stop him doing after all these years? and there has been no indication of what my exp would replace these things with, which I guess is non of my business but as our worlds are very different, that too would all be new to my DS as well as the person/people he is in that world with; I wonder how a conection can be made and if my DS will loose out on opportunities I have given him and he is doing well at. Are these valid concerns or AIBU?
I am still very fearful of him especially as he made contact after all these years in a provocative manner and because he is telling these lies which has also astounded my wide circle of friends and family who lived through the break up and his violence and then his disappearance (some witnessed a lot of things). I totally agree with you regarding the violence and there not being much appetite for a fact finding but as it was excalating after my DS was born which shocked me, I have to be on my guard and I feel to not have mentioned it at all would (should god forbid something happen to my DS), be then seen a failure on my behalf to protect. It took me a long time to recover from what happened to me (if I have ?). During the missing years my exp's life seems to have really gone downhill, I don't know why, I wish things were different but I can only face reality.

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 12:09:42

My experience is this:

ExH was abusive to me, but not a high level of physical abuse - lots of emotional abuse. He would punish me by taking dd: from taking her out of my arms and refusing to hand her back, including when I was breastfeeding, disappearing with her for hours on end, and once not allowing me to touch her for 24 hours.

At the moment we have a court order with me as the residential parent, him with contact. From that point of view, the system has "worked". I'm reasonably okay with the current arrangement, despite the fact that exH still tries to damage dd's relationship with me - telling her I don't look after her, that I want to kill her, that I didn't feed her as a baby, that I pushed her down the stairs etc. He's made false allegations to SW about it.

He is still pursuing me through the court, looking to be sole residential parent (although he says he'll settle for joint) and have 50/50 contact. I'm genuinely afraid that he is trying to set up a situation where he dictates my contact with her, which he will withhold as much as he can get away with. Also, he doesn't have UK citizenship, doesn't have a job, or a house, or family here. He has citizenship of two other countries, one of which is not a party to the Hague Convention. With joint residence, he's entitled to apply for a passport for her, and there is little I could do to stop him leaving.

While he hasn't "won" yet, I live with the terror that he might get some of what he asks for. I feel let down because I've spent well over £10,000 fighting it in the courts and I still have no resolution. It hasn't cost him a penny, and he is enjoying the fight. A social worker was involved and noted all sorts of problems with his behaviour, but then said, "Oh, both parents are making allegations against each other" though BY HER OWN REPORT my allegations were founded and his were not. She recommended (without ever meeting me) that the parents simply need to communicate better.

I am not being believed or taken seriously by the system. I have done my utmost to act with integrity and avoid hysterical accusations against him, but the courts treat us as if the truth must lie somewhere between what I say and the utter lies he spouts.

I haven't totally lost faith that the system will come through for me, and that he won't get what he is looking for. But still, it has left me broke and spending years in terror. There is something badly wrong with it.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 08-Mar-13 12:33:49

Nickname - how is your daughters behaviour following contact?? Is she at school does it affect herschool lie? Get letter from the school backing you up, take out a prohibited steps order so he cannot remove your duaghter from your care, I have one it lasts till my children are 16 (I think). As I have that fear too that ex would take my children and leave them 'back home' somwhere where I would never have a hope of ever finding them.

How is your ex's behaviour towards your daughter affecitng her? If she can't be happy to hear what he says to her?

betterthanever Fri 08-Mar-13 12:39:42

I haven't totally lost faith that the system will come through for me, and that he won't get what he is looking for. But still, it has left me broke and spending years in terror. There is something badly wrong with it. my hearts just breaks for you nickname consideration for all that needs to be looked at and the system reformed and I believe it would be in children's best interests to do so. How can terror and financial ruin not affect a child? I wish you well and that you continue to find the strength to carry on.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 12:59:10

Nickname - any parent who says abusive things to a child has to stop. If he or she can't or won't stop they either can't have direct contact or must have supervised.

How do you know what he is saying to her? Does she report it to you? How old is she? You can always apply to vary the contact order if you think he is using contact to emotionally abuse her in this way.

He is not going to get sole residence unless there are serious and provable concerns about your parenting. Is he getting public funding for his application? I can't see how he is getting funding to pursue a sole residence order, but if he is you can write to the Legal Services Commission and request his funding is withdrawn - they usually will only fund if there is a positive court report saying he has a case.

I think you always must raise issues of concern that you have - something being difficult to prove does not necessarily mean it is dismissed as 'hysterical' or will make courts think less of your application. But if you don't raise matters at the first possible opportunity, it will harm your case if you try to raise and rely on them at a later stage.

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 13:04:13

Thanks, better. I'm just frustrated that there seems to be an assumption that we are both to blame for the ongoing legal action and we need to compromise. I could give him everything he asks (not that I will!) and he would still carry on, because he enjoys the process of making allegations against me. And he has never, ever faced any sanction or disadvantage for making false accusations against me.

He's gone through a few solicitors on legal aid and they've stopped acting for him at various stages, but he just goes on as a litigant in person, which costs me even more as my solicitor ends up doing all the court paperwork (preparing indices and chasing the court for letters full of accusations that he sent to the court but not to me or my solicitor).

I try to keep a lid on my fears because right now I think he's too broke to flee the country, and he is doing a part-time university course which he won't want to abandon. But he's self-funded and must be racking up large debts, so I think it's a strong possibility that when he's finished, he'd be very happy to leave the country, abandoning the debts behind him. He's done it before in another country. I'd be delighted if he left, obviously, but the fear is him trying to take dd with him. He thinks he "owns" her and wouldn't want to leave such a valuable possession behind him. Some people think he's great for being so involved with her, and they don't see that he sees her as a possession.

fuzzy, I watch her carefully, and she doesn't exhibit obvious distress. The school independently contacted SS because she was crying in the playground about her daddy saying her mummy was a witch and wanted to kill her. I only found out about it through the recent SW report. The social worker still concluded he was giving her good care and contact should continue, and the only problem was our lack of communication. This was quoted by the judge in a hearing this week, who referred us to mediation. And so it goes on.

Dahlen Fri 08-Mar-13 13:23:43

75% of child abuse cases involve DV.

There's been a lot of discussion about the vulnerability of very young children on this thread, for good reasons. However, what about the risk of an older child being abused by a parent? More particularly, a child for whom contact was put in place when young. There have been no instances of violence in the interim so contact eventually becomes unsupervised. Great! I hear you say, the system works.

But does it?

Sometimes, an abusive parent can be quite good with young children, because although young children can be challenging/unpredictable/boundary pushing etc., they still accept the parent's authority and are basically far more compliant than another adult (even an abused one) will ever be. There's also an element of hero worship that goes on in small children, which an abusive parent will lap up and indulge.

However, as a child ages and develops more autonomy, so their behaviour challenges the parent. It is at this stage - often mid teen years - that I've seen abusive parents turn round and assault their children for the first time, despite having a record of years with no abuse in the interim (although if you know what to look for you'll often find a lot of low-level, non-physical abuse).

Contrary to popular belief, I'd say that the danger increases as the child ages, not decreases. However, the law cannot deal in possibilities and speculation, only facts and probabilities, so much more research is needed in this area I think.

Dahlen Fri 08-Mar-13 13:24:55

To all of you - fuzzy, Nickname and Sparkly - falling foul of the current system, I have no helpful words of advice or comfort but would like to say I have the greatest sympathy for your plight and admire you enormously for fighting to protect your children in the face of such opposition.

Andro Fri 08-Mar-13 13:30:58

Dahlen - I think the example you give is where the law has to be reactive...and fast. What needs to be clear is what would happen immediately wrt contact were the teen to report the parent for assaulting them (could court ordered contact be immediately suspended whilst the case is being pursued?). I should think that there is a procedure in place...*Spero*?

Unless we want to go the 'Minority Report' route, I think it would be very difficult to predict violence where the has been no violence in the past towards the child - a psychologist might be able to give some idea though...

Bobits Fri 08-Mar-13 13:33:33

Woman's Aid Response to Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation consultation 07.09.12

That the welfare of the child remain the court’s paramount consideration, with no dilution of this made by an amendment to the Children Act 1989 on shared/cooperative parenting.

That the effective protection of children and their non-abusing parent be the primary consideration of the family justice system in both the short and long term

That there is no assumption that a violent parent is a good parent or that they have stopped being abusive just because they say they have

That the family justice system recognises that domestic violence neither begins nor indeed stops at the point of separation and can often continue long after separation

That the views of children are taken seriously in line with international commitments, especially the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989).

Bobits Fri 08-Mar-13 13:34:27

Report to the President of the Family Division on the approach to be adopted by the Court when asked to make a contact order by consent, where domestic violence has been an issue in the case

18. There is a need for consideration of the issue of risk to be undertaken by lawyers and judges in all cases where domestic violence has been alleged or admitted. Lawyers need to be aware that for both perpetrators and victims, the existence of incidents of domestic violence is often a source of shame. They must be ready to encourage and support their clients to disclose these issues. Consideration of the issue of risk should ideally take place before conciliation appointments are arranged, and certainly before contact orders are made, to ensure that such contact orders are safe.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 13:44:30

A court won't make an order about a child who is over 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances. And any child over 12 who refuses to go to contact - that is often the end of the matter. They can and do vote with their feet.

If any adult assaults a child it should immediately be a police matter and that adult should be arrested. I doubt very much you would ever find yourself in contempt of court if any existing contact orders were then not obeyed and would imagine a older child would just refuse to go.

I agree what is said about danger to children as they grow and become more challenging. Fr men who like control, they find this very difficult for obvious reasons.

greenhill Fri 08-Mar-13 13:54:05

Forgive me if this has already been said up thread, but how come men like this, with a history of DV and even kidnapping, still manage to get a girlfriend when they leave prison?

Wouldn't you think women would run away from this type of man?

Also, does this type of man deliberately seek out a girlfriend so that they can spite the ex-wife and claim custody of the children? That would also mean that they didn't have much to do with the childcare, but had found a way of punishing their ex-wife by taking the children from her?

Am I being naive, or is this attested manipulative behaviour?

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 08-Mar-13 14:14:05

Greenhill, you said:
"Forgive me if this has already been said up thread, but how come men like this, with a history of DV and even kidnapping, still manage to get a girlfriend when they leave prison?"

Only if they know about it, and how would they? You don't tend to run background checks on blokes you've met. If you've experienced this sort of thing before, or have watched friends go through it, you might notice red flags (e.g. the sort of man who has only ever dated "complete bitches" before, but "you're different.") But many women won't pick up on these red flags because we are highly socialised not to, to be conciliatory, to see damaged men as projects to be fixed, to buy the assertions of men we're romantically involved with at face value.

"Wouldn't you think women would run away from this type of man?"

Again, only if they know. And these men are very adept at seeking out and preying on vulnerable women whose judgement has been impaired by previous abuse.

"Also, does this type of man deliberately seek out a girlfriend so that they can spite the ex-wife and claim custody of the children? That would also mean that they didn't have much to do with the childcare, but had found a way of punishing their ex-wife by taking the children from her?"


"Am I being naive, or is this attested manipulative behaviour? "

Read my answers to your other questions, and make your own mind up on this one.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 08-Mar-13 14:25:01

Sorry, last point sounds snotty on re-reading - it wasn't meant to be. Time was I would have asked myself why women got involved with these blokes in the first place, and why they didn't just leave. Then I watched my sister endure 20 years of an abusive relationship which destroyed her sense of self so badly that she couldn't leave.

greenhill Fri 08-Mar-13 14:28:02

Thanks lurcio I thought I was being naive, I don't venture into the Relationships or red flag threads, thankfully.

I don't know why I thought everyone would automatically 'know' just how much of a liar or how manipulative someone was. Also, why everyone wouldn't know about someone else's criminal record <blames having lived in a village when young and my parents seeming to know everyone else's business in a 10 mile radius still>

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 14:46:03

Sorry, spero, I wrote a response which disappeared when mumsnet went offline. I do raise issues, and the school has done it independently. I've said lots of stuff about him and he's said lots of stuff about me, and it's seen as mutual recriminations.

Fwiw, I don't think he's going to get sole residence. Joint residence would still be a problem because it gives him equal entitlement to apply for a passport (I've asked for a flag to be put on dd's file at the UK Passport Agency and at one of his countries of residence. The other has not responded). My solicitor marvels at him getting funding, but it's not really in my interest to get it stopped, as he's even worse when self-representing.

I'm now wondering if there's any mileage in asking the social worker to put in writing that she doesn't think more contact is appropriate - she said it orally to my solicitor but didn't put it in her report. She said she hoped the judge would "read between the lines" when the sw describes exH as living in a small place. What she knows, but didn't put in writing, is that it's so small that exH shares a bed with dd, who is 5. The judge is not reading between the lines.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 08-Mar-13 15:30:39

Nickname if he gets PR, apply for a passport for her immediately.

Then he can't because she'll already have one and it will be in your possession.

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 15:47:25

Fastidia, he does have pr, and I do have dd's passport in my possession. I've sent the court order to the Passport Agency showing that I am the sole residential parent (for now), so he can't just write to them claiming the passport is lost and asking for another one.

As I mentioned, he has citizenship of two other countries. One has assured me that they'll flag the file in case he tries to get a passport for her. The other embassy has not responded at all and I would not have a lot of confidence in them anyway.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 08-Mar-13 21:33:13

Nickname, one thing I have learnt over the years going from court case to court case is that do NOT ever expect the judges or barristers to read between the lines.

Always always be explicit and to the point. Be very exact about any points, accusations or fears you have or are making. Courts are very literal. Do not expect any reading between the lines.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 23:21:38

I am shocked at this 'reading between the lines' bollocks. Anyone writing a report to the court needs to state very clearly what they observe and what they recommend. I agree, courts don't 'do' reading between the lines - how can they, they can only decide on evidence which is clear.

If a social worker is failing to record relevant evidence and hoping a judge will notice her subtle hints, then she is a fool, not doing her job properly and you should make a formal complaint about her reporting.

Pan Sat 09-Mar-13 12:58:49

A recent development on this theme is the 'peace dividend' of scaling back armed forces abroad. We're aware of the various social and economic implications of this i.e mental health and accommodation for eg.

what is vastly over-looked is the child abuse via DV as the military have been astoundingly negligent in tackling this, and has allowed an enabling culture. A friend of mine was a SW attached to the RN and her references to senior officers attitudes were shocking. So it's little surprise that ex-forces see little problem with continuing in this vein in civvy street.

Quite a few ex-military are now coming through perps programmes. The common experience is that at court they claim PTSD and raise this as an issue of mitigation as to why they assaulted their partner, and sometimes children directly. Unfortunately when you look at case histories in any detail, there is no evidence they have assaulted anyone other than their family members, despite claims that PTSD means they assault randomly. It makes effective intervention with them very tricky indeed.

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 09-Mar-13 17:23:41

I bet a lot of judges and jurors are taken in by them though Pan. Lots of people miss the fact that so many of these violent abusers only ever inflict their violence on the women and children they live with.

Pan Sat 09-Mar-13 18:45:36

Well, yes Fastidia I think that happens a lot at point of sentence - it's more problematic post-sentence when the PTSD card is waved, as if it makes them untouchable.

NicknameTaken Mon 11-Mar-13 09:35:05

fuzzy, I totally agree with you, and I am always explicit in what I say. It's the social worker who did the whole "reading between the lines" thing.

spero, I've asked my solicitor whether we can ask the social worker to write a supplementary letter or if we can have her report reviewed. Her fact-finding seems to have been okay, but the conclusions are bizarre. She says stuff that raise red flags about my exH's parenting, but then concludes that it's all fine really, whereas in her conversations with my solicitor, she seemed to indicate that she might recommend some form of parenting class. Without ever having met me, or asked for examples of how I communicate with my exH, she concluded that we just don't communicate properly. I could have shown her dozens if not hundreds of emails that show me providing information or consulting with him, and him responding with a rant. It would show clearly that it's not a mutual problem.

And because of this social worker's report, which is not from CAFCASS, the judge is refusing to matter the matter to CAFCASS. The judge clearly wants us to settle the matter through mediation, so I'll have to fork out more money for that while ex gets it for free, but it won't go anywhere because he won't compromise, so back on the merry-go-round we go again.

I have really tried to act with integrity throughout, and the judge sits there in court tut-tutting at us both for failling to communicate while exH sits there gloating. He's told lies to the judge, to the police, to social workers, and everyone except the judge seems to see it, and he's never got even the slightest rap over the knuckles for any of it.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 09:52:50

With a report like that, I often find the best thing is to challenge it in cross examination. Do you have any hearings coming up where evidence is going to be heard? Or is it all just quick review hearings?

Similarly if the ex is telling lies, cross examination is the only way to get to the bottom of it.

When there are serious issues of disagreement over the facts between parties I fail to see how mediation is going to be helpful. Mediation exists to provide a helpful envrionment to enable parties who want to reach agreement. If you don't agree over facts fundamental to the case, then agreement is impossible. Mediation is not the magic wand some judges seem to think it is. It doesn't work - and is in fact abusive - if either party attends unwillingly.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:51

All quick reviews, unfortunately. My solicitor asked for a one-day review after a further CAFCASS report on quantum (not discussed in current social worker's report) but instead we got sent to mediation. It's not going to help, but I think the one advantage of going is that it might stop my ex crowing about how I'm so obstructive that I keep refusing mediation. I did refuse in the early days, because I was told it wasn't appropriate in cases where there had been abuse.

I feel like my ex is using the court process to abuse me and will attempt to use the mediation process to abuse me. The advantage is that the latter will cost me less, so I'd rather have the cheaper form of abuse, please.

Okay, exaggerating a bit there. I'm just holding onto the fact that the longer this goes on, the more entrenched the status quo is in terms of contact. He hasn't come up with any persuasive reason to change it, as far as I can see, so I live in hope. But damn it, surely it shouldn't have to be this hard.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 10:21:58

Oh, and I appreciate your replies, by the way. I like my solicitor very much and I do trust her, but it's helpful to have another perspective (even though it's based only on the scant outline given here).

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 11:19:21

I understand completely why courts want to avoid contested hearings - you can often end up polarising people even further, or the facts won't really help push a case forward.... BUT people can find it so frustrating that they don't have a voice, that lies and mistakes go unchallenged etc. and that can often poison a whole case then a year later you end up having a fact finding anyway because a case has just ground to a halt.

If there isn't going to be a contest of evidence any time soon then I do think you need to make sure any objections to a report are recorded in writing. If she reaches a conclusion of fact, you can only challenge that in court but if she has missed things out, or included things as fact which are actually contested, I think you are well within your rights to have your sol politely point this out in a letter.

I am glad you have a good relationship with your sol - hopefully it will give others hope that its possible!

It is hard I am afraid and I think the reason for this is that the law is being used to deal with problems far outside its remit - these are not legal problems but problems usually of dysfunctional personalities, wanting control or being overwhelmed by anger, sadness etc.

I had a sad case yesterday for a father. From what I have read the mother does have some kind of personality disorder and we discussed how she is so she is, the law can't make her a different person and no doubt she does genuinely think she is doing the best thing for her child. Unfortunately this translates as trying to change contact arrangements a the last minute, restricting contact etc for reasons that change day by day.

Fundamentally I really believe these are not legal problems.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 11:58:57

the law can't make her a different person

Totally agree - this is the heart of the matter. I feel for the father in the case you mention. I am in a better situation that that poor man is, so it's not about a simple gender matter. I don't think it's a conspiracy or that the courts (or anyone else) don't care. I know we're on the feminism thread, and I'd love to point at patriarchy and say that the root of the problem, but it's not just that. The law is an exceptionally clunky tool to deal with matters of the heart.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 12:15:57

Yup - humans are motivated by all sorts of things, often utterly irrational or which actually go against their best interests. And the law deals with logic and cold hard facts.

that is why I have found myself frustrated with this thread - the insistence from some that certain behaviour is always and only explained by one cause, i.e. male entitlement.

And I strongly disagree. I am sure it is a factor in some cases, maybe even the driving factor but most cases are explained by an enormous number of circs - envrionmental, social, genetic, temperament, etc, etc and you can see how crazy it is to expect all of this to be recognised and dealt with by the law which can only operate on a binary system of proof - it did happen or it didn't.

I don't know what the answer is - people only change if they are motivated to change and they get a lot of help. You can't force people into therapy and there is no money to fund it anyway.

the only thing I can think of that would help is to put more resources into helping families with difficulties, more contact centres, possibly more parenting classes. Or maybe some more judges and available court time so cases can get heard much more quickly. Often it is the delay and dragging on that causes the most problems.

edam Tue 12-Mar-13 14:00:03

I'm sure all of the things you list in your last par would help, Spero, but may I also add diversity/domestic violence awareness training for judges? I know it's not the family courts, but just thinking of the judge's gendered comments in the Pryce/Huhne case - they were both guilty but the judge called her 'devious and manipulative', not both of them. What's not devious and manipulative about spending £250k on the best lawyers in the country in repeated attempts to get the case thrown out, costing the taxpayer £100k, as Huhne did? Or dodging the speeding points in the first place? Or denying guilt right up until the last minute?

'Devious and manipulative' applies to him as much as her, if not more so, yet the judge only felt moved to make that value judgement about the woman... I fear people are often not aware of their inner assumptions about gender, or disability, or age, or sexuality. Possibly more likely to be aware of race, just because it's higher profile. That is a real problem when the person not aware of their own prejudices is a judge who has the power to send you to prison, or take your kids away.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 14:08:46

There is already lots of training for judges - you can only be a family judge if you have a 'family ticket' which means extra training. A lot of judges are also female, certainly at district judge level. Perhaps more training would help, it can't hurt. But I continue to vigorously deny these assertions that family court simply 'don't know' about violence.

I don't think comments about VP are explained by the patriarchy! She was clearly devious and manipulative. I will be interested to see what judge says when he passes sentence but I honestly don't think she was judged as being a 'woman' - at least not from what I have read in her emails to Isabel Oakshott.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 14:09:21

Yy to more resources, and I totally agree with edam's point about training about abuse. I would add developing awareness of emotional abuse too.

I'm mulling over the idea of whether a legal process in family cases could benefit from being more inquisitorial (continental-style) rather than adversarial, so the judge plays more of a role in pulling facts together and coming up with a solution. It would need a whole new cohort of judges with different training though - somewhere between social workers and judges.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 14:12:57

The courts might know about violence, but I'm not sure they're always great on abuse that takes forms other than physical.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 14:20:15

We have already been quasi inquisitorial for years as judges recognised long ago that the adversarial system is often incompatible with finding out what is best for the child. So judges are very much in the driving seat in my cases and encouraged to be even more so as we are now supposed to finish care proceedings in 26 weeks (hollow laugh).

Also what I think people forget is that majority of family lawyers (who go on to become judges) are women. I was specifically warned off specialising in this area as it is 'female ghetto' - and that was 20 years ago.

We are not products of the patriarchy. The impact and seriousness of emotional abuse is well known, often it is the sole argument for taking a child into care for eg.

And look how that riles some of the men who protest against state involvement in family life. Of you have a strong stomach, read some of the stuff Ian Joseph's and John Hemmings come out with - children should only be removed if les are broken etc.

And so many women on this site rely upon their views and support them.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 14:30:11

I agree IJ and JH spout dangerous stuff, although on the threads I've seen, there are always posters (including you, if I remember right) who call them on their allegations.

Re the emotional abuse, it seems my exH can get away with telling my dd that I'm trying to kill her, I didn't feed her as a baby etc. He's trying to damage her relationship with me. I consider this as a form of EA, but the judge hasn't even commented on it,let alone taken it into account in making a decision.

My judge has been female throughout.

HopingItllBeOK Tue 12-Mar-13 15:00:32

I wonder if part of the problem is in how the court is perceived as viewing EA, rather than how it actually does view it? If perhaps something is considered as low level EA then it may not be in the interests of either party to order a full finding of facts hearing as it wouldn't be deemed serious enough alone to impact on a contact schedule. In that case it may seem as if the occurrence of EA is being overlooked when in actuality it has been given due consideration but as it wouldn't have an effect on contact, it is swiftly moved on from.

It must be harder to make a decision based on EA claims rather than PA claims as by their nature there is no tangible evidence, the level of abuse can vary so much more than PA, the effect that EA has isn't as easily quantifiable as a broken arm to indicate level of force used.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 15:06:50

I think those are all fair points, Hoping.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 15:24:44

Yes, I agree. EA is often more difficult to identify or quantify than physical abuse and the abuser often thinks what they are doing is acceptable or normal.

So it is a lot more problematic to base a case on emotional abuse but there is certainly awareness of it.

HopingItllBeOK Tue 12-Mar-13 16:06:03

I think the problem is because EA is so insidious, long lasting and can feel so much more personal and damaging than PA, because it is someone invading your head, telling you how to think and react and changing your perceptions which can take many years of therapy to recover from, if at all and is to a certain degree always calculated. Yet on the flip side of this is the fact that it is so much harder to prove it ever happened, it has only recently been considered in law to be actual abuse, it's continuation can be facilitated by ordering contact for the DC as even if the abused parent no longer has to see their abuser, they are left dealing with the digs levelled at them through the DC and of course the fact that court action at all can be used by abusers as a way of furthering the abuse towards their exP by making them relive the abuse, putting the onus of effort for contact onto them and threatening sanctions if orders aren't followed despite being free to walk away when they chose.

The gulf between the impact of EA and the consequences for an abuser having carried it out is so wide, because of all the difficulties mentioned, that I can easily see why a victim of EA could feel as if their experiences weren't taken into account and were minimised, which of course is exactly how they felt while with their abuser which makes it seem more personal and more emotive.

I have no idea how to narrow that gap, since I am an idealistic airhead and know nothing of legislation, but I can't help but feel that there must be some way to do so. Even if it were only for judges to routinely mention the limitations of the laws that guide them so alleged EA victims don't feel that they have been screwed over again by the court. I think a societal attitude shift in accepting that EA happens, is damaging and needs to stop would be a massive help as well. If nothing else it would reduce the stigma attached to being a victim of EA, so it wouldn't be so hard to repeatedly stand up in court and say "I was a victim" only to find it deemed irrelevant.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 16:50:33

Maybe the way forward is for better education and help at an early stage - get people out of these relationships as quickly as possible.

I am still shocked by the stats in one of my earlier links that out of 2000 women asked, over 60% did NOT see excessive jealousy from a partner as a worrying sign.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 16:56:11

Hear, hear.

Courts ultimately reflect what is going on wider society, and can't fix problems in isolation, so a wider societal shift is necessary.

I think people going to court also need to be encouraged to have realistic expectations. Because the court is not there to vindicate you and say, "Yes, you're the angel and that man (or woman) over there is Bad". All it can do is put in place arrangements for the way forward for the children's sake. If it can be seen in the context of those limitations, there mightn't be such a strong sense of grievance.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 16:57:21

That last post to Hoping, btw, but I agree with you spero too. (This thread seems to becoming a bit of a love-in, unlike the family courts!

FastidiaBlueberry Tue 12-Mar-13 20:07:35

Hoping, I think part of the problem with EA is that you don't actually know it's happened to you most of the time, so you wouldn't stand up in court and say it had happened to you anyway.

It took me over a decade to realise that what I had experienced in my relationship, was EA. Even though I'm a feminist, was aware of the existence of gaslighting etc. I still didn't actually identify that that was what I lived with. And that all those years, I had carried the narrative that he had put in my mind.

The difference with physical abuse, is that mostly, you know it's happened (even if you come up with excuses for why it happened). You can see the wound, you know it needs to be treated and you can heal it. With EA you don't even know the wound was inflicted, so you carry the effects for years, forever if you're unlucky.

That's why although I think it's progress that EA is actually recognised by the courts, I don't see it making much impact because it usually isn't recognised by those committing or suffering it.

HopingItllBeOK Tue 12-Mar-13 21:32:58

That is a very good point, Fastidia . I'm afraid I was guilty of breaking the first rule of debating, by letting my personal experience cloud my opinion. In my case I have been out of the EA relationship for coming up for 9 years now and my ex only reappeared and started court proceedings last summer, so I have had plenty of time to be out, safe and begin to heal and gain insight. I was also fortunate enough to find a group of strong women that I count as friends who helped me reach those conclusions and feel strong enough to go to a solicitor when faced with court papers and say "this is what happened, it constitutes abuse."

You are absolutely right that a lot of women will still be conditioned when they are served with a court summons and so won't register that what happened was EA. That is why I feel a two fold approach to tackling EA wrt contact cases is needed. Firstly raising awareness of what EA is and the typified forms it takes, so women realise it is happening to them, men realise they may unconsciously be doing it, friends/parents/loved ones can spot the signs and offer support and more importantly, not judge. Secondly that the commonly occurring patterns are looked for in the initial hearing reports.

That is not to say that everyone should be assumed to be emotionally abusive, but if Cafcass reports are fairly standard for contact cases, then in amongst the criminal and lea checks and questions about the circumstances around the break up and subsequent contact between both the children and the parents, it shouldn't be that hard to either flag up themes that commonly occur in EA relationships or add a question or two about attitudes towards what has happened.

HopingItllBeOK Tue 12-Mar-13 21:46:49

That does of course all hinge on the assumption that EA to the mother equals abuse of the children by damaging their primary carer. To my (non legally trained) mind it absolutely does. Especially when one considers that the available statistics back up the theory that EA of a mother does not happen in a vacuum and the children either become victims of direct EA themselves, carry lifelong guilt at having witnessed it and been powerless to stop it or been encouraged to join in.

It also is quite lazily assuming that all emotional abusers are men, all victims are women and all the women are the primary carers for the DC, both during the relationship and after splitting up. The statistics say it is significantly more likely to play out that way, so for the sake of laziness I have used the statistical standard to illustrate my points without having to keep saying 'the EA parent' and 'the victim of EA parent'.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 22:00:22

I agree that damage to primary carer will almost always equal damage to children but what you must bear in the mind that the court's job is to find the best outcome for children and that does mean trying to weigh different harms and make a judgment about which is worth - harm to mother being compelled to remain in some kind of relationship with an abuser or harm to children in losing direct or meaningful contact with father?

To invariably make the 'right call' on such an issue would require powers of insight and prognostication which the court just doesn't have and I am quite sure that the passage of time will reveal many decisions to have been 'wrong' in that court was naively hopeful about father's capacity to change or mother's capacity to bear it.

But I think this is just one example of the court being asked to to a pretty much impossible job - to understand and adjudicate upon every nuance of a relationship, to predict how or if people change over time, to second guess what a child will need most as he or she grows and personalities develop.

It is really, really difficult. But when the court gets it wrong this doesn't mean it is indicative of patriarchal norms being enforced, rather a reflection of the huge demands of such a task.

That's why I think the focus has to move away from the courts, which step in very clumsily when a family is already in crisis and has been for years, and more to education, information and support.

Men - and I agree, it is more often men - need to learn not to be abusive in relationships and women need to learn to recognise it and not tolerate it.

I am well educated, intelligent have access to money, support etc but it still took me a year to extricate myself from an obviously abusive relationship. I wish at school or at home when I was younger someone had said - look, excessive jealousy, isolating you from friends etc isnt a flattering reflection of how much he desparately loves you, this man is bad news and will get worse. O and by the way, you aren't a failure if you aren't married by the time you are 30, you don't need a relationship to make you a whole person...

It would have really helped if I hadn't had to learn all these lessons the long and hard way, by myself.

edam Tue 12-Mar-13 22:16:38

Spero, that's a very moving post. I know teachers get fed up with every pressure group saying schools should teach X, Y or Z - first aid, how to manage your finances, loads of other things that constantly crop up in the news - but PHSE really should cover healthy and unhealthy relationships, including red flags. And not just focus on girls - don't make it their responsibility, teach boys too. Teach both of them that there are right and wrong ways to behave, and both of them that they need to support friends if they see things are going wrong. The way we do with bullying - when children (at least in primary, I've no recent experience of secondary) are told about the role of the bystander, not just the bully or the victim, that the witness has an important moral duty as well.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 22:37:10

It is so frustrating - I am continually told that healthy nurturing relationships with other humans are the single most important predictor of a healthy, happy life ... And yet we are all just expected to 'get on with it' and magically know how to identify and maintain happy relationships.

So what happens? We just stick with the script we got from our parents or disastrously modify it after pressure from peers who are just as clueless.

So rather than wasting time agonising over which of the mechanical aspects of sex to 'teach' or panicking over whether or not gay relationships are being 'promoted' WHY can't we just agree a basic package, to educate everyone about respect? What are the danger signs? Why should you avoid certain people? What can you do if you find you are hurting people?

I do think this is the key, prevention rather than 'cure' which I don't think you will ever get a the damage is done by then.

NicknameTaken Wed 13-Mar-13 09:48:41

I'm not sure education would have stopped me getting into an abusive relationship. I thought he was exciting, I wanted a baby, it was a long-distance relationship so I had plenty of chances for wilful self-deception (and part of me knew it), so I went for it. It was like a temporary form of madness, and I wonder if it was partly hormone-driven.

I'm not against education on the matter - I think we could all benefit from those lessons on respect and danger signs - but you can't always pre-empt the lessons that life teaches you.

Spero Wed 13-Mar-13 15:43:05

I don't claim education wold be a cure all - nothing is.

But I think more trumpeting of the message about respect and boundaries would help once the 'falling in love' hormones had dissipated.

I am eternally grateful to those friends of mine who kept telling me my ex was no good. Although I wasn't able to listen for ages -he is a doctor! I am 29! Of course he is the 'one' and not scarey or dangerous at all! - it did help to recall all that they had said when I was finally pushed over edge and for rid of him.

NicknameTaken Thu 14-Mar-13 09:38:58

I'd like to see a copy of the Lundy Bancroft book in every school library.

Spero Thu 14-Mar-13 11:10:32

Yes, but not just put on the shelves. These issues should be discussed as part of formal curriculum. Try to reduce shame and stigma and encourage everyone to think.

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