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Curly

Is exposure to an abusive parent understood by the court system?

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Curly

<ul><b></li><li>Should there be serious studies done that specifically look into the effects an abusive parent can have on children? </li><li>Should abuse or domestic violence be taken in to consideration when awarding custody?</li><li>Do you think that there is any real understanding within the court system in relation to the impact that an abusive parent can have on a child?

</b></li></ul>

I would certainly like to see some solid research done that looks into this issue. I know without a doubt that growing up in a home with abuse can have a huge negative impact on a child. I am also equally sure that there are parents out there who have a negative impact on their children post separation. I do think there are situations where a child would be better off without contact with the abuser parent. I do not think that all children should have contact with both parents. I do agree that contact with both parents is preferable where both parents have the best interests of the child as a genuine top priority.

While it is a small minority of abusers who kill their children during access there are many many more who harm their children in other ways often using them as a means to keep on abusing the former partner.

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Thyme

No. Not only do i think that it is rare for the court system to get it, In my travels I have found that the average person does not get it. I tend to think that people in general don't want to know about the pain and abuse that their neighbors may be suffering and even worse absolutely cannot cope w/sexual abuse of children.I personally believe that the people who can't acknolwedge our pain or our children's pain do so because they cannot acknowledge or remember there own pain. I also believe that judges who are unwilling to recogognize abuse are themselves abusive. I wish it were not so, and i know there are some gleaming exceptions to the rule, but basically,in this country anyway we need to set some precedents. Somehow gather the meek and the strong to raise a mighty voice.I am so for it.

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vpc

I don't think the courts "get it" either.

A yes from me to the three questions! But I think defining abuse is very, very difficult.

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Curly
But I think defining abuse is very, very difficult.

I do agree with you on that one. I think it is something where there is a lot of grey. I do think there are many situations where it is very clear but many others where it may be more that it is just not a healthy relationship and apart both parents may parent quite well.

A lot of abuse is just so hard to prove one way or the other when it is emotional and psychological and behind closed doors. It can still damage a child and even though there is no evidence you may still have a parent who will cause their child a lot of harm.

I have no idea how to decide where the cut off is as to what relationships count as abusive. I don't know how to assess with accuracy.

I still think though that if there was to be a serious study done on the issue that we would be in a better position than currently.

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freewoman59

No, the court system (anywhere) doesn't get it and they want to keep it that way because as long as they keep their collective heads in the sand, they don't have to do anything. I was told by a judge that even where a childs safety is concerned, something tragic has to occur first! There has to be room for common sense AT LEAST where children are involved and the law has no room for common sense. (IMHO).

We were sent to a psychiatric evaluator (he had to pay for). He was diagnosed DSM1V narcisistic personality disorder, arrested developement, developmentaly retarted etc. She called me well within range of "normal" (this is sure not to say I am perfect :rolleyes: , just that I have no "personality disorder") The forensic evaluation is only looked at if you go to trial and if the trial is dragged out a year or more after the evaluation, (which it almost always is) it is thrown out as being too old (even though a personality disorder is by definition is "unchangable"). Its all just smoke and mirrors to make money!

So the whole thing is just such a mess that like so many other things, you just don't know where to start!

:(

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PeachPapoose

[1]Should there be serious studies done that specifically look into the effects an abusive parent can have on children?

[2]Should abuse or domestic violence be taken in to consideration when awarding custody?

[3]Do you think that there is any real understanding within the court system in relation to the impact that an abusive parent can have on a child?

[1] Yes.

[2] Yes.

[3] A resounding NO.

I'm not just looking at my own children who have been punished for having an abusive father by being ordered to live with him (yes, I am being VERY cynical here of what has been done to them by the "justice" system), but I'm also looking at my childhood.

If my mom had had what it takes to leave my dad when I was a kid instead of waiting till I was almost 20 years old (she stayed "for the sake of the children" - and all that did was teach me and my sister how to stick with an abuser)...

*IF* my mom would have left him, and if a judge would have made me live with my dad, I don't know if I'd be alive today. I think I would have killed myself, or my dad might have killed me (once he tried to choke me when I was 13, another time he chased me with a rifle when I was 14) or at the very least I would have run away, which I did many times anyways to get away from my dad even when my parents WERE married.

But then, I think of how even when I was past my childhood and my mom left, my dad managed to have me thinking my mom was bad for leaving him. I was so angry at my mom. I felt that she left ME. And my dad didn't do a single thing to dissuade me in that thought. Instead, he did the whole "feel sorry for me, your mother left me, I'm not such a bad guy, she's mentally unstable" routine.

Serious studies need to be done to look into the effects of children who live with abuse. I would volunteer myself to be a subject in such a study, if I knew about such a one. The after-effects continue in me to this day.

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bix

Curly, Just came across your question and you've caught me in a cynical mood.

"serious study"? sure that'd be great. The whole system is so riddled with inaccuracy, snake oil and group think though who the hell knows what the value of any kind of 'serious study' would be. Just look at the child protection services, the foster system - it's an outrageous shambles. What makes you think there's any chance of that same profession improving the 'niche' problem of abusive co parenting issues?

Do I think the current system sucks and that some children are suffering as a result? 100% yes. Is there a cat in hell's chance of the current 'establishment' coming up with a 'good' solution? Unlikely.

Tone not directed at you Curly. Just my frustration about the corruption of the system and the cluelessness of most of the players. It's outta control IMO.

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Curly

Bix I understand your frustration.

I know it is pretty much a universal issue that child protection services are under funded, inadequate and often poorly run. Foster care also has huge issues everywhere.

I don't know if a sound study would have any impact. If it did it may actually take years to work it's way into the system.

I am sure that if nothing is done then nothing will ever be any better. I do think that with accurate information and education things can slowly change.

Will a child protection service that can not keep up with the kids who are in immediate physical danger ever be in a position to worry about emotional and psychological abuse? Probably not. The problem needs money and resources that govts won't spend on kids. Far more important to develop more effective killing machines.

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freewoman59

"Will a child protection service that can not keep up with the kids who are in immediate physical danger ever be in a position to worry about emotional and psychological abuse? Probably not. The problem needs money and resources that govts won't spend on kids. Far more important to develop more effective killing machines."

You always hit the nail on the head Curly!

Bless you!!!

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bix

Also to add to the debate.

Take a look at how the UK are approaching things.

I don't know if I would consider it a 'model' to copy - but they seem to be further down the road and there is a "coherence" between the courts and "women's aid" (which is the UK equivalant of Domestic Violence centers). Also I think that "Women's Aid" is government run and government funded (like the courts) wheas DV centers are not they are private non-profits I think? The UK also seem to use mediators in custody decisions but the government I think pays for them not the private individual soo there's no incentive for corruption and dragging it out to make more money. Also the sheer amount of resources that "women's aid" and similar organizations offers to women - subsidised permanent housing, childcare, free education is dazzling in comparison to the US. I wonder what the scandinavians do about custody decisions with abuse? or other countries?

My point is that maybe some country somewhere has a good model to follow (or at least an improvement in the US and Australian set up)

Here are some of the UK links.

Here are some links:

http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/google-search....&sa.y=4#967

http://www.respect.uk.net/pages/campaigns-...inst-women.html

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Chris77

There is a new book, called Violent Fathering and the Risks to Children by Lynne Harne (available March 2012)

Here is a review:

Current family policy approaches emphasise the significance of paternal involvement in children's lives, yet there has been a silence on violent and abusive fathering in these discourses. This is the first UK book to specifically focus on violent fathering discussing original research in the context of domestic violence. Violent fathering and the risks to children examines fathers' perceptions of their domestic violence and its impact on children, their relationships with children and their parenting practices. It looks at fathers' reasons for wanting contact with children post-separation, abusive parenting practices during child contact and the impacts of perpetrator programmes on the fathers' own perceptions of their abuse. It also discusses abused mothers' perceptions of their ex-partners parenting. The author recommends ways that policy and practice can be improved in order to safeguard children in family law and child protection practice through a better understanding of the risks posed and appropriate assessment of violent fathers as parents. This book will be of interest to academics and students in family and child welfare policy, socio-legal studies, social work, criminology, gender studies and other disciplines with an interest in domestic violence and child protection. It will also be also be of considerable value to professionals working in this area.

Well here is a resource we could inundate the professionals in the legal system with!

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Curly

I hope that the flood gates will open and that there will be many more books along these lines. Hopefully backed by some real research unlike many of very suspect offerings used to support father's rights. I certainly have no issue with good non abusive fathers having their rights protected but most of what is out there appears to be aimed at helping abusive fathers maintain control over their families and it has nothing to do with what is best for the child. Looks like there is still a fair wait before this book will be available.

There is an American author and former lawyer, Barry Goldstein, who appears to be having a lot to say on this issue. He was part of the family law system for many years. I haven't read his book "SCARED TO LEAVE AFRAID TO STAY Paths From Family Violence to Safety". I think it would be worth reading. He is currently involved with co-editing a book with Dr. Maureen Hannah. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY that will be published by Civic Research Institute late February or early March.

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TimsGirl

I can't speak for other countries, but here in Australia, despite many claims to the contrary (especially by child protection services trying to excuse why they let a child be beaten to death after many complaints of abuse from many sources), there is enough funding and man hours.

The REAL problem is the disgusting misuse of resources that is costing children's futures and even some their lives.

I know of multiple cases, first hand, where I have witnessed good parents harassed for months and even years after a single false complaint.

Long after the CPS has it proven that the complaint was a malicious lie, when they've taken the kid/s, they take months to return them, and whether they take the kids or not, the poor parent/s who have been falsely complained about end up having weekly visits at can last for hours (sometimes several times a week) for months (sometimes years as happened to one poor friend of mine).

And yet despite that massive waste of man hours stickybeaking on families who have done nothing wrong, they then have the audacity to turn around and say they don't have an hour even just once to check up on a kid they've received dozens of complaints, including from health professionals, that the kid is being abused.

Nup - they DO have the time and money to investigate reports of abuse, but they waste the majority of their time and money harassing good families and do nothing where there is real abuse.

I just get so angry at what the family court and CPS did to my daughter.

We seperated because her father bashed her in the head as hard as he could when she was just 5 years old.

He was convicted of that - except the pathetic police only charged him with violating a DVO he should have been charged with serious assault against both my daughter and I. But despite the charge being so small, at least it was on record what he did to us.

Yet that meant nothing in family court. His long history of convictions for bashing and even trying to kill me meant nothing - apparently trying to kill your wife in front of your kid doesn't make you a bad father. Nor does using illicit drugs on a daily basis - as long as you just promise not to use them while the child is in your care, it's perfectly ok to use them all day every other day - even of course if you denied you were a drug user for nearly three years and only admitted you were a drug user the whole time because a drug test was about to prove your lies... but of course, if you just promise not to use with your kid there, then the family court will overlook the fact that you stared the magistrate in the eye every court appearance for three years and denied you were using drugs, but if you come clean and admit to lying about that, you must be telling the truth about everything now.

You can even bash your kid, but that doesn't make you a bad father according to the family - because it's all your wife's fault for not meeting your "needs" and because you were stressed out that your wife would find out about your mistress, and now that you're with your mistress and not your wife, all your stresses must be magically over and you'd never feel stressed ever again, so you'll never bash your kid ever again.

The whole family court system is about blaming domestic violence victims when their abuser starts abusing the children. It doesn't matter that the only reason you stayed is because up until that point, as long as he had you to bash, he left the children alone, and that while you were together, you could always find ways for him never to be alone with the children so he couldn't hurt them - or if he tried to hurt them, you're there so you could step in and take the beating. But of course, according to the family court you're a terrible selfish mother staying with an abuser because that's "putting the kids at risk" - coming from the mouth of family court officials who sometimes seconds earlier said that there is nothing wrong with the father and he should have shared custody - but the mother is a bad mother for letting the very same man have access to the kids because she's putting them at risk of abuse. like wth?

Same with CPS.

I was told categorically if I took my ex back, they'd remove my child. I was also told that if I let him have access to our daughter except the access ordered by the family court, that I'd have my daughter removed because I was "neglecting" her by putting her at risk of being abused by my ex. BUT GET THIS: the very same CPS workers told my ex that they had absolutely no concerns with his parenting ability (despite knowing about his drug use and DV connections, and knowing even more than I did about his violent, diagnosed sociopathic lover he'd moved in with by then) and that if I denied him unsupervised access to our daughter, he should go to court and demand it.

So I can have my daughter taken away because I'm "neglecting" her by letting her see a father that they claim they have no problem with his parenting ability???

Oh it gets better than that. As mentioned, the mistress he shacked up with after our final seperation, had been one of my closest friends before I discovered their affair (all the time she'd been telling me to kick his sorry butt out, she'd been having sex with him and telling him to go home and bash me in an attempt to break us up), and because of our close friendship, even to this day, I know what kind of person she is better than he does.

I first met her through a support group. I only later found out her depression was faked for attention and that she really had a severe personality disorder. Even after finding that out, I felt sorry for her. She was a mess as a person and I wanted to help. For years she claimed her ex had snatched their daughter and took off interstate. Even when the truth came out, that she'd actually abused her daughter and for a very long time wasn't even allowed supervised visits with her daughter because of her dangerous nature, I still felt sorry for her - I just never had her around my own daughter. I'll help all sorts of people, no matter what they've done, but I will not have my daughter around people who hurt their own children.

This particular woman has the worst case of NPD I've seen in a woman and the worst case I've seen outside of a psych ward or prison in anyone. I trained as a psychologist before deciding to become a nurse instead, have some psych experience as a nurse.

CPS knew what this woman did her own daughter (I don't know all of it, but I do know what she once said to me that it was "so bad that if I knew what it was, even I wouldn't continue to try to help" and since I've helped some really awful people in the past, the abuse she committed against her daughter must be the lowest of lows). CPS however supposedly does know the full of extent of what she did to her daughter (it has to be pretty bad for a mother to not even be allowed supervised visits for years), and yet when I told them how my stupid ex was leaving our daughter alone with the sociopath (not an insult - that is her genuine psychiatric diagnosis), they just told me it was a matter for the family court.

Same with my ex's violence against our daughter, him making threats that if he didn't get his way with everything he wanted he'd make sure I never saw our daughter again, same with his many convictions for violence and other crimes too, same with his admission to daily drug use.

They just told me, as a seperated couple, it was up to the family court to decide if the matter should be investigate - that they'd only investigate if the family court asked them to.

But what made me angry was the fact the family court turned around and said that it was up to CPS to initiate an investigation and if they hadn't started any investigation, they mustn't be worried about any abuse.

and round and round in circles we go - it's always up to someone else to start the investigation, and if there is no investigation there magically musn't be any abuse.

So a convicted violent child abuser living with an even more violent child abuser can have shared custody of a child without fear of CPS even investigating, but if a battered woman allows the child abuser to see the child for even five minutes longer than the family court has ordered, she can guarantee the child will be removed by CPS.

and they wonder by so many battered women take the kids and go on the run. they know the family court will hand the kids over to abusers - and if they don't hand the kids over, the police can forcibly come and remove them and hand them to the abuser and face being charged with custody offences, BUT if they do hand them over and something happens to any of their kids, they can face having all their kids taken away.

it's total utter bull.

the family court doesn't get it at all. children's rights don't come into at all. not even the right to not be physically abused. all that matters is a father's so called "right" to shared custody.

I got lucky - exactly what I told the family court would happen did happen - ie as soon as my ex got what he demanded in court, he stopped seeing our daughter. I told them the whole three years we went through court that he was only ever dragging it throught court to get back at me and he didn't really want time with our daughter. And I got called all sorts of horrible things by supposedly "neutral" court officials for saying that he was only doing it to get back at me. But in the end, everything I said was proven true - from his lies about being a junkie, to his lies about his criminal record, all the way up to what I said about as soon as he got his way, he stopped seeing our daughter within a few weeks. Stopped calling, never sent a birthday card, nothing.

I'm one of the lucky ones. There are other incredibly selfish reasons he cut off contact with our daughter, but that would take a long time to go into. I expected he'd at least pretend to be interested in our daughter for a few months after family court ended, but even before it ended, he was started to increasingly not turn up for visits because he just couldn't be bothered.

And even though he worked 6-7 days a week in a decent paying job, while I'm on a disability pension for my injuries and pay a small fortune in medical expenses, AND he wasn't paying child support, I STILL had to give him money to feed our daughter dinner even when he had her just for half a day.

Oh that's right... apparently having a great job and not paying a cent of child support to an exwife who can't work due to injuries the guy gave her doesn't make you a bad dad either. In fact it's apparently to be applauded and he's "preparing for his child's future".

The family court has no idea about abusive parents and they simply don't care. There is blood on the hands of some magistrates.

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DCR1972

there is currently around 30 years of psychological literature on the effects of witnessing domestic violence on children - all the studies are good, solid empirical ones, and published in peer reviewed journals ... most of the studies are based on comparrisons between exposed and non-exposed children, with differences in IQ of 8 points, reading delays of 1-2 years, phonological and language delays as well as the behavioural problems, cognitive/academic problems and the outcomes for these children ...

i am researching this for my honours thesis, so have literally 100s of articles on DV and its impact, both short and long term on the women and their children ...

with regard to the question - should DV be taken into account when awarding custody/access - YES absolutely ! especially given the literature showing that coabuse occurs in 30-70% of homes where spousal assault occurs ... witnessing DV is as traumatic as being directly targetted ...

do the courts understand the impact ? no absolutely not ... this is a common theme from the women i have interviewed for my thesis about this !

i can provide references for the papers i have been reading, but they are all in scientific journals so not sure if they are available online to everyone ...

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Curly

DCR I am pleased to hear there is research and that it appears to support what I have observed for myself. If there is any material available to the general public I would be interested in it.

Along with my initial questions I think I should have been asking instead when will the court systems around the world catch up with current knowledge of the effects of DV on children and actually act in the best interests of the child?

Video

I watched some time back. It is about an hour long. The information is out there and with the research to back it up but the court system remains ignorant and appears to base decisions on misinformation put our by extremist father's rights groups. Woman are far too often penalised or accused of lying for bringing up the issue of DV. They are often punished for trying to keep there children safe. In some cases the children are handed over to the abuser/unsafe parent because the mother tried to keep them safe.

There is also evidently research around the likelihood of women falsely claiming DV or abuse of her child by the other parent. Research goes against the commonly held belief that women often make these things up out of spite or for revenge. Research suggests that most women making these claims are in fact being honest. The reverse is apparently true for men making similar claims. The court system still operates under the assumption that the myth is fact.

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DCR1972

Kathy, I can email you some of the papers, depending on your area of interest - a lot of the studies focus on one aspect of the issue e.g. phonological awareness in exposed children and how it's different from non-exposed peers ...

that said, in general, the intros of papers are usually pretty good at summing up the literature so i can send you some more general ones too - of course, once my thesis is written, i can send you a copy of that :)

the literature seems to show that the rate of false allegations are 1-2% which is very low - of course, women who do that just make it phoey difficult for those of us who have been through it ... as usual, the minority screws things up for everyone else =P ... men most often make allegations about women being "crazy" or mentally ill - and obviously no one stops to think that the men have driven the women crazy with the violence and abuse !

to be honest, i dont think that the court system will ever really catch up - they're still perpetuating the "father is important" myth which was first challenged in 1973 ... again the literature shows that children with little to no access fair much better emotionally than those with ongoing frequent access - most likely due to the ongoing high levels of conflict experienced at handovers etc ...

i have a lovely paper by Mildred Pagelow from 1990 called "Effects of Domestic Violence on Chiidren and Their Consequences for Custody and Visitation Agreements" ... she says "Abusers control and dominate other fiamily members (Davidson, 1978; Dobash and Dobash, 1979; Pagelow, 1981a); they use child visitation as a way to maintain their domination and control, and as a means of knowing the whereabouts and activities of their spouses or ex-spouses. This alone jeopardizes the entire family's safety."

and then goes on to say "Research dearly shows that children victimized by observing interparental violence suffer both short- and long-term damages. Children gain when the violence ceases and they leam not only that violence is not condoned in our society but that there are other, better ways of resolving family conflict In particular, boys need to see that their fathers' violent behavior is unacceptable and is negatively sanctioned by the legal system. If they see that their abusive fathers are accorded full rights and parenting privileges as though such behavior is normative, their eariier training in violence is reinforced. More than lip service must be given to the goal of protecting the best interests of the child, or the courts' message shall continue to be, "Fathers' rights will be protected, no matter what the costs to the children, their mothers, and society!"

more than TWENTY years later, nothing more than lip service is still being paid and father's rights are still priveliged above all else, ESPECIALLY the children's right to safety ...

father's rights groups are making claims like "the family court is biased against men" whereas the literature shows that this is far from the case ... Phyllis Chesler wrote "Mothers on Trial" in 1986 and updated it last year ... she shows that 70% of custodially challenged mothers LOSE custody to men who are violent, abusive and who have been convicted of child sex abuse and incest ... SEVENTY PERCENT of women lose custody BECAUSE they are WOMEN ! it's outrageous ! ...

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Curly

Yes I have heard those statistics in relation to custody challenges. It is also often the abuser who has the money to pursue things through the courts. I think money is part of the equation not only gender.

What I really want is probably less specific information in relation to research. Mostly I want things I can put out there where people may see and read it. Not to claim it as mine. I guess more what I really want is relevant information that is already out there that I can point people toward. Basically seeking to educate and also trying to help those who mistakenly believe they have to stay for the children.

Just from my own observations and from being around forums such as this for around 10 years I know children suffer both living in a home with DV and also when they have contact with the unsafe parent. Equally the safe parent also may often be having ongoing issues of stalking, harassing by the abuser and may be in very real danger through this forced contact.

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noroses4u2c

Around here, the courts are most likely to give the abuser custody of the children. The mother is seen as "hysterical" and "unstable" while the abuser is seen as the most stable one.

The courts do not care about the truth. You cannot educate a bunch of people to the truth of something when they already made up their minds.

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Candy cane

Well, in my case my kids have actually been removed from me through the "justice system" due to the abuse that we received. I asked social services for help and their idea of help was to take my beautiful babies from me when all my babies wanted was their mummy! All we wanted was help out of the abuse. The social services decided that my own parents neglected me as a kid, but then decided after nearly 2 years of my 2 boys being in care that my parents were the best place for them to go permently! Plus my eldest has been waiting to start therapy for 2 years that social decided he needed! My little girl, I'm still fighting for, she might get adopted! Despite all my reports saying I'm a "brilliant mum" it's just the men I attract! I don't have a man now and neither do I want 1! All I want is my kids back! Cheers courts and social services!

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Curly

Hi Candy cane and :welcome to:

Sadly stories like yours are far too common. There is not one country I know of that hasn't often failed victims of abuse and their children this way.

Not sure if this organisation would have anything to offer you in the way of support that is more specific to the situation you are in with your children. Protective mothers alliance. I think it is American based but it is for anyone anywhere. I think most of the mothers involved have lost their children to the abuser but not all.

In relation to your experience with domestic violence you are welcome to join us on the main forum. We do have a few members who have lost custody of children.

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