Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Kids visit Dad in lots of places for lots of reasons. They may visit him in the workplace, his home, a relative's home, a social work office, the hospital, rehab, jail, by computer if he's overseas, etc.

If the kids are lucky, Mom and her partner co-operate and communicate. Both parents support the visit and work out problems connected with it.

Unfortunately, even in the best of situations, most kids would rather not visit Dad. They'd rather he lived with them so the family is "complete".

In the case of children who visit or want to visit Mom's batterer, co-operation and communication are often deemed impossible. In the shelter, I've seen kids who shrug and say, "I can't visit my dad. He choked (or hit) Mom." Some seem to accept this but seethe underneath. Some are so angry at or so afraid of Dad that they're glad they don't have to visit.

Many paternal visits necessitated by absent mother and children are determined in court.
Some mothers are forced by the court to allow kids to visit their father. In the case of older kids who can visit Dad on their own, this may work out fairly  well--as long as Dad doesn't interrogate them or try to manipulate them into testifying against their mother.

Some women, however are ordered to "supervise"paternal visits despite their protests that this is not in their children's best interest. And despite their ongoing fear or distrust of their partner.

I have to wonder what is in a judge's mind when s/he says a woman must take her children back to the man who injured her (and indirectly, them) in so many ways. Why the judge insists she must stay with the batterer while he and the children "visit".

Does the judge think the batterer is now cured and won't insult, threaten or intimidate this woman? Does s/he think she has lost all fear of him? Or think it positive to expose children to the source of their mother's long-term, ongoing anxiety, anger and pain?

There is an increase in training about the reality of domestic violence. Training of lawyers, judges, police, social workers, mediators and others. But from what I'm hearing, the above scenario still happens.

And it's toxic.

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