September 11, 2008

When dad is just bad

I have decided to just post the entire article here in case it is not available later.  I am glad that this conference was held...sorry I wasn't there!  There is contact info at the bottom to write to this reporter to show her some support in writing this article.

She apparently is going to be receiving emails from the FR's that disagree so I feel that those of us who agree with what she wrote should let her know also!



What's a conference on domestic violence without fireworks? An American speaker shot off a doozy here yesterday, charging that the leaders of some fathers' rights groups are abusers who use the organizations as tools to harass women.

"It's really important that we recognize that they're gaining traction," Rita Smith, executive director of the U.S. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told an international women's shelters conference.

In a later interview, Smith said her experience of men working on fathers' rights is that many of the leaders are abusers or were accused of abuse.

"The agenda, often by the leadership, is to completely undermine women's rights," she said. "The ones that are the most dangerous are, in fact, creating safety problems for women and children."

Many who join such groups aren't abusive - they just lost a custody battle, Smith said, and are being used.

"Our responsibility is to try to figure out which of those groups are legitimate and which of those groups are simply a way for abusers to continue using the legal system to abuse women."

Want more fireworks? Here goes. Smith also said domestic abusers who fight for custody in U.S. courts win full custody, joint custody or unsupervised access 70% of the time, regardless of the evidence of the mother.

She attributes it to a court gender bias. "For whatever reason, women are not believed," she told me. "There's this myth in the family court system in the U.S. that women lie about abuse to gain custody. There's been no ... evidence to indicate that's true."

Advocates and experts are trying to reform the U.S. family court system, she added. "It's pretty broken."

Her comments were echoed by speaker Sandra Ramos, who runs a shelter for homeless battered women and children in New Jersey and teaches college students about domestic violence.

Said Ramos: "When I tell my students batterers and child molesters get custody, they go, 'No, that's ridiculous.'

"If you have money for a good lawyer, you can win anything."

Abusers fight for custody as a backlash, to try to regain control and hurt the victims for leaving them, said Ramos.

"Batterers are insecure cowards and bullies," she added. "The way to hurt (their ex-wives) and not have to pay child support is to get the children."

Abusive men win custody of their kids in Canada as well, said Jan Reimer, provincial co-ordinator of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters. "There's a feeling that even if a perpetrator is abusing the mom, he doesn't hurt the child," she said. "The child is used as a pawn to get at the mother."

Let's count our blessings, folks, that the vast majority of custody cases are settled amicably outside court.

So enough about custody battles. There are 800 delegates -- mostly women but a few good men -- at this week's conference of shelter workers and they all have incredible stories.

Ece Tuncay, who gave a presentation yesterday, is a clinical psychologist with a shelter in Ankara, Turkey, for female victims of human trafficking. There is another in Istanbul and they are desperately needed because Turkey is a destination country for trafficked women from countries like Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Moldova.

The women are tricked into thinking they'll work as cooks or cleaners and then forced into prostitution, said Tuncay.

"They are not generally able to escape because a pimp always accompanies them."

But there are hotlines the women can call and, in a strange twist of fate, Turkish johns sometimes feel sorry for them and call the police to rescue them, added Tuncay.

Her group gets the trafficked women safe housing and counselling. Then, with the help of the International Organization for Migration, the women travel safely home.

Every woman saved is a success story. As Reimer, the prime organizer behind this incredible gathering, commented to the delegates Monday night, shelter workers toil in the middle of a "hurricane of suffering" to keep women alive.

No other profession, she added, sees such a constant reminder of men's inhumanity to women.

I give the last word to Smith who quipped to the hundreds of shelter workers: "I look forward to the day when we all have something else to do in our lives."

Original Article Here: - Mindelle Jacobs - When dad is just bad

E-mail Mindy Jacobs at
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1 comment:

  1. Nature's first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf's a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.
    The Outdoor Women