I don’t want to break this news to you gently: mothers who speak up about domestic abuse are punished and lose custody of their children in abysmal numbers.
Schmidt, Samantha. (2019, July 29) ‘A gendered trap’: When mothers allege child abuse by fathers, the mothers often lose custody, study shows. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/a-gendered-trap-when-mothers-allege-child-abuse-by-fathers-the-mothers-often-lose-custody-study-shows/2019/07/28/8f811220-af1d-11e9-bc5c-e73b603e7f38_story.html
Dickson, Sean & Meier, Joan S. (2017) Mapping Gender: Shedding Empirical Light on Family Courts’ Treatment of Cases Involving Abuse and Alienation, Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice. Volume 35, Issue 2, Article 10. Retreived from https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1576&context=lawineq
Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations (2019); Joan S. Meier, Sean Dickson, Chris O’Sullivan, Leora Rosen, Jeffrey Hayes. Retrieved from: https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2712&context=faculty_publications
Joan S. Meier (2020) U.S. child custody outcomes in cases involving parental alienation and abuse allegations: what do the data show?, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 42:1, 92-105, DOI: 10.1080/09649069.2020.1701941
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09649069.2020.1701941
It’s happening in and near La Crosse, Wisconsin.
I am one of these women. I’m posting about it on my professional writing site because my professional writing career was held against me as evidence that I have “trouble with boundaries,” am guilty of “parental alienation” of my abuser, “exaggerate for effect,” and “focus on the negative” too much.
While I never use my ex-husband’s name, while everything I say is true and corroborated by affidavits, and you can not search via this pen name (Beth Mattson) to find my other pen name that goes more into the details of my abuse as it unfolded, a La Crosse County Custody Assessment Team and Family Court Commissioner, decided to take the following professional writing as a signal that my previous sole custody, from the State of Oregon, should be changed to give primary custody of my children to our abuser.
Barely Escaping The Patriarchy (essay on The Girl God)
Single Mothers Speak On Patriarchy (anthology on Amazon Smile)
They also cited my Twitter poetry notebook project, also without my abuser’s name, as utterly outlandish behavior, “posting all over Twitter, Your Honor,” as though Twitter is not a basic social media site for professional self-expression, especially for a poet.
Beth’s Poetry On Twitter
They held my exploration of my queer identity against me as “untethered from reality,” and my long-resolved coming out process as the sole reason for my PTSD diagnosis. They doubted by son’s medical and educational diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder as me “coaching professional,” which they also used to explain away my daughter’s disclosures of sexual abuse and concerns of the same reported by mandated reporters. At no point in time did any official make an unannounced visit to my abuser’s home, he didn’t answer the door for a police officer trying more than ten times to collect a report, and when I provided a screen-shot of my abusers childish My Little Pony illustrated pornography (they only care to scour my online presence), they asked me, “I don’t see a problem. What do you think is happening?” So he continues to dress my children as his favorite MLP porn character. Nobody but my attorney spoke with the other adult female survivors of my abuser’s sexual assaults.
In my area, there are now twenty-five locals moms, and counting, who have had abusive men and fathers preferred due to mothers and children speaking honestly about abuse concerns in court, to child protective services, to our county board of supervisors, and media outlets. They further insult us and fine us under the guise of forcing us to pay our abusive ex’s attorneys fees, on top of not requiring abusers who share custody pay child support in equitable amounts. They ask our abusers if the abusers “feel that mom is ready” to return to 50-50 custody, while financially motivating abusers to keep custody and catering to abusers’ control and malice. Not a single mother among our growing group has been reassigned the custody given to the abuser as “forced reunification,” and most of our children’s situations, trauma, safety, health, and education have grown far worse under this “forced reunification” with abusers, including spending more time with the abusers while school is out of session for the pandemic.
There is no good reason for this prioritization of father’s rights over all others’ to continue. There is no reason that mothers should not speak up about this terrible paradigm of punishing women who speak honestly about abuse. There is no good reason not to collect data on outcomes for those who report abuse concerns.
Contact everyone you can. Help us end this horrifying practice.