Los Angeles, CA–A common feminist falsehood about divorce–and one which the Feminist Family Law Movement has often successfully palmed off on the media–is that batterers often get custody of their children. For example, a recent Obama blogger recently quoted feminist law professor Joan Meier’s claims on the issue. Meier writes:
One statement…that has provoked controversy was my statement that “the studies are showing” that up to 2/3 of accused or adjudicated batterers receive joint or sole custody in court.
While no empirical study can definitively determine a universal statistical rate, the key point is that the research consistently shows that accused and adjudicated batterers receive joint or sole custody disturbingly often.
This confirms the anecdotal experience of domestic violence attorneys and victims around the country.
This claim was one of the pillars behind PBS’s anti-father 2005 documentary Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories.
You may recall that we launched a successful campaign against the film. PBS ended up producing and airing a new documentary on these issues, one which was very fair to fathers.
Our campaign also led to the film’s producers being forced to publicly apologize to Dr. Scott Loeliger, a father who they defamed in the film.
During the campaign Dr. Ned Holstein of Fathers & Families debunked the feminist claim’s on batterers and custody–it is below.
Critique of Breaking the Silence Reveals Numerous Falsehoods in Film
Fathers & Families of Massachusetts conducted an extensive review of the assertions made in Breaking the Silence: Children”s Stories and found numerous falsehoods and half-truths. The group detailed these in its document A Critique of the Scientific Basis for Key Assertions in Breaking the Silence: Children”s Stories.
The report found that while the film and those connected to it repeatedly asserted that batterers win shared or sole custody approximately 67% of the time, the only data available in the publications cited shows results of between 3% and 18%.
The Fathers & Families report also asserts:
“No data whatsoever are presented to support the film”s central assertion that 75% of fathers who seek custody of their children over the mother”s objections are batterers. The references cited by the film”s supporters in most cases are a round-robin of assertions, in which the same pool of authors repeatedly cites each other”s opinions, without supporting data.”
The film’s supporters cited a supportive document which they claimed was written by the American Judges Association. In fact, it was instead written by the American Judges Foundation, a group which does not consist of judges but instead of advocates who seek to “educate” and influence judges. The AJF’s lead author was Dr. Lenore Walker, known as the architect of the controversial “battered woman syndrome” defense of women who kill the men whom they claim abused them.
The document also noted that professor Murray Straus, a noted and widely published domestic violence researcher, has charged in writing that two of his research studies have been misrepresented in the Viewer”s Guide that accompanies the film. In addition, while the film asserts that “children are in most danger from their fathers, according to Straus, “The evidence from many studies, including Federal statistics on child abuse, shows that mothers physically abuse children at a slightly higher rate than fathers.’
The entire Fathers & Families report can be read by clicking here.