Feminist custody evaluators believe that most domestic violence is “intimate terrorism.” They do so specifically because they’ve been taught that at DV shelters and in other training curricula. Those are two of the findings of a new study of custody evaluators conducted by Megan Haselschwerdt and Jennifer Hardesty of the University of Illinois Urbana and Jason Hans at the University of Kentucky at Lexington.
As I said in my previous piece, the study is small, but provocative. To anyone familiar with the facts of domestic violence, it strongly suggests that custody evaluators be trained outside of the feminist/DV shelter system.
The authors go into some detail about the attitudes of the two types of evaluators they identified, i.e. the feminist type and the family violence researcher.
To their credit, the feminist custody evaluators did not entirely discount the possibility of situational violence. That’s the type that occurs occasionally and due to high stress in the relationship, and does not stem from a desire by one partner to exert undue control over the other. But for them, situational violence was the exception, not the rule. Intimate terrorism made up either most or all of the domestic violence according to the feminist evaluators. And those doing the controlling were men, not women.
Feminist evaluators perceived power and control by male partners as central to the dynamics of DV in the majority of their cases… James explained, “The more common [type] for me is the controlling, and I think that those are the ones that are less likely to settle in a custody [dispute] and more likely to proceed to an evaluation.’ One exception was Daniel, who did not differentiate between types but believed that all DV was rooted in power and control.
The nine feminist evaluators in the survey found power and control in non-violent incidents.
James recalled one example: “[There were] different dynamics of control that he had exhibited in their relationship whether it [was] through isolation, financial control, emotional abuse, [or] psychological abuse . . . that ha[d] been done for the purpose of trying to assert control.’
Those feminist evaluators also believe that a man who they conclude is abusive cannot be a good parent.
All 9 feminist evaluators expressed concerns about a spousal abuser”s ability to be a good parent, the negative effects on children of DV exposure, and the potential for direct child abuse. Thus, they rejected the notion that spousal abuse could be considered separately from the parent–child relationship.
The evaluators with a feminist perspective see domestic violence as an intellectual matter as opposed to an emotional/psychological one.
As William explained, “Because abuse is a product of the attitudes and beliefs of somebody who is abusive, I do think that ultimately those [beliefs] are going to have some negative consequences for the children and that the children will be exposed to those [beliefs], so I don”t think the two [abuser and father] could be separated [when considering child custody].”
Therefore, abuse is not a product of a treatable psychological condition, but one of wrong-thinking whose proper “treatment” is re-education. Domestic violence is a matter of attitudes engendered by an all-pervasive patriarchy that considers women to be rightly under the thumb of men. Violence by a man against a woman is merely a way of reasserting patriarchal control. And any form of control is the same as violence – simply a way to maintain masculine power. Such at any rate are the teachings of feminism regarding DV and absorbed by the evaluators in their DV shelter training courses.
As I said before, the feminist evaluators interviewed for this survey are aware that situational violence (i.e. not resulting from a desire to control) exists. They also admit that fathers who engage in that form of domestic violence aren’t necessarily disqualified from being adequate fathers.
But there seems to be a catch.
As Joseph explained, “Certain types of violence, [such as] male controlling violence, is a risk 20 years later [after separation], but other types of violence really do kind of dissipate and go away if there”s enough disengagement between the parties and they get on with their own lives, and the risks do go down dramatically.”
The words “if there’s enough disengagement between the parties” jumped out at me. That strongly suggests that in this evaluator’s opinion, the only good custody situation in which there’s been situational violence is for the father and mother to have as little to do with each other as possible post-divorce. That in turn strongly suggests the most minimal visitation and that probably supervised.
Then there was the topic of false allegations of domestic violence.
In general, feminist evaluators believed there was a kernel of truth in all DV allegations and that false allegations in the context of custody disputes were rare. Four feminist evaluators estimated a 10% or lower occurrence of false allegations by women in their cases. Another three acknowledged the potential for exaggerated, but not false, DV allegations.
However, there can be false allegations of domestic violence according to the feminist evaluators – those made by fathers. Two of the nine evaluators said that 50% of DV claims made by fathers were false.
On those rare occasions when a mother makes a false allegation of domestic violence, it’s not her fault.
When false allegations were made by women, feminist evaluators blamed the adversarial process, attorneys who encouraged clients to make false allegations, or the mother”s clinical pathology… However, feminist evaluators emphasized that such situations were extremely rare in their experience.
The absence of evidence of abuse is no reason to think that abuse didn’t occur.
Nonetheless, a lack of evidence in particular necessitated a thorough investigation but did not indicate an allegation was false because, as John explained, “There are many instances in which the victim has not ever called the police for fear of her life.’
These are some of the people on whom family courts routinely rely when making child custody orders. Among them, these nine feminist custody evaluators do 148 evaluations per year. Of course there are countless more just like them.
These feminist evaluators were frankly misandric (essentially all DV is by a man against a woman), anti-science (not a word in their responses suggests any knowledge of the huge body of social and medical science on domestic violence) and politically doctrinaire (DV is a matter of power not psychology).
Has any one of them ever recommended that a father get primary custody? We’ll never know because that question wasn’t asked by the researchers.
Given all that, is it any wonder fathers can’t seem to get custody or even maintain reasonable relationships with their kids post-divorce?