Back in 2004 I was interviewed by Glamour magazine in an article with a similiar title to that of the above. Unfortunately, when the media gets an idea in their head, as to an outcome, they take your words and twist them in the direction they want it to go. I’ve been meaning to write something about this topic and it is a long time coming.
When a victim “chooses” to remain in the home with the batterer and there are children living there it makes emotional, physical and psychological sense to remove the child. A child does not have a choice in the matter. Now whether or not the victim has a choice in the matter is another story. Of course we can argue that the victim is afraid for their life. If a victim and the batterer are on drugs and alcohol they might be staying because of the addiction not necessarily because of fear.
What should also be taken into consideration is that when the child is removed in a court of law, through social services, there are Family Reunification laws in place at the same time. Depending on the age of the child and how many children have already been removed in the past (and are still out of the house), will become the deciding factor on how much time a parent (s) will receive. It begins at 6 months and can be extended to 12 and in some cases where the parent is very close to having the child returned the parent (s) will get 18 months. Though I have seen families get 18 months when there was no hope at all.
With the Family Reunification Act it is the social workers obligation – during that time – to do everything in their power to help the parent (s) have the child returned to them. In a domestic violence case the focus would be on helping the victim to move out of the home, so the children would have a safe place to return to. If by the end of this time the victim continues to remain in the home, there is no other alternative but to keep the children in the system and look for family to take them for the long haul. I have even seen children adopted by other families when a victim did not leave the batterer.
Children have a right to a safe place to live. They have a right to grow up in an environment free of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Unfortunately we cannot protect the victim because there are no laws about removing adults from a home. The batterer can be removed and carted off to jail, but then the victim often assumes that they will come back a changed person. There are many studies to prove the effects of domestic violence on children, even when they are not being touched in a harmful way. Even if they are not being abused by the batterer, they still suffer from emotional and psychological abuse and long term ramifications. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is one of my favorite psychologists who has looked at trauma and the child. He has made the most impact on this field, in my opinion but I will let you go to his webpage and make your own determination.
If you look at Dr. Donald Dutton’s book “The Batterer: A Psychological Profile.” You will see that many batterer’s have witnessed a parent being abused growing up. They have learned not to have respect for their spouse. They have not learned how to properly deal with conflict in a relationship. Just like a child who grows up in a home with a parent (s) who breaks the law (stealing, drugs, and other crimes), they learn from the example taught at home by the people who are supposed to teach them right and wrong.
Children do not have a choice when they are brought into this world. More and more children are conceived in loveless relationships that are based on lust or done under the influence and of course without protection and birth control. The amount of children raised in an intact family is very low. Even lower are those raised in a healthy intact family.
We owe it to children to provide them with a safe environment and to have the right to an education, love and nurturing, a violent free upbringing, morals and principles for how to live their life. We owe it to ourselves and the future for all of us to have less and less unsafe people in this world.
- Dating Violence Common Among Teens (education.com)
- Bullying and its Relation to Child Abuse, Sexual Victimization, Domestic Violence, and … (education.com)
- Mind-Body Connection and Abuse