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Learn About Coercive Control and Psychological Abuse

Abusers gain custody of children

– Posted in: Child custody Children's exposure to abuse Social Institutions & Abuse

Speakoutloud.net children Clare Murphy PhDThis blog has been revised because the video I wanted readers to see has been removed from the internet, so I’ve left this short blog post here so that all the comments can remain.

Previously I introduced a video on PBS video to hear children talking about the impact of domestic violence and the failure of the court system to honour their needs and keep them safe. Domestic violence and legal professionals described the all too common fact that justice was not being done in favour of many many children.

This is a vast problem that reflects the interplay between male abusers’ use of children as weapons against women to maintain power and control, and to maintain what they considered to be their “rightful” position as head of the family. Plus . . . it reflected the support for such abuse by some professionals who are ill-informed about the realities of psychological coercive control, or who intentionally support men’s right to have power over women and children.

If you need help with child custody issues please see my blog posts about how some men attempt to gain custody of their children to maintain control over their ex-partner, and how they use the court system to maintain control.

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  • Catrine 21 December 2015, 1:01 am

    I am sickened at what I have read here. I thought this disgusting disrespect towards women and our sacred role as mothers was only being devalued here in Australia …. but obviously not. The men’s lobby group has done a wonderful job of assisting the sociopathic, narcissistic and manipulative fathers out there destroy their ex partners and use their children as pawns even more than ever before. God help the kids who are the victims of the lousy judges and lousy politics of this generation. Children belong with their mothers unless there is a legitimate, proven history or risk of abuse.
    Men of course have been using mental illness and instability against women for thousands of years so no surprise this is more often than not their first claim to custody of the children.
    The whole system sucks, and even the last thing women have – the right to raise their children – is now being undermined and taken away from them.
    The poor children is all I can say to finish my rant with. Who the hell listens to them ?

  • Linda 27 July 2015, 8:32 am

    First, get a job. Second, he wanted custody, let him pay for child care while you work. You are allowing him to do this to you. There are women’s shelters, etc. If he is drunk and passed out, take a video. Call the cops, say that you were afraid for the kids that he has custody of and is supposed to be watching… Document everything, but with proof. Stash money. Take his money and stash it. You are being naive and allowing this man to control you. Get enough proof, get your life under control and you can get your kids back. Why would you believe him or even want him back anyway, if he was an alcoholic??? That’s not healthy for the kids either. Yet you were willing to go back to him when he lied to you about dropping the divorce… he knows he can play you. Pretend he can.. but in the meantime, plan, stash, get proof… then get your own attorney .. there are services that would help you.

  • katie 10 January 2015, 5:46 pm

    I got divorced in 2014. My ex got custody of both children. He made me stay in a room and starved me. It was basically a prison for 6 months. He gave me temporary medical custody of my son who has Autism and mental retardation until Jesus heals him. He therefore pays no child support and he got the house and my daughter. We slept on the floor and had very little. I am disabled. And he then took my daughter out of the country. He hears voices, has an imaginary wife, does not believe in medical care, had DHR investigate him for medical neglect of my son, and a house that was full of trash. WHEN will I see my daughter again?

  • Tara 26 September 2014, 3:40 pm

    I’ve just been told that my case has been listed as a priority in the magellan list. I’m representing myself and the father has legal aid. I am so afraid that I won’t be taken seriously.
    I stopped him from seeing the kids over the past year. I was constantly abused and harassed and stalked even when we weren’t together. The police put a DVO against him after he choked me and threatened harm to our baby. I’ve called the police 9 times and only once did they help us. When I got the court papers in the mail I was shocked. I thought when he realised I didn’t want him that he would never come back. I reported an incident of suspected sexual abuse to the CPS after receiving the papers. I just wanted it on file that I did have suspicions and it was better late than never to report it. After I suspected the abuse had taken place I cut all contact and did act protectively. Now the whole court system thinks I was being vindictive, I can see why but I thought if I had a chance to explain what had happened then they would all see I’m being honest. I was so stupid. I didn’t do it earlier because I was terrified of him. I thought he’d try to destroy me. He’s never cared about our kids, never sent a birthday present. Never tried to pay support. Emotionally destroyed the oldest girl. The little one doesn’t know who he is anymore. He’s a drug addict and a bad person. I’m so ashamed I was ever with him. Everyone looks down on me for the situation I was in. I went to court the other day and the judge told me I could lose my kids and told him to apply for full custody. I was disgusted. So upset that legal aid funds abusers, mine works full time too and waited a year to apply for any visitations. I am not currently working but study full time from home and look after the girls. I never said he couldn’t have contact but only wanted it supervised at a contact centre, everyone tells me I’m unreasonable. I know I’m not. Lawyers have said to me “but he only wants to be a father” and I think to myself, if he wanted that so much how come he’s never done it. It’s not like there was never a chance.
    Every night I read the Australasian Legal Information Institute http://www.austlii.edu.au website and go to the family court section and read all the judgements. There is no consistency in the rulings. It is worthwhile to check out. Please have a look at the cases. I hope this system really does begin to act in the best interests of the children because that’s all we really want.

  • Nichole 17 February 2014, 2:57 pm

    Okay, recently I was told that my divorce had been filed and was final in Williamson County. The problem is I wasn’t aware that it was being pursued. I was served back in September but then told by my husband that it was being dropped and led to believe that we had, or were trying to roconcile. We have been together for a long 14 years and have two children. Throughout the marriage he has been abusive in every way possible. He is an alcoholic and I am a recovering drug addict, so we each have our share of faults. Now that the divorce is final and has come as a total shock to me, he iced the cake by leaving me with absolutely nothing. Even took legal custody of the kids. I have not been “allowed” to work a paying job because he is so insecure, but being a full time mother, wife, and slave pretty much are a lot of work… Needless to say we are all still living together in our home because I have nowhere to go, no money and no car. Like I said he left me with nothing but the shirt on my back. In his eyes it has all worked out as planned because now that I have no legal right to all that should be mine, and he still has his maid and kids’ mother there to do everything that I have always done. He can still call me names and verbally and emotionally abuse me, degrade me in front of my kids and even make them say hateful things to me while they laugh about it all. Pretty messed up and even if I had somewhere to go I don’t want to leave without my kids because I don’t feel they would be safe with him, seeing that he is drunk and passed out at least 4 days out of the week before 7pm.

  • Darlene 25 December 2013, 4:02 pm

    Ok I am also sick of hearing about Abuse. We will need to find a way to do something about these corrupt Judges. They are responsible for our society being violent. Children must be loved and nurtured from the start when they are young. I am too, a sane, loving , fit mom lost custody to a Vile, violent man bent on making me suffer when he can no longer physically abuse me. He has now moved up a notch to abuse me by brainwashing our daughter who has now said she doesn’t want to know me. I am angry and try not to be with her because BRAINWASHING is a sickness that must be treated ….like deprogramming. I can say these Judges must know the children will be hurt, as I know abusers abuse who ever they can. So if mom is not around then they will more than likely do the same with your child who reminds them of you. Judges breeding dysfunction. They know what they are doing so we must find some way to stop them! By the way this can happen to men as well. Women don’t always win custody and believe me you don’t need to be unfit to lose it either.

  • Marcia 2 May 2013, 1:28 am


    NOTE: For those that make false allegations, real victims – women and children, as a unit, are being hurt.

    I too won custody over my abuser.

    KEY: The DIFFERENCE is evidence. If a judge has evidence that there was abuse – videos, pictures, Doctor’s notes, it is highly unlikely they will think the abuse is one of the ‘false allegations’.

    TIPS for ACTUAL abuse and to protect women & children:

    ** When an abuser tries to paint you as crazy – prove that you are not. If you have seen a psychiatrist before, it will actually work in your favour if you are able to show that you are competent and caring. It will stand up in court because your abuser’s claims will be discredited.

    ** When an abuser tries to say you have a substance abuse problem – prove that you do not – another thing to stand up in court in your favour.

    ** Cooperate with any false allegations regarding CPS/CAS – because it can work in your favour. CPS/CAS knows abusers routinely say things in order to gain ‘control’ (of anything, even the kids, which is sick). They will leave you alone if you continue to act as a responsible parent. AND they will write letters on your behalf for court.

    So, in short, FOR THOSE that are TRULY victims, there is hope:
    1. Evidence. Leave a trail – there must be pictures, videos, Doctor’s notes. Judges will take these into account, big time.

    2. When an abuser tells authorities or others that you are unfit mentally, prove that you are not by having an assessment in addition to caring for yourself and your children in a good way. Judges will take this into consideration. It also is not a good idea on the abuser’s part to ‘badmouth’ you. Remember: ‘badmouthing’ a parent goes both ways. So don’t badmouth your ex – if your abuser does (to CPS or anyone really) it will make *them* look bad and essentially alienating. According to Lundy Bancroft (expert on abusers and their use of the legal system – WHICH by the way is becoming more and more known to judges – they are seeing through the abusers facade as more judges are becoming trained in domestic abusers tactics and ploys).

  • T 28 April 2013, 7:59 pm

    How on earth are women supposed to report MENTAL ABUSE? My ex never laid a hand on me, but the wounds he inflicted on my mind have scarred me for a life time! Yet this man has custody of our child.

  • M 9 November 2012, 7:13 am


    I am in Texas, and my circumstance is very similar, I’m not certain exactly the full details of your case but can tell you that the decision we received derived from a Home Study psychologist who made the recommendation to the court, which completely defied all the evidence presented. The psychologist who performed our home study failed to do any of the “homework” she was supposed to. She refused to contact the children’s play therapist and other professionals (criminal detectives, cps case workers, parent facilitators, teachers, etc) who had been working with us for years since our seperation who could all attest to the ongoing, continued abuse we were experiencing and resisting even after the divorce. I did, and continue to do, everything I was supposed to for years and had more than enough evidence and supporters to back my case. But because she had a different religious theology than my own, she chose to ignore mine and my children’s pleas for help and made her recommendations based solely on her own personal religious belief system.

    Both of my children told her repeatedly they did not want to live with him and expressed their own concerns regarding his ongoing abuse. Everyone involved on my end was completely shocked. No one, not even my legal representation, expected the outcome we received since her home study was filled with inaccuracies and completely lacking in evidence supported ideology. We fully expected her report to be thrown out.

    Since losing my kids earlier this year to our abuser, I have come to know several other women in my community who have also had similar outcomes. What’s worse to me is that the court-appointed psychologist is widely known throughout the family court system to have a reputation for ignoring the facts and basing her decisions on her own personal belief system. Which leaves me to wonder, if that’s the case, why is she allowed to practice in that aspect and make these recommendations to the court? If more of her reports are dismissed than are accepted, how reliable is she?

    I, too, lost my entire family in this battle. They are all under his control and comply with all his requests and demands and have cut me off completey as he uses the children as pawns against them. Not only did I lose the my kids, whom I’d lay down my own life for, but also the family I grew up with who I thought loved us. My attempts to break the generational curse of abuse and resist abuse on a continued basis only resulted in betrayal and injustice to my children. Their hearts are broken and they continuously beg to come home. Fortunately, they are now old enough to approach the court themselves and I am hoping their appeal will make a difference.

    I’m terribly sorry for the pain you must still feel from the outcome of your case. As much as I wish I couldn’t, I can relate. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t still feel the agonizing pain of our new, current reality. My only hopes are to reverse this decision in the coming months and spring of 2013 and God willing, eventually put an end to that psychologist’s ability to inadaquatly and unprofessionally recommend an unjust decision to the courts. My prayers are with each and every one of you women who experience the same, and our children.

  • Yvonne 17 August 2012, 8:02 am

    Oh my gosh. I am crying as I read your story of abuse. I know its not a story, it is REALITY. I just lost custody of my 3 youngest boys to my soon-to-be ex-husband. He has political family members in the community. The judge kept saying the kids would stay with me and he wasn’t gonna change that, UNTIL the day of his ruling…he gave him SOLE custody.

    I am one of the many mothers losing custody in Illinois courts to fathers who were never involved with their kids.

    The psychological abuse that my boys will deal with in the future and the loss of being with me, their mother, will only add to it. Unless the abuse is physical abuse, it has no bearing or strength in this world right now. Attorneys and Judges dont want to listen.

    His family has always been very controlling. The emotional abuse I suffered was ignored by everyone except some of my close family and friends. His family thought he had the right to do it and say it.  During the whole trial, my ex’s family showed up each day, 5-7 people including the political family members of his. The day the judge gave his ruling NO ONE from his family or friends showed up. I stood there and cried wanting to scream at the judge. This man had not done anything during our boys’ lives to take care of them. He always put himself first. Now I am supposed to pay him child support. And, he got the house and everything in it.

    And people didn’t understand when I said I needed everyone’s support despite knowing I was dealing with his controlling family. He has a political uncle and a priest in the family too. The family is good friends with other political entities also.

    I have been the SAHM [Stay At Home Mom] since 2004 and was the EVERYTHING Mom from 2000-2004 with my current relationship. I worked full time and took care of my 2 youngest boys and my 2 older children from my previous marriage. I never knew the man I had just married was a complete narcissist and would flip my whole world over just years later.

    I only went back to work 1 year ago. During those first years we were together, I supported us while he finished college for the next 2 years, I worked full time, and we lived in my house that I had purchased prior to meeting him on my own. I could go on and on. I just want to say you are one STRONG lady! I applaud you and hope I can endure the longevity of strength you have. Thank you for sharing your story. Bless you forever, Yvonne

  • s 19 February 2012, 3:37 am

    There is no bias. Women fail to report and this makes it more difficult to prove domestic violence. Judges cannot rule without following points of law. So the lesson is to leave a trail. Even if you do not have your partner arrested or restrained, there are ways that you can prove violence. Social workers, friends, doctors can all be subpeoned and if you make reports to these people in a timely manner then they will be credible witnesses. Lots of people go to court without knowing what is ahead so this is one thing that can be done which will help in court. I am a woman who has won custody over a violent man because I had left evidence.

  • Mary 23 October 2011, 9:50 pm

    I lost custody of my 3 year old son in 2008 to the abuser. Judge Blaney in NJ did it.

  • Portia 14 July 2011, 10:10 pm

    Matri Genocide….. the Mother aspect is the last aspect of the feminine being destroyed. The system destroys her and children as it destroys our mother Earth.

  • Catherine 14 July 2011, 10:16 pm

    The whole system is patriarchal – set up to support male domination over females. Women and children are placed in the same class – lower than him. He is the God, the head of the house according to the sacred texts – and it is this ancient creation of male supremacy in our collective consciousness that needs to be looked at.

    From Engendered Lives by Ellyn Kaschak . . . “For a boy or man in patriarchal culture, women are often not experienced as individuals separate from himself. First his mother, then his wife, and finally his daughters are experienced as extensions of himself and his own needs. This right is extended to all men in a patriarchal society, who have the right to view and evaluate, to sexualise any woman who falls within the range of their sight. The oedipal complex in men rarely reaches resolution in a patriarchal society, as adult men typically continue to experience themselves in this grandiose manner, which includes a sense of entitlement to women. Thus, it is a complex neither of childhood nor of sexuality narrowly defined, but one that applies more generally to masculine psychology in a patriarchal system.”

  • Ro 18 June 2011, 1:24 pm

    I am horrified by what I read. Can this really be the society we live in today – the corrupt barbaric deluded decisions made by those (Judges) in power – sickens me to the pit of my stomach. We could liken these stories I read, and see, to the modern day Holocaust again Women and their children. I will not give up my plight for my children – even if all that is achieved is not more than a smudging on the so-called judicial system. I have two English born sons – 9 and 7 – left the mentally and physically abusive ex-husband when they were only 6 and 4. Despite his violence to me, my partner – in front of the children – his acts of dragging the children through windows – to take them off me… poison their minds against me… and then be arrested twice… the court in NZ (as we emigrated here in 2007) awarded shared care. The Ex is a New Zealander. I cannot return to UK with the boys. I have had a stroke at the age of 43 – all brought about by this so-called man. It goes on and on… We must never give up … share our plight for what is right. A child needs their mother….. a mother is a unique bond – and for those mothers who have lost their children – don’t worry – the children WILL come back, and it will be the father who is the ultimate loser.

  • Val 7 June 2011, 7:09 am

    I had the Hague Convention on child abduction enacted against me when I broke a tribal court order in the United States. I took my five year old back to Canada where we were both born and I didn’t hide. I had to. My child’s father had kept us trapped in a rat infested shack under the threat that he would take our child and I would never see her again because I was an illegal alien in the US and she was now a tribal member. The fact that his brother was chief and that his other family members ran the tribal court only gave his threat gravity and the ring of truth.

    We lived like that for nearly five years until he decided to beat me in the driveway in front of our daughter before abducting her for three months. Without getting into the grisly details of my time in shelters and on the street while searching for her, it was clear from the outset that no one gave a damn about my child but me. The assault was considered a fourth degree misdemeanor because we were in a relationship! My daughter’s abduction by this man wasn’t legally considered an abduction because he was her father and with no custody order in place no law had actually been broken. A police officer in Washington state actually told me that as far as they were concerned she was just with her father. I did the paper work, filed a petition for custody and he never showed up for court. He missed the next court date as well. He was thumbing his nose at the law and despite his history of abusing women and taking another minor girl ten years previously across state lines for the purposes of a sexual relationship, no one did a thing. He had the power and they helped him keep it. Everyone got in on the act: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Justice Department in the US, the Tribal Court, the Ministry of Justice in Canada, several lawyers, the media, Walmart, you name it and they were in it to stop one woman from keeping her daughter safe from an abusive monster with a criminal record and a history of violence against women.

    In the end, after suffering and being re-abused by the system at the request of this man, my daughter and I broke free and live in our own country but the price we paid for living in a society that is set up to maintain male dominance has been very high. The entire situation with the Hague Convention being used to control women and in fact assist their abusers in hunting them down, many times leads to tragic consequences. Ernie Allen is not in the business of finding children abducted by strangers he is in the business of recovering children and their mothers for violent men to control and re-abuse. Walmart is married to this situation and I will never forget the stomach dropping sensation when I saw my face and my little girl’s face on the wall in one of their stores. The overwhelming feeling of persecution and helplessness is indescribable.

    If there is a bright side, it is that we won our case on appeal, after the court here in Canada decided to send my child back to a foster home in Washington state until custody was determined there. Our situation was precedent setting and at least I can say that if a woman and her child/children face this situation in this province we have made it easier for her to have a fighting chance to save her babies.

  • Muriel 22 February 2011, 12:56 pm

    Jeanette, I read that judgement last year. I was flabbergasted to read it. It clearly shows that the judicial system *knew* the father would not willingly facilitate a relationship between the children and the mother, therefore, the children were not allowed to have contact with the mother.

    It’s just an insane judgement.

    I really feel for you and you have my deepest sympathies. I’d love to know how this case unfolded and what has occured since.

  • Jeanette 17 February 2011, 12:06 pm

    Australian courts do the same, give children to the abuser even if they know the person is an abuser.

    My personal story can briefly be described in these words: Justice L wrote in her 2007 reasons for judgment for my children:

    “17. The Act makes it clear that the children’s welfare is the paramount consideration…The father’s history suggests that he would not accept and adapt to a decision which did not suit him. He entered into consent orders but said he was really overborne. After the hearing and the appeal it took only a short time before he had brought the matter back to court with the present situation. If this decision is not to his liking I would expect that there would be further litigation.

    20. I have no doubt that they (the children) have been under a great deal of psychological pressure from the husband and more subtly from the actions of the wife’s family, to take the husband’s side.”

    24. Unfortunately I think any programme of contact to have the boys regularly see their mother whilst they are living with him and dependent on him, is doomed. The father has no respect for the children’s rights to see their mother. They would be interrogated, subtly or otherwise, and be visited with displeasure if they saw their mother.”

    Justice L then left my sons with their father and within an abusive environment and no contact with me, the mother, the nonviolent one.

    Why? Because it stopped the children being exposed to violence against their mother?

  • Jeanette 17 February 2011, 12:01 pm

    Thanks for this story on Abusers gain custody.

    I am an American citizen, who experienced the same situation when I divorced in Australia.

  • Portia 17 February 2011, 5:04 am

    I experienced this in Ireland.

    I was told by my lawyer, not to mention sexual abuse or domestic abuse as the “JUDGES ARE SICK TO DEATH OF HEARING IT.”

    I was told by the social workers that i was too powerful for a woman and the system was merely teaching me my place in society-that I am only a woman.

    The system tried to get my son locked up and given Electric Shock Therapy to burn out the memories of abuse, which the reporter said never happened.

    Best interest of the child was Hitler SS slogan and needs to be removed. (I studied Hitler and the SS regime – Lebensborn Project. It was considered best for children to be removed from their natural mothers at birth and given to appropriate foster carers.The children were not to receive any love. The carers were to teach the children to obey – carers ate food while children got nothing and were beaten if they did not obey.)