Thursday, November 1, 2012

Study: Vast majority of violent dads only want contact with kids to maintain power and control (Wales)

The findings in Wales are remarkably consistent with studies completed elsewhere in the world.

Report highlights ongoing violence

Nov 1 2012

The family justice system is failing to protect women who are the victims of domestic violence, a report has said.

The study found that most women wanted their child or children to have a relationship with their father despite having suffered violence from them.

But the report, carried out by the charity Rights of Women and the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University, found that although they wanted this contact to only be if they and their children were physically and emotionally safe, this was often not the case, with unsupervised contact routinely given to abusive fathers.

All of the women interviewed experienced ongoing violence and abuse post-separation from their partners, with nearly half (45%) experiencing violence after the making of a contact order, most commonly in the form of threats and harassment.

It found that judges are often not following law and procedure in child contact cases where domestic violence is an issue, with only one in 10 legal professionals saying judges fully comply with court practice in dealing with domestic violence.

 The study found that just under three-quarters (74%) of women interviewed said they had concerns for their safety while attending court hearings, and more than half (52%) had represented themselves in court proceedings at some stage.

Despite histories of violence, children refusing contact and in some cases expressing terror and distress, unsupervised contact was found to be routinely ordered to abusive fathers.

The report also showed that nearly four out of five (79%) legal professionals reported that regaining power and control was a primary motivation behind applications for child contact by violent fathers. 

And 90% of the women questioned identified some degree of impoverishment as a result of the legal proceedings, commonly because they were unable to work.

Emma Scott, director of Rights of Women, said: "Despite significant developments in the law and policy on domestic violence and child contact in the last 10 years, this research shows ongoing failures and missed opportunities within the family justice system."