Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Family Court: Send kids back to convicted abuser dad in New Zealand (Sydney, Australia)

Still more evidence that the Australian family courts have been completely overrun with pedophile, abuser, and fathers rights sympathizers.

Now it's time to add Judge Stewart Austin of the Sydney, Australia Family Court to our Judical Wall of Shame. Not sure where we're going to hang his picture though; the wall is getting crowded.

Judge Austin has ordered a 19-year-old woman to return her two children to New Zealand where their UNNAMED DAD lives. The father is a CONVICTED batterer, who previously "whacked" this woman in front of her children and on other occasions as well.

This father also began a sexual relationship with this woman when she was only 13-years-old (statutory rape anyone?). And though the Judge admits there is a "power imbalance in the relationship" it made no difference in the decision. Neither does the fact that the father is 7 years older, relatively well-to-do (he apparently owns a lot of property in the area), and the mother has no friends in New Zealand who would support her.

Instead, this judge buys erroneous, disproven ideas, like an abusive partner will not be abusive to the children, so the children are not at risk. So he figures the Hague Convention applies.

The Hague Convention does NOT apply in this case, because there is a clear "risk of harm" to this mother and her children. The father has been convicted of violence. Like most men with a history of abuse, he continues to deny his own behavior and attempts to deflect blame onto the victim. That in itself is a big red flag that the abuse will continue. There is little chance given the father's age and social and financial position that this woman will be able to protect her family in New Zealand. As for the children not being abused...well, maybe not YET.

Let's get one thing straight. It is COMPLETE AND TOTAL MYTH that abusers somehow limit their violence to just their partner, while the children somehow live in a blissful vacuum of total peace and tranquility. Doesn't happen. This is nothing but a nutty fantasy. In addition, it doesn't even begin to address the question of the psychological damage that's done to children when their mother, their primary caretaker, is assaulted.

The following is from the Leadership Council and their list of myths that put children at risk during custody lititation:


MYTH: A history of battering has nothing to do with child abuse.

Parents who have been abused by a spouse often fear for the safety of their children --especially after separation when they are not present to mediate for the child. Some have suggested that this fear is baseless by claiming there is no significant correlation between wife battering and various forms of child abuse. Abundant research, however, fails to support this position finding that the power dynamics that lead to domestic violence may also result in abuse of a child. As a report by the American Psychological Association pointed out, fathers who batter their children's mothers can be expected to use abusive power and control techniques to control the children too (APA, 1996).
To date, over 30 studies that have examined the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse found a large overlap. Overall, both forms of violence were found in 40% of families studied with the range in the majority of studies varying from 30% to 60% of families (Appel & Holden, 1998, Edleson, 1999).
Perhaps the most convincing evidence comes from a nationally representative survey of 3,363 American parents. Marital violence was found to be a statistically significant predictor of physical child abuse; the greater the amount of violence against a spouse, the greater the probability of physical child abuse by the physically aggressive spouse. This relationship is stronger for husbands than for wives. The probability of child abuse by a violent husband increases from 5% with one act of marital violence to nearly 100% with 50 or more acts of marital violence. The predicted probability of child abuse by a violent wife increases from 5% with one act of marital violence to 30% with 50 or more acts of marital violence.
Although less research has been done on overlap between domestic violence and child sexual abuse, the available evidence indicates reason to be concerned. Pavesa (1988) performed a careful case-controlled study of 34 families in which father-daughter incest occurred and compared these families with 68 control families. Daughters of batterers were 6.5 times more likely than other girls to be victims of father-daughter incest.
Evidence of an overlap between domestic violence and child sexual abuse has also been uncovered in surveys of children. For instance, Roy (1988) interviewed 146 children aged 11 to 17 who had been exposed to domestic violence. Almost of third of the girls (31%) either reported that they had been sexually abused by their fathers and/or had documentation of sexual abuse in their case files. A survey of 313 college women , showed a similar trend. Nine percent of the women reported having witnessed some type of physical conflict between their parents. Witnessing marital violence was associated with having experienced childhood physical and/or sexual abuse (Feerick & Haugaard, 1999).
Still, a child doesn't have to be physically or sexually abused to be harmed by domestic violence. Research on children’s exposure to domestic violence has consistently identified a range of negative outcomes for these children (Kernic et al., 2003; Wolfe et al., 2003). In fact, children exposed to domestic violence may show comparable levels of emotional and behavioral problems to children who were the direct victims of physical or sexual abuse (Jaffe, Wolfe, & Wilson, 1990)
For more information see:

American Psychological Association. (1996). Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family , Washington, D.C.: Author.
Appel, A. E. & G. W. Holden (1998). The Co-occurrence of Spouse and Physical Child Abuse: A Review and Appraisal. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(4): 578-599.
Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. (2003). The Batterer as Parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. (2002). Assessing risk to children from batterers. (http://www.lundybancroft.com/pages/articles_sub/JAFFE.htm)
Edleson, J. L. (1999). The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering. Violence Against Women, 5(2), 134-154. (Pdf: http://www.vawnet.org/DomesticViolence/Research/VAWnetDocs/AR_overlap.pdf)
Feerick, M. M., & Haugaard, J.L. (1999). Long-term Effects of Witnessing Marital Violence for Women: The Contribution of Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 14(4), 377-398.
Kernic, M. A ., Wolf, M. E ., Holt, V. L ., McKnight, B ., Huebner, C. E ., & Rivara, F. P. (2003). Behavioral problems among children whose mothers are abused by an intimate partner. Abuse & Neglect, 27(11), 1231-46.
Jaffe, P. G.,Wolfe, D. A., & Wilson, S. K. (1990). Children of battered women. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Paveza, G. (1988). Risk factors in father-daughter child sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 3 (3), 290-306.
Ross, S. M. (1996). Risk of physical abuse to children of spouse abusing parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 20(7), 589-98.
Roy , M. (1988). Children in the crossfire: Violence in the home - how does it affect our children? Deerfield Beach , FL : Health Communications.
Straus, M. A. (1983). Ordinary violence, child abuse, and wife beating: What do they have in common? In D. Finkelhor, R. J. Gelles, G. T. Hotaling, & M. A. Straus (Eds.), The dark side of families: Current family violence research (pp. 213-234). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Wolfe, D. W. Crooks, C. V., Lee, V., McIntyre-Smith, A., & Jaffe, P. G. (2003). The effects of exposure to domestic violence on children: A meta-analysis and critique. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6, 171-187.


Children sent back to violent father in NZ

Caroline Overington From: The Australian March 17, 2010 12:00AM Increase

A 19-YEAR-OLD Maori woman who abducted her two children from New Zealand has lost her bid to keep them in Australia after the Family Court rejected her claim that the children are at "grave risk" from their violent father.

The woman, who cannot be named, told Australian authorities the father had started a sexual relationship with her when she was 13, and that she had begun living with him a year later.

She fled to Sydney last June after a violent assault in front of one of the children. Her biological father lives in Sydney and she has been staying with him.

But judge Stewart Austin, in the Sydney branch of the Family Court, ruled that the woman must return the children to New Zealand, saying it would be "presumptuous and offensive to the extreme" to assume New Zealand did not have a court and welfare system able to support her.

The father made his application to have the children returned under the Hague Convention on international child abductions, which provides for the rapid return of children from one signatory country to another, except where there is risk of harm.

The mother, known in court documents as Ms Morton, argued that she and the children were at "grave risk if forced to return to New Zealand" because her relationship had been "punctuated by domestic violence".

In May last year, there was a "violent incident" in the home in front of the children. The father was convicted and sentenced to 50 hours of community service. In June, the mother fled on one-way tickets purchased by a friend.

She told Justice Austin she was "particularly vulnerable" to the man because he had been having sex with her since she was a child and because she had whanau (friends) but no family in the small town where they lived.

The judge agreed there was "an imbalance of power" in the relationship, since the father is seven years older and owns property in the area.

But the mother had been able to "muster the courage to sever her relationship with the father" when she fled from New Zealand, and she was "beginning to realise that a relationship at that age (13) was inappropriate". With that knowledge, she might be able to resist slipping back into the relationship.

The judge said the father must agree not to "assault, molest, harass or otherwise interfere" with the mother, or come within 100m of her home.

The father did not deny assaulting the woman, telling welfare agencies he had "whacked her in front of the children", but he said the mother was violent towards him, and that they "willingly engaged in heated arguments and intimidated one another".

Justice Austin agreed there was "little doubt" the children had been exposed to domestic violence between their parents, but said the children "were never physically assaulted" by the father.

"I therefore conclude there is little or no risk of the children being exposed to physical harm if they return to New Zealand."