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Archive for April, 2011

Complete Documentary Exposing how the legal System Helps Batterer and Pedophiles get Child Custody GOAL: Continue the Abuse and Control of the Mother

Dr. Sharon K. Araji Talks about Domestic Violence in Contested Child Custody Complete Documentary Exposing how the legal System and Batterer get child custody.

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Second Mothers Day Demonstration at the White House May 8, 2011

“Hearts Across America” — Million Mom March Mother’s Day 2011, at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C.

It has been suggested that everyone try to write to the President before Mothers Day Vigil.

Here is a possible letter you can use, or write your own.

President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

RE: Second Mothers Day demonstration at the White House

Dear President Obama,

In less than a month, mothers from all over the country will gather again in front of the White House to bring attention to the ongoing problem with the Family Court System.

For several decades Family Court judges have been handing children over to physical and sexual abusers. Despite common knowledge and recognition that domestic violence and child abuse are against the law, we have found that Family Court ignores the law.

When we ask for help, we are being told that nothing can be done. When mothers ask for help from Senators and Congressmen, we are told it is not a Federal problem.  These issues extend throughout all fifty states. Therefore, it clearly is a Federal issue..

With findings of corruption in California, and articles such as CA Family Courts Helping Pedophiles and Batterers Get Custody http://www.sfweekly.com/2011-03-02/news/family-court-parental-alienation-syndrome-richard-gardner-pedophilia-domestic-violence-child-abuse-judges-divorce/, it is apparent these problems are out of control.

It is time to reconsider the validity in paying men to remain in the lives of their children, especially when we consider that much of these funds are being used by abusers to take children from their mothers.  Family Court is perpetuating the continuation of abuse.

President Obama, we would like you to acknowledge us when we are in Washington. We would also like for you to acknowledge the seriousness of this issue.

  • We would also like for you to inform us on how your administration is going to start taking action and begin protecting women and children.
  • Finally, we would like for you to outline what specific steps you are going to take to end Family Court corruption.

We realize the you inherited the issues with Family Court, but you became responsible for the existing problems that were carried over from previous administrations. Unfortunately, the past administration passed “the buck” to you. We need for you to address these issues and providing women and children with the hope that you consider us an important part of your constituents.

We very much want to vote for you, and need you to respond to us.



Claudine Dombrowski–Insanity? Nope. Family Court in Kansas


Help Moms Protect

Help MOMS Protect—Claudine Dombrowski

Open Letter

High Profile Mothers

***Claudine Dombrowski


Please carefully view these pictures.  Notice the bruises on her arms above her wrists on both arms.  Do they look like this was a mutual fight or are those marks of trying to defend herself against the brutality inflicted on her?




Insanity? Nope. Family court in Kansas

Imagine that your home was broken into, vandalized and burglarized one night. You were roughed up and tied up while he ransacked your home. Fortunately, he left you shaken and hurt, but not seriously injured such as to require hospitalization. You were successfully able to identify him and his vehicle as he sped away.
Upon your call to the police, the offender is apprehended with the goods in his possession and brought to court to stand trial for his crimes against you.
You arrive in court and the first thing the judge asks you is if you are willing to go to mediation with the burglar. When you refuse, the judge labels you ‘uncooperative’ and ‘hostile’ to the burglar’s continued relationship with you. Even though the burglar was caught red-handed with your goods, and you were an eye witness to the crime, the judge now decides that he can’t possibly decide the case without first appointing a social worker termed a "burglary evaluator"
to assess yours and the burglar’s relationship.

When the social worker/evaluator can not determine what is best for your relationship or your stolen goods, they ask the judge to have both you and the burglar psychologically evaluated, because you seem "anxious", "angry" and "uncooperative" with the burglar. The court-appointed psychologist, who has no experience in being the victim of violent crime and has not studied the effects of such trauma, also determines that you are uncooperative, hostile, anxious, and you
have a negative opinion of the burglar that can’t be healthy. After all, the burglar had nothing but good things to say about you, your home and your belongings during his evaluation.

The psychologist recommends that you be restricted from access to your belongings until you can accept the burglar’s rightful relationship to continued access to your home and personal effects. He further recommends you attend weekly conjoint therapy with the burglar to work on being more cooperative with him in the future.
All at your expense of course.

The judge decides to wait a year or so to see how you work through your relationship with the burglar before he can decide upon the burglary conviction. He chastises you that you had better really work at the relationship or he may just grant the burglar’s request to maintain sole ownership of your property. None of these "experts" can be sued civilly for their negligence and incompetence because they have judicial or quasi-judicial immunity.
Insanity? Nope. Family court in Kansas.

Domestic violence victims walk into family court to ask a judge to protect their children from a known abuser. Instead, they face the above-described nightmare that can span years and put them into financial ruin, mental and emotional exhaustion, not to mention directly back into the path of the abuser. Judges pressure them to mediate, assign a custody evaluator who pressures them to accept 50/50 joint physical and legal custody with theirs and their children’s abuser.
They and their children are put through psychological evaluations by persons with little to no training in domestic violence, and some judges force co-parenting therapy and reunification therapy upon mother and child with their perpetrators. If they can not fit into the mold of cooperative "co-parenting" and the children continue to be reluctant to visit with the man that abused them, they face losing custody to him.

We have spent millions of dollars printing brochures and making public service announcements to victims of domestic violence encouraging them to leave violent relationships and telling them of the harmful effects on their children.

But when they do get the courage to leave, the same system tells them they are wrong to try to protect their children once they have divorced their abuser, and that they should now fully and freely support unsupervised visitation with the same dangerous person. Contrary to popular belief, children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point.

Most people assume that a fit mother never loses custody. If only that were true. The American Judges Association reports that "Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases." Unfortunately, the state of Kansas’s current laws also says that none of these people can be held accountable, either.
And so we go on, handing down family violence from one generation to the

KMFCJ-founded by Claudine Dombrowski,a Protective Parent and survivor of Domestic Violence and systemic abuse. The goals of KMFCJ is to publish informed news releases, links and commentaries relating to protective parents and their children who continue to be victimized by the abuser and or the court system.

Kansas Mothers For Custodial Justice BLOG|Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories-Abusers getting custody

‘An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.”-Gandhi – All rights reserved


CLAUDINE DOMBROWSKI CASE, Shawnee County, Kansas. Claudine lost custody of her baby daughter  to  the man who did this, thanks to Judge James P. Buchele, who refused to permit adequate testimony at trial, shortening it to benefit his docket, and also ordered Claudine to move back to Topeka to live near the man who did this, for the sake of their "co-parenting." WHAT?! He is a man with multiple criminal convictions for violent behavior (Battery, Attempted Battery, Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, Obstruction of Legal Process, Possession of Marijuana and violation of Open Container law), a man who has beaten and raped Claudine multiple times before and after her divorce from him, a man who has threatened to kill her and her child.
            Worse, Judge Buchele also ordered Claudine not to call the police any more without the permission of her case manager. When Judge James Buchele retired, Judge Richard D. Andersonaffirmed Buchele’s previous orders, including the illegal prohibition on Claudine’s being able to call the police. 
Guardian ad litem Scott McKenzie deserves a substantial portion of the credit for this travesty. I ask, how in hell can this happen in the United States of America?

The following is from  Stopfamilyviolence.org   Please visit there site.

Claudine Dombrowski – Kansas

Claudine was a psychiatric LPN. Now she is disabled and though a cane is medically indicated, she continues to be mobile on her own. The father owns his own business in Topeka. The abuse started when she was four months pregnant when she found out he was married to another woman. The child was already 11 months old before they were married in late 1995. Four months after marrying, the father filed for divorce in March 1996. In May 1996, mother asked for permission to move with the child to another city in Kansas because of the closing of a hospital where she worked. She had obtained employment in the other city and it would help her escape from his unremitting violence. Permission to move was granted. Four days later, father filed to change custody of the child to him.

During the course of the litigation, he admitted hitting Claudine and that it was a reason for her to leave the home but claimed it was not the reason she left every time. He admitted he told her to leave, pushed her out of the home, and paid no child support. He admitted to twisting her leg and scratching her face. According to her, he beat her 2 – 3 times a week. He pointed and cocked a shot gun at her while she was feeding the baby. He cut up her military uniform. He beat her when the baby dirtied the house. She was kicked out, locked out and would leave 3-4 times a week to escape the violence. Often she was gone for 2-3 weeks to maintain her safety and that of the child. Though she had a perfectly valid reason to leave and was in fact protecting the child, court personnel later used that to claim she would hide the child and therefore he should have custody.

In one incident, he hit her in the head so severely she required 14 internal stitches and 14 external stitches. When the court questioned the parties about this on the stand, the judge was far more worried about where it happened and who was telling the truth than the admitted and verifiable fact that he did hit her in the head with an object that left that much damage. Whether he hit her in the head with a big stick in his driveway or he hit her in the head with a tire iron in her apartment – he hit her in the head resulting in severe injury. The judge however lectured both parties about lying. See Exhibit 1 for photos of the petitioner after beatings by the child’s father.

While the father admitted the abuse, he claimed it was mutual combat. However not only did she have a protection order against him, but the man has eight criminal convictions – three convictions for domestic violence against her, a conviction for a bar fight, a conviction for assaulting a police officer, a conviction for obstruction of justice, one for possession of marijuana and one for driving under the influence. Pursuant to his various convictions, he was ordered to attend alcohol treatment – he didn’t. He was ordered to a psychiatric evaluation – he didn’t go. He was ordered to anger management classes but was asked to leave because of his inappropriate behavior. Domestic violence professionals know that anger management is not a suggested treatment modality for domestic violence perpetrators.

Court personnel not only were blind to the violence, they were completely ignorant of safety issues for the mother and child. Dr. Bernie Nobo, a licensed social worker, testified that it was a volatile situation. He actually had to stop the father from assaulting the mother in a meeting. Still he said there was no danger to the child but suggested she might hide to protect herself. In fact, that would be a very sensible thing to do. He diagnosed her as primarily depressed and the father as adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features (depression or anxiety). Not only is depression a reasonable response to the situation, but as a social worker, he is not qualified to make such diagnosis. Nobo did say her parenting was fine and he recommended supervised visitation to father.

The court services officer knew of the domestic violence and in fact listed it as the biggest concern. But rather than deal with the perpetrator, she suggested that the child should be put into foster care – thereby punishing the child who would lose a perfectly good loving and protective mother and would punish the mother for being a victim of abuse. The officer claimed the mother was a risk to run though she admitted she had never had any trouble contacting her. The officer was more concerned that the father have access to the child than the safety of the child or the mother.

Kansas statutes require joint custody unless there is a reason for sole and the GAL recommended custody to father because he lived near the court while mother had moved out of town (with the court’s permission) and he wanted to keep this child near the other three step-children from other marriages of the father. The GAL never talked to the mother or child, to the day care or the child’s physician nor did he do a home study. The GAL said the violence was so far fetched he didn’t believe it though he only knew of one conviction for DUI and never talked to the battered women’s shelter. Astonishingly, the GAL recommended the mother go to anger management classes.

On April 17, 1997 during a settlement conference, the mother was stunned by her own attorney suggesting she agree to a joint custody arrangement with a man she knew to be extremely dangerous. Her lawyer and the judge threatened the mother that he would grant sole custody to the father because allegedly she would not work together with him. This of course completely discounts the impossibility of working with a man as violent as this perpetrator. Though admitting that the violence lessened when she moved away, the judge said he would give shared custody only if she moved back to Topeka where the father lived and where the violence occurred. Forcing her to resettle in Topeka near the perpetrator, a routine practice of family courts, is the state forcing her directly into danger. It is a violation of the fundamental rights of life, safety and to be free from torture and other maltreatment. Essentially the court required the mother to give up her right to life and safety for custody of child. She did. Only to lose custody as well. She agreed to the settlement only to change attorneys and file a motion to set aside four days later.

In 1998, the child’s doctor reported the child had very poor hygiene when staying with father. The day care provider reported a change in her behavior after being with the father. She became either withdrawn or aggressive. A nurse requested an investigation of psychological abuse because of his treatment of the child.

On 31 July 2000, without any motion from either party and without a hearing, the judge simply issued an order that the mother had to relocate to Topeka if she wanted any possibility of obtaining custody. She did so but then in August, the judge ordered the child to remain with the father. In December 2000, supervised visitation was ordered for mother because she had allegedly returned the child late to the fathers over Christmas. They suspended all contact for several months and then she was allowed two hours a week supervised. The bizarre behavior of the courts was evident from as early as 1998 when they granted a divorce twice as evidenced by their own records – April 17 and October 28, 1998.

At the time of this filing, the mother had supervised visits once a week after having had no contact for 10 months based on an ex parte order without an evidentiary hearing issued 3 February 2004. At time of this filing, the mother had last seen the child on 15 April 2007 for one hour.

Over these 11 years of litigation, the judge was changed several times. One judge limited each side to five witnesses at trial and then continued to call them liars when they could not prove what they had said or disprove what the other had said because they were prohibited from calling witnesses. While the judge chastised the father for game playing in the court, he then berated the mother for not coming to agreement with the father. He could see how unreasonable the father was and the judge was not subject to violence from the man but yet he blamed the mother for not reaching an agreement. He said any child in this situation would grow up damaged but then blamed the mother rather than the father who was the one committing the violence. The judged focused on the mother’s move to escape the violence rather than the harm of the violence itself. The court excluded evidence of his extensive criminal record, medical records and other records of violence. In addition to mother, other witnesses knew of the violence and that the child witnessed it. But still the court saw no danger to the child.

In spite of an order of protection against the father and his eight criminal convictions, three against her, one judge said it was mutual violence and besides she provoked it. He said there was no evidence that the father mistreated the children and ordered joint custody and both parties to anger management. She was ordered not to call law enforcement about the father without getting permission of the case manager. In other words, he could assault her freely and she was not allowed to even call the police. She was told to stop gathering evidence against the father. In March 2005, she was ordered not to file any more motions in the court without permission from the case manager – she had filed a motion to remove that case manager. In other words, she was even denied access to the court.

ex parte order without an evidentiary hearing issued 3 February 2004. At time of this filing, the mother had last seen the child on 15 April 2007 for one hour.

Over these 11 years of litigation, the judge was changed several times. One judge limited each side to five witnesses at trial and then continued to call them liars when they could not prove what they had said or disprove what the other had said because they were prohibited from calling witnesses. While the judge chastised the father for game playing in the court, he then berated the mother for not coming to agreement with the father. He could see how unreasonable the father was and the judge was not subject to violence from the man but yet he blamed the mother for not reaching an agreement. He said any child in this situation would grow up damaged but then blamed the mother rather than the father who was the one committing the violence. The judged focused on the mother’s move to escape the violence rather than the harm of the violence itself. The court excluded evidence of his extensive criminal record, medical records and other records of violence. In addition to mother, other witnesses knew of the violence and that the child witnessed it. But still the court saw no danger to the child.

In spite of an order of protection against the father and his eight criminal convictions, three against her, one judge said it was mutual violence and besides she provoked it. He said there was no evidence that the father mistreated the children and ordered joint custody and both parties to anger management. She was ordered not to call law enforcement about the father without getting permission of the case manager. In other words, he could assault her freely and she was not allowed to even call the police. She was told to stop gathering evidence against the father. In March 2005, she was ordered not to file any more motions in the court without permission from the case manager – she had filed a motion to remove that case manager. In other words, she was even denied access to the court.

The complete failure of the court to protect the victim continued after father received custody. When she complained that the father forced her to have sex if she wanted to see the child, the case manager said that it was just part of co-parenting so deal with it.

She appealed twice to the Supreme Court of Kansas. In the appeal, she alleged not just for herself but that the policies and procedures of the Kansas courts denied the right to a full and fair hearing, denied equal protection and due process, and violated fundamental rights. She first filed in 1997, the appellate court affirmed the lower court in 1998 and the Supreme Court rejected review in 1999. She appealed again in 1999 and again the appellate court affirmed the lower court in 2000.

In July 2002, mother again regained unsupervised visitation.

On 25 August 2003, Claudine was attacked with a hammer and her arm broken by Kathleen Sales. Sales later admitted she was paid by the father who assured her no charges would be filed. They weren’t.

On 3 February 2004, false allegations were made against mother that she sought to have harm done to the father. The mother objected to the order and asked for an evidentiary hearing. The request was never even heard. By March 2005, mother had only supervised visitation that has remained to this day.

In March 2002, Dr. Dale did an evaluation for unsupervised visits with mother and recommendation for therapy. The evaluation cost $5,000 and father admitted violence and the mother was found not to be any danger to the father or child. She was however ordered to shut down her web site that she had constructed. On the website she expressed her opinion and her facts about the case and the danger the child was being put into by the court. In a second order later, she was ordered to remove the child’s photo from another website. After this evaluation, she had unsupervised visitation from May 2002 until 3 February 2004.

Repeatedly when father files motions, they are heard with negative consequences for mother and child based on the flimsiest of evidence or none at all. But when mother files motions, they are never even heard. A home study ordered into the father’s home in February 2006 was never done. On 14 April 2006, the court held a conference in chambers and refused to allow the mother to attend. The court changed the orders from a home study of father to a study of mother to assess her risk to the child. The evaluation found no risk and was positive for mother. Still supervised visitation was not changed.

In a hearing on 10 April 2007, the mother has asked yet again that the child be protected from abuse and at least she have unsupervised visitation. Again the court refused. The child spoke out in 2003 and three CPS reports have been filed but in all three, they claimed that the mother coached the child who is now 12 and certainly able to speak for herself and punished both mother and child by restricting visitation time further. The lesson is clear – don’t report abuse.

The latest in Claudine’s own words except we remove the child’s name per court order.


The written testimony that you have was filed at the inter American commission human rights known as Dombrowski v us 2007 For the Policy and procedure of Family/Juvenile Courts routinely placing battered mothers children with abuser and pedophiles. The Court’s record is complete, as well as a simple Google search of my name for any more information and court records on this case alone are available as they are to massive to even begin to present.

My name is Claudine Dombrowski, I am a US Army Veteran. I was a psychiatric nurse for thirteen years with the state of Kansas and the VA. Until December 2000 when I was placed on 100% physical disability related to violence inflicted by the batterer.

In May of 1996 I was given permission to relocate to western Kansas to avoid the unremitting violence that I and my daughter suffered at the hands of the batterer, this was after I had been beaten with a crow bar, by an admitted and convicted batterer.

In July 200o without any motion from any party the Judge simply on his own issued a 11 page Order by ‘snail mail’ giving complete custody of my 6 year old daughter to a man known to have a violent drug and alcohol addiction past.

In a hearing on 10 April 2007, the mother has asked yet again that the child be protected from abuse and at least she have unsupervised visitation. Again the court refused. The child spoke out in 2003 and three CPS reports have been filed but in all three, they claimed that the mother coached the child who is now 12 and certainlyable to speak for herself and punished both mother and child by restricting visitation time further. The lesson is clear – don’t report abuse.

In May 2007, I was enrolled automatically into the states Address confidentiality program Safe at home- a program administered by the secretary of state for victims of Domestic Violence-thereby protecting at least my address from the Abuser and the Courts by proxy.

In June 2007 the courts denied my daughter to see her grandmother for the last time (in supervised vists) related to her terminal illness- Grandmother had made her last trip to Kansas with child’s dog to say good bye to all her grandchildren- all except child ; however they did allow the dog to visit child.

November 4th 2008 The courts denied child to go to her grandmothers funeral. And further gave the batterer complete control in allowing mother to see child under the strict supervised visitation that had been implemented this past 11 years.

October 2009 Claudine spoke on a local television station regarding Domestic Violence. The next day, she was held in contempt of the court and her rights to see her daughter have been suspended.

I have never been shown to be a threat or harm to my daughter- yet for the last 11 years I have not been able to see her past the confines of extremely structured supervised visits at best when I have been allowed to see her. There are numerous psychiatric reports on the courts file that state that I am not a threat or harm to my daughter quite contrary to that of the well documented violence and substance abuse of the perpetrator.

Then points to add in: to the written testimony are the illegal 2000 custody switch after a 6 year litigation.

Keeping in mind that the this man had 8 criminal convictions of violence

· 2000 custody switch

· My mother was denied to see her granddaughter for her last visit as her health would preclude any future visits- my child in 2007- they did let the dog however

· In fall 2008 my mother died Rikki was not allowed to go to funeral

· Last week attys called DC iachr

· Abusers has 8 criminal convictions et el

· Ten years in SUPERVISED visits

Current order of the Courts and my sentence for contempt Dec 16th reads.


MISC. Petitioner in person and by Don Hoffman. Respondent in person and by Robert E. Duncan, II. G.A.L., Jill Dykes, in person. Court Reporter: Digital Div. 13. Matter comes before Court on Respondent’s motion for unsupervised visitation and Petitioner’s motion for contempt. Parties have agreed that motion for contempt will be deferred pending Petitioner’s locating and removing all referenced items to the minor child on the internet. Matter to be reset if disagreement between the parties about removal of items referring to minor child and her likeness from internet. Court interview minor child – no record per agreement of the parties. Court suspends parenting time of Respondent due to Respondent’s continued use of her website and the internet to publish photographs of minor child and statements reference minor child. Court will entertain motion to reinstate parenting time once Respondent deletes all photographs and likenesses of minor child, any reference to minor child on her website and the internet, agree not to discuss Court proceedings with minor child and not to discuss divorce with minor child. Review set for December 16, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. T. Duncan to do JE. DBD

Click for court documents

Click for Breaking the Silence

No way Out But One – Battered Mothers Loose Custody to Abusers

No Way Out But One is a documentary currently in post-production. It focuses on the first American woman to be granted asylum on grounds of domestic violence



This is WHY we March This is wht we Rally this is why we MUST make the Court Genocide against Mothers and their Children PUBLIC!!!


NEVER stop NEVER give up Not EVER!!!

How lawyers manipulate doctors in custody cases: Do-No-Harm vs. Take-No-Prisoners

By Anne Grant (about the author)


A 12-year-old sent his mother this note three years after he last saw her.



When soldiers are ordered to "take no prisoners," it means to annihilate their enemies. Physicians who vow to "do no harm" step onto a treacherous path when they sell their expertise to lawyers trained to take no prisoners in adversarial lawsuits.

For more than two decades, I have researched domestic abuse custody cases in Rhode Island Family Court, trying to understand how this publicly financed process crushes children and families. In many of these cases, lawyers, who are officers of the court, have manipulated clinicians. (Below I am naming only those lawyers and physicians specifically responsible to protect children.)

First Case: At Hasbro Hospital’s Child Protection Program (CPP), Providence, Rhode Island, in 1997, a 6-year-old girl sat rigid, a blanket over her head. Children often try to disappear when life gets intolerable.

The girl’s father had a documented history of aggression against his first two wives and their children. This child, the youngest, showed symptoms of sexual abuse. CPP Director Dr. Carole Jenny reported: "There is no doubt in my mind that some event happened because of the child’s clear and consistent disclosure."

The father harassed those who tried to help his families: a security guard, social workers, therapists, teachers, pastors. He bullied a Providence Journal editor. He took aim at Kevin Aucoin, chief legal counsel at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), for not responding quickly enough after the father appealed DCYF’s findings against him. When he threatened to sue, Aucoin needed Dr. Jenny to revise her assessment.

She listed warning signs in the father’s behavior, then minimized them in a summary of court documents. Her new "forensic review" freed the father to demand possession of his children. He held them for thirty months, until the eleventh Family Court judge to hear the case denounced his behavior in 2003 and sent the children home to their mother with damage that has not yet healed.

Second Case: In March 2006, attorney Lise Iwon began writing letters to the CPP about a case in which she purported to be a neutral guardian ad litem. She secured an astonishing report from Dr. Nancy S. Harper at CPP. Instead of medical information, Harper’s report glibly summarized court documents Iwon had provided, repeating the conjecture, hearsay, and biased rhetoric in the father’s defense strategy.

Harper’s supervisor, Dr. Jenny, never saw or signed off on her CPP report before Iwon whisked it off to the judge who ordered DCYF to remove two young girls that day from their mother for a "psychiatric evaluation." Police arrived with a social worker to take them from their schools into "temporary" custody. The children remained in foster homes and a shelter at taxpayer expense for more than sixteen months before the state awarded the younger girl to the father she had accused of sexually assaulting her; the older girl went to yet another foster home. 

Scores of neighbors, teachers, and others wrote letters attesting to the mother’s superb parenting, but Iwon never interviewed them. Dr. Jenny told me the mother’s behavior sounded "bizarre" but candidly admitted she herself might seem bizarre if she believed her children were in danger.

Third Case: A German father, head of a vast multinational corporate empire, retained several law firms in the U.S. and Germany to retrieve his two American sons after his estranged wife brought them here to her parents for one to have surgery in 2007.

The mother told me she had confronted her husband in Germany with evidence that he was sexually abusing their sons. She said she had walked in on this happening and found disturbing photos on a laptop computer her husband had given her. She related that her sons had pointed out a store where their father got hardcore pornography. They allegedly told her that he forced them to watch it and act it out.

The father hired a former U.S. official (at $700 an hour) as one of his lawyers, who reached out to Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah, Jr., and paid the chief’s assistant David Tassoni over $2,300 to help. The father’s attorneys met alone in chambers with U.S. District Judge William E. Smith and intervened to end the involvement of Family Court, DCYF, and the FBI. They secured attorney Sharon O’Keefe, who had been assistant child advocate in Rhode Island, to serve as guardian ad litem.

O’Keefe contracted with Dr. Jenny to evaluate some of the father’s photographs and a stack of German legal documents with apparent translations. O’Keefe’s bill exceeded $13,000, including at least $2,000 to be paid directly to Dr. Jenny.

O’Keefe hardly talked with the boys, and Jenny never met them. Both concluded they saw no evidence the father was a pedophile. Judge Smith gave the boys and their American passports to their father, who took them back to Germany in April 2007. 

Judge Smith ordered the father to give the boys plenty of time with their mother. But she has not been allowed to see or communicate with them since 2007. On Mothers Day 2010, one son wrote a plaintive note asking why "these people" would not at least let them Skype her.

It is troubling that Dr. Jenny never talked to the boys, who might have helped her interpret the photos. Nor did she demand an independent search of the hard drive by state police who are trained and equipped to examine electronic evidence of child pornography–and who do not accept private payment for their services.

In January, I wrote expressing these concerns and asked Dr. Jenny to improve CPP’s protection of children by:

  • Establishing ethical standards that forbid CPP staff to produce reports for private clients in litigation without a full investigation into the family’s history;
  • Making a complete inventory of past reports produced by CPP or its staff to see how these have been used in litigation and to examine the outcomes for children;
  • Providing CPP staff with training in domestic abuse, coercive control, and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that clinicians need to recognize in protective parents who may seem "bizarre" in their appropriate efforts to protect their children.

Clinicians must recognize the pitfalls when officers of the court reach out to them. Lawyers are hired to zealously represent their clients, no matter who gets hurt. Doctors trained to "do no harm" are easy prey for them; children suffer the consequences.


In order to protect children’s identities, I am referring only to case numbers.

First Case: P92-4797 in Rhode Island Family Court; Carole Jenny, MD, signed the Child Safe Clinic #0629-23-38 report of January 14, 1997. After an extensive sexual abuse assessment by St. Mary’s Home (April 16, 1997), DCYF sent a letter (April 18, 1997) to notify the father he had been "indicated." He appealed and a year later  threatened to sue DCYF and its senior counsel Kevin Aucoin for failure to schedule a hearing. DCYF asked Dr. Jenny to review her records. Her report (July 29, 1998) was followed by a revised DCYF report (August 6, 1998), and Aucoin’s motions (August 6, 1998, etc.) to launch an expedited trial. DCYF investigator Edward J. O’Donnell sent a letter (August 18, 1998) to the father stating that the findings against him "are hereby overturned . . . pursuant to . . . a forensic review of the investigation and all associated material conducted by Dr. Carole Jenny" (DCYF Administrative Appeal of SCR 425142 I/6).

Second Case: N04-0106 in Rhode Island Family Court and 1676-86-32 AC 000119896231 at Rhode Island Hospital. The court file, which is now sealed and presumably held at the Rhode Island Supreme Court, contains Lise Iwon’s Motion (March 31, 2006) regarding her communications with Nancy Harper, and Iwon’s Motion (April 5, 2006) asking to release clinical reports and court documents to Harper, whose report (March 21, 2006, signed April 5, 2006), shows that Harper already had those documents. I interviewed the mother and secured documents from her and the court file until Judge John Mutter imposed a gag order forbidding all parties to disclose anything further about the case and sealed both the divorce and DCYF files, on or about August 16, 2007.

Third Case: 07-46S in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island, which holds transcripts, including the ex parte chamber conference of January 31, 2007, and court orders, including the decisive order of March 28, 2007; Jenny’s report to O’Keefe (March 15, 2007); and the father’s documentation of payments to Tassoni and others. The mother provided scores of documents, including the rental list from the German video store (October 2005), an initial DCYF report by Paul Ventura (January 31, 2007), O’Keefe’s bills (March 12 and 28, 2007),  hundreds of photographs from the laptop, and her son’s letter (Mother’s Day 2010).


Anne Grant writes several blogs about legal abuse in custody courts and wrote a chapter for Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues,  ed. Mo Therese Hannah, PhD, and Barry Goldstein, JD (Civic Research Institute, 2010).

In addition to her book reviews and general writing, much of Anne Grant’s research focuses on legal abuse in family courts and child protective services that place traumatized children at greater risk. She writes several blogs, including those that (more…)


Entry Citation:  Caplan, Paula J. “Mother Blame.” Encyclopedia of Motherhood. 2010. SAGE Publications.


Mother Blame

The blaming of mothers for virtually anything that goes wrong with their young or adult offspring, as well as for a host of societal ills such as juvenile delinquency and teenage pregnancy, has been described as similar to air pollution: it is pervasive but unnoticeable until one’s attention is drawn to it or the environment changes.

Revealing the Roots of Mother Blame

Mother blame may seem to make sense, since in contrast to fathers, mothers are still generally expected to do the lion’s share of child rearing and childcare. Societal pressures on mothers to be the ones to take children to doctors and therapists render them disproportionately available for scrutiny by clinicians and researchers, and thus more likely than anyone else to be blamed for their child’s troubles. In contrast, researchers Caplan and Hall-McCorquodale found that even when professionals wrote about fathers, it tended to be either complimentary or unrelated to the child’s emotional disturbance.


A tendency to blame mothers still pervades even when the host of other influences on children is taken into account: adults visiting or living in or near the home, teachers, other children, the media, books, and the children’s innate temperaments or predispositions. Nevertheless, in a study of 125 articles written by mental health professionals in scholarly journals, mothers were blamed for 72 different kinds of problems in their offspring, ranging from bed-wetting to schizophrenia. Each article was classified in relation to 63 types of mother blame, such as numbers of words used to describe mothers and fathers, direct attributions of children’s problems only to mothers, and unquestioning acceptance of mother blame from previous writers.

In no category did the authors blame anyone else nearly as much as mothers, and this was true of female and male authors alike. In many of the articles, the authors went to extreme lengths to blame mothers, despite facts presented within these articles that often strongly suggested another, obvious source of the children’s problems. In contrast, fathers—even those who are sexually abusive—are rarely blamed for children’s problems.

Different Standard for Fathers

Often, a mother’s presence in her children’s lives is considered potentially dangerous, so much so that some theorists and clinicians urge mothers to decrease their involvement with their children; however, the father’s presence is considered highly desirable, and even when the father’s absence is lamented, the father is rarely blamed for being absent. This curious pattern may be partly related to the common expectation for mothers to be the primary nurturer, which results in the labeling of lapses in a mother’s nurturance as unnatural. This standard is not expected from fathers, so even a father’s absence is often described wistfully or sadly but not with anger or blame. However, evidence has shown that very young babies smile at their fathers as well as at their mothers and can form strong attachments to both, and nurturance from both fathers and mothers can powerfully affect their children, as can the absence of nurturance from either.
Because of society’s tendency to blame mothers for children’s behavior problems, mothers often blame themselves as well.

Results of Mother Blame

Three major problems result from the use of mother blame in trying to understand the causes of problems. One is that blame easily leads to the neglect of factors other than the mother that might help in addressing the problem; a second is that most people, when blamed, tend to feel overwhelmingly responsible, guilty, and anxious, which can impede their efforts to help their child; and a third is that focusing only on mothers’ influence leads to a narrow view of human experience. The patterns of therapists’ mother blame that Caplan and Hall-McCorquodale reported in their articles have continued in a wide array of arenas. As just one example, Regina Edmonds has documented the ways that some of the most prominent family systems therapists have overwhelmingly pathologized and targeted mothers, despite the fact that a family systems approach is not supposed to be selective toward anyone in the family group.

The power of mother blame places mothers under immense pressure, creating conscious or unconscious worry that everything they are doing in raising their children could be wrong and that if anything does go wrong, they alone will be held responsible. Under the circumstances, a different perspective could include increasing attention to and appreciation of the good that mothers manage to do despite such pressure.

The consequence for fathers of the ubiquity of mother blame is a paradox about the visibility of their role and the frequent distortion of it when it is noticed. Research shows that the vast majority of fathers in two-parent, heterosexual households do less than one-third of the housework and child-care; however, this work becomes far more visible than the work of the mothers, because it is not generally regarded as their responsibility. In contrast, actual harm clearly caused by some fathers, such as sexual abuse of their children, is often less visible, because victims and others focus blame on the mothers for allegedly failing to protect the children from the abuser.

Mother blame is common among not just therapists but also laypeople, and is powerful in a sexist society. Caplan revealed that quite often, those who will not tolerate offensive jokes about women will not object to the identical jokes if they are about mothers. Mother-blame has been taken to extremes, such as hate speech that is intended to shame, silence, and/or render its victims powerless, helpless, and hopeless. Mother blame can be reduced by increased awareness of the prevalent myths and perceptions about mothers that give rise to mother blame, consideration of how these perceptions affect attitudes toward mothers, consideration of other factors that may contribute to children’s problems, and acknowledgment of mothers’ strengths and positive contributions to children’s development.


Entry Citation:

Vallance, Denise. “Maternal Absence.” Encyclopedia of Motherhood. 2010.

Nearly 7 million U.S. children, about a third of all children with a nonresident parent, live apart from a biological mother.

Although this reference material includes mothers who chose to be noncustodial and other cases, it is excellent in it’s discussion on the effects of maternal absence on the children.

Maternal Absence

Most mothers expect to live with and care for their children from childhood through to adolescence. However, either through choice or force of circumstance or a combination of both, some mothers find themselves living apart from their children on a long-term or permanent basis. The process of maternal absence typically involves a physical, emotional, social, and sometimes legal shift in the nature and quality of a woman’s relationship to her birth children.

The last century has seen an increase in maternal absence, and the main reason appears to be the diversification of family structures. Among these changes are a decline in fertility rates, an increase in nonmarital cohabitation or common-law relations (including same-sex couples), an increase in the divorce rate, and an increase in the prevalence of reproductive technology. In the last 100 years, blended- and lone-parent families have replaced the nuclear family as the most common family structures in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Reasons for Maternal Absence

There is nothing new about mothers leaving their children or handing them over to other people, as has been seen throughout history. For example, the Greeks and Romans left their unwanted babies on the mountainside. One of the most well-known examples in the Bible describes how the mother of Moses sent her baby into the bulrushes to be found by the princess so that he could escape the fate of fellow Jews at the hands of the Egyptian enslavers.

In times of war and political unrest, children are often sent away to relatives or strangers who live in the safety of the countryside—as is the case of children who were evacuated from London to escape the bombings during World War II. On a grander scale, thousands of Jewish children were sent out of Europe to escape the Holocaust.

Economic policies and the demand for cheap labor also lead mothers to part from their children. Many women from the Philippines and from countries in south Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean leave their children in kinship care in order to care for other people’s children in North America and Britain. These women work for years, sometimes decades, in low-paying jobs so that they can send money home to educate their children. In some African countries, out of desperation, families sell their children into slavery.

Some mothers lose their legal rights to parent due to incarceration, institutionalization, abandonment, allegations of abuse, or history of substance abuse or addiction. Others may be separated from their children because their ex-partners engage in maternal alienation, in which the ex-partner refuses to let the mother see her children.

Other mothers may relinquish their children for the purpose of adoption due to emotional, relational, or social circumstances that will not allow for adequate care of their child. Military service, study, work, adventure, and personal growth are other reasons that some mothers leave their children in the care of others.

Stigma Related to Maternal Absence

Mothers living apart from their biological children are greatly stigmatized. The woman who disrupts the maternal bond by living separately from her children threatens the deeply entrenched, idealized image of the traditional family in which the woman’s primary (if not sole) responsibility is to care for her biological offspring. In a world that values maternal presence, mothers who live apart from their children are often seen as unfit, unnatural, improper, or even contemptible, thereby deviating from the dominant social and moral expectations of society. Because a mother often is held primarily responsible for her children, her absence is implicated in any negative outcome associated with her children.

Research suggests that noncustodial mothers who voluntarily gave up custody reported they felt stigmatized by strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family. Studies show that absent mothers feel pressured to explain their circumstances. Though women who choose to be childless are often seen as selfish, it is often seen as more socially acceptable than a mother who has abdicated the care of her children. Additional research indicates that absent mothers tend to be viewed more negatively than absent fathers in terms of interpersonal adjustment, psychological deviance, morality, and professional competence. These mothers are seen as lacking respect for themselves and for their children, and as irresponsible and avoiding family obligations. They have sometimes even been viewed as depraved, immoral, or crazy. The result for the mother is that any feelings of grief and loss of their children are intensified by the shame and social isolation at home, work, and in the everyday world.

Affects of Maternal Absence on Children

An abundance of theoretical and empirical literature focuses on the negative affects of maternal absence on children; however, absent fathers are not scrutinized in the same way as absent mothers. There is a disproportionate amount of scholarly attention given to maternal absence.

In the dialogue of “caregivers” or “parents,” the assumption is most often made that the writer’s intention is to refer to the mother. This is exemplified in the famous quotation by Donald Winnicott, a pediatrician and psychoanalyst, who continues to be cited in texts on parenting: “There is no such thing as a baby,” meaning that without a mother, an infant cannot exist.

John Bowlby, whose career as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst spans from the 1940s to the late 1980s, is most well known for developing Attachment Theory, which has implications for understanding the effects of maternal absence on children. An attachment is an emotional bond or tie between a preferential caregiver and a child for the purpose of protecting children from danger and providing them with a sense of safety and security. Bowlby’s view had ethological/evolutionary origins, as he observed a biological predisposition in infancy within many species to obtain physical proximity with a parent in the event of danger, which ultimately provided for the survival of the species.

Infants develop attachments to adults who have been consistent care givers from approximately 6 months to 2 years of age. Secure attachments are created when the adult is perceived by the infant to be sensitive and responsive in social interactions, especially when the infant is distressed. Insecure attachments are created when the adult is perceived by the infant to be unavailable or unresponsive, or is inconsistently responsive, to the infant’s needs. Infants need to have secure relationships with adult caregivers, without which normal social and emotional development will not occur. When events interfere with attachment, such as an abrupt separation of a child from a significant caregiver, most often the mother, there are short-term and sometimes long-term negative effects on the child’s emotional, relational, and cognitive life.

Nearly 7 million U.S. children, about a third of all children with a nonresident parent, live apart from a biological mother.


Psychological Process of Separation

Bowlby describes the psychological process an infant goes through when he or she is deprived of, or separated from, his or her primary caregiver in terms of a framework of reactions to separation—where protest upon separation leads to despair and then detachment. Protest begins with the infant perceiving a threat of separation, and then upon separation, an urgent effort to recover the lost parent. Protest lasts as long as a week and intensifies at night, and it is marked by crying, anger, attempts at escaping, and searching for the parent. On occasion, the infant has feelings of hope and an expectation that the parent will return. Despair follows protest and involves apathy, diminished movement, intermittent crying, sadness, withdrawal from contact, and an increased likelihood of hostility toward another child or a favorite object brought from home. A phase of mourning for the loss of the attachment figure seems to take place. The final phase of detachment is characterized by a return to sociability, where attempts by other adults to offer care are no longer spurned. Interestingly, the infant who reaches this stage will behave in a remarkably abnormal way upon reunion with the primary caregiver, such as appearing to ignore or not recognize the parent, or alternating between crying and appearing expressionless. The detachment period can persist to some extent following reunion with the expression of clingy behavior suggesting a fear of further abandonment.

In older children who are beyond infancy (0–3 years), the process of grief related to separation and loss is more complex. Every person’s experience with grief will be different; however, people’s mourning responses tend to fall into three basic categories: early grief, acute grief, and subsiding grief. In early grief, there is a shocking, numbing alarm, denial, and disbelief. Acute grief typically involves longing, yearning and pining, searching, disorganization, and despair. Subsiding grief is characterized by integration of loss and grief, one in which a child is able to invest in a new life that takes the loss into account but is not preoccupied with it.

The effects of separation from a primary caregiver on children can be severe, lasting well into adult life if the grief is not resolved. However, studies suggest that children who have sufficient and positive information about the circumstances leading up to maternal separation and family reorganization manage better, irrespective of maternal absence.

—Denise Vallance