Heart of the Issue
Unheard Victims of Domestic Violence
FAMILY CODE 3044
By DeAnne DiGuiseppe
Legal Advocate to The Sheepfold
IT’S ABOUT THE KIDS
Violence is a part of the lives of children in America. It is accepted by our society in the media, music, video games, and motion pictures. It would be wonderful to say that our children find safety and are at least free from violence in their own home, but we can not say that. Experts estimate that as many as 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year. More than half of the school-age children in domestic violence shelters suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, behavior disorders, anxiety and learning deficiency’s. Without healing, these children are at significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school drop-out and difficulties in their own relationships.
53% AND 70% OF MALE BATTERERS ALSO FREQUENTLY ABUSE THEIR CHILDREN (STRUAS & GELLES, 1990.)
When a Restraining Order is granted due to the court finding evidence that domestic violence has been perpetrated, the next issue the court addresses and rules on is child custody. This is a gross inattention to the “best interest” of the child. After separation, custody and visitation exchanges often escalate on-going violence and hostility, which results in continued exposure of children to domestic violence, as well as putting the victim at continued risk.
Batterers likely go on and abuse another victim. If the batterer has custody and/or visitation, children will witness domestic violence with the new victim. Our children are being left behind for further abuse, manipulation and affliction.
There is a law to protect our children. Family Code 3044. “There is a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child, pursuant to Section 3011. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.” The courts are failing our children.
The Sheepfold is active in advocating this law and we are asking that you keep these children and this situation in your prayers.