The Staff and Board of A Woman’s Place join the community in mourning the brutal murder of young Kayden Mancuso.
Our custody law says that the safety and well-being of the child is of paramount concern to the Court. We know however, that an overwhelming number of judges get it terribly wrong. Consistently, judges focus more on parental rights than the safety of the child. A history of domestic violence is often reduced simply to a “high conflict” relationship between two now-separated parents. It is crucial that our family court judges are trained in the psychological dynamics of abuse and the impact of domestic violence on children. The Court and our legislature must acknowledge the fact that a child who witnesses violence by a parent against the other parent or other family member is a victim of that violence.
When a parent is unwilling or unable to control their own violent behavior, the child’s safety is always at risk. Those who choose to abuse have one objective: to control their victim. When this cannot be achieved physically, the abuser will attempt to control from afar, taking calculated measures to further intimidate, harass and abuse the victim. This post-separation abuse is a persistent effort to punish the victim by placing in jeopardy or destroying all that is important in the victim’s life. Every time an abuser succeeds, the abuser is empowered to employ other more extreme measures to control, harm, harass, intimidate, or manipulate the victim. Sometimes abusers are openly violent and easy to spot, but more frequently, they are able to conceal, deceive, and charm to cover their history of behavior. All too often, even when there is ample evidence of a pattern of abuse, courts fail to take this history into account. We must do better.
As a community, we must demand change for Kayden, her family, and for the countless others who have suffered abuse only to be let down by the system they turn to for protection. Despite years of evidence and the impassioned advocacy of survivors, professionals, and politicians, our justice system remains dangerously in the dark about domestic violence and the nature of abuse.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please call our toll-free confidential hotline: 1-800-220-8116. You are not alone.
- Jesse Steele, Director of Development for A Woman’s Place