Many families ask, “how did we get here, and why doesn’t the Commissioner/Judge see it my way?” Couples are divorcing and/or separating that have children is approximately fifty percent (apa.org, 2016) and most professionals agree the percentage is most likely higher because not every couple is legally married. Majority of couples are able to separate on ‘decent’ terms and co-parent (make joint decisions as it relates to their children, and do what they feel is best for their children). These couples rarely, if ever, attend court, and usually settle at the ‘kitchen table’ (among themselves) or attend mediation to help make decisions as it relates to the divorce, assets, and children.
The other group of couples separating and/or divorced with children (approximately 20% of separating couples with children (apa.org, 2016)) are considered ‘high conflict couples.’ This article pertains to the HCC (high conflict couples), and the possible reasons for the high conflict.
There are many reasons why couples end up in high conflict battles over their children. This article will review the most common reasons. Ending a marriage and/or relationship when children are involved is painful. Not only are the ‘adults’ affected; the children are affected too. In fact these children are in the ‘middle’ of their parents high conflict custody battles, and feel torn between both parents. Let’s face it, children love both parents, are half of both parents, and have a need for both parents.
Victims (whether male or female) of DV may leave their partner and find that a form of PA is involved which has been termed Domestic Violence by Proxy (DV by Proxy), a term first used by Alina Patterson, author of Health and Healing. DV by Proxy refers to a pattern of behavior which is a parent with a history of using domestic violence or intimidation, uses a child as a substitute when she/he no longer has access to the former partner. Parental Alienation may give us an idea of what is happening but perhaps is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by the abuser.When the victim leaves the abuser, abusers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt and control the partner is via legal rights to control the victim’s access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive partner now has a powerful tool which allows them to continue to stalk, harass or physically abuse an ex-partner even when the abuser has no direct access. Moreover, by emotionally torturing the child and severing the bond between children and the target parent (TP), the abuser is able to hurt the intended victim, the target parent (TP), in a way the AP can’t escape.
DV by proxy is scary for most, and our family court system does not recognize this type of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is going through this, please let them know they are not alone. This is a scary place for most and no one shall walk this journey alone. Reach out to us because we understand DV by proxy and can guide you along the way.