Excerpt from the 2009 NIJ Panel Discussion printed below; to listen or read the panel discussion click here
Bethany Backes: So I’m gonna be very brief and just say that today we’ll be hearing about two ongoing NIJ-funded studies on custody evaluation. Both studies will be concluding within the year, and the final reports will be available and accessible through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
So our panelists today are Dr. Daniel Saunders, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work; Dr. Chris O’Sullivan, who is a research consultant currently working with the New York Legal Assistance Group; and the honorable Dale Koche, Koch, sorry, a senior judge with the state of Oregon. And we hope that today is the start of many discussions on this topic. And at this time I just want to ask everyone to please turn off their cell phones or any electronic devices to vibrate or silent. And we’re gonna begin with Dan.
Daniel Saunders: Good morning, everyone. Hope you’re doing well. It’s good to be here with you. Thank you, Bethany, thank you for putting this panel together and for your introduction. And I wanna commend NIJ for making this move into a new area — the family law side of the law.
In the early days, the focus in helping survivors of domestic violence was to make sure that offenders were arrested just like any other offender and that there were restraining order laws and that we had good stalking legislation. And it’s been only fairly recently that advocates and researchers have become aware of the horrible injustice when survivors finally escape from domestic violence and then are faced with continued stalking, harassment, abuse and then, low and behold, the worst trauma that survivors, I think, can ever go through is to get that piece of paper in the mail that says your partner, your ex-partner wants custody of your children. And so the trauma is multiplied times three where women — it’s usually women — are faced with sometimes losing custody to a person, they believe, will continue their abuse — abuse of the children, abuse of them.
Comment by NJ antistalking advocacy: Hallelujah for Dr Dan Saunders and the Dept of Justice for documenting and exposing the abuse of the family court system aka stalking through the courts. For ten years I was repeatedly served with motion papers that accused me of suffering from a multitude of mental illnesses and alleged that I fabricated being stalked. I had good judges who put a stop to the abuse and I had one awful judge who allowed the abuse to occur inside and outside the family court room for two years because he felt that he should re litigate everything. This judge allowed an attorney to ask that I be put in jail each time that I did not take my son to a psychiatrist. My son is not crazy and I am not crazy - and the man who was leaving me threatening voicemail messages 24 hours before and 48 hours after a family court hearing - the same man who interrogated my son for 3 hours at his Eagle Scout Board of Review asking my son if this was a vendetta and quizzing my minor child about family court hearings is dead.
If you are being stalked through the family court start advocating for yourself and your children. Not everyone will listen or help but you will be surprised that there are good people who will not stand for the injustice. File an ethics complaint against the attorney who is filing the vexatious motions. File a complaint against the psychologist who is writing a report about maternal passivity and parental alienation. This is a lengthy process and very draining but you are in the fight for your life and the well being of your children. Fight the good fight and eventually you will win.