Abusive partners are four times more likely to threaten children during a breakup, a legal professor has claimed.
Brittany Hayes is an assistant professor at the College of Criminal Justice in Sam Houston State University, Texas. She analysed data from a Chicago study on women’s health, focusing on the experiences of 339 women who had been caught up in abusive relationships.
The professor found that close to a quarter of reportedly abusive partners had raised the possibility of taking the children away and eight per cent had threatened to harm the children. Abusers often sought to continue controlling their former partner’s lives even after separation she reported.
It is important, the professor claimed, for social workers to consider emotional and behavioural manipulations and not just physical abuse. These factors include disparaging the other parent to the children or undermining their authority. Such monitoring would, she said, help the courts better balance the contact rights of the separated parent with proper protection of the reportedly abused spouse.