‘Abusive’ partners threaten children during break-ups

Family | 2 Dec 2015 11

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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.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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    1. Pepe says:

      Given that this research only references the experience of one gender (surprise surprise), it is completely meaningless from an insight perspective. Unless of course it serves to bash the other gender. I presume that’s its purpose so we might as well be honest about it. Its not really research, its political posturing. I once force fed 1,000 frankfurters to a Sausage dog; it sadly passed away proving that frankfurters are dangerous to people. About the same level of insight if we take a scientific look at this.

    2. Elena says:

      My husband and I are going through a divorce and the moment I decided to divorce him, he started making allegations that I was mentally ill, I have paranoia or I had paranoid personality disorder to the children in front of me and what have you!. But this does not limit to parents but also making disparaging comments about my mother as well.

      It is absolutely important that emotional and psychological abuse is taken very seriously. I can see the effects on the children and it is heartbreaking.

    3. stitchedup says:

      How does this BS “research” ever get published???? How can any “research” that uses only one gender as its sample base be expected to offer a valid insight into an issue that affects both genders??? This is the women’s aid approach to research which we all know results in complete and utter BS.

    4. CG says:

      If you read the full study, as I have, instead of jumping to generalisations you will find it’s not man-bashing.

      It is though written from the perspective of having used a women’s group as its study, and looks at women who have identified as being victims of domestic abuse of some form, who subsequently separate and then have a larger proportion of custody/case (or full) of any children involved – its purpose is to look at what forms of abuse or threatened abuse take place going forward, and to offer suggestions for court and mediation officers in terms of understanding underlying propensities.

      It doesn’t make or come to any conclusions about any blame attached just to men, or to women for that matter, nor to say that women are more victimised, nor make any gender-based assumptions or judgements.
      It is interested in potential results of impact on any children involved, and on the women involved in the study.

      I suspect if you could do a study with men in a similar situation (previous history of partner based actual and/or threatened physical/mental violence perpetrated upon them), who were also predominantly custodians of their children, you’d probably find similar traits and findings.

      • Luke says:

        “It is though written from the perspective of having used a women’s group as its study”
        That in itself IS part of the problem, there seems to be a huge disparity by gender when it comes to resource allocation.
        CG, could you provide the link to the full study that you speak of ?

        • Cameron Paterson says:

          You need a subscription to access the original study but you can read more here:


        • CG says:

          yes – disparity in resources is an issue – no question.
          The link to the study is here – eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/shsu-tac112515.php
          There’s also a short video by the author explaining key findings.
          I was able to read the full study through an academic registration and as its subject to copyright I’m not posting the full study here, but there are ways via the site to view it depending on your access position.

    5. andrew says:

      “It is though written from the perspective of having used a women’s group as its study, and looks at women who have identified as being victims of domestic abuse of some form, who subsequently separate and then have a larger proportion of custody/case (or full) of any children involved”
      As a piece of serious research this is worthless, isn’t it?

    6. cara agar cepat hamil says:

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      threaten children during break-ups – Marilyn Stowe Blog.
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      • Cameron Paterson says:

        Good morning
        You’ll find us on Twitter here: @StoweFamilyLaw
        On Facebook here: facebook.com/MarilynStoweBlog/
        And on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/company/stowe-family-law

    7. Corine says:

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      I most certainly will recommend this web site!

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