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29 April 2009

Distressed Father’s...I think not

 

Not too Responsible Fatherhood: Blaming, Shaming, and Gaming

This is in direct response to When Divorce Kills: How Gender Bias Pushes Some Men Over the Edge. You must [find it and] read it first.

In the past two weeks…? Why limit the time period. There have been more than a dozen murders since the new year began.

Ending in the deaths of “innocent children”?…There goes that catch phrase that I spoke about yesterday. Also, see how framing the “innocent children” conveniently leaves out any other victims who are adults…and also dead. I wonder how their families feel about that.

A father in distress? Many Americans are in distress right now, and always and are not killing; but notice how the author frames it as “losing all that he held dear.”..as if loss=the right to murder.

There is nothing “high profile” about these cases. There is an epidemic of men committing familicides and only SOME happened to make it to the main news section. Some. Within days, all is forgotten and the next murder occurs with the same sensationalism and shock. It has become a perfunctory reaction.

This doesn’t stereotype fathers. What it does it make us cautious of divorcing men, men who cannot take control of their emotions so they seek control by violent means. A “malicious stereotype” would be one that specifically intends to do harm. These men are intending to do harm. These murders are premeditated. Stop playing the stereotype card and call it what it is, reality.

Good fathers are good fathers. We can recognize them. Or, hell, maybe we can’t…because it seems like every time a White man commits a murder, the community wants to talk about what an upstanding, church-going, philanthropist, volunteer-coach, music-instructor, role-model he was.

We are not talking about “most fathers” when these stories hit the media. We are talking about men who use violence as a solutions to their problems and a society that is content with accept it as is. But we must point out the common denominator in these murders: the men are killing women and children who were often times family members or [former] lovers.

Domestic violence doesn’t have to be “gender specific” in order for us to notice that FACT that men are committing these types of murders. Don’t try to rule out gender when it is convenient. No one doubts that women commit violence however forcing it as an issue is an attempt to neutralize the problem. Shifting the focus.

Divorce is stressful for men because they lose the control that they “held dear.” The gender bias affects women because of the patriarchal structure of our society that puts women at the bottom of the totem pole with structures in place that benefit men.

Most men do not lose of their children, they give it up freely to the one who has been doing the primary caretaking–mom. A loss of custody would mean that custody was taken from someone who originally had it. A father that was a primary caretaker, that had his child “taken” away from him, would be a father who lost custody. Therefore 85% of mothers do not “win” custody, they get it. Stop framing this as a game.

Myth — Family courts are biased against fathers in custody disputes.

Fact: “Despite the powerful stereotypes working against fathers, they are significantly more successful than is commonly believed. The Massachusetts [gender bias] task force, for example, reported that fathers receive primary or joint custody in more than 70 percent of contested cases.”

Schafran, Lynn Hecht, “Gender Bias in Family Courts,” American Bar Association Family Advocate, Vol. 17, No. 1, p. 26

Ruth I. Abrams & John M. Greaney, Report of the Gender Bias Study of the Supreme Judicial Court [of Massachusetts] 62-63 (1983), also citing similar finding from California and other parts of the nation.

Fact: “The various gender bias commissions found that at the trial court level in contested custody cases, fathers won more than half the time. This is especially significant in light of the fact that not only do fathers win more often in court when they take these cases to trial, but also that an overwhelmingly higher percentage of fathers gain primary custody — by any means — than were ever the primary caregiver of their children during marriage. Statistically, this dashes the argument that ‘only the strongest cases are taken to trial,’ and in fact indicates an extraordinary bias against mothers and the value of mothering and mothers’ work.”

liznote re the more than 40 state gender bias task force reports. Available from the National Judicial Education Program, 9 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013.

Also see: AZ Battered Mothers Testimony Project Report

And why add the piece about “divorced and separated men are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than married men”? Oh, because the part that would typically follow a statement like that is, “So let’s support the natural/biological family,” or “You see, the court system is killing fathers.”

Yeah, whatever. How about this one?

Men with a [perceived] loss of control are 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide, murder-suicide, and familicide than men who feel that they are in control.

There is no “notion” that divorced/estranged fathers don’t want/need continuing contact with their children. The notion is that if you renege on your familial responsibilities (to be with your friends, or new girlfriend, leaving your children behind) you have shown that your children are not a priority. This is not meant to imply that in order to have a relationship with your children, you must be exclusive with the mother. What it means is that you establish your priorities by your actions.

A father is “estranged” because of his own behavior. A father decides when being a father is important to him and he decides this on his own time. Mothers are generally [considered] mothers 24/7. If the loss of the children is so painful, it is the father’s responsibility to compensate for this–killing the children does not do so. (Also, asking the mother to patch your relationship with your children by speaking well of you, or telling lies in your favor, is not you taking responsibility.)

Good book plug.

If all these fathers need is “someone who understand,” why don’t father’s groups promote counseling for them? Why force litigation? Who wins?

What many a father’s groups provide for these men, is a pep rally to talk about what a bitch his ex was and how unfair the family court system is (often time, before he even gets into the court to know for himself). Perhaps they actually rev these men up…

And now let’s get to the heavy political controversy that is being swept under the rug:

Illinois, like the rest of the states, receives grants from the U.S. government, via the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), under the name of Responsible Fatherhood. This money is supposed to be used to help low-income fathers break economic barriers so that they can make financial contributions to their children’s upbringing via a relationship with the child. The grant money is also used for incarcerated fathers for re-entry into the workforce for the same reasons.

Myth — Increasing fathers’ visitation time and custody rights makes them more amenable to paying child support.

Fact: “As researchers began to stop collecting their data mainly from fathers and began to explore the relationship between visiting and paying child support in longitudinal studies, the theory that increased visitation would result in increased child support compliance began to wane. In 1993, the Office of Economic Research, U.S. Bureau of Labor undertook a study based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The NLSY is a survey of more than 12,000 men and women who are interviewed annually since 1979. The authors of this study found contrary to previous studies, increases in visitation have no effect on changes in child support.”

THE LINK BETWEEN VISITATION AND SUPPORT COMPLIANCE, Laura Wish Morgan with Chuck Shively of the Department of Social & Health Services, Washington State. http://childsupportguidelines.com/articles/art200012.html

In reality, some of this Responsible Fatherhood money is being used to target fathers for a custody changing scheme under the guise of access and visitation. Attorneys are provided to fathers so that they can seek custody of their children. The division of Child Support states that MORE money has been collected under this system when in fact child support arrears are being waived, and child support awards are being reduced, or eliminated.

You don’t have to do a lot of digging, as the article I am calling into question, gives enough information for you to get started. Remember Blagoveich. Think about the President’s agenda:

Strengthen Fatherhood and Families: Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. President Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.

Yeah right.

Illinois.

Is the answer to hold women hostage in marriage out of fear that their husbands may kill them and their children? Is the answer to give mentally unstable men custody of their children and access to their former spouses.

Maybe the answer is NOT restraining orders and GPS. Maybe we should create a Father’s Act, to determine the psychological stability of men at the time of conception, and at divorce, as society seems exclusively and disproportionately fixated on mother-pathologies.

28 April 2009

Murder-Suicide, Filicide, Familicide - Call it what you want they are still dead

The other day I posted about the study that was conducted that showed that all the shooters in family murder-suicides are men. This is something that I keep running across as I read the news, watch the news, even when I am just stumbling around the internet.

Have we as a society become numb to the violence that is on our TV’s and in our papers everyday, simply because it IS there everyday? Is this why many are just not paying attention to these almost weekly killings of families?

Many things are blamed for this or rather, given as excuses; from the poor economy to prescription drugs and just about everything in between. One article that I found about this that pretty ran the gamut of reasons can be read HERE. It was that article that made me start thinking back to the one that I posted the other day. Of course every time someone writes about a parent killing their children (with or without killing the spouse) the names Andrea Yates and Susan Smith come up.

I can not lump them in with these men that are annihilating their ENTIRE families. This is a separate issue all together and one that we are seeing happen on the average of about once a week lately. I have a theory, of course I do...

On this site: http://anonymums.blogspot.com/2009/04/murder-suicide-epidemic-larger.html I found an interesting side to this backed up by some research. This closely resembles my own theory as to why this is going on and it really has nothing to do with the economy or any external factors.

An excerpt from the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and Law Online:

Filicide-Suicide: Common Factors in Parents Who Kill Their Children and Themselves

Susan Hatters Friedman, MD, Debra R. Hrouda, MSSA, Carol E. Holden, PhD, Stephen G. Noffsinger, MD and Phillip J. Resnick, MD

In the report of Somander and Rammer12 from Sweden, the average age of children in filicide-suicide was 6.5 years, and 70 percent of the perpetrators were fathers. This was virtually identical to the average age of children in our U.S. study (6.8 years and 67% fathers, respectively).

Twice as many fathers as mothers committed filicide-suicide in our study. This is in keeping with findings in previous studies and the higher male suicide rate. Two-thirds of fathers attempted to kill their wives, while no mother attempted to kill her husband. This may be related to a more proprietary attitude of men toward the family.21 The sample spans many years before the women’s liberation movement when men were likely to be the only breadwinners.

The most frequent method of filicide-suicide was by shooting, a method that is likely to succeed in both filicide and suicide. Similarly, in U.S. newspaper reports of homicide-suicides, 90 percent of perpetrators used firearms.22

Familicide

Dietz described familicide perpetrators as:

Family annihilators, usually the senior man of the house, who is depressed, paranoid, intoxicated or a combination of these. He kills each member of the family who is present, sometimes including pets. He may commit suicide after killing the others, or may force the police to kill him [Ref 23, p 482].

Our sample is consistent with this description. Of the 11 men who attempted to kill the entire family, 5 were depressed, 3 were paranoid, and 2 had alcohol in their systems.

A North Carolina study of homicide-suicide included seven cases of familicide-suicide.24 None of the men had histories of domestic violence, while three had histories of mental illness, and two had criminal histories. Of our sample of 11 men who committed familicide-suicides, 2 had a known history of domestic violence, 5 had utilized mental health services, and 2 had criminal histories. Morton and colleagues noted familicide-suicides were often "preceded by a range of factors including severe depression and suicidal ideation in the perpetrator, ongoing marital conflict, perpetrator anger over separation, and illness in the victim and perpetrator’s child" (Ref. 24, p 97). Our sample showed many of the same themes, with the addition of financial stressors.

Perpetrators of familicide have been classified as accusatory killers or despondent killers.21 Accusatory killers had a grievance against their wives and often a history of violence. The despondent killer is described as "a depressed and brooding man, who may apprehend impending disaster for himself and his family, and who sees familicide followed by suicide as ‘the only way out’" (Ref 21, pp 287–8). Our data showed more altruistic killings—that is, committed by despondent killers rather than accusatory ones—though occasionally characteristics of both types were seen.

All of that being said, I believe that as a society we are all too often turning our heads to the violence that goes on right in our own communities. We ‘know’ of child abuse or spousal abuse and domestic violence that is taking place right next to us and all around us. Rather than taking steps to protect the victims most turn a blind eye and act shocked when the father kills every single member of his family. At which point everyone scrambles to explain away this happening. “He was being treated for depression” “Things were tight financially because his hours were cut” Bullshit!

Another factor that has played into this is that in far too many courts around the world judges are not taking into account any abuse or domestic violence that may have lead to the situation of divorce and subsequently the ensuing custody battle. These judges are punishing protective mothers for well...being protective, and thus ‘awarding’ (yep that is what they call it) these abusive fathers with custody of the children. This is giving a signal to the entire world that abuse in all of its myriad of forms is just fine.

So, with family court judges ruling in this manner and reporters spinning these deaths in the light of the current fashion...it is no wonder that we are still having them and they are increasing with time. Fairly soon we will be a world so numb to this that it will not even be reported as it is now. The sensationalism will wear off and no one will care.

I leave you with this last thought and question: If you are not part of the solution then by default you are part of the problem. Which are you?

26 April 2009

Now you too can fix your divorce

This is only one case in one area.  However, all across the world similar scenarios are playing out daily in courts.  Regardless of who is getting paid off; be it the lawyers, the judge, the GAL, the mental health experts, social workers, court reporters, etc....the ones that loose in a situation of this nature are the children. 

Original:  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/25/nyregion/how-to-fix-a-divorce-prosecutors-spell-it-out.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/E/Ethics

How to Fix A Divorce: Prosecutors Spell It Out

By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: Friday, April 25, 2003

It would often begin with Nissim Elmann, an electronics dealer, known among some Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn as the man who could help win a messy divorce or custody battle. For a fee, Mr. Elmann could guarantee a good outcome, according to a theory laid out yesterday in Brooklyn Criminal Court, by bribing the right people.

Mr. Elmann would bring a client wanting a guarantee, say, that he would win custody of his children to Paul Siminovsky, a divorce lawyer who had bragged that he had an advantage whenever he appeared in Justice Gerald P. Garson's courtroom, officials said. Under the court system's random assignment method, some of Mr. Siminovsky's cases did land before Justice Garson, but his advantage was really a payback for the meals and drinks he routinely bought for the judge, according to criminal complaints accusing the judge, Mr. Siminovsky and two court employees of a conspiracy to fix divorce and child custody cases.

For his part, Justice Garson, a State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn, directed clients toward Mr. Siminovsky and gave him advice on how to win cases in his courtroom, even coaching him on questions to ask witnesses, the complaints say. In exchange for the favorable treatment, according to the complaints, Mr. Siminovsky gave Justice Garson a box of cigars, $1,000 in cash and other gifts. At that point, Justice Garson asked that Mr. Siminovsky simply write a check to his wife, Robin Garson, also a State Supreme Court judge, to use to pay off a debt, officials say.

For the whole scheme to work, a law enforcement official said, the group needed to subvert the random assignment method the court employs to guard against corruption. To make sure the cases ended up in front of Justice Garson, the complaints charge, the conspirators brought in court officials, including Paul Sarnell, his senior clerk, and two employees of the main court clerk's office. In return for Mr. Sarnell's role in getting two cases assigned to Justice Garson, the complaints charge, Mr. Siminovsky gave him telephones from Mr. Elmann's warehouse.

After Mr. Sarnell retired in late 2002, Louis Salerno, a court officer, approached Mr. Siminovsky about becoming the new fixer, court documents say. In one instance, Mr. Salerno received electronic equipment from the trunk of Mr. Siminovsky's car for assigning a case to Judge Garson, the complaints say.

The clients hoping to win an advantage in their divorce or child custody fights also poured money into the scheme, officials said. For example, Avraham Levi, who was charged yesterday with conspiring to rig the outcome of his divorce, agreed to pay Mr. Elmann more than $10,000 to bribe Justice Garson, one complaint says. That case was steered to Justice Garson, and Mr. Elmann warned Mr. Levi that he could not settle the case but must let it come to trial, the complaint charges. Mr. Levi paid the money in December 2002, according to the complaint, and his divorce and custody case, still pending, began before Justice Garson in late January.

In another case, Esther Weitzner is said to have given Mr. Elmann money to bribe the judge and a court-appointed psychologist who was to be a witness in her child custody proceeding. A warrant was pending for her arrest late yesterday, a law enforcement official said.

Photos: Also arraigned in Brooklyn yesterday were, clockwise from left: Nissim Elmann, an electronics dealer; Paul Siminovsky, a divorce lawyer; Louis Salerno, a court officer; Paul Sarnell, Justice's Garson's former law clerk; and Avraham Levi, who had been Mr. Siminovsky's client in a divorce case.; Justice Gerald P. Garson after being arraigned on corruption charges in Brooklyn Criminal Court yesterday. (John-Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)

A version of this article appeared in print on Friday, April 25, 2003, on section B page 8 of the New York edition.