Family reunification camps and policies like those run by Overcoming Barriers https://overcomingbarriers.org/trainings/ are proven to be ineffective and dangerous to children. Overcoming Barriers is in town tomorrow to lead judges, lawyers, guardians ad-litem, and mental health professionals in a conference. The purpose is to help court personnel learn how to force children to spend time with both parents, and how to give financial consequences to parents who don’t agree, or don’t want to make their children comply. The Washington Post reported in 2017 that Overcoming Barriers workshops were shut down after studies failed to prove their efficacy. These camps are a danger to all children, but imagine the impact especially if the child is afraid of a parent due to prior abuse and then is court-ordered to attend camp with the abusive parent. It is NORMAL for a child to be scared of their abuser and to suffer from a trauma or stressor-related disorder such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or have suicidal thoughts. It is NOT normal or healthy to require a child to let down their protective barriers so they ‘get over’ being scared or stressed by their angry and controlling abuser, or so they believe the abuser loves them, wants the best for them, and is worthy of a closer relationship with them.
Here is a snippet of my interview with FOX 2 news from Tuesday.
Dr. Leslie Drodz says the training is “to arrive at actual solutions instead of endless court battles.” Here’s the problem: When you are dealing with an abuser and a protective parent there is no solution that will please the parents or the court. The abuser is out to hurt the protective parent’s heart, turn family and friends against them, and financially ruin them. The protective parent’s goal is to insure the children are safe. The court wants shared custody, or at least visitation, regardless of abuse. The court needs better training to help the victims. I’m not sure I can agree with Judge Banas that highly contested custody cases are the problem and the reason for needing ‘Overcoming Barriers’ to hold a conference this Friday. The problem I see and continually hear about is domestic violence being seen by the court as a high conflict divorce/custody case. High conflict divorces and domestic violence are NOT the same thing. This is why court personnel need training on how to identify and deal with domestic abuse. This will require ongoing education; not a 5-8 hour class. This is why I’m participating in a peaceful protest outside the court house this Friday at 10:30 AM. Please join me!
Organizers of the protest suspected she would say she takes the side of the protesters, and she did so. Judge Burlison says a parent can be stripped of their rights if there is abuse. They can, but are they?
What about all the protective parents who come in with professional documentation from one or many of these? Child protective services. child psychologist, family therapist. school counselor or teacher, or a police report. These reports are most commonly ignored in St. Charles County family court. And…if a child discloses abuse they have to disclose it a second time to the ‘correct’ county child advocate so it can be video recorded as evidence for court. If the child doesn’t re-disclose…it’s as if the abuse didn’t happen in the eyes of the court. For toddlers and preschoolers it is often difficult to get them to re-disclose. The interviewer isn’t allowed to ask leading questions in hopes of retrieving the information from them.
Of all the women I, Carolyn, have ministered to in St. Charles County who left their abusers, only the one whose husband went to prison was able to have the abuser’s rights taken away. Another was able to get the abuser to leave them alone if they agreed to a minimal financial settlement.It wasn’t because the court was willing to take his rights away. I also know of multiple cases where the protective parent lost custody to the abusive parent. This happened when they provided professional evidence to abuse. Bringing up abuse to the court often doesn’t end well and is used against the protective parent.
Organizers of the protest believe that more than a ‘parenting plan’ and the right of an abusive parent to have a relationship with a child; a child has a right to a non-abusive home.
Don’t just say these things have to be looked into. LOOK INTO IT! Children’s safety is in your hands and are you are not using the fullest extend of the law, state statutes, to protect them. Criminal courts would not get buy with ignoring and over riding professional testimony like family court does!
Dear readers, please go to overcomingbarriers.org and read for yourself what they teach in their seminars. If our judges want to do a better job for children of family court; we recommend ALIVE STL, BarryGoldstein.net, or https://www.law.gwu.edu/joan-s-meier #CourtToo
Link to FAMILY COURT WATCH: ST. CHARLES COUNTY’s Facebook page here to find out the many reasons the protest is being held. I know it’s last minute, but please, join the protest.