Imagine being a child, abused by one of your parents. Your case ends up in family court. The judge, seeking to be “fair,” not wanting to deny a parent’s right to custody, sentences you to visitation with the abusive parent, or worse, that parent is awarded custody. You may blame yourself: what did I do wrong? I must deserve this…maybe I’m just not worth protecting. And you wonder why your safe parent couldn’t protect you the way they promised. Your feelings of betrayal and loss of trust in everything and everyone can seem overwhelming.
Every year, family courts sentence 58,000 children, enough to fill a football stadium, to live with parents who are abusive, negligent or predatory. Hundreds of times each year, a child’s life ends at the hands of an abusive parent, an entirely preventable tragedy. It happens because our legal system, for a variety of reasons, isn’t equipped to identify, understand, and adjudicate complex cases where domestic violence and sexual abuse are present. Children are losing out. A childhood marked by trauma too often results in a life marked by depression, continued victimization, risky and abusive behaviors, or some combination of these problems.
This destructive and repetitive pattern needs to end now!
KNOW THE FACTS
Protecting abused children offers them not only justice, but also a chance to be healthy, happy contributing members of society who are ending the cycle of abuse.