The Batterer as Parent Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics

by Daniel Ritchie, Jay G. Silverman, and

Author Daniel Ritchie Jay G Silverman and R Lundy Bancroft Isbn 9781412972055 File size 17MB Year 2011 Pages 352 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship Moving beyond the narrow clinical perspective sometimes applied to viewing the emotional and developmental risks to battered children The Batterer as Parent Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics Second Edition offers a view that takes into account the complex ways in which a batterer s abu

Publisher :

Author : Daniel Ritchie, Jay G. Silverman, and R. Lundy Bancroft

ISBN : 9781412972055

Year : 2011

Language: English

File Size : 17MB

Category : Family and Friendship

The Batterer

Parent 2

Lundy Bancroft • Jay G. Silverman • Daniel Ritchie

The Batterer

ç as

Parent 2
the Impact of
Domestic Violence
on Family Dynamics
SAGE Series on Violence Against


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Acquisitions Editor Kassie Graves

Bancroft, Lundy.
The batterer as parent: addressing the impact
of domestic violence on family dynamics / Lundy
Bancroft, Jay G. Silverman, Daniel Ritchie. - 2nd ed.
p. cm. — (Sage series on violence against
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4129-7205-5 (pbk.)
1. Abusive men—United States. 2. Wife abuseUnited States. 3. Family violence—United States.
4. Victims of family violence—United States.
I. Silverman, Jay G. II. Ritchie, Daniel, 1972­
III. Title.
HV6626.2.B25 2012
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1. The Battering Problem
Defining Batterers
Characteristics of Batterers
Misconceptions About Batterers



Power Parenting: The Batterer's Style With Children
Typical Characteristics of Batterers as Parents
Effects on Children of Exposure to Domestic Violence
Child Abuse
The Batterer as Role Model
Children's Outlook on the Batterer


Shock Waves: The Batterer's Impact on the Home
Undermining of the Mother's Authority
Effects on Mother-Child Relationships
Use of Children as Weapons Against the Mother
The Batterer's Impact on Other Aspects of Family

Resilience in Mother-Child and in Sibling Relationships




The Batterer as Incest Perpetrator
Lundy Bancroft and Margaret Miller
Review of Studies
The Predatory Child Molester Versus the Incest



Shared Tactics of Batterers and Incest Perpetrators
Shared Attitudes of Batterers and Incest Perpetrators
Implications of the Overlap for Professional Response
Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody and

Visitation Disputes




Impeding Recovery: The Batterer as Parent Postseparation
Creating a Context for Children's Healing
Batterers' Postseparation Conduct With Children
Batterers' Motivations for Seeking Custody or

Increased Visitation
Batterers' Advantages in Custody Disputes
Batterers' Tactics in Custody and Visitation Disputes
Effects on Children of Custody Litigation
The Mismeasure of Batterers as Parents: A Critique of

Prevailing Theories of Assessment
Influential Theories of Divorce
The Use of a Domestic Violence Typology to Assess

Risk to Children
The Overlooked Implications of Johnston, Campbell,

and Roseby's Own Observations





Supporting Recovery: Assessing Risk to Children From

Batterers and Structuring Visitation
Sources of Risk to Children From Unsupervised

Contact With Batterers
A Guide to Assessing Risk to Children From Batterers
Structuring Custody and Visitation


Is It Real? Assessing and Fostering Change in

Batterers as Parents
Steps to Change in Batterers
Misconceptions Regarding Change in Batterers
Evaluating Change in Batterers as Parents
Creating a Context for Change




Improving Community Responses to the Parenting

of Batterers
Child Advocates, Child and Family Therapists, and

Programs for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
Custody Evaluators
Family Courts
Child Protection Systems and Courts With Protective

Parent Trainers
Psychological Evaluators
Batterer Programs and Fatherhood Programs
Battered Women's Programs
Supervised Visitation Centers
Family Lawyers and Bar Associations
Police Departments






About the Authors




wenty years ago, my colleague David Wolfe and I began exten­
sive clinical and research explorations to better understand and
counsel children growing up in violent homes. We were troubled to
discover through our work that community professionals in various
helping and legal systems were largely overlooking the plight of chil­
dren exposed to the battering of their mothers. Although the potential
traumatic effects of child physical and sexual abuse were widely rec­
ognized at that time, the similar psychological impact on children of
domestic violence was little understood. The community appeared to
accept the misconception that children without visible injuries could
not be suffering great harm.
A further obstacle to expanding professional understanding in this
area has been the tendency of batterers to make themselves unavail­
able for participation in services or research studies, so they have
often remained invisible and poorly understood. Our early studies, for
example, often centered on abused women in shelters because of their
accessibility to us. Unfortunately, this focus led us to link children's
emotional and behavioral problems primarily to their mother's physi­
cal and psychological well-being, without adequate attention to how
the conduct of batterers was fomenting the dynamics we were observ­
ing. While we were correct in observing that children often recovered
more successfully when their mothers healed well, we did not always
recognize the complexity of the psychological injury to children and
the disruption to family dynamics that batterers can cause.
Fortunately, progress in this area has been substantial in recent
years. Since we wrote Children of Battered Women in 1990, there have
been many important scholarly publications on the special needs of
children in violent homes, which in turn have contributed to steps for­
ward in policy, research, intervention, and prevention. Many commu­
nities in the United States and Canada now offer specialized programs




for these children, and service providers are sometimes connected to
the broader domestic violence network through local coordinating
committees or councils.
Lundy Bancroft and Jay Silverman have now further deepened
our understanding of the trauma done to children of battered women
with this very thoughtful and practical volume that turns the spotlight
onto the attitudes and behaviors of batterers as parents, examining in
concrete and illuminating detail the home conditions that domestic
violence creates. The authors simultaneously clarify many misconcep­
tions that still exist about the short- and long-term impact batterers can
have on children.
Bancroft and Silverman move beyond the narrow clinical per­
spective that is sometimes applied to viewing the emotional and
developmental risks to these children, offering in its place a view that
takes into account the complex ways in which a batterer's abusive and
controlling behaviors are woven into the fabric of daily life. The shift
in perspective that the authors bring is perhaps captured most suc­
cinctly by their appropriate recommendation that the current term
children exposed to domestic violence be replaced with children exposed to
batterers. This change serves to underline batterers' accountability and
responsibility for the effects of domestic violence in a way that imper­
sonal terms such as violent homes or conjugal abuse do not. Perhaps more
important, the new term draws attention to the fact that the parenting
of batterers can bring multiple sources of trauma to children's lives in
addition to the terror of violence toward their mothers. For example,
Bancroft and Silverman document the evidence that batterers are at a
greatly increased risk to physically or sexually abuse children, often
use the children as weapons against the mother, can sow important
divisions between children and their mothers and among siblings, and
may be psychologically abusive to children. They outline the complex
and insidious processes through which batterers hamper children's
social and emotional development.
Bancroft and Silverman also shed light on the common miscon­
ception that the trauma to children of domestic violence ends when
the parents separate, devoting much of their text to exploring how
the abuse of power and control in violent relationships may continue
through disputes over child custody, visitation, and child support.
They successfully challenge existing theories about high-conflict
divorce and parental alienation that minimize and misinterpret the



batterer's pattern of manipulative and coercive behaviors and that tend
to shift blame for the children's emotional difficulties—including thenfear of their fathers—onto battered mothers.
I have observed that family law lawyers and judges often fall prey
to becoming the agents of batterers to continue the harassment of
abused partners through prolonged court proceedings and conflicts
about postseparation parenting. Because batterers are more likely to
fight for custody of children and, as likely as nonbatterers, to be suc­
cessful in this action, more intensive reading and training in this area is
essential for forensic professionals. I happened to be interrupted in the
midst of reading The Batterer as Parent by an emergency call by a lawyer
for an abused mother who had just received a court judgment ordering
her to share joint custody with the batterer on the basis that the batterer
had never abused the children directly, only the mother. These words
came from a well-regarded judge with over two decades of child cus­
tody litigation experience.
To assist in addressing problems of this kind, Bancroft and
Silverman offer systematic and useful guidelines for assessing the risk
to children from batterers. This assessment tool should become a stan­
dard part of the practice of custody evaluators and courts in making
decisions that promote the safety and security of children. In addition,
the authors offer complementary guidelines on evaluating genuine
change in batterers as parents, which are essential given that custody
and visitation disputes may continue before the court for many years.
Although constructive interventions sometimes take place with the
batterer during this period, perhaps including the imposition of super­
vised visitation, the court may be placed under constant pressure to
reduce such safeguards and counseling requirements based on prom­
ises rather than on actual changes in the batterer.
This book will challenge communities to extend services and train­
ing on behalf of children exposed to batterers. A clear focus on the
impact of batterers as parents will enhance the quality and compre­
hensive nature of intervention and prevention services. Bancroft and
Silverman should also inspire researchers to test the many implied
hypotheses about batterers' impacts on children.
As someone with 30 years of experience working with the police
and courts in a more collaborative response to domestic violence,
I found that The Batterer as Parent left me with a fresh perspective and
new ideas for clinical practice and research in this area. I am confident



that other readers will be stimulated in a similar fashion. I hope that
this book comes to be seen as required reading for all judges, lawyers,
custody evaluators, child protection workers, therapists, and advocates
involved in domestic violence cases.
Peter Jaffe, Ph.D., Director, Centerfor Children and
Families in the Justice System



he Batterer as Parent is rooted in the experience of doing counseling
work in batterer intervention programs. The years spent directly
involved in learning about and challenging the thinking and behavior
of abusive men led to the core insights that we have set out to share
here. We observed countless times how psychologically destructive
our clients were, leading us to a growing set of questions about how
a batterer's presence in the home would affect children emotionally
day to day, not just during his periodic incidents of outright physical
or sexual violence. We set out, then, to describe what it is exactly that
batterers do at home that have such profound implications for the chil­
dren exposed to them. The research that we were originally aware of
described emotional and behavioral effects on children of exposure to
domestic violence but did not seem to explore much the mechanisms
by which that harm took place. What exactly are the sources and char­
acteristics of the suffering that the children of battered women endure?
Is their distress primarily tied to the trauma of witnessing frighten­
ing violence toward their mothers? Or is this violence perhaps just
the beginning of the challenges that these children face? Do batterers
differ from nonbattering men only when they are being violent, or is
there actually a much more extensive set of distinctions in how abusers
relate in the home?
As we began to examine these questions, we came across an
extensive body of research that appeared to be less well-known—or
at least less known to us. We found, in fact, that dozens of research­
ers had explored below the surface of children's experiences and had
reached conclusions that were often startlingly similar to what we
were observing clinically. We saw an increasing collection of findings
indicating that the behavior of men who batter sends many destructive
ripples through the lives of families, ripples that are far more complex
than have commonly been recognized. The first level radiates from




a batterer's day-to-day behaviors toward his partner, each of which
has implications for children in the home. The second grows from the
batterer's approach to interacting with children, which is often built
upon the same set of selfish and dehumanizing attitudes that drives
his treatment of his partner. And the third level reverberates in every
direction, for it has to do with the family interaction patterns that a
batterer engenders, affecting all relationships in the home. A grasp of
these dynamics is critical to the task of any provider—and to a battered
mother herself—who wishes to promote recovery and healing in a
family affected by the actions of a battering man.
Our goal, then, is to prepare the reader to identify and to respond
to the range of individual and family dynamics that can be created by
battering behavior. Moreover, we are eager to help community mem­
bers understand that these dynamics rarely disappear when a bat­
tered mother leaves her abusive partner; they live on in the patterns
of interaction that have been established and, often more directly, in
the batterer's use of ongoing intimidation and violence and in his use
of litigation for custody or visitation. Therefore, professionals and
others wishing to assist mothers and children need to understand a
host of sources of emotional injury to a mother and her children, as
well as appropriate strategies for fostering recovery. In fact, we pro­
pose in this book some substantial shifts in the thinking that currently
prevails regarding the nature of children's trauma and their needs for
recovery in cases where they have been exposed to domestic violence
As we prepare this second edition of The Batterer as Parent (with
the assistance of Daniel Ritchie), we observe important changes from a
decade ago. The available research on children of battered women has
grown tremendously. We know more than ever about children's dis­
tress, the impact on mothers, and the intergenerational transmission of
domestic violence perpetration. There have been leaps forward in the
development of advocacy and therapeutic strategies for supporting the
safety of children and helping them heal. Far more professionals are
aware now that batterers cause harm to mother-child and sibling rela­
tionships and understand the importance of directing services toward
healing those relationships, not just individuals. We have also seen
more attention being paid than before to the parenting of men who bat­
ter and the need to influence their treatment of children as part of hold­
ing them accountable overall.



There have been other important developments over this period
that we observe with less enthusiasm. Research on domestic violence
over this period has become less focused on the primacy of identify­
ing and stopping male violence against females, drifting more toward
a gender-neutral view of domestic violence that divorces this crime
from its historical and social roots. As we explain in this edition, we
have grave concerns about the implications of this research trend for
children. This period has also seen an exponential growth in the use of
"parental alienation" theories and charges against battered mothers;
modern society has come to a stance where it accuses battered mothers
of parental unfitness for exposing their children to batterers and then,
postseparation, does an abrupt about-face to accuse them of unfitness
for their efforts to limit their children's exposure. In this context, we
have felt it urgent to expand considerably our discussion of parental
alienation theories. In a somewhat related development, there has
been a growth in the belief that there are many men who use violence
against their female partners without any intent to control or mtirni­
date in what has been termed common couple violence. However, our
reading of the research suggests that this phenomenon is actually not
at all common, and we raise concerns in these pages about the accep­
tance of these questionable formulations.
The literature on children's recovery has grown some over the past
10 years but still has received much less attention than other aspects of
domestic violence. We have added some attention to these questions
but remain eager to see more energy in our field aimed in this direction.
We direct this book to domestic violence professionals, therapists,
child protective and court personnel, battered mothers, and anyone
else who is in a personal or professional position to touch the lives
of children of battered women. We believe, for example, that school
personnel, parent trainers, custody evaluators, and providers of super­
vised visitation can all draw from what we have written. It is our hope
that the insights that we have shared here, combined with our detailed
practice recommendations, can increase the effectiveness of interven­
tions on behalf of the children of battered women.
Although we have referred extensively to published research,
this book is grounded largely in our extensive experience working
directly with men who batter and their families. As group leaders in
programs for abusers, we have counseled over 1,000 battering men
and have been involved in approximately an additional 1,000 cases



through supervising other batterer intervention counselors. Our cli­
ents have covered a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and racial
groups, including men from over 20 different countries of origin. Our
clients have included a few hundred voluntary participants, with the
remainder court mandated; voluntary clients have tended to be middle
to upper-middle class, whereas court-mandated clients have come
from across the class spectrum, depending on the community in which
a particular court is located. We have also offered a large number of
case consultations to child protective workers and attorneys. In addi­
tion, Bancroft has performed approximately 50 custody evaluations
for various Massachusetts courts, with most of those cases involving
allegations of domestic violence. We also have legal case experience
from other states and provinces as a result of our consulting work.
Silverman has produced a large body of new research since our first
edition, and you will see numerous references to that work in the pages
We acknowledge that the clinical experience upon which we have
based many of our conclusions, although extensive, has been restricted
to a few geographical sites. Our work in batterer intervention pro­
grams also involves a preponderance of court-mandated clients; at the
same time, our custody evaluations and research interviews largely
have involved cases without such criminal proceedings. We wish to
emphasize the need for further research to test and deepen the analy­
ses and recommendations that we have put forth in this book and to
expand their applicability to diverse racial, cultural, and socioeco­
nomic groups. We also look forward to refinement by other profession­
als of the tools we are proposing for distinguishing the level of risk that
a particular batterer presents to children's well-being. Finally, we wish
to underline the fact that the parenting behavior of batterers appears to
fall on a continuum, as we strive to make clear in the pages ahead, and
that batterers do not all manifest the full range of parenting problems
that we describe here.
We wish to make two notes regarding terminology. First, through­
out this book, we have chosen to use the term batterers rather than the
phrase men who batter. We understand that the former term runs the
risk of creating the impression that battering behavior is unchangeable
or inherent, which is not our belief; rather, we employ the term for a
different reason, one having to do with gender inclusivity. We believe
that the research and clinical evidence available to date on lesbian and



gay male batterers suggest that the preponderance of our descriptions
of battering men may also be substantially accurate for those who
abuse same-sex partners. We therefore have chosen to use the more
inclusive phrase.
Second, we have tried to adopt the most widely used legal terms
possible, but some definitions are necessary here because terminology
and court structure vary from state to state. We have used family court
to mean any court handling custody, visitation, and child support. We
find that, in many states, these courts are distinct from those having
jurisdiction over child protective matters, which are commonly called
juvenile or dependency courts. The terms custody evaluator and guardian
ad litem refer to anyone appointed by a court to make recommenda­
tions regarding custody or visitation; we find that, in most states, this
role tends to be filled by a lawyer or mental health professional.
Finally, we wish to thank a number of people for their contribu­
tions, intended or otherwise, to this book. We are grateful to our
editors at SAGE, Jeff Edleson and Claire Renzetti; David Adams, Susan
Cayouette, Chuck Turner, and Ted German, all currently or formerly
of Emerge, the original batterer intervention program in the United
States; Anita Raj; Lonna Davis; Kim Slote and Carrie Cuthbert; Michelle
Lambert and Doug Gaudette; Joan Zorza; Mo Therese Hannah; Barry
Goldstein; Carlene Pavlos; and Steve Holmes. We wish also to thank
the Ford Foundation for its funding of research on custody and visita­
tion litigation in the context of domestic violence, research upon which
we have drawn in this book. We appreciate the comments provided
to us from the following reviewers: Angella Lewellyn Jones, Elon
University; Jennifer Kukis, Lorain County Community College; Philip
M. Stahl; and Amy Chanmugam, University of Texas, Austin. Finally,
our thanks to Peter Jaffe for his encouragement regarding early drafts
of articles that became chapters in this book and for generously agree­
ing to contribute a Foreword. Lundy Bancroft wishes to thank Carole
Sousa, who was the pioneer in educating him on the effects of domestic
violence on children.


The Battering




ver the past 10 years, the traumatic effects on children of exposure
to batterers have increasingly entered the public and profes­
sional eye. In the United States, 10% or more of women in relationships
experience violence each year (Duffy, McGrath, Becker, & Linakis,
1999; M. Straus & Gelles, 1990), and a high percentage of these assaults
are witnessed by one or more children, leading to an estimated 7 mil­
lion or more children being exposed to acts of domestic violence per
year (McDonald, Jouriles, Ramisetty-Mikler, Caetano, & Green, 2006;
review in Fantuzzo & Möhr, 1999). Domestic violence is perpetrated
at higher rates toward mothers than toward women who do not have
children (Denham et al., 2007; McDonald et al., 2006). A study of police
arrests in Connecticut over a 12-month period found that children
were recorded as present 4 3 % of the time (Connecticut Department
of Public Safety, cited in Berkman, Casey, Berkowitz, & Morans, 2004).
Children of battered women have been found to be at increased risk
for a broad range of emotional and behavioral difficulties, including
suicidality, substance abuse, depression, developmental delays, educa­
tional and attention problems, and involvement in violence (Gleason,


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