Rosie Batty savages family law courts culture

June 16, 2016

rosie batty domestic violenceFrom fearful kids who wet the bed to those left suicidal – these are the consequences of decisions by the Family Law Court.

And it’s an issue that Rosie Batty is now taking up, blasting the court culture and “diabolic” situation which allows abusers access to children.

The domestic violence campaigner has turned her attention to the legal system, saying it’s the leading issue women come to her for help since she lost her son Luke.

The system often failed to recognise the impact of family violence, allowed perpetrators to cross-examine their victims, and left many powerless to protect their kids.

“The problem is not in the Family Law Act – it is in the very culture of the family law system that has the responsibility to apply it,” Ms Batty told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

The former Australian of the Year shared stories of kids forced to spend time with abusive parents, including one who’s started wetting the bed and suffers regular anxiety attacks due to the contact.

Another was left suicidal after spending years fighting court orders to stay with his dad, who was accused of sexual abuse, until he finally gained enough evidence for an apprehended violence order.

“Can you imagine this happening to your child?” Ms Batty said.

The advocate believes it’s not good enough the concerns of abuse survivors are written-off as anxiety or obsession by courts.

She wants a new domestic violence test in cases to determine if it’s appropriate for children to spend time with either parent.

Legislative protections preventing victims from being directly cross-examined by their abuser would also be instituted.

And judges and magistrates would get domestic violence training.

“In a system that depends so heavily on the discretion of individual decision makers, comprehensive training is crucial,” Ms Batty said.To read more click here.

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference; Providing the Skills for Change will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane.

With an improved focus and awareness on the effect of Domestic and Family Violence within Australia, the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association is providing a national unified platform to discuss the strain of Domestic Violence on Australian resources and facilities. Registrations are now open. To register for the Conference CLICK HERE.

With a focus on building skills within the sector, the conference will include discussion and presentations around policy, research and practice with a particular emphasis on innovative and emerging responses.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE.

Comment (1)

  1. Sarah

    Jan 14, 2017

    As I survivor of domestic violence who was in September 2016 in the Federal Circuit court trying to protect my children from ongoing emotional abuse from their father and representing myself, my soul has been destroyed along with my faith in the legal system.

    Whilst being cross examined in the witness stand I was subjected to the Judge asking me, “if you can’t remember the day the incident happened ( 4 years prior) and you can’t remember the job the incident was about, how can you remember how far away from your face your husbands fist was? ”

    I truly couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I will NEVER forget the look of hatred in his eyes, I will NEVER forget looking at his huge fist and thinking if he hits me I may not live to see my kids again, I will NEVER forget my little girl who was beside me calling out stop, and I will NEVER forget the sadness in hearing my little girl say to me each day before school, “I don’t want to go mummy, what if he hurts you when I’m gone”.

    This was all in my affidavit, my ex-husband lied about the incident – stating that he threw a pen at me and shook his fist at me.

    On another occasion I was questioned by his Barrister, “after Mr…. Allegedly picked you up by the throat and your son allegedly witnessed it, did you comfort your son and tell him daddy still loves him, mummy’s OK and daddy didn’t hurt mummy.?

    Again I thought how can I be hearing this and answered, “no I did not, he did hurt me and my son saw it with his own eyes”. This is ridiculous – how are we ever to stop domestic violence if we are to tell our kids that mummies OK and daddy didn’t hurt mummy. My son was 11 when he witnessed it, he relived it when telling the psychologist and nearly passed out, he has trauma as a result and was scared for me everyday as a result. (this was all in my affidavit but my ex-husband again lied and told a different recollection of the event)

    The kids described that dad had done nasty things to mum to the court report writer but they had never been asked what the nasty things were – so it was all alleged. (when I asked for the kids to be interviewed again it was suggested that I could coach them on what to say)

    Along with this the court report writer described that she felt that I fabricated the severity of the abuse. (or words to that effect) (I invited the notion that she spend time living with my ex-husband and then re-address her evaluation – how can anyone make that assumption of anyone’s situation)

    My ex-husband remained calm through the proceeding, (he’s ex army trained in interrogation and keeping calm) and “didn’t remember” many events, I was a mess – I was reliving my nightmares, trying to prove his relentless lies, fighting being seen as an emotional wife who couldn’t get over the separation,(no I was emotional because I had already seen the damage he was doing to the children) and knowing this man’s ability to manipulate every situation – I was panicked, scared, unequipped to represent myself as I had as always had faith that my ex-husband would tell the truth under oath. As he shot down every question I asked him in my cross examination of him with a blatant lie and I reminded him he was under oath, I knew that this was useless – I could ask all the questions I like – it didn’t make a difference – if someone is going to lie so blatantly and straight faced to a Judge and so calmly and I was becoming more and more anxious and panicked by his lies, defeat seemed inevitable. (why did I ever trust that he would finally tell the truth under oath – my whole marriage was a relentless string of lies and manipulation – how could I be so naive????)

    (As victims of Domestic Violence that’s what we do – we convince ourselves that tomorrow will be better, he/she will change, we live in hope. If we fix it enough times all will eventually be OK – but tomorrow’s rainbow never quite makes it) (we become the fixer – fixing at all costs – our sanity, our dignity, our values and in my case – fighting so hard to keep my family unit together that I failed to protect my children from witnessing the things which are now etched in their minds – I struggle daily to live with the knowledge that I failed them)

    After 4 days of a final hearing I was shattered. My heart crushed, my soul destroyed, the most important matter of the children’s safety completely seemingly forgotten and replaced with me being the guilty party in the domestic violence because of the times I dared to stand up for myself, I was so distant and confused I looked unhinged – like a complete unbalanced wreck. I had been successfully BROKEN, and I was fearful for the future for my children.

    Being self represented I had to write my own submission. I tried so hard but with every lie I read – I relived the abuse, with every memory from that court room (the words of the Judge, his barrister, the court report writer and his lies) I was broken further, 64 pages I wrote (most through thick tears) but in the end it was too much, there were too many lies to prove, too much background – I didn’t know how to be heard, how to explain the predominantly passive abuse from the past 24 years which showed his character (what he was capable of, his lack of empathy, his inability to acknowledge his behaviour and how it affected both myself and the children and posed ongoing threat) or how I was going to protect my kids, again negativity from so many directions and no-one willing to piece it all together or acknowledge the continuous string of abuse the kids and I had lived and knew would now be subjected onto my kids as it had in the past in times he had lost control over me – I just didn’t know how to get it into a readable, condensed body of evidence. I crumbled – it was too much, too overwhelming – THEN – it was too late, I missed my cut off time.

    The Judge made her ruling without my submission. My abusive ex-hasband basically got what he asked for. My children go fortnightly – they are now on the cycle of violence. Their emotional safety compromised. I get messages from my daughter mid access saying I can’t stand his behaviour any longer. They were most recently subjected to a barage of verbal abuse – being called”You ignorant pieces of shit”. Yes a perpetrator who is a master at manipulation can sit in front of a Judge and “behave”, and control himself but behind closed doors he will return to his abusive ways. My children have replaced me on the direct cycle of violence, I am not present on access to step in between and protect them as I did in the family home. My job now is to mend them, put back the pieces and use the invisible band-aid to cover the invisible scars which no-one can see. THEY ARE THE VICTIMS OF ONGOING EMOTIONAL ABUSE. (at what cost and WHEN will we witness the full effects??)

    We got lost in a system which puts the fathers rights to see the child before the children’s rights to a safe environment, whether that be emotional, physical, sexual. A meaningful relationship is not one where the children are too scared to speak up to their father of their feelings, therefore spending full weekends trying to navigate ways to pacify his moods to keep safe – yet that is the overriding factor. Children have a right to a meaningful relationship with both parents, yes I agree (MEANINGFUL) To protect our kids we need to redefine MEANINGFUL as exactly that – MEANINGFUL, NOT JUST TRYING TO GET THROUGH THE WEEKEND WITHOUT AN INCIDENT.

    After the holidays my children will on some days be dropped back directly to school. On the times there has been an incident they will have no one to debrief to (like they do when they come directly to me) they will be trying to concentrate on school work and comprehend their fathers behaviour at the same time. I tried to protect them from this by asking for access to be limited to weekends and therefore their exposure to the emotional abuse. I was overridden.

    Our children need to come first. They need emotional security and stability. It’s not enough to say ‘he has not physically hurt them’. The emotional scars can not be seen but they are deep and they ache. Our children deserve to have voices – mine were denied a voice at 10 and 12 yet they had lived this abuse all their lives.

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