Please help us flood the CA Assembly with calls ASAP. Piqui's Law (SB 616) is headed to the Assembly Floor for a vote this week.
Total time needed: 4 minutes or less
1. Find your Assembly Member: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
2. Assembly Member contact information: https://www.assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers
3. Call and read this Assembly Floor Vote Script:
Hello, my name is _____________. I am from _____________, CA (if you are affiliated with a child abuse or domestic violence related organization, add the name of your organization). I strongly urge Assembly Member _________ to stand behind Senate Bill (SB) 616, a bipartisan bill, known as Piqui’s Law.
Piqui’s law, introduced by Senator Rubio, is an important legislative intervention that will help prevent tragic outcomes for children like Piqui who despite the evidence and warnings presented, was brutally murdered in 2017. Ana Estevez pleaded to a family court judge for protection for her son and herself. Her pleas were denied. Piqui was forced into court-ordered visitation with his dangerous father who suffocated him to death.
This is not an isolated case, recently three additional children were murdered in Sacramento during a supervised visitation with a dangerous parent. Their father shot them and the visitation monitor. In California, since 2008, at least 84 children have been reported as being murdered by divorcing and separating parents or parental figures.
Piqui's Law will help protect victims and their children by ensuring that judges receive critical training on topics such as child abuse, child sexual abuse, trauma, and domestic violence. These are Issues that family law judges & commissioners rule on every single day. The law will also put common-sense safeguards in place that could save the lives of many children.
Every day in California, children are being forced into unsafe relationships with dangerous parents. This needs to STOP and this law will help do it. I am requesting that Assembly Member_______________ vote AYE for Piqui's Law (SB616) on the Assembly Floor.
Here is Senator Susan Rubio's link for the Fact Sheet and additional info on the bill: https://sd22.senate.ca.gov/domestic-violence
Coercive Control “includes psychological abuse such as manipulation, intimidation, gaslighting, and isolation — and perpetrators use these tactics continuously. Victims of coercive control are therefore being constantly abused, even if there has not been an incident of physical violence for months, or ever.” (Katz, 2022). Coercive control may include financial abuse and Legal Abuse/Vexatious Litigation which is when oftentimes the court system (and supporting systems) becomes an empowering arm of coercive control.
As stated by Dr. Christine Marie Cocchiola, Coercive controllers very often seek out weapons to retain or regain their control. A choice weapon is the very systems intended to protect victims and survivors, such as the criminal justice and judicial system. The coercive controller weaponizes these systems to further inflict harm on his target. All too often, the systems themselves are complicit in this abuse, simply due to the patriarchal ideology in place. Systemic coercive control can be the most traumatic experience for individuals who have experienced abuse. When abusers use the system, with false accusations or to further inflict financial or legal abuse, victims trapped in this cycle of abuse, have no escape.
Child Protective Services (CPS) is one such system, intended to protect children from abuse and neglect, is weaponized to further traumatize victims. Very often, coercive controllers will manufacture false allegations against a protective parent/coercive control victim simply for revenge. Revenge. It becomes the final weapon used by all coercive controllers. — ‘If I cannot control you, then I will use the systems intended to protect you, to control you.’”
If you are experiencing Domestic Violence, please contact the Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7: Text “START” to 88788 | 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
If you are an attorney, legal professional, lawmaker, therapist, social worker, or concerned citizen interested in training on Coercive Control and the textbook tactics of perpetrators that extract vital resources from our communities (including from children) for their own personal power, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many abusers misuse the court system to maintain power and control over their former or current partners, a method sometimes called “vexatious” or “abusive” litigation, also known as “paper” or “separation” abuse, or “stalking by way of the courts.” Perpetrators file frivolous lawsuits—sometimes even from prison—to keep their victims coming back to court to face them. After a breakup, the courts are often the only tool left for abusers seeking to maintain a hold over their victims’ lives. The process costs money and time, and can further traumatize victims of intimate-partner violence, even after they have managed to leave the relationship.
Over One Hundred Mothers denounce the United States of America before the United Nations, for Human Rights Violations
PRESS RELEASE. FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION.
Los Angeles, Friday, August 13, 2021.
THE MOVEMENT OF MOTHERS
Over One Hundred Mothers denounce the United States of America before the United Nations, for Human Rights Violations.
Friday, August 13, 2021, Los Angeles, California — On Sunday, August 1, 2021, over one hundred mothers submitted a formal Complaint to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women denouncing the United States Government, and the states within, for systematic human rights violations waged against women and children throughout the family court systems in the country. The Complaint was submitted by advocacy groups One Mom’s Battle and Custody Peace with over one hundred women throughout the United States joining in the Complaint.
The Complaint alleges human rights violations that include systemic gender bias, discrimination on the basis of sex, and facilitation of physical, sexual, financial, legal and emotional abuse of women and children. Through personal letters submitted with the Complaint, these brave women provided firsthand accounts of their experience suffering injustices and human rights violations in family court.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual program of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.
Devin McRae, Lisa Boswell and Rebecca Claudat of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP, who are representing Renée Izambard in a groundbreaking civil domestic violence lawsuit which includes allegations of coercive control under California’s newly amended Family code § 6320, assisted the group of women with their submission to the UN.
The Claim submitted to the UN documents disturbing trends throughout family courts in the U.S. including a failure to recognize coercive control tactics as domestic violence warranting court intervention, the tendency of judges to discredit mothers’ child abuse allegations particularly when the father alleges parental alienation as a counterclaim, the weaponization of the family court system itself by an abuser as a means to harass and control a domestic violence victim, punishment of women who raise child safety and abuse concerns by stripping them of custody rights, and judges’ bias towards and unfavorable treatment of women who resist shared parenting with an ex-intimate partner who abused them and/or their child, often leading to a dismissal of these women as simply angry, emotional or crazy.
In their Claim, the women highlight the need for court reforms including that coercive control be recognized in all family courts as domestic violence warranting court intervention, that domestic abuse and coercive control be considered in all divorce and custody cases, for priority and early evidentiary hearings on determinations of abuse as a threshold matter, prohibition of admissibility of parental alienation claims in custody or visitation proceedings, and mandated education of judges, attorneys and all court-related/appointed professionals on domestic violence, child abuse and common mental health issues plaguing the family court system.
The complainants’ accounts to the UN included the following pleas (*the names of the complainants are omitted here for their protection):
“When I entered into the family law court system, l thought that once the judge and officials saw the patterns of abuse, they would do everything they could to protect my children and l. Instead, the courts have supported the on-going abuse of us post-separation. The lack of understanding and training about coercive control has been shocking. It’s been frightening, terrorizing, and traumatizing.”
“I have been threatened -- maybe a better word to choose is strongly warned -- by multiple attorneys that if I speak my truth, it will not go over well in family law court.”
“If I had known my ex would get any significant form of custody, I would never have left him. I would have stayed in that miserable, abusive situation so that I could be there for my kids 24/7 and do my best to keep them safe.”
“My ex was allowed to file as much as he wanted against me. It did not seem to matter that his claims were frivolous; if I did not show up and defend, then I would lose. The domestic violence advocate told me this was court system abuse.”
“If I ‘react’ further then I risk being labeled an alienator. I risk being held in contempt of court. I risk losing custodial rights to my child. Yet if something ever happened to us, people would ask why I didn’t do more.”
Full length letters are available upon media request.
The lifelong impact of such trauma has been proven through scientific studies and is corroborated by numerous noteworthy scholars. In the late 1990s, Kaiser Permanente, with the CDC, conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. For the first time, ACEs were correlated to addiction, disease, mental health issues and other adverse life-experiences. Kevin Chroman, Esq, Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, attorney and author of Making The Case for ACEs (How the Legal System Can Further Help Children and Take Meaningful Steps to Address ACEs) said: “The Family Court system is often the family’s first entry point in its call for help, and the time has come for us to have a comprehensive, evidence-based, response to our childrens’ needs. We should consider implementing ACE-based policies and programs as if our children’s lives depend on it because, as we now know, they do.”
Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq, Professor of Clinical Law and Director, National Family Violence Law Center at George Washington University Law School said, “Our research confirms that overall the courts reject mothers’ abuse claims the majority of the time. Widespread complaints from protective parents (mostly mothers) have been that their reports of family abuse, especially child sexual abuse, are not only ignored and rejected, but often trigger punitive responses, including custody reversals, granting custody to the alleged abusive fathers. Our data confirms this, and also show that when there are cross-claims of parental alienation, approximately one in two mothers loses custody of their children to the alleged abuser.”
A groundbreaking research study into high-conflict personalities in divorce proceedings led by Santa Clara University School of Law (Confronting the Challenge of High-Conflict Personality in Family Court) Professor Michelle Oberman with Bay Area attorney Esther Rosenfeld revealed interesting findings. According to Ms. Rosenfeld, “Our study indicates there is a measurable problem within family courts wherein some high conflict personalities are able to ‘work the system’ to the detriment of children. Quality education into the nature and effects of these personalities for the judiciary and attorneys alike should be mandated, so that courts are better equipped to spot issues and make appropriate rulings to protect children’s best interest.”
The manipulation of the family court system by abusers to continue to harm and punish their familial victims is a textbook example of coercive control. Professor Evan Stark, the world-renowned expert on coercive control says, “My focus is on what perpetrators do to their partners. But the political significance of coercive control derives from what men prevent women from doing for themselves. The coercive control model defines abuse as a liberty crime and sets the use of violence in the context of the arrogation of women’s rights, the realization of which is critical to overall social and economic development, as well as her ability to fulfill her purposes in the world.”
Dr. Karen Williams, a Consultant Psychiatrist specializing in trauma, who recently presented to the NSW Select Committee into Coercive Control in Australia, states, “Clinically, what we see in survivors of coercive control are symptoms identical to that of first responders or defense personnel with PTSD, except these women never get to leave the war zone.”
Williams continues, “It is a myth that an abuser can be a good or even average father whilst abusing the mother of the children. Abusive partners/husbands are abusive fathers. It is really that simple. Children rely on their parents for a sense of safety, when that safety is compromised - when a father attacks the person who is protecting them, whether it’s physically, emotionally or financially, then inevitably the child will lose that sense of security. Just like being in a boat, which has a hole in it, the child realizes that they are no longer safe if the mother is not safe. This is not just intuitive, this has been backed up by the evidence over and over again. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) lists family violence, witnessing family violence as traumatic experiences. Children who have witnessed abuse experience higher levels of learning disorders, mental illness, obesity, substance abuse, as well as higher levels of criminal behavior themselves and lifelong history of disadvantage. The fact that this is overlooked by the family law court, time and time again in family courtrooms throughout the globe is one of the greatest examples of government-sanctioned abuse that we are witnessing in our time.”
Tina Swithin of One Mom’s Battle explains that the UN submission is simply the first step. “This is the first step in our advocacy efforts. Over two thousand mothers and allies of all genders have joined our Global Family Court Advocacy Community in just the last two weeks alone. We urge that child safety is made top priority in all custody cases in the U.S. and internationally and hope to raise awareness of coercive control and post-separation abuse,” says Swithin.
For media inquiries, please contact: email@example.com, visit www.custody-peace.org
Learn more, donate to the movement or to join the Global Family Court Advocacy Community at www.custody-peace.org
About One Mom’s Battle: The mission at One Mom’s Battle is to raise awareness and educate family court professionals on post-separation abuse as it relates to co-parenting and the family court system (divorce, paternity and child custody battles). Education on high-conflict individuals and post-separation abuse will allow family court professionals (judges, commissioners, magistrates, CPS workers, guardians ad litem (GAL), parenting coordinators (PC), custody evaluators, therapists and attorneys) to recognize the abusive dynamics that play out in the family court system so they can make decisions that are in the best interest of children. Learn more at www.onemomsbattle.com
About Custody Peace: Through the cultivation of community, awareness building & advocacy Custody Peace is on a mission to ensure child-safety is the top priority in all custody cases and that everyone is free from coercive control and post-separation abuse. Learn more at www.custody-peace.org
Post-Separation Abuse www.postseparationabuse.com
Coercive Control: https://youtu.be/YbZYSBeHuLU & https://youtu.be/UOlO8eTViec
Adverse Childhood Experiences Study: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/about.html
Saunders study: https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/238891.pdf
Meier Study: bit.ly/ChildCustodyOutcomes
Confronting the Challenge of High-Conflict Personality in Family Court (Santa Clara Law Study): https://www.npdandlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Confronting-the-Challenge-of-the-High-Conflict-Personality-in-Family-Court.pdf
"Family law attorneys and judges alike would benefit from thoughtful education aimed at deepening their understanding of personality disorders and learning effective ways to communicate and work with such individuals."
While most divorce cases are settled out-of-court in less than two years, high-conflict cases typically last two to five years and can involve scores of filings, endless delays, tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and a high rate of attorney turnover. Worst of all, children become collateral damage and often wind up developing a wide range of mental-health issues (see ACEs).
This empirical study focuses on family law cases that involve a litigant with a personality disorder and that drag on for years despite reasonable options for resolution. Informed by the relatively sparse literature on high-conflict personalities in the family law system, Professor Oberman and her co-authors interviewed experienced family law practitioners, family law judges, and a seasoned custody evaluator with the goal of increasing knowledge about the harms associated with high-conflict personalities in the family law system, the forces that perpetuate these protracted disputes, and possible means to ameliorate the problem. Professor Oberman and her colleagues report on the major themes that emerged from their interviews with family law experts and propose a series of reforms suggested by these findings.
“The optimal means for resolving these cases lies in recognizing that the high-conflict party is drawn to the conflict, rather than to settlement, and devising effective means of disengaging and de-escalating the dispute.” To that end, “family law attorneys and judges alike would benefit from thoughtful education aimed at deepening their understanding of personality disorders and learning effective ways to communicate and work with such individuals.”
Intimate partner violence against women is an essential factor in the determination of child custody, say women’s rights experts
(May 31, 2019 - www.ohchr.org) The Platform of undersigned United Nations and regional independent mechanisms on violence against women and women’s rights voiced its concern over patterns across various jurisdictions of the world that ignore intimate partner violence against women in determining child custody cases. These patterns reveal underlying discriminatory gender bias and harmful gender stereotypes against women. Ignoring intimate partner violence against women in the determination of child custody can result in serious risks to the children and thus must be considered to ensure and grant their effective protection.
This critical ethnographic study of Family Court child maltreatment proceedings describes and illuminates the ways in which racial, gender and class disadvantages can manifest on the ground as judges, attorneys, social service workers, and parents – joined often by gender but split by race and class – adjudicate cases. The findings suggest that intersectionality worked in ways that exponentially marginalized poor mothers of color in the courtroom, both through the rules of the adversarial process, which silenced their voices and through the construction of narratives which emphasized individual weakness over structural obstacles and personal irresponsibility over expressions of maternal care and concern. Standard due process courtroom practices also communicated bias or social exclusion, especially in a courtroom split by race and class.