Family Abuse Issues and the Issue of
The questions must be asked : Why connect abuse and support issues?
The short answer is that they are connected in the eyes of those involved. The long answers are as
follows: Those abused may say that support should be compensation for abuse, although this is not
the intent of it. In fact, one woman at the Peterborough conference on Family Abuse, 1996, stated
that her lawyer advised her to provoke her husband to hit her so that "you could take him for
Thus these issues are connected as a tactic in the eyes of lawyers and judges. Provincial
government laws on abuse such as Saskatchewan's Bill on Family Violence, which, on accusation,
removes one parent from the life of the child, denying him a fair chance to be considered as
"primary parent", before any charges or convictions. These laws are often used as a pre-emptive
strike in divorce since they define even omissions or unwanted language or "damage to property" as
Divorce problems cannot be solved without considering all aspects of the issue: Custody, Access,
Support, Poverty, Abuse, Disadvantage and Cost to Society.
Abuse and Family Model:
- Overwhelming evidence shows that, statistically, the least amount of abuse occurs in the two
parent family model, so that, in children's best interest, it should be preferred over the lone
parent model. Note: C-41 is based on a lone parent approach.
- Extended family vs. nuclear family: the more isolated a child is from extended family and
grand-parents, the greater the risk of abuse. Extended family provides a no-cost monitoring
and training system, particularly for younger parents. Grand-parents groups report a number
of cases of their members reporting their own daughters were abusing their grand-children.
(e.g. GRAND Society) The Children's Aid Society took the children and put them up for
adoption, severing contact with the grand-parents. Thus the children lose both parents and
extended family. This can appear to these grand-parents as a form of revenge or
- Evidence shows that single fathers are less abusive than single mothers: A Danish Study, yet
judges appear to be biased against the less abusive parent.
- The No Parent Model: e.g. orphanages, Alfred, Mt. Cashel, Native Residential Schools.
These organizations attract pedophiles, authoritarian bullies or biased ideologues. Do we
have any assurance that the Native Residential School problem is not being repeated in
battered women's shelters? See the Ontario Auditor General's evaluations of such shelters
for widespread evidence of abuse, sexual "recruiting" and violence.
Types of Abuse:
- Physical: Senator Anne Cools has presented the Senate with considerable evidence that
mothers are at least as physically abusive as fathers and less likely to be punished for it.
- Sexual: research sponsored by the government assumes that the perpetrator is the father:
Mothers may be just as abusive, but their sexual abuse takes a more subtle, possibly more
See Mothers and Sons: Incest Boundary Abuses may be the Norm, by Dr. Gerhard
Amendt, Everyman, pg 16, Nov 1996 . (From a speech at the Eighth Annual Conference of
the Men's Studies Association in Portland, Oregon.)
- Neglect: according to statistics tabled in the Senate, 85% of neglect is done by mothers,
particularly in absence of the father.
- Psychological Abuse: Women can be just as effective as men, perhaps more so, in verbal,
psychological and emotional abuse. They usually have more opportunity, and appear to
target boys more. Perhaps the much higher rate of male youth suicide (4-5 times higher),
greater school drop out rate (about twice as high for boys than girls in Quebec), and greater
delinquency rates for boys are a consequence of extensive psychological abuse in families,
since these are particularly evident in fatherless families.
(See Absent Fathers, Lost Sons, by Guy Cornea)
- False accusations in divorce proceeding are psychological abuse:
The Solution: support Bill S-4
Parental Alienation: see Pamela Stewart-Mills, Sherbrooke, Quebec. This is another form of
abuse which involves teaching a child to hate the parent. The lone parent model often
encourages and enables this abuse.
- Spousal Abuse: according to Dr. Murray Strauss, U of New Hampshire, all studies of both
genders show that husbands and wives are approximately equally abusive.
A study by Dr. Eugene Lupri, University of Calgary, shows that women are twice as likely to
use weapons and are more abusive at other violence levels.
A study by Reena Sommers, University of Winnipeg, shows that while men's spousal
violence is dropping, women's violence against men is rising.
It is sometimes argued that child support is needed to free women and children from violence,
assuming that the source of violence is primarily the father and husband. Recent studies show that:
- Child abuse and neglect is greater in families in the absence of the natural father
- Broken families are at greater risks of inter-adult or "spousal" violence.
- A U.S. study of 2.3 million cases of family violence showed that only 4% occurred in intact,
married families. 96% of abuse is in lone parent, separated, divorced or unmarried couples.
76 to 94% of spousal abuse occurs outside of marriage. Why? Lack of commitment to a
relationship, youth, inexperience, lack of family values. Replaying abusive scripts learned
when young, Connecting abuse to caring or love.
The family violence problem is made worse by family separation, not better.
- In most cases, removal of the father from the family and husband from the marriage increases
both the risk to children and risk to ex-husband and ex-wife.
- Single mothers are under greater stress, have less time for parenting, thus more likely
to resort to violence against children.
- Lack of a second parent to monitor and ensure non-violent behaviour.
- Second partners present a greater danger to the children than bio-dads.
- Stress of adversarial sole custody divorce often produces disturbed kids with a rage
against society because the loss of the parent that they have suffered.
MONEY AND CHILD SUPPORT CAN DEAL WITH NONE OF THE ABOVE FACTORS.
QUALITY FATHERING AND SHARED PARENTING CAN.
A SOCIETAL COMMITMENT TO MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
CAN DEAL WITH SPOUSAL ABUSE MORE EFFECTIVELY
THAN MAKING DIVORCE INTO A CASH CROP
- Arbitration if divorce cannot be prevented.
- Mandatory education of divorcing parents to minimize the danger of parental alienation.
- Removing government subsidies to organizations which encourage separation, organizations
which have a vested interest in separation.
- Change tax structure so that intact families and shared parenting arrangements are financially
- Treat access denial as a hate crime: Violations of a court access order is a crime, so if it is
done because of hatred of the father (typically) because of his gender, the perpetrator should
be punished harsher than violations of court orders for other reasons.
- Treat access denial as child abuse: Children are hurt and disadvantaged by loss of a parent.
When this is done deliberately, out of spite or revenge, children are being abused. Access
denial is child abuse.
- Government must accept responsibility for its actions: When courts and police fail or neglect
to enforce court ordered access, this is child abuse and neglect which bears the stamp of
- Family separation should become a non-adversarial system, as far as possible, with the
current adversarial, lawyer-based system only as a last resort, with couples fully warned of
Report prepared by
Single Fathers' Network and FatherCraft Canada,
73 Eccles Street, Ottawa K1R 6S5
Tel: (613) 238-3208 Fax: (613)238-3491