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21st Mar


Post-Separation Abuse in Domestic Violence Cases
Out of the frying pan of domestic abuse & into the fires of DV homicide, infanticide, & child sexual abuse


“Why doesn’t she just leave?” is a question that must be countered with this tragic fact: fully 75% of the 3 American women murdered every day by an intimate partner, are killed within hours, days or weeks after attempting to flee their abuser.   A biological father with a documented history of  abuse of his spouse and/or children is apt to win child custody if he fights for it in court. Abuse is, after all, about power and control. The post-separation period is the most potentially deadly time of all for women and children. Abusers who do not resort to murder too often respond by stalking or harassing their ex-wife or girlfriend. Others, with coaching from the “Fathers’ Rights” experts, may use the family court system to re-exert their domination, to bankrupt the mother financially and emotionally, and to regain control over the children.  This was the topic of the January 6th meeting of the Portland Community Partnership of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence, “Women Leaving Abuse: Children at Risk of Abuse and Murder” held at Marylhurst University at our fourth Quarterly Conversation.  Panelists include two protective mothers (Paula Lucas and April Robyn) one remarkable survivor of “court assisted child abuse” (Mandy Hazen, now a Child Protective Services supervisor with a child of her own!) the Rev. Warren Light, Esq, (UMC) and Dr. Jack Straton, Physics Faculty and co-chair of the Child Custody Work Group of NOMAS (the National Organization of Men Against Sexism.)

Renita Robinson

Renita Robinson was a featured faculty member of the 2013 Battered Mothers Custody Conference,held in May at the George Washington University School of Law.  This conference focuses each  year on the plight of “protective mothers” – women who find to their great sorrow that the family court system may in the worst cases enable child abuse and murder.  Renita is available as a  trainer for your community in this long neglected area of abuse prevention.  “Naming the Tactics” is a two-day training about post-separation abuse.  You may register for the Duluth training to be held May 6 & 7, 2014 or you may contact Renita to inquire about bringing the training to your community.

Renita Robinson (Trainer for “Naming the Tactics”)  brings more than 25 years of administrative, advocacy, group facilitation and curriculum development experience to her work as consultant and trainer. In February she finished her tenure as the Project Director of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program’s Duluth Family Visitation Center. She was formerly the Domestic Violence Cultural Liaison and Team Lead for Lincoln, Nebraska’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) funded “Keepers of The Flame Project”.  This project was housed in the Clyde Malone Community Center and was contracted through the Family Violence Council of Nebraska. Renita co-authored a report entitled “What Is It About the Walls?” which focused on the experience of African American women in Lancaster County seeking support services in response to instances of domestic violence, and the implementation of the findings. Specifically, Renita was a key player in the creation and leadership of the Nebraska African American Domestic Violence Advisory Coalition (NAADVAC) and was involved in several OVW, Department of Justice (DOJ) and community funded  projects focused on advocacy and reducing violence against women.

Naming the Tactics:  Duluth’s DAIP Training 

During this two-day event for community advocacy organizations, government agencies, court personnel and judges, attorneys, visitation center staff, and others who work with families split by violence, trainers will use DAIP’s new Post-Separation Power and Control Wheel to help participants understand how men who batter use children to maintain post-separation power and control over women.

The Case of Hera and Prince McLeod

The Washington Post gave extensive coverage to the tragic infanticide by drowning of Prince McLeod.   The young boy’s mother, Hera, had begged in vain for the court in Montgomery County, Maryland to take measures to keep her child safe from her abusive ex. Hera w:tears In such “scandal cases” – judges grant unsupervised visitation or even full custody to abusers, unaware of the fact that they may be putting these children and their mothers at greater risk than ever.   Hera spoke at the October 2nd Congressional Briefing (along with Dr. Joyanna Silberg of Sheppard Pratt Medical Center, an expert in childhood trauma and the broken family court system.)  Hera personifies the triumphant survivor, determined to use her personal tragedy as catalyst for social change.

Hera & Prince

Being informed about the risks to women and their children once those women find the courage to leave is a matter of life and death.  If you know a woman of any age who is thinking of leaving her abuser, it’s important to advise her to seek counsel from her local DV shelter or family justice center concerning safety planning.   Voicing plans to divorce or to separate to an abuser who is making threats or has a history of violence is an invitation to further woes.




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alison white

2014-05-20 13:11:55 Reply

Dear Renita,

Thank you for your brave vigilence and your informative article. I have been enduring a great number of years coping with a cruel, and calculating, abuser, and the resultant compounded abusive situation. My daughter and I have not recovered, and both agree that we feel as though we are being put through hell. The South Australian Court system apeared to be complicit, was unwilling to prevent, or act on preventing further violations to our human rights, alongside special circumstances and chronic financial control abuse. Moreover, failed to stop the disastrous effects of predicted post separation violence that has endured for nearly 10 years now. I had to self-represent in a property matter for over 2 years whilst 650km away from my family, due to costs of lawyers getting involved whilst aiding and abetting violence, hence, I became so distressed, frail, exhausted, and sustained breast cancer when my body’s immune system could no longer cope with compounded-mass-hostility towards my daughter and I, ever since I fled with my daughter. She made explicit disclosure of sexual abuse, whilst a child with known disabilities. All the family members of the abuser were in extreme denial of the disability, and initially tried to have me discredited as a “munchausen” mother for leaving, and then for mandatory reporting in affidavits their hostility, and the undisclosed assaults on us, and for me being a protective and concerned mother under extreme duress, attending to my daughter’s needs, and endevouring to uphold specific recommendations for my daughter’s entire wellbeing.

I was persecuted, subjected to a range of severe and prolonged abuses including put downs, psychological, physical, emotional blackmail, financial violence and fraud. I was isolated, the abuser had made death threats against me and my life, including, that if I ever spoke out about his dishonesty in the business that we had jointly acquired before my daughter was born, or, that, if I ever spoke publicly about his family’s assaults on either my daughter or I during the relationship, what he would do to me. The father’s family are well connected, ie. with friends and family within the local state police force, and one, in particular he threatened to use against me, I had also met, he as a homicide detective, and which my daughter’s father had threatened to use against us. Then, when my daughter made explicit disclosures. The father also told our daughter “what happened was allright because the policeman said so” and she expressed terror and displayed traumatised behaviour, then he included his new partner and her son in the abuses, and that made matters more difficult for us to address. Nowadays, he contacts my daughter more often than ever before, by phone, but we don’t know his whereabouts, but we don’t have any AVO on him because I have been informed that having AVO’s only make matters worse in South Australia.
What can I do about this horrifying dilemna, with all these dynamics?
Could you please suggest a proper safety plan for us, and how we can get local access to those trained in the “Duluth Method” as part of our safety programme for immediate integration within South Australia for the protection of a women and child’s safety whilst in a perilous situation fearful for our own lives, even to impart, or speak of, the serious nature of what has been, and is, occuring within our State?


Alison White


2014-05-27 11:31:58 Reply

This is becoming widely known in law circles and judges just don’t fall fall for the tactics of these men.

Get it documented. Arrest records, arrest records, arrest records. Pictures. Doctors notes. Any admissions.

Those in the legal community (many actually who have just had enough of these sick men) are going to bat.

Those that are in law that stand with the abusers in order to make a buck are undermined by their colleagues and are looked down upon. It is not okay to represent a long-term physical/sexual domestic abuser.

Represent the mom/wife/kids and make history instead, have a great career and track record – not to mention a clear conscience.

Margaret Candler

2014-07-24 20:15:32 Reply

You write about the family court scandal very accurately. I regularly attend the Battered Mothers Custody Conference on behalf of my friend, Elsa Newman. Back in 2001 Elsa, like Hera, was fruitlessly begging Montgomery County Maryland judges to protect her children from their father’s abuse…… Now Elsa has served twelve years of a suspended life sentence for conspiracy to attempt murder. In fact, no one was killed and Maryland’s highest court ruled there was nothing to connect Elsa to the crime without the testimony of her lying divorce lawyer.

In brief, the children’s godmother broke into the father’s house looking for evidence. She carried a gun for her protection. When she found the younger child in bed with his father, she tried to pull them apart. During the struggle the father was shot in the leg. In his 911 call he blamed Elsa. After the father’s attorney and the court appointed children’s attorney went to the police in support of the fathers accusation, Elsa was arrested. Media sensationalized the story all biased in favor of the father. Pretrial publicity doomed Elsa. After the first conviction was reversed, Montgomery County recharged Elsa with no new evidence. What about double jeopardy? I guess it doesn’t matter for mothers.

Innocent and twelve plus years. Please read and sign the linked petition. Stay with the process till you press SIGN twice:


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