Video: Response – Allegations of Domestic Abuse in Child Contact Cases

Video:

Script:

Last week, Women’s Aid and CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) released their joint report ‘Allegations of Domestic Abuse in Child Contact Cases’. Anyone with any knowledge or history of involvement with either of these two organisations will instantly recognise this as a terrible decision.

For those who do not understand why this is a terrible decision, allow me to link to another report published by Women’s Aid, their ‘Child First: 19 Child Homicides’ report which attempted to argue that any man who is even accused of domestic abuse is instantly a threat to the life of the child. The paper can be summated with the statement: if we say a man is an abuser, he wants to murder his children. It has since been thoroughly refuted by the ‘330 Child Homicides’ report.

Their most recent report is sinister for two invidious reasons:

  1. Their promulgation of the “men are abusers, women are abused” narrative, which they will try to use to influence Government.
  2. They have been supported by CAFCASS who, as they are state funded, are supposed to remain politically neutral.

Their most publicised finding is that 62% of applications to the family court about where a child should live or spend time feature allegations of domestic abuse. Katie Ghose, the newest Chief Executive (who has only been on the job for about two weeks), has used this statistic to say “there should be no assumption of child contact for perpetrators of domestic abuse” because, obviously, an allegation is evidence enough. She also remarks “in 44% of contact applications where domestic abuse was alleged, contact was ordered at the first hearing”, without either considering the validity of the allegation or addressing the idea that perhaps allegations are made by the parent-with-child to prevent contact with the non-resident parent.

Whilst this report may suggest there is a pandemic of a problem within the Family Courts, what with this deluge of allegations of domestic abuse, “[T]he purpose of the study was to look at the types of allegations present in family law court proceedings, including safeguarding concerns other than domestic abuse, and what happened within the proceedings. It did not seek to make findings on the allegations”.

Yes.

You read that right.

They outright state they did not bother to investigate if these allegations were truthful or not. Heck, it’s not like anyone would ever want to maliciously present false allegations of domestic abuse against their ex-partner!?

Not only did they fail to investigate the validity of the allegations, they also allowed prevalence rates of abuse to be inflated through flimsy research practices. The survey considered three categories of domestic abuse – physical abuse, sexual abuse and coercive control. The categories are not mutually exclusive and data was collected from the following sources:

  • Allegations made by a parent (majority of allegations, 48.9%)
  • Local authority information
  • Police information – this included records from the Police National Computer (convictions, cautions, reprimands, final warnings), and locally held police information (police call outs)
  • Medical evidence (whilst included, no allegations were made using Medical Evidence)
  • Exemption from a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
  • Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme (DVPP) referral (five allegations total)
  • Finding of fact hearing ordered by the court (five allegations total)
  • Domestic abuse related order (for example a non-molestation order)

Data were collected on each record of domestic abuse present in the case file. This was collected separately for all three categories of abuse (physical, sexual, and coercive control), against the source of the record (such as police or local authority information).

Let’s say a person makes an allegation such as sexual assault under threat of repercussion, this would satisfy all three initial categories. Let’s then hypothesise that the victim goes to their GP or a hospital, is then referred to a refuge and then the police are notified (who can themselves record it on multiple levels). Maybe the local authorities are informed as well. This single incident has now been reported numerous times and would thus count as multiple allegations according to the report, inflating the final number of allegations (in cases that featured allegations, the mean average was 3.3 allegations per case). Staggering.

This, however, does not impact their worrying finding that 62% of cases feature an allegation of domestic abuse (their finding of 62% is over ten times the size of the UK estimated domestic abuse prevalence rate of 6%). The fact that multiple allegations can be made per incident means the total number of allegations is inflated but, this does not explain why so many cases feature allegations. Either we are to believe that couples who require the family courts are also families who are at risk of (or are more likely to have a history of) domestic abuse or, the family courts elicit allegations of domestic abuse. I leave that dilemma to our audience.

They also fail to note why the gender imbalance in domestic abuse allegations does not match real life statistics. One in three victims of domestic abuse are men yet, the statistics found in the report do not match this. No explanation for this discrepancy is given.

I have a sneaky suspicion this discrepancy will be seen for all forms of allegations, not that I’m doubtful of this report!

Total allegations:

DA + other allegations:                  588

DA, no other allegations:              16

No DA + other allegations:           75

No DA + no other allegations:     0

Total:                                                     679

If we are to include other allegations, we find a mean average of 5.1 allegations per case that features allegations.

Figures come from these tables:

DA + other allegations.jpg

other allegations no DA.png

I also then include the 3 allegations against mothers and 13 allegations against fathers from DA + no other allegations found on page 14.

This totals up to give us this table:

DA + other allegations excel image.png

Now, I wonder, do these here statistics reflect reality?

For these upcoming reflections, I have tried to use official Government statistics where possible. When I say ONS without specifically mentioning the survey itself, the link for the survey can be found in my script for this video. So, let’s get started!

Domestic Abuse:

As mentioned earlier, around one in three victims are male.

ons DA.png

The WA survey implies fathers (men) are victims 24% of the time whereas mothers (women) are victims 76% of the time (when DA is committed). The ONS says men are victims about 36% of the time whereas women are victims 64% of the time (when DA is committed). There is a noticeable difference.

Parental Substance Abuse:

According to the ONS (see Appendix 3.02 in this report [direct link here, may not work on all systems]), in the year of 2016/17, 5.5% of women and 11.5% of men reported using drugs (of all drug users, 32% and 68% respectively – assuming a 50/50 split of two genders in population). The representation in the WA study is near enough accurate (33% and 67%, respectively).

Parental Mental Health:

According to the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014, women are 1.57 times more likely than men to suffer from a Common Mental Disorder (CMD – anxiety, depression, etc). 21.4% of women and 13.6% of men met the criteria such that primary care recognition is warranted – of all who met the criteria, 61% and 39% respectively, WA found 51% and 49%. There is a noticeable difference.

Child Abuse – emotional:

I have used the data presented by ONS and instead of using the term “emotional” they use “psychological”. I shall work with the assumption that WA would agree with the ONS definition for “psychological” abuse to match their definition of “emotional”.

abuse and relationship of child to perpetrator.png

Of all psychological abuse, Mothers were perpetrators 40% of the time whereas Fathers were 35% of the time (reducing stats to parents, stats are 53% and 47% respectively). WA found 42% and 58% respectively.

History of violence other than abuse:

I have assessed the Nature of Crime Tables, Violence from the ONS, Appendix 3.1 and I’ve taken the Mean Average for non-domestic (Acquaintance and Stranger) violence in England and Wales for year ending March 2016 – that is the most recent data currently available – correct at time of writing. We find (for perpetrators):

                                ONS       WA

Male:                    77%        70%

Female:               16%        30%

Both:                     07%        n/a

There is, again, a notable difference here (influenced however, by the ‘Both’ category used by the ONS).

Child Abuse – Physical:

Using the same table from a moment ago:

abuse and relationship of child to perpetrator.png

When it comes to Physical Abuse, Mothers perpetrate 29% and Fathers perpetrate 39%. Of total Physical Abuse perpetrated by Parents, the results are 43% and 57% respectively. WA returned figures of 34% and 66% respectively. There is a noticeable difference.

Child Abuse – Neglect:

Statistics to show which parent, mother or father, is perpetrating neglect and to what end, seem to not exist in any substantial quantity. Take this study by the NSPCC:

child abuse and neglect in the uk today.png

Which liked to boldly state that 93.8% of domestic abuse is perpetrated by men (how the fuck did they expect that to be considered valid? [also, they did not give adequate explanation for how they arrived at that statistic) yet … couldn’t tell us who’s perpetrating neglect: mother or father. What was the name of the study again?

I did, however, find a 2005 study from America, so data has passed its sell-by-date (and it is American) but, trying to find statistics on parents who perpetrate neglect is bizarrely difficult.

male perpetrators of child maltreatment.png

If we extrapolate the data found in Figure 6, seen here:

figure 6 maltreatment.png

…we find 32,050 male perpetrators and 68,173 female perpetrators of “Neglect or Medical Neglect Only” – 32% and 68% of all neglect, respectively. WA found 49% and 51%, respectively. I remind readers the statistics I have used for this element are out of date.

Highly Conflicted Parents:

A definition is not given here for what “Highly Conflicted Parents” means. I assume it means parents who probably don’t enjoy being in the same room together, to put it lightly. As this could be quite a broad topic and, as I doubt I can find any legitimate statistics on couples who argue, I have ignored it.

Implacable Hostility:

Better known as Parental Alienation, which CAFCASS has finally recognised, it is defined by unjustified or unwarranted rejection of a parent where there was previously a normal range, loving, good enough relationship. It features intentional or unintentional actions by a parent (usually PWC) to turn their child against the other parent (usually NRP).

parental alienation study 1.png

This study found that in randomly selected population of adults in USA (N=610), 13.4% of parents have been alienated from one or more of their children; much higher than previous estimates. Findings show evidence of parental alienation across all socio-economic and demographic indicators.

17% of fathers reported PA compared to 11% of mothers – of all parents perpetrating PA, 55% were fathers and 45% were mothers (WA’s figures suggest 19% and 81% respectively).

Child Abduction:

Now, being the sort that I am, I would personally prefer to factor in the statistics found in Implacable Hostility because I am of the firm belief that any child whomst has been Parentally Alienated only first became such having been prior abducted by the Parent with Child. I am also of the firm belief that any parent whomst denies access to the Non-Resident Parent is, during time of denial of access, performing the act of Child Abduction. That being said, I will only be using “official figures” to compare against. Alas, “official figures” are a bit … lacking.

One of the *ahem* best resources I could find was the “Taken” report by Action Against Abduction:

taken header.png

Without getting too much into the different forms of child abduction (International Parental Child Abduction, Parental Abduction from Care, Domestic Disputes, etc), the report highlights how ascertaining valid statistics on Child Abduction is … tough.

To give information on the three forms of Child Abduction I just mentioned:

International Parental Child Abduction:

Children were abducted overseas by their mother in 31 cases and by their father in 18 cases. In 17 cases (involving 20 children) it was not clear whether the mother or father had abducted the children from the information provided.

Parental Abduction from Care:

Mothers abducted their children in four cases, fathers in two cases, and in five cases children were abducted by both parents.

Domestic Disputes:

In 10 cases, involving 11 children, the victim(s) was taken from their mother, or held against their will, as a result of a ‘domestic’25 dispute. In three cases the offender was the children’s father. The remaining offences were committed by the mother’s ex-partner (n =6) or current partner (n =1).

The report also says:

Lowe (2011) reports that the vast majority of parental abductors (70 per cent globally) are mothers. In the UK, 40 per cent of abductors are the primary carer, 30 per cent the joint primary carer and 30 per cent the non-primary carer of the abducted child(ren) (Lowe, 2008). Primary or joint primary carer mothers account for two-thirds of all abductors (ibid.) The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2011b) report that many abductions occur during school holidays when a child is not returned following a visit to the parent’s home country (so-called ‘wrongful retentions’).

Assuming the 70% statistic to be true, we can compare it with what WA found: 38% of allegations were against mothers and 63% were against fathers (I fucking love rounded figures). WA found the inverse of Taken.

Child Abuse – Sexual:

According to the ONS “Abuse during childhood: Findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2016” article, perpetrators of child sex abuse are most likely to be a friend or acquaintance (30%) or other family member (26%). For other types of sexual assault, the perpetrator was most likely to be a stranger (42%).

Breaking down the statistics we find:

survivor-perpetrator relationship CSA.png

(This table does not feature in the video because I am an amateur and failed to include it. I will happily take mockery in the comments section below.)

 

If we take the average for both Mother and Father of the two categories, we find Mothers perpetrated 1% and Fathers perpetrated 5.5% of all CSA. Of parents who committed CSA, mothers committed 15% and fathers committed 85%. This closely matches the statistics found by WA.

Child Exploitation:

For this element I looked to what they asked for in the study, they were looking for “radicalisation, CSE, trafficking and FGM”. I got to say, I’m a little pissed MGM is not included but, this is Women’s Aid, they don’t give a shit.

As radicalisation, CSE, trafficking, and GM are considerably varied topics that will elicit very different statistics, it will be improper to compare them to WA’s stats. This section is intentionally left blank. Also, there were only three allegations, so it’s pretty much pointless.

Parental Learning Difficulties:

As this is such a broad topic and there was only one allegation each way, I have opted to leave this section out.

Total:

I have compiled my statistics into the original table and have colour coded them for accuracy. Statistics that were three percentage points within “official stats” are marked green. Stats between four and ten are amber. Those that are eleven percentage points or more out are marked as red. This is in both directions so double it to get the catchment window. Those that have no stats are unmarked.

DA + other allegations + WA excel full image - 10.png

Women’s Aid, on the stats where I have figures for, were correct within ten percentage points on 5 out of 10 categories. That’s 50%. Well done, Women’s Aid, you haven’t failed this module.

Although, it does MASSIVELY throw into doubt your general theme of “men who are alleged to have perpetrated domestic abuse are a threat”. Especially, as most of your stats are *ahem* off the mark.

For that table, I was lenient and used a ten percentage point leeway both ways (20 percentage points in total). Let’s review the table again but with that margin of error halved to five percentage points each way (10 percentage point catchment window).

DA + other allegations + WA excel full image - 05.png

 

Look at that! 80% failure rate! Wow!

Let’s analyse another one of their statistics in a little more detail. On page eight they say “When post-separation abuse was alleged, this was sometimes ‘new’ (that is, no abuse was alleged prior to the separation) or sometimes a continuation of the abuse that had taken place before the separation. In our discussions, Women’s Aid highlighted their experience, backed up by their Femicide Census report, of the post-separation period being a dangerous time for victims.” Now this little titbit is delicious, let’s unpack this.

First, the Femicide Report statesthe post-separation period being a dangerous time for victims”. How dangerous, you might ask!?

femicide report findings.png

 

So, 76% of 598 women killed by a former/current partner over a 6 year period were murdered in the first year. Bust the maths [(0.76 * 598) / 6] and we get approximately 76 women a year – 1 every 115 hours (~5 days).

Let’s re-read that quote from the original report: “the post-separation period being a dangerous time for victims

76 women a year die at the hands of a male former/current partner less than one year after splitting from him.

How many break-ups are happening? According to the ONS, there were 101,055 divorces of opposite sex couples in 2015 (so just divorces, not including break-ups where they were just dating, so the final rate we will arrive at will be too great), this gives us a total of 101,055 women. 76 out of those 101,055 will be murdered by a current/former partner in the first year of break-up, giving us a death rate of 0.075%. I wish to state again, that’s only for married women who are divorcing, does not also include non-marital break-ups.

You are more likely to die from an avoidable neoplasm than you are to die from a former/current partner in the first year following break-up. In fact, you are over two times more likely to die from Ischaemic Heart Disease!

So, 0.075% of break-ups result in the woman being murdered by her current/former male partner (don’t know how the break up can cause the current partner to kill her but, whatever, let’s not get pedantic about semantics). This death rate is supposed to be of such a scale that, as they said “the post-separation period being a dangerous time for victims”. Yeah, sure, 1 in 1330 is such a massive rate. Y’know, 0.075% are at risk is a funny way of saying 99.925% aren’t.

You might as well take all the ginger people you deal with (4% of English population is a red-head), remove 98.5% of them, and that total number of people you are left with is the total number of women who are at risk. That should hopefully put it into perspective.

Actually, let’s do that!

You say there were 15,160 eligible cases from the time period of April 2015 to March 2016. Let’s assume one man and one woman per case, giving us 15,160 women. 0.075% of those women will be at risk of being murdered by her current/former partner during the first year after break-up.

15,160 x (0.075/100) = 11.37 women

That’s about one a month. That may sound a lot but there are about 1400 cases every month (that fit the criteria for this study).

I wonder, how many men kill themselves every month because they are denied access to their kids? How would that statistic stack up against this “dangerous time for victims”? Hmm!?

Another issue with their methodology is the validity of the source material, which is pronounced when the report states “[T]he data is dependent upon the recording within the Cafcass case files only, which are not the same in content as the full bundle of papers available at the court hearing.” Therefore, the entirety of the data and subsequent results are predicated upon the interpretations of the CAFCASS officers who wrote the original 216 case files used in this report (rather than relying on official court files). Ergo, what could be recorded by the CAFCASS officer as an allegation of domestic abuse made by the mother/father, could be nothing more than the CAFCASS officer misinterpreting what the parent is actually saying. Not that they would ever do that, surely not!?

This leads me to the position where I cannot trust a single case file used in this report as they are open to the subjective interpretation of the CAFCASS officer. In fact, CAFCASS has been called out by parliament for their “lack of readiness”, “continued failure to get to get to grips with the fundamental weaknesses in its culture, management and performance”, has been declared “as an organisation, not fit for purpose” and “[L]ow compliance by staff with important requirements has been a persistent problem, and has undermined Cafcass’s efforts to improve performance”. I will trust this CAFCASS report just about as far as I can throw it (which would be not very far and would result in a horrible mess on the floor, what with it being 30 pages of ideologically-driven bile). I recommend my dear audience trawls through those two links I cite, they are certainly very eye-opening pertaining CAFCASS’s ability to perform (or, more correctly, lack of ability to perform).

Another worrying finding was that of cases where allegations did not feature, only 48% were given orders of unsupervised contact at the final hearing. The fact that this number is so low is shocking, why are so many fathers denied unsupervised contact with their children when there are no allegations being made? What possible motive could the courts find to keep a perfectly ordinary father out of the life of his child(ren)?

I now feel compelled to remark on the lack of consistency in the report, their agenda seems lost when we assess some of the case examples, such as this one: “The children disclosed to the local authority that the mother was physically abusive towards them, and older children did not want contact. The children received counselling during proceedings and there was scope for future mediation to support contact with the mother.” If we are to work on the basis that “there should be no assumption of child contact for perpetrators of domestic abuse”, why are they pushing for contact with the mother? Not only was the mother violent in a domestic environment, she was violent towards the children.

It is not just their flimsy methodology and questionable results that irk me but, the way they are weaponizing such skewed information to further imbalance the family courts. In the same blog post in which I found the Katie Ghose quote, Women’s Aid states that in far too many cases fathers who have perpetrated domestic abuse against their child’s mother are getting the benefit of the doubt when it comes to deciding who should have contact. They are pushing the narrative that as soon as a father is accused, he should be denied basic due process. An utterance of an allegation should be worth the weight of a banging gavel.

They also state in the report that “contact taking place before proceedings and consent may not always equate to an ‘agreement’ about contact and may instead be indicative of a context of coercion or fear.” That’s right, a mother would never choose to let her kids see their father; she is only doing so because she is being controlled by the father. This is unsurprising as these are the same people who say fathers are not allowed to cross-examine when in the courtroom because men use it to continue the abuse. It’s now been brought into legislation.

A spokeswoman from CAFCASS has responded to the criticisms levied against the report and, to curtly summate/paraphrase her “we hear your criticisms but we’ve spoken with men’s groups before so, shove off”. I’m sure CAFCASS has all our best interests at heart, it’s not like they’re hugely incompetent.

Concluding Thoughts of Study & Post-Report Review/Press:

As per most work from WA, this study is not worth the paper it is printed on. At least, not for their ends. For me, it only helps to prove, yet again, how inadequate, obsolete and biased WA is.

They argue that DA is alleged in 62% of cases yet expend no effort in ascertaining proof – they don’t bother doing a finding of fact. Probably because they are aware the facts do not swing in their favour, please see their table that I marked earlier on in the video.

They don’t really have any recommendations at the end of their report, just a bunch of conclusions.

Women’s Aid did put up a post on their blog the day or so after releasing the article and on it was the quote used in the title image of this video:

'There should be no assumption of child contact for perpetrators of domestic abuse' katie ghose.png

I assume this is where they wanted to push their recommendations so I would like to read you the first two paragraphs of their blog post:

Who gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to deciding whether a child should have contact with both parents?

When faced with that question, I don’t think many people would answer “a father who has perpetrated domestic abuse against the child’s mother”. Yet the most worrying finding of today’s research by Cafcass, in partnership with Women’s Aid, is that in many cases, that’s exactly what is happening.”

Jesus, you’re stupid!

Uh, did you not read your own report you actual dumb bitch?

Katie-ghose.png

I know you’ve only been on the job for two weeks but FUCK! Are you slacking off already!?

Come on, you gave such a great speech at that UKIP conference back in September 2015 (I’m being serious here, it actually was a great speech.)! Where you referred to UKIP receiving just one MP, y’know, the whole general election malarkey, as “a national scandal … [we] know the figures”!? How have you fallen so low!?

You went from knowing the figures when it was UKIP-related to now not knowing the figures now that it is WA-related! Did you take more pride in your work when investigating for UKIP than when investigating for WA?

I could keep quoting the UKIP video, like the bit where you referred to Douglas Carswell as “an outstanding MP” but, I shall let the viewers enjoy it for themselves. Honestly, peeps, do it.

But no, there’s no other recommendations. Just men who are accused are evil and we need to do something about it. Fin.

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