As an advocate for survivors of abuse and former deputy district attorney, I share 10-plus years of observations. They all boil down to a double standard.
Double standards are not all that uncommon, generally accepted as just part of life. One double standard in particular reinforces and empowers biases that have very real consequences and cause very real harm.
The first half of the double standard: parent presents as though mentally unstable, addicted and or abusive, and gets treated with kid gloves in court. Their outbursts, perjury, refusal to follow court orders, inappropriate behavior, repeated mistreatment of and harm to others is treated as though that’s just who they and we’re not going to change them. OK, fair enough.
It is what comes next that is baffling: let’s give them access to children, let’s deny relief to the abuse survivor and the children. Rather than identify and deal with the issues at play, rather than call the situation for what it is, however tragic, to reduce further trauma coming to the children, we continue to hand over children to their care.
The other half of the coin: the other parent is treated as though expected to be perfect. If you were not snarky in that message, you would not have set off the abuser. It’s classic, “if you had dinner warm and ready when I came home, I would not have had to beat you” logic.
This does not just apply to women. Men attempting to co-parent with women who fit the profile of someone with a personality disorder see the same double standard. It is less of an issue of gender bias and more or a bias that favors abusers.
The law requires that we act in the best interests of children. Question is whether we’re up for examining our biases to actually do so.