violence advocate, and Dr. J. Renae Norton, identified as a clinical psychologist in Cincinnati. No academic affiliation is listed for either of the co-chairs. The document contains no references for its assertions, and does not appear to contain original data.
One page 39, the document reports data that directly contradict a central assertion of “Breaking the Silence.” “In a survey of California shelters for battered women, shelter personnel reported the following occurrences among their approximately 100,000 residents and hotline callers during a one-year period in order of magnitude:”
“Batterer receives custody despite physical abuse2,997 (3%)”
No reference is given for this data. The figure of 3% is dramatically lower than the assertion in “Breaking the Silence” that approximately two-thirds of batterers who contest custody prevail.
Later, in direct contradiction of its own data, the report states on page 100, “Reports indicate that judges rarely follow this recommendation and often award custody to batterers.” No reference is provided to support this assertion.
Although the document abounds with recommendations, the only recommendation referring to custody and domestic violence is quite weak, reading, “In matters of custody, preference should be given to the non-violent parent whenever possible…” (p. 99) Similarly, parental alienation apparently is not considered a major issue, since it is discussed only briefly, on pages 40 and 100. Here it is stated that “There are no data to support the phenomenon called Parental Alienation Syndrome…” No references or details are offered.
Interestingly, the “Battered Woman Syndrome” is repeatedly presented as accepted scientific fact, even though it does not appear in DSM-IV, a frequent criticism leveled at “Parental Alienation Syndrome.”
In summary, this monograph is not a scholarly publication. Lacking references and original data, it provides no empirical support for the assertions made in “Breaking the Silence.” To the extent the unreferenced data it contains is reliable, it contradicts “Breaking the Silence” on the frequency with which batterers obtain custody. Accordingly, it attaches little importance to the alleged need to improve family court procedures to prevent batterers from gaining custody. Parental alienation is barely mentioned in this lengthy document, and is assigned no major importance.
Jaffe, P., Geffner, R. (1998). “Child Custody Disputes and Domestic Violence: Critical Issues for Mental Health, Social Service and Legal Professionals.” In Holden et al. (Eds.), Children Exposed to Marital Violence: Theory, Research and Applied Issues. American Psychological Association, 371 – 396.
This article makes many assertions similar to those made by the film. It states that the most accurate term for domestic violence is “maltreatment of women and children, because women and children represent the vast majority of the victims.” In other words, only men commit real domestic violence. This assertion is not backed up by data, and although many articles in the