literature make similar assertions, there are over 100 published articles demonstrating very substantial proportions of domestic violence initiated by women. The Jaffe article also asserts that parental alienation syndrome does not exist and that false allegations of abuse in divorce cases are rare. The authors also assert that the failure of courts to identify domestic violence in divorce proceedings is a pervasive problem.
This paper presents no data to support its assertions. Nor does it give citations in which such data allegedly exists. The statements are based entirely on the authors’ “twenty of years of completing custody and visitation assessments.” While we do not demean the importance of long personal experience, eventually, accusations of pervasive, serious problems in society require data.
Jaffe, P. et al. (2002) Access Denied: The Barriers of Violence and Poverty for Abused Women and their Children after Separation. London, Ontario, Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System.
Prof. Meier emailed Dr. Ned Holstein on October 10, 2005 and stated that of the “high conflict cases” that go to court, “numerous studies have confirmed that approximately 75% involve a history of violence. A summary of these studies of these studies is contained in Jaffe et al., Access Denied…”
Contrary to Meier’s assertions, nowhere in Access Denied are there are any summaries or references in support of the statement that “numerous studies have confirmed that approximately 75% involve a history of violence.” There are no statements to that effect in this document, and not one of the references in Jaffe et al.’s list of references.
The only data reported in Access Denied suffers from the same “cherry-picking” apparent in many of the other publications reviewed in this critique, such as the Battered Mothers Testimony Project, the Silverman article and others. Here the authors placed ads and posters to attract 62 women who claimed a history of intimate partner violence and who had custody of at least one child. There was no sampling of a population, which is the best way to evaluate a purported society-wide problem. The definition of IPV utilized in this study is very broad, and includes exhibiting jealousy, limiting contact with family and friends, name calling, and controlling access to family income. Less than half of the recruited mothers experienced physical injuries.
Even in 33 of the cases, the father had sought sole or joint custody of the children. This finding does not mean that over half of all fathers who contest custody are batterers, because there was no sampling of a population, but only the “cherry-picking” method by which aggrieved women were recruited for study. For the same reason, it does not even establish that over half of battered women must go through a custody contest. Moreover, in only 4 of the 33 contested cases did fathers win shared custody. Since a mother had to have at least shared custody in order to be eligible for the study, this finding is not easily interpreted.
In summary, the only data presented in Access Denied are difficult to interpret, but clearly do not provide support for Meier’s assertions.