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(all from Canada unless otherwise indicated)

THE MEDIATION WHEEL

The Broken Promise of Justice in the Courts for Women and Children

The Mediation Wheel is provided with permission of the Vancouver Custody & Access Support and Advocacy Association.
AiR is not responsible for the quality of this article. It is provided as a reference only.


REALITY
of women's and children's lives
BELIEFS
of family justice mediation system
EFFECTS
women and children are further abused

Women do better during divorce if they go to court and have a good lawyer.
Courts are adversarial. Mediation gives women their decision-making power back.
Women believe they'll do badly in court so are pressured by mediators into making dangerous agreements.

Violence and control not spoken of. Abuse is often seen as normal or is denied by both men and women.
Abuse can be detected in screening or during mediation.
Abuse goes unrecognized by mediators. Women aren't referred to the right places, and don't know when their rights have been violated.

A long history of intimidation means abusive men do not suddenly stop being controlling.
Power differences can be balanced. Therefore the agreement is voluntary.
Subtle gestures, small remarks, raised eyebrows remind women of past abuse and intimidate them into agreements that serve the men's interests, not their own or their children's.

Women are devalued by abuse and feel worthless.
Men and women can bargain equally.
Women lose their children and property because they don't feel they deserve anything.

Women are taught different social roles than men. Men's roles are valued. Women's roles are devalued.
Equality means men and women are the same.
Men who were never involved with their children get custody, while women's primary parenting role is ignored.

REALITY
of women's and children's lives
BELIEFS
of family justice mediation system
EFFECTS
women and children are further abused

Children from families with high conflict do better with sole custody and limited access.
Joint custody and generous access is best for the children.
The power given to abusive men by joint custody and increased access is used to abuse the mother further.

Women try to protect their children by refusing access to abusive fathers.
Women are over-protective, hysterical, and vindictive.
Women's efforts to protect their children are doubted, dismissed, and punished.

Abusive fathers who appear friendly and cooperative are awarded custody.
Cooperation is a virtue to be rewarded.
Women are afraid of being seen as "unfriendly" by the courts, so they cooperate against the interests of their children.

Mediated agreements are hard to change.
Women can change agreements at any time in mediation or during court.
Abusive fathers and judges don't like to change agree-ments. Sometimes judges punish women for agreeing in the first place.

Separation is the most dangerous time for women and children.
Violence stops with separation; past conduct doesn't matter.
Access visits and mediation sessions allow women and children to be further stalked, harassed, and physically assaulted.

Obsessive and controlling men will do anything to get at the mother.
The father's interest in the child is sincere and is for the children's sake.
There is a risk of mother and child murders during custody and access disputes.

REALITY
of women's and children's lives
BELIEFS
of family justice mediation system
EFFECTS
women and children are further abused

There is abuse in 36% of marriages in B.C.
STATISTICS CANADA 1993
Father is "magic." Children will suffer if they don't see their father.
Abusive fathers use visits to continue the abuse, under-cut her parenting, turn the children against her. Mothers have to deal with upset and hostile children.

Wife abusers are more likely to sexually abuse their children.
Sexual abuse allegations are often false and vindictive.
Mothers are punished for reporting sexual abuse during custody disputes. Sexual abuse of children starts or continues on access visits. There is no protection for the children.

Men do little parenting.
Mothers' and fathers' commitment to parenting is consider equal.
Mother's parenting and concern for her children is minimized. She is blamed for the child's bad behaviour, or if the child doesn't want to go with the father.

Children are forced to visit their emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive fathers.
Access to both parents is what's best for the children.
Past violent and inappropriate behaviour is overlooked so fathers can see their children. Mothers have to deal with the trauma of sending their children into danger.

REALITY
of women's and children's lives
BELIEFS
of family justice mediation system
EFFECTS
women and children are further abused

Some men emotional physically, and sexually abuse their children.
Most fathers who are proven abusive should still get supervised access.
Children are re-traumatized by having to visit fathers who raped or beat them. Supervisors are often friends of the father. If the father is "good" he can soon get open access.

Abusive men do not know how to love in a healthy way.
Abusive and controlling men can still be safe parents.
Children lose trust in a mother who can't protect them and a system that won't protect them. Children then shut down and give up.

Abusive men's sincerity and pain makes women stay. Abuse makes them leave.
Mediators are moved by the father's sincerity.
Mediators give him another chance too. They try to "heal the father." Children's well-being is sacrificed in the process.



The Mediation Wheel is provided with permission of the Vancouver Custody & Access Support and Advocacy Association.
AiR is not responsible for the quality of this article. It is provided as a reference only.