Myth #9: All Victims of Domestic Violence Get Custody of Their Kids


Fact: Despite the horrendous crimes of domestic abuse haunting homes across our globe, not all battered mothers have custody of their children. Rather, it may surprise you to learn many batterers have sole or joint custody of the couple’s children. It may also trouble you to learn some battered mothers need to leave their abusive homes without their kids. Furthermore, 1 in 4 women who seek abortions are in abusive relationships. While other abused women, make an adoption plan for the well-being of both the child and mother. Some, though, are left with the daunting task of raising children while being expected to co-parent with their estranged batterer.

Although some states provide judicial protections for mother’s fleeing abusive homes, many battered women are re-victimized through her batterer’s masterful manipulation of the courts and others. Domestic violence is all about power and control. What better way to control someone than through their children? Sadly, bitter and broken parents use their kids to harm the other parent in non-violent or non-abusive separations so it should not surprise us to validate the often unacknowledged truth that batterers use their children to re-traumatize their victim while feeding his overwhelming need for power and control rooted in entitlement.

Co-parenting, the preferred ideology of most courts today, works well for normal healthy individuals who mutually respect one another. However, for battered mothers, co-parenting further entraps victims in bondage as she constantly deflects her batterer’s manipulative assaults centered on his selfish need to demonstrate power and control.


Whether you are a battered mother jilted with visitation rights or are one of the fortunate women who maintained custody of your babies throughout your safe passage, we offer a few concise tips to maintain your “co-parenting” sanity.

1. Meet At A Safe Place – Not just physically safe but emotionally safe place. Picking up your kids at the batterer’s home may not only be physically unsafe, but emotionally unsafe as well. Batterers feel further entitled to taunt and bully their victims if the victim is on his turf. If you must pick up your child at your batterer’s home, take someone with you. A batterer is all about manipulation and most likely will not abuse you, whether physically, emotionally or verbally, when there are witnesses.  Similarly, consider not allowing your batterer to pick up the kids at your home. Your home is your safe domain. You do not need your batterer to bring his negativity into your sanctuary nor become familiar with it. Preferably, meet somewhere in public instead. Also, some states have visitation centers as a refuge place to exchange kids or carry on visitation rights.

2. Victim Beware: Batterers frequently try to provoke fights when exchanging the kids or emails. Their goals are to control you, of course, by enraging you. They desire to make you look crazy in front of the kids and others, which only further alienates you and feeds their chronic disease. Refrain from flipping out. Have you ever noticed when you respond by spazzing out, your batterer smirks in his victorious glory? Define and enforce your boundaries tactfully despite such outlandishness {easier said than done}.


3. Isolation Games: We know when a batterer and their victim were married or in an intimate relationship together, the batterer typically would isolate the victim from family, friends, co-workers and even the kids. Why would this tactic improve after their separation or divorce? Rather, batterers tend to “step up their game” by treading all over you further. They seek to isolate, manipulate, and damage you to their hearts endless content by charming your family, friends, employers, your children’s teachers, the child’s best-interest attorneys (if appointed by the court), psychological evaluators, social workers, judicial magistrates and whoever else enables them to further propagate the batterer’s obsessive need for power and control. We know the most hurtful betrayal is when family or friends or even employers seemingly side with your batterer. For your own well-being, you may need to succumb to the isolation if your loved ones in particular continue to empower your batterer while devaluing you. When we stop allowing people to re-harm us by removing ourselves from the equation, we have our answer. We can’t change others, we can only change our response.

4. Just Don’t Do It: As tempting as it may be, do your best not to speak negatively towards or about your batterer while your child’s ears are near. While you may temporarily feel good about such a choice, all it does is hurt your kids. Also, how did you respond when others would bad mouth your batterer when you were in a relationship with him? Most likely you defended him. Your kids will probably do the same. Instead, use the conflict you encounter with your batterer as a teaching opportunity for your kids. Teach them about healthy boundaries and the importance of mutual respect in relationships. Teach them love and that even tough love is still love.

5. Re-Evaluate Your Safety Plan. As a battered mom attempting to co-parent with her estranged batterer, you may need to occasionally re-evaluate your safety plan to continually build and maintain a new healthy home environment for you and your kids.

After writing this post, I discovered this clip by author Lundy Bancroft with tips on co-parenting with a batterer.

In conclusion, should you be a loved one affiliated with a victim of domestic violence, we applaud your efforts as you continue to educate yourself on the matters of such crimes. Should you be a person of influence, we implore you to speak out against domestic violence and seek alternatives to help prevent further victimization through domestic violence custody cases. If you are a battered parent, who either does not have custody of your kids or is learning to maneuver the maze of co-parenting with a batterer, know that you are not alone and we believe in you!