Friday, March 16, 2012

More Love in Domestic Violence Cases Than in Paternity Cases

A Family Court judge visited our "Family Life" class today.  He talked about the young couples he sees in paternity court, and the repeat customers in domestic violence court. 

The judge said, as he has said to us in past years, that the mothers in paternity court want the fathers of their children to be involved in their child's life, but hesitate to simply share custody - because, they admit, they don't really know the man they had a child with.

The judge also told us, as he has before, that it takes a beaten woman an average of seven strikes by her boyfriend before she leaves him for good.  She keeps going back to him because, usually, she does love him - she just wants him to stop hitting her.

This led me to a question I had not thought of before.  Is there more love in domestic violence relationships than in paternity relationships?

Yes, the judge answered without hesitation.

Paternity court cases come from high school romances, or the equivalent a few years later, that happened to produce a baby.  They never were a strong couple, and were often not very mature.

Domestic violence cases, by contrast, usually involve couples who are invested enough in each other and in their children to keep coming back even after dreadful blowups.

Please don't misunderstand - I am not saying that love makes domestic violence in any way acceptable.  But seeing that love is involved in many domestic violence cases does help me, whose life is far from first-hand experience of either domestic violence or paternity court, have a more realistic picture of the lives of those who end up before a judge in each case.

1 comment:

Ken Lammers said...

There are three reasons I see that women try to stop prosecutions of the men that beat them. First, she and the children need his paycheck. Second, the family pressures her not to send Joe to jail over "this little thing." The third reason is that women seem to cling to those in their lives who are walking disasters and believe that things will get better given time and another opportunity (and another, and another); the male abuser manipulates this.

On the other hand, I have seen a number of women take out charges or protective orders in order to control and/or punish their man.

I have seen these cases as a defense attorney and a prosecutor. I have a hard time characterizing them as being about love. Generally, they are about who is in control.