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Showing posts with label SEXUAL ABUSE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SEXUAL ABUSE. Show all posts

Friday, December 1, 2017

DR. DONALD HEIBEL, THE HARVEY WEINSTEIN OF THE CT JUDICIAL BRANCH, REMAINS FREE TO CONTINUE HIS ASSAULTS ON FAMILY COURT VICTIMS!

In the wake of all these sex scandals including Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Roy Moore, etc. there has been increased scrutiny surrounding powerful men who exploit their positions in order to sexually abuse or assault vulnerable women.

Often, people have asked how come no one spoke up about what was going on even though everyone knew what was happening. One of the reasons why so many men have gotten away with this kind of abusive behavior for years is because some women accepted settlements, signed confidentiality agreements, and simply faded away. This meant the perpetrators were free to abuse other women who were drawn into their orbit.  In connection to Family Court, we may have exactly that kind of situation in connection to well known Family Court psychologist, Dr. Donald Hiebel.

Over two years ago, on November 3, 2014, Attorney Leslie Gold McFadden filed a complaint against psychologist Dr. Donald Hiebel, a major proponent of a quack theory known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). In this complaint, he was accused of conducting an affair with a female client 30 years his junior, and receiving massages from another female client in exchange for favors in her custody case.

Given the recent allegations in the news about these other powerful men, I asked a colleague, who is also a family court activist, what has been going on with Dr. Donald Hiebel's case. Apparently, the case has entirely gone away, Dr. Donald Hiebel has retained his license despite his blatant sexual abuse of two former clients who were under his care, and he remains in practice as a consultant for family court cases in the State of Connecticut. This colleague stated that he knew of a specific family court case to which Dr. Donald Hiebel had been assigned. 

I was absolutely appalled to hear of this situation and so I immediately looked up Dr. Hiebel on the Connecticut Judicial Branch website. When I looked up his name, the November 3, 2014 case didn't appear. It had been erased from the record. I also looked up the divorce case that his wife filed against him and later withdrew. That also had been erased from the record. How does this happen that while the cases of family court litigants get placed on the internet via FindLaw where the public all over the world can read them. But whenever there is attorney wrongdoing, it simply disappears. I think we'd all like to know!

In addition to looking up the case on the CT Judicial website in regard to the Dr. Donald Hiebel sexual abuse case, I also contacted the lawyer for the victims, i.e. Attorney Leslie Gold McPadden. She refused to comment on the case stating tersely in a November 18, 2016 email, "Result was confidential." What this essentially means is that Dr. Donald Heibel, after having faced zero consequences for his abusive and unethical behavior, is free to go out and do it all over again. Dr. Donald Heibel's actions were broadly reported on this website and elsewhere and it is highly improbable that the majority of judges and attorneys are unaware of his unprofessional behavior. Yet he is being recruited on an ongoing basis to take on cases? He is allowed to aquire additional individual patients? How grossly irresponsible is that? 

If anyone was wondering what family court reformers are complaining about, this is what we are complaining about. We are complaining about a CT Judicial Branch full of employees who have no problem putting professionals in charge of sensitive family court cases whose moral fiber and criminal behavior is indistinguishable from the Harvey Weinsteins of this world. I also want to point out that I suspect the situation is much worse. I only met with Dr. Donald Hiebel for one session in his West Hartford office and that meeting was sufficient for me to file a complaint that filled an entire one inch notebook. This is the kind of fool who is now working in family court and destroying lives and our Department of Public Health that knows full well about this situation and our legislators who also know since so many people have come to the LOB and testified about what is going on, and yet they sit around on their hands and do nothing.

I do not want to hear any further the boo hoo about sexual assault and sexual abuse from CT Judicial Branch employees, members of the State Legislature and CT State Agencies such as the Department of Public Health when they are so blatantly complicit in allowing it to happen.
__________________

For those who are interested, from this part of the article forward I have included the details of Dr. Donald Heibel's offenses from my prior article on the subject which was published when the news became public in November 2014. See below:

At the time the alleged assaults occurred, Dr. Donald Hiebel was affiliated with Roeder and Polansky Family and Child Associates located in Middletown, CT and he also had a private office in West Hartford. The first client, designated as "Jane Doe" received psychotherapy from Dr. Donald Hiebel from January 21, 2013 until approximately July 9, 2013.

According to the Complaint, from January to July 2013, Dr. Donald Hiebel provided psychotherapy for Jane Doe in order to assist her in obtaining shared custody of her minor son and to help her with emotional and psychological problems. Then in the summer and fall of 2013, Dr. Hiebel and his patient, Jane Doe, began to spend a considerable amount of time together. Allegedly, Dr. Hiebel told Jane Doe that he intended to divorce his wife so he and the client could be together. Allegedly, during that time they had several sexual encounters in Dr. Hiebel's West Hartford office, at Heibel's homes and also other locations.

Further, according to the complaint, Dr. Donald Hiebel advised Jane Doe to break up with her boyfriend at the time who was paying for her apartment, her mental health fees, as well as her attorney fees. Then Dr. Hiebel borrowed $5,000.00 from a friend and used that money to pay all of Jane Doe's living expenses. According to the allegations, this money was funneled through his company, Roeder and Polansky Family and Child Associates checking account and corporate credit card. When Jane Doe considered having therapy with another mental health professional, Dr. Hiebel advised against it.

As a consequence of this alleged inappropriate sexual relationship, Jane Doe claimed in her complaint that she suffered various damages including "shock, mistrust of medical professionals, extreme emotional disturbance, hospitalizations, instability, humiliation, emotional devastations, and extreme emotional disturbance." She also ended up losing custody of her son. As a result, she complained that she would be "forced to expend sums of money for additional custody litigation and medical care."

The allegations against Dr. Hiebel continued on and even more shocking is that Dr. Donald Hiebel's business partner, Dr. Keith Roeder, was alleged to be aware of this relationship and advised Jane Doe to hide relationship from the father of her child. The Complaint alleged further that Dr. Keith Roeder "advised Doe to show the child's father a former apartment rather than her current apartment that she shared with Hiebel." Eventually, in January 2014, when Dr. Hiebel decided to return to his wife, the complaint stated that Jane Doe became extremely upset and was eventually hospitalized. 

Dr. Donald Hiebel's wife, Navarre Hiebel, apparently filed for divorce in May 2014, but withdrew the complaint, possibly when it became clear that the affair was truly over.

The Complaint continued on to state that a consultant was hired to evaluate the case records regarding Dr. Donald Hiebel and Jane Doe. This consultant allegedly provided an initial opinion that there "appeared to be multiple gross lapses of professional judgment and standards of care on the part of Dr. Donald Hiebel and his associate, Dr. Keith Roeder" in the conduct of psychotherapy with Jane Doe. This included on Dr. Hiebel's part a lack of proper documentation of Jane Doe's record, concealing the fact that Jane Doe had a history of substance abuse, as well as possibly filing fraudulent reports to the Court in regard to her custody matter.

Another troubling aspect of the relationship Jane Doe reportedly had with Dr. Donald Hiebel is that apparently Jane Doe assisted Dr. Hiebel in his practice typing his reports on other patients, noting down his voicemail messages, as well as other tasks. In fact, during her meeting with the consultant, Jane Doe stated that "she still had a box of records from [Dr. Hiebel's] office in the trunk of her car--including the records of an individual who had sued Dr. Hiebel..."

The Complaint also details a relationship Dr. Donald Hiebel maintained with a second woman, a friend of Jane Doe's, and a former patient of Dr. Hiebel, who provided massages to Dr. Hiebel in exchange for coaching assistance in her custody matter. The consultant report states that Dr. Donald Hiebel and this friend "vacationed together and spent some holidays together as well (Christmas)."

Prior to these offenses, Dr. Donald Hiebel was one of the most beloved, trusted, and highly respected psychologists in family court today. In fact, when Jane Doe was advised to work with Dr. Hiebel, she was told that he "is like a God before the Court." Judges and attorneys have regularly requested Dr. Hiebel's services for co-parenting management as well as custody related mental health treatments and evaluations. They have done this despite the fact that multiple family court litigants over the years have complained vociferously about his unprofessional behavior and incompetent treatment. I would suspect that Dr. Donald Hiebel's behavior with these two women is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is worth noting that despite the fact that previously litigants have submitted formal complaints to the Department of Public Health against Dr. Donald Hiebel, these complaints have been consistently ignored and summarily dismissed. One can only speculate what harm and damage might be avoided for many current and former clients of Dr. Hiebel if the Department of Public Health would take these complaints seriously.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

BEST ADVICE FOR VICTIMS OF DV AND PROTECTIVE MOTHERS!

"If anyone suspects a child being molested in family court... the courts usually & often assume it is a lie and give abusers full custody. 

If you suspect your husband or wife is molesting your kids the best thing you can do is stay married and never ever let him or her alone with the kids. If you don't tell anyone you can protect your children in the home. 

If you tell authority's then the person reporting abuse will be removed from the children and the abuser will get full custody. Or if they find that the abuse is real your children can go into foster care and get molested and abused more and possibly killed in foster care as often children in foster care get abused and killed because they are only a paycheck. 

The reason the safe parent has child removed if it turned out true is failure to protect your children. 

If they think the abuser is not abusive you can be accused of coaching your children and the children get full time with abuser. 

You can be removed for reporting abuse. 

Reporting abuse will only make abuse worse in every scenerio. This goes for men or woman. 

This can happen with any type of child abuse that is reported. Not just sexual abuse."

By an Anonymous Contributor, A victim of family court abuse

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CT LAW TRIBUNE REPORTS STATE SUPREME COURT THREW OUT $12 MILLION AWARD AGAINST BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA IN SEXUAL ABUSE CASE!

Greg Land of the CT Law Tribune reports as follows:

"A splintered Connecticut Supreme Court has thrown out a $12 million award against the Boy Scouts of America following a 2014 trial in which a former scout claimed he was sexually abused by his troop leader in the 1970s.

Four of the court's justices agreed with Chief Justice Chase Rogers that the trial judge had improperly rejected the defense's requested jury charge that, in order to be found liable for the John Doe plaintiff's abuse, the BSA would have had to know or have reason to know that scout leader Siegfried Hepp posed a threat to the boy.

But three of those justices disagreed with Rogers' analysis on statute of limitations. Writing in concurrence and dissent, Justice Peter Zarella, joined by Justices Carmen Espinosa and Richard Robinson, said the statute of limitations for Doe's claims of negligence and recklessness had expired, while Rogers found the claims were not time-barred.

Writing in support of the trial court's verdict was Justice Dennis Eveleigh, joined by Justice Andrew McDonald, who said that even if the trial judge had erred in refusing to give the requested jury charge, it was harmless error..."

READ MORE:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

HOW THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS DROPPED THE BALL AND PLACED CHILD VICTIM IN THE HANDS OF FATHER WHO SEXUALLY ABUSED HER!

Nestor Ramos and  of The Boston Globe report as follows:


"The bad stuff hurt too much, the girl said, so she took trips in her head. She imagined she was playing in the park, not lying on the basement floor or standing naked in the bathroom where, she said, her father touched her.


He told her not to tell anyone, she said, but she told anyway.


She told her mother, who went to the police. She told her therapist, who wrote a letter. She told the people who supervised her visits with her mother, who filed reports. 

“I tried to tell anyone who would listen, but no one believed me,” said the girl, then 7, during a trauma evaluation conducted last spring. The Globe is withholding her name to protect her identity..."

READ MORE:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

OLD BUT GOOD NEWS: US SENATE PASSED THE RAPE SURVIVOR CHILD CUSTODY ACT, APRIL 24, 2015!

POSTED ON THE RAINN (RAPE, ABUSE & INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK) WEBSITE, SEE BELOW:
"(April 24, 2015) --- The US Senate this week voted to push states to restrict the rights of rapists to claim custody over the children conceived as a result of the rape, providing key protections to sexual assault survivors and their children. 
The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, originally introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), passed as an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, a comprehensive human trafficking bill sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)..."
READ MORE:

Friday, September 27, 2013

THE ULTIMATE HYPOCRACY! HUMAN TRAFFICKING POSTER PRODUCED BY CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL BRANCH!

On September 25, 2013, the Connecticut Judicial Branch posted on its website a flyer decrying human trafficking.  The branch is planning on using this flyer in its facilities and has placed it there for our review. 
 
To take a look at this flyer, see the link below:
 
 
The message on this flyer is as follows:
 
"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. If you or someone you know is being forced into work or sex and cannot leave, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center for help..."
 
For those of us who are aware of how the Connecticut Judicial Branch colludes with corrupt GALS and custody evaluators to put children in the hands of parents who sexually abuse them, the very existence of this poster is a travesty. 
 
How galling that the very system that is allowing the sexual abuse of young children on a regular basis in exchange for power and profit should produce such a poster.  I'm thinking of George Orwell's famous novel "1984" when I say that this poster is a clear cut example of doublespeak. 
 
Here the Connecticut Judicial Branch is asking us to call the National Human Trafficking Resources Center if we know about anyone being "forced into work or sex, and cannot leave". Isn't that is exactly what the Branch is doing even as we speak?
 
I encourage anyone who reads this poster to call the Human Trafficking Center immediately and report the Connecticut Judicial Branch and, in particular, Judge Lynda Munro.  The number is below:  1-888-373-7888.

Additional Followup:  For more information from the CT Law Tribune on why the CT Judicial Branch developed this flyer, please click on the link below. 

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/PubArticleCT.jsp?id=1202623340135&thepage=1


The bottom line, of course, is that by taking children away from their protective mothers and hanging them over to the fathers who sexual abuse them, the judicial branch regularly breaks Connecticut human trafficking laws.
 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SEXUAL PREDATOR GERRY SANDUSKY SPENDS 16 YEARS ABUSING CHILDREN WITH A LOT OF HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS

Gerry Sandusky was sentenced yesterday to at least 30 years in prison based on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.  This means he will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.  The 68 year old man was formerly a Penn State assistant football coach closely associated with the late Joe Paterno.  Paterno was the widely admired former head football coach at  Penn State University and one of the most successful football coaches of all time.
 
THE PREDATOR REFUSES TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY:
 
Like many sexual abusers, on the eve of his sentencing, Sandusky continued to insist he was innocent and blamed his victims stating, "They can take away my life, they can make me out as a monster, they can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart.  In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.  My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage." 
 
Further he said, "A young man who is dramatic and a veteran accuser and always sought attention started everything.  He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the criminal justice system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers."
 
Here the man is caught in the act, accused by a stream of witnesses, and finally found guilty by the Court, and he still denies his responsibility for his behavior. 

Abusers in high conflict divorce are exactly the same way.  Thus, even though the record shows that my ex stole considerable sums of money from me during our marriage, and now earns substantal income from sources he denied existed at trial, he still insists to me, our children, and to his entire family that he is poor and has no money. 

He insists that despite the considerable medical documentation which states otherwise, he never harmed our children, and that my complaints are all a figment of my imagination. (Please note that in my case, I am not raising the issue of sexual abuse, but of other kinds of abuse.)
 
SOCIETY REFUSES TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY:
 
What does this behavior tell you about sexual predators and the way in which society responds to them? 
 
First of all, no one ever wants to hold sexual predators accountable.  Consider how long it took to catch this guy--pretty much 16 years in total.  The first accusation was raised in 1995 and Sandusky was only arrested in 2011 after years of reported incidents. 
 
How did Sandusky get away with it?  Simply by doing what he is doing now--deny, deny, deny, and blame the victim.  He does this because this is probably what he did all along.  It was a very successful strategy for deflecting attempts people made to hold him accountable. 
 
Sandusky relied on the fact that even when people see the evidence right in front of their faces, even when they witness incidents directly, very few want to get involved in reporting a predator to the police or speaking out about what they have seen.  
 
From the moment an incident occurs, people start trying to find a way to avoid having to do something about it.  I recall asking the pediatrician to write a letter documenting the abuse of my children.  He refused to do it stating he had no basis for such a letter.  I then said to him, all you have to do is say what you saw and summarize what you wrote in the medical records right in front of you.  Still, the doctor continued to obstruct my access to documentation that was essential to protecting the children. 

Later, when the custody evaluator called as part of his investigation, the pediatrician described me as rude and pushy.  Why?  All I asked him to do was do his job.  But that was too much to ask apparently.  When I asked him why, he was quite open in telling me he simply did not want to get involved in a custody matter.  And that is the point.  No one wants to get involved.  No one wants to stand up for a child.  No one wants to do what they know is the right thing to do.  

SANDUSKY'S CRIMES: 
 
Look at what Sandusky was accused of doing. He was accused of using his access to Penn State's football program to befriend and then sexually abuse young boys, all of them children from disadvantaged homes whom he met through his charity the Second Mile, which was organized to work with troubled youths. 
 
According to Joe Drape of The New York times, "Sandusky had used the charity as his private hunting ground, scouting for potential victims.  He gave them gifts and money, invited them to his home, took them to Penn State Football games, showered with them at the university's football building and slept with them in hotel rooms on the road."
 
Further Mr. Drape stated that "Eight men testified during the trial, offering graphic accounts of repeated assaults by Sandusky -- on the Penn State campus, in hotel rooms and in the basement of Sandusky's home.  it was painful testimony, the men telling their horrifying stories in public for the first time."  One witness, a janitor, wept when he described Sandusky raping his victim.  The Janitor, a Korean War Veteran, stated that the rape was the most horrific thing he had ever seen.

All this went on and it took 16 years before anyone saw fit to stop him?  I'll tell you why it took so long--because no one wanted to be involved.  No one wanted to be thought of as rude and pushy, like me.  Folks just wanted to get along.  So when I spoke to witnesses and asked for their testimony, all of a sudden they couldn't remember exactly, they weren't quite sure.  Only a tiny minority of courageous individuals stood up and spoke out.
 
PREDATORS EXPLOIT THE TRAPPINGS OF SUCCESS:
 
This leads me to another point.  So many of these evil people are widely admired, fine upstanding members of the community.  That's another reason why it takes so long to catch them.  For example, in my case, the custody evaluator stated that my ex couldn't possibly have neglected my children because he is a professional.
 
As a matter of policy, predators make sure to surround themselves with all the paraphernalia of success--with high powered jobs, with influential community leaders, and with charitable endeavors.  This means that anyone who might hold such a person accountable, a mother, a teacher or counselor at school, and in Sandusky's case, a janitor on a temp job, first questions his or her own eyes before questioning the predator. 
 
Gerry Sandusky "was regarded as a local pillar", he played and worked with the highly regarded coach Joe Paterno.  He was "a man [people] knew as a committed and selfless coach, a prominent fund-raiser for charity and a gregarious father figure to scores of aspiring football players."  How could anyone accuse him?

THE WIDESPREAD COMPLICITY 
 
One way predators like this protect themselves is by making their friends and associates complicit in covering up what is going on.  Once such people begin to cover up for a perpetrator, some friends and coworkers become even more aggressive than the predator when it comes to denying and hiding the abuse. 
 
Thus, what is most striking about this case is the long list of individuals who actively engaged in covering up Gerry Sandusky's crimes. 
 
Here is the list: 
 
1. Joe Paterno, Penn States Head Coach,
2.  Graham B. Spanier, Penn State's President since 1995;
3. Tim Curley, Penn State's Athletic Director;
4. Gary Schultz, Penn State's Senior vice President for Fiunance and Business;
5.  Mike McQueary, Penn State's Assistant Football Coach; 6.  Jim Calhoun, Janitor;
7.  Ronald Petrosky, Head Janitor;
8. Jay Witherite, Supervising Janitor;
9.  Ray Gricar, Centre County District Attorney;
10. Ronald Schreffler, Campus Detective;
11. Jerry Lauro, Investigator with DCF;
12. Thomas Harmon, Director of Campus Police;
13. Ralph Ralston, Campus Police Officer;
14. Dr. Jack Raykovitz, Executive Director of The Second Mile;
15. Wendell Courtney, University Counsel. 
 
That adds up to 15 well placed individuals who knew significant details about the sexual abuse attributable to Gerry Sandusky and did nothing about it. And these are simply the major players; how about all the other folks that knew of rumors but were not sufficiently notable for us to hear about them?

I had the same situation where the GAL in my case actively campaigned for my ex husband, provided him with legal advice, and sidelined any witnesses who spoke out against him. 
 
THE TECHNIQUE OF DENIABILITY:
 
How is that lack of action justified in the minds of these people? 
 
What they do is add deniability to the situation by relanguaging the descriptions of what occurred.  Thus, Journalist Sara Ganim of  "The Patriot News" points out how the report regarding what Sandusky had done was watered down as it went up the ladder of communication, such that Sandusky's criminal act was retranslated into something inoffensive. 
 
Thus, McQueary reported an "anal rape".  Paterno translated that into "something of a sexual nature".  Schultz stated it was "inappropriately grabbing of the young boy;s genitals", while Curley described it as "inappropriate conduct or horsing around".  Spanier stated it was "conduct that made someone uncomfortable", and Raykovitz simply heard that there was a ban on Sandusky bringing kids to the locker room at Penn State.  
 
Once the element of deniability has been introduced through the process of redefining or relanguaging what happened, this alleviated the participants in the coverup from responsibility.  Now they can all say to themselves and to others, we had no idea how bad it was.  No idea?  Really?
 
None of these people stopped to say to themselves, seriously, what we have is a dangerous person on our hands who could irreversibly harm and destroy the lives of young children.  We have to do something to stop it now.

The same process takes place in family court where mothers seeking to protect their children from abuse often find themselves accused of being hypervigillant, or vengeful towards their former spouse.  Others find themselves labeled, marginalized and silenced with psychiatric diagnoses such as Parental Alienation Syndrome, Munchausens by Proxy, or Shared Delusional Disorder (Folie a Deux).
 
DISREGARD FOR FEDERAL SAFEGUARDS:
 
What is notable is that The Clery Act, a federal law that requires the university to alert the campus body when a sex crime occurs on campus was never enacted at Penn State.  Further, there was no action plan in place in the event that it was ever needed.  That has been corrected.
 
In Family Court, we have the ADA, a federal law in place to protect the rights of citizens with disabilities, which is intended to safeguard children and parents who may have been abused.  Yet Family Court in CT has simply flouted ADA law and refused to enact it.  As a consequence, thousands and thousands of Connecticut Citizens who are desperately in need of the protection of the ADA are left vulnerable.

CONCLUSION:

As a person who speaks out against abuses in family court, I have personally experienced and observed how predators get away with their crimes using the very same techniques Gerry Sandusky used.  It is horrifying to consider what happens to the children in these situations.  They are denied contact with their mothers, put into the custody of the men who sexually abuse them, and harmed for life.  

Medical Professionals such as Dr. Kenneth Robson  and Dr. James C. Black deny the abuse and go along with even the most absurd fabrications that perpetrators offer to cover up their misdeeds.  Then Mothers who try to protect their children often end up falsely accused, publically mocked and ridiculed, and labeled with specious psychiatric diagnoses. 

Have we learned anything from Gerry Sandusky?  Have we learned that it isn't right to make children wait for sixteen years before they can be safe?  Have we learned to ignore the trappings of power and prestige and see the criminal who lies underneath it all?  Gerry Sandusky's story is chilling, not so much because of what he did, but because we know he is not the only one. 

Likewise, every day in family court there are abusers and predators who are using the court system to perpetuate their abuse.  When will they be stopped?  When will the court system cease to be complicit?  It took 16 years to expose Gerry Sandusky.  How much longer will it take our Family Court system here in Connecticut?

Friday, January 28, 2011

CAN A BATTERER CHANGE HIS OR HER BEHAVIOR FOR THE BETTER?

For many of us who deal with abusers in our own lives the big question is:  Can a batterer change his or her behavior for the better?  Well, so far, studies indicate a 70% failure rate for batterers who undergo treatment, and the remaining so called successes are likely to simply replace physical abuse with verbal abuse.

I can recall asking Lundy Bancroft the very same question about whether abusers can succeed in treatment three years ago when I started going to his workshops.  His answer then as it is now was that it is quite unlikely that a batterer will change unless there are serious consequences to his abusive behavior.  But, as Lundy explains, how often are there any serious consequences to a batterer's behavior?  Not that often! 

If there is one thing I note about my abuser it is that divorce was very good to him.  Not only is he in the situation where he no longer has to listen to anything that I say, he no longer has to support our children financially or emotionally on the level that he did when he was married, leaving me with the great majority of the sacrifices and the expenses.  

The only redeeming feature of the situation is that with time he no longer takes as much of an interest in harassing me, but if he did, he would be able to harass me and there is nothing I could do about it. Yes, we have agreements, but they are totally meaningless if the Court chooses not to enforce them, and the Court does choose not to. 

Prior to my divorce, I had at least the illusion that society did not condone the oppression and abuse of women, as did my husband, and that kept him in check and limited him in the worst of his behavior while providing me with at least the illusion of a minimal sort of protection for me and for my children.  However, once the divorce was filed, it was interesting to see how many people lined up to support this man whose oppression of me and my children was so blatent, as was the physical and psychological damage he had inflicted.  Somehow, so many of these people--lawyers, GALs, psychotherapists, pastors, etc.--found reasons to explain away and justify my ex husband's abuse, and the rest didn't want to get in any trouble by getting involved. 

So, why should an abuser stop?  Where is the reward?  Where is the motivation? 

Also, programs to get a batterer to reform are based upon the concept that people can change who they are.  Of course, where would psychotherapy be if we didn't believe that people could change themselves, and transform themselves into better people.  The field of psychology is founded upon the belief that people can change if they want to. However, as you well know, abusers don't want to change.  They are really satisfied with the way things are.

Regardless, how reasonable is it to believe that people can change themselves in any significant way?  I know many people who have changed their lives in the face of new opportunities and new ideas.  But these are the exceptional ones, the people who look at life and view its potential for greater depth through ongoing personal transformation, and want to grab at the opportunity. 

However, the vast majority of people are perfectly happy to stay as they are and they will stay as they are unless they are hit by a train or something.  And how often does that happen?  This was a tough lesson for me to to learn. 

All my life I hoped to change my Dad who was very abusive towards me from my childhood on.  As a child he used to put me down and call me, let me say "lazy" (I've just invented this adjective because I don't want to get too much into my personal story.)  All my life, I tried in various ways to prove to him that I wasn't "lazy" taking on enormous projects, making sure my home was impeccable, keeping busy from morning to night.  And there were times as the years went by when my Dad would actually appear to see that I was hardworking and I'd be so proud of myself.  But in the months before he died, what was he saying again?  He was saying I was "lazy." 

Even though I'm sure he loved me in many ways, some ways in which I may not have been able to see due to my own blindnesses. After all, "I was his daughter" as he declaimed in those final months, desperately trying to comfort me even as he couldn't resist continuing to harp on the old themes regarding my laziness.  Until the day he died, I was his "lazy" daughter. 

So, I'm not one to talk to when it comes to thinking people can change, or batterers can change.  Batterers are batterers.  They like to batter.  Our culture provides no serious consequences to batterers so they will keep on battering.  I basically think that, like pedophiles, batterers are completely incurable.  There is one exception to this I would add, which is that I do believe that a batterer can relinquish physical violence and replace it almost entirely with verbal abuse.  So they can change from using one form of abuse into using another form of abuse, but whatever it is that they are using, it will be abuse. 

What particularly worries me about Batterer Intervention Programs or Fatherhood Initiatives for batterers which are so immensely popular nowadays among the folks that continue to abuse and oppress women is that they won't eliminate the abuse, because as we know outcomes in these programs are pretty miserable.  Instead, they will educate these men to talk an even more righteous talk so that they will be able to talk themselves out of the consequences for their actions with even greater facility. 

Then the burden ends up being on the victim to explain her unwillingness to let the abuser back into her life and the lives of her children.  The result is that the abuser is even more sophisticated and clever about using the system to harm the victim even further.  This is my greatest fear.  And not just a fear.  This is a reality going on all over the country as different states establish batterer intervention programs and reduce the legal consequences to batterers in order to ensure their participation in the lives of their children, no matter how harmful that participation may be. How long will it be before these batterers end up with custody of the children because the mother refuses to work with the batterer cooperatively.  Not very long, I can assure you. 

It's all very sad, but the fact that this is going on is a reality in this country and the sooner we face it, the better off we will be.