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Showing posts with label DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Show all posts

Thursday, December 20, 2018


"This Article provides a brief literature survey, focusing on the theory of “parental alienation” which operates as a primary vehicle for making abuse invisible in custody litigation. This Article reports on the co-authors’ pilot study, which begins empirically mapping family courts’ uses of this theory. These pilot results provide preliminary empirical support for the critiques from the field." 

For more information on this issue, continue reading the article at the link below:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


*Ms. Doreen Ludwig, author of "Motherless America" provided the original inspiration for this article as well as a considerable amount of the material included in the article.  The Divorce in Connecticut website would like to acknowledge Ms. Ludwig's outstanding contributions on behalf of Protective Mothers and their children.

This website has often spoken about the fatherhood funding provided by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services which has been pouring into the States by the billions and billions of dollars.  We have tracked how much of that money has been spent supporting abusive fathers in their custody battles in CT Family Court.  

In the early days of spending on fathers, the CT Judicial Branch took on the development of the Family Civil Intake Screen, a form which Family Services now uses to screen people when they apply to them for services.  The CT Judicial Branch is incredibly proud of this form.  In fact, this Intake Screen has been shipped around as a model of excellence to other State Family Court systems throughout the country.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Testimony Opposing
SB 1049, AAC Registration Fees for Counsel and Guardians ad Litem for Minor Children and Other Requirements for Certain Family Relations Matters
Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee April 17, 2017

Text Originally Located at the following link:

Good afternoon Senator Fonfara, Senator Frantz, Representative Rojas and members of the committee. CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is the state’s leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those who serve them. Our members provide essential services to nearly 40,000 victims of domestic violence each year. Services provided include 24-hour crisis response, emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling, agency/staff training, support groups and court advocacy.

We oppose SB 1049

Saturday, November 5, 2016


On Febrary 12, 2005, Ms. Paige Stvan's then husband, Mr. Thomas Stvan, yelled at her, telling her to "shut the fuck up", told her that she was "worthless" and continued to call her all sorts of names. Finally, he became extremely violent, grabbed a glass from her hand and crushed it on her head."  To protect herself, Ms. Stvan threatened to call the police, at which point her ex left the apartment and for some reason only known to him went to the police to preemptively report himself.  He was immediately arrested and an order of protection was issued on Ms. Paige Stvan's behalf.  

Needless to say, Ms. Paige Stvan is a victim of domestic violence.  This observation has been backed up by mental health professionals as follows:

Dr. Linda Gunsberg on Paige Stvan, "She has been going through a divorce and re-litigation until now and there is no end in sight.  Her ruthless and will only stop when he has totally devastated Ms. [Stvan] financially and emotionally...As a result of this abusive marriage and endless Court appearances, Ms. [Stvan] is not only the victim of Domestic Violence, but also suffers from PTSD.  She lives in constant fear of what her ex-husband will do to her and her [child] next."  

Dr. Gunsberg's diagnosis?  Spouse Violence, Physical: V15.41 and Spouse Abuse, Psychological:  995.82.

Social Worker Ashley Adamson, "Ms. [Stvan] presents with a traumatic history of abuse and neglect [which includes] continuous Domestic Violence since her marriage to Mr. Thomas Stvan...With this in mind, treatment has focused on helping Ms. [Stvan] to understand how her past experiences with emotional and physical violence have impacted her current relationships...and to process...her sudden separation from her child after acting as the primary caregiver for the past twelve years."  

Ms. Adamson commends Ms. Stvan on her ability to "continue to advocate for herself despite constant accusations and hostility from her ex-husband."  

So how does it end up that at the same time that Ms. Paige Stvan receives treatment as the victim of domestic violence and remains currently a client of one of the State's well known domestic violence centers, Judge Gerald Adelman has Ms. Paige Steven down as a perpetrator, not a victim?  Let me make a stab at providing an answer to this puzzling phenomenon.  

Of course, we are all now well aware that the State of Connecticut has the highest dual arrest rate in the nation.  However, in addition to this, Ms. Stvan's case points to a  situation that has been well documented, for example, in a Forbes article by Jeff Landers who reports that abusers are "upending domestic violence laws" in order to get the upper hand in divorce.  As Landers put it, "this ploy is just as ugly as it sounds", "some men..[are getting their wives who are actually the victims] arrested, prosecuted and even sentenced as abusers."  Such men have learned to "reshape domestic violence laws into another weapon of abuse."  

In particular, the Women's Justice Center has posted information about how tougher domestic violence laws have inadvertently resulted in skyrocketing arrest rates of women for domestic violence to the point where arrests of women for domestic violence are now 30 to 40 percent greater than before.  

Another striking point this organization makes is that despite the higher arrest rates, the conviction rates for men versus women remain essentially the same.  While 90 to 95% of males arrested end up being convicted, only 6% of arrested women are convicted, essentially because there isn't sufficient evidence. Basically, they are innocent. According to the Women's Justice Center, this means that "in a significant number of these cases, the officers are mistakenly arresting the victim of domestic violence and not the perpetrator."  

In Ms. Paige Stvan's case this appears to be exactly what occurred.  

I have looked at a considerable amount of the documents filed in the Stvan v. Stvan case.  What strikes me in general is how, at every juncture, Ms. Paige Stvan sought co-parenting therapy, suggested mediation, spoke out about resolving conflicts between the parents for the best interests of the child, attempted to avoid confrontations, avoided calling the police or in any way attempting to get her ex in trouble.  

In contrast, Mr. Thomas Stvan used every single opportunity he could find to report Ms. Stvan to authorities whenever he had the chance.  Simply reading one of his court motions demonstrates an individual who is condemnatory at every turn, mean spirited, harsh, judgmental and blaming.  This is hardly how you speak in regard to the mother of your child, particularly the one who, for the better part, has almost single handedly raised her for 12 years.  

Going beyond that, there is the record of the case itself when it comes to economic abuse.  Clearly, the Stvan's were used to a wealthy style of life.  They had an apartment close to Central Park worth at least $1 million, most likely considerably more.  Mr. Stvan earned a six digit salary while working in the publishing industry for 30 years, and clearly had some family money which helped make their lives even more comfortable.  Ms. Paige Stvan was primarily a homemaker who took care of their child.   

Mr. Thomas Stvan's financial position was sufficiently solid that, at the time that the couple separated in 2008, the Court felt it was reasonable for him to pay monthly support of $4,500 as well as the mortgage for their apartment (As a side note, the couple obtained a legal separation in 2008, and then divorced in 2013).  The agreement also included a provision that would allow Ms Page Stvan and her child to remain in the apartment until the child turned 18.

Still, in the years leading up to that financial agreement and subsequently, Mr. Thomas Stvan regularly withheld and randomized these payments, making sure that Ms. Paige Stvan and her daughter's lives were perilous and uncertain.  Ms. Stvan could never be sure when her ex's failure to pay would lead her to default on her mortgage, when the lack of financial support, or a circumstance where her ex's decision to empty out the bank account, would force her to lean on her credit cards.  

Then Mr. Stvan met and presumably married his current wife, an attorney who worked in civil litigation and who is now a real estate investor.  From then on the situation went from bad to worse.  Starting in 2012, Mr. Stvan returned to court and asked to have his financial obligations to Ms. Paige Stvan lowered.  From that time on, the Court lowered and lowered his obligation until in 2015 it was reduced to nothing.  His way of doing this was the always the same.  Each time Mr. Thomas Stvan would report Ms. Paige Stvan to the police for one concocted excuse or another, and then he would simultaneously go to Court to request a reduction in his payments and, due to his repeated, yet unfounded, claims of being a victim, he would end up being successful.  He also continued to harass Ms. Stvan by repeatedly requesting that the police make wellness visits to check up on their daughter, as well as reporting her to CPS.

As a consequence of this constant emotional and financial pressure, naturally, Ms. Paige Stvan ended up in counseling.  Once that was so, Mr. Stvan then began to use the fact that she was in counseling to accuse her of mental illness in all of his Court documents.  At every court hearing, whenever the police were called (and Mr. Stvan called the police frequently), at every CPS investigation, Mr. Thomas Stvan would tell elaborate stories about how he was a victim of domestic violence and how his ex wife was seriously mentally ill, and with every hearing these stories would become more and more elaborate.  Since Mr. Thomas Stvan was not required to provide any documentary or testimonial evidence to support his lurid tales, he simply got away with it, and one success inevitably built upon that next.    

In one situation, on February 8, 2013, Mr. Stvan had Paige Stvan arrested by claiming that she had broken his glasses and headphone during an argument outside their apartment building.  What is interesting is the wording of the complaint where the police officer stated repeatedly, "I am informed by Thomas Stvan".  There was nothing in the report to indicate that police had checked with Ms. Paige Stvan to obtain her side of the story, and her perspective wasn't included in the report. 

As it turned out, in that situation, because Thomas Stvan insisted upon pressing charges, police handcuffed Ms. Paige Stvan's wrists in front of her daughter before she was taken to the police station.  Then when they arrived at the police station, Mr. Stvan informed the police that his ex-wife had mental illness and so the police, as a matter of regulations, handcuffed her feet as well.  Then since it was Friday and the Court wasn't in session until Monday, Ms. Stvan was then held in a prison cell for the entire weekend.  

Predictably, these charges were ultimately dropped.  On another, very similar, occasion Mr. Thomas Stvan had Paige Stvan arrested for not obeying a court order she'd never seen before, and that the judicial marshal had not even delivered to her yet.  This is the power of Mr. Thomas Stvan to persuade people to do his bidding.  Later, again, these charges were dropped.

However, the fact that the Court decided not to follow up by prosecuting these incidents doesn't appear to matter.   Mr. Thomas Stvan could now claim, as he did in subsequent court hearings, that Ms. Paige Stvan had been previously arrested for domestic violence against him, and for disobeying court orders.  At the behest of Mr. Thomas Stvan, after the 2013 incident, based upon mere allegations, the Court granted Mr. Thomas Stvan a restraining order, custody of his daughter and supervised visitation for Ms. Paige Stvan until the outcome of a CPS investigation, which of course, he instigated by claiming his daughter was present during the incident when, in fact, she hadn't been.  During the entire incident the child was inside the apartment building far away from where it took place.  Of course, it didn't seem to bother police or Mr. Stvan when Paige Stvan was arrested and placed in handcuffs in front of the child.

Again, at that time, during the CPS investigation, caseworkers heard ominous reports of Ms. Paige Stan's mental health status and tendency towards violence from Mr. Stvan, all of which were ultimately found insignificant as Ms. Paige Stvan's parental rights were fully restored five months later.  

Of course, even if Ms. Stvan was cleared of allegations of child abuse, this did not stop Mr. Thomas Stvan from telling the court during his next hearing that his ex wife had been investigated by CPS for child abuse.  

Interestingly enough, when you look at the timing of these attacks on Ms. Paige Stvan they usually parallel a situation where Mr. Thomas Stvan wanted to force Ms. Stvan into an agreement she might not want to sign.  For instance, the arrest and destructive aftermath of the alleged incident re the eyeglasses occurred when Mr. Stvan sought to force Paige Stvan to agree to the sale of her apartment.  A month after Paige Stvan signed the sale papers, she got her daughter back.  

If I can see this pattern so easily, I'm not sure why it is so hard for Attorney Rosa Rebimbas to see it if she makes a proper investigation.  I saw it and nobody's paying me thousands of dollars to figure it out.  

I also want to make the observation that it appears to me that men obtain restraining orders for frivolous reasons, in contrast to women for whom judges raise the bar very high.  For instance, in the arrest on February 8, 2013 the allegation was "Paige broke my glasses."  On June 25, 2015, Mr. Thomas Stvan obtained another restraining order by claiming Ms. Paige Stvan made a few off color remarks to him.  

Do folks remember how Arianne Oyola was unable to obtain a restraining order after reporting that the father of her child pushed and shoved her, violated a prior restraining order twice, threatened to kill her, dismember her body and destroy it with acid, and interfered with her access to her child?  Now that is a credible domestic violence complaint, not the silly nonsense Mr. Thomas Svan came up with.  You have to have a child tossed off a bridge to his death to remind Judges of their responsibility towards women experiencing intimate partner violence.  Men, however, all they have to say is, "She gave me a boo boo." and court professionals roll out the red carpet.  

Throughout this process, Ms. Paige Stvan was represented by a series of attorneys who did nothing to defend her and sucked out of her as much money as they could get without lifting a finger.  This is also a very common experience that abused women have.  While many attorneys will work for men on a sliding scale or establish a payment agreement, for women, particularly those dealing with domestic violence, attorneys want all their money in cash up front.  This gross disparity in the quality of legal representation speaks volumes in regard to why intimate partner violence persists and why so many thousands of women remain trapped in these abusive relationships.  In this situation it affected a vulnerable mother and child who had no defense from a legal system that refused to enforce the law and ensure their safety and wellbeing.  

In his final act of abuse, on September 25, 2015, Mr. Thomas Stvan wrested their child from Ms. Paige Stvan's custody during a rigged legal proceeding where the mother was denied an evidentiary hearing, and then cut off from all access to her child.  As Ms. Stvan explains, during their entire marriage, Mr. Stvan was always able to control her because he would threaten to take her child and never let her see the child again.  As it turns out, even though Paige Stvan did all she could to cooperate with her ex, this is exactly what he did.  

Mr. Thomas Stvan claims that he is the victim.  But how could that be true?  He is the one who no longer has to make any support payments to his ex wife a mere two years after their 2013 divorce.  He is the one who now has sole custody of their child and has been able to cut the mother off from all access.  Only abusers do stuff like that. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Cara Rosner of CT News Junkie reports as follows:
Statewide, 222 people have been killed and 3,600 have suffered serious injuries as the result of domestic violence since 2000, according to a report released today.
Of the deaths caused by violence from an intimate partner, most - 190 of them - were women, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. An average of 14 intimate partner homicides occur each year in the state, according to the advocacy organization.
The group reviews intimate partner fatalities and near-fatalities to assess Connecticut’s response to domestic violence and this morning released its 2015-2016 findings.
The good news is that domestic partner homicides dropped to 8 in 2015, but so far in 2016 that number has climbed back up to nine.
At press conference to talk about the results, the group’s CEO Karen Jarmoc said “I don’t think we can say yet whether there’s going to be a decrease. We are grateful for that decrease last year..."

Monday, January 4, 2016


To the Honorable Members of This Committee:

To start, I would like to share that as a child I was present during many incidents of domestic violence in my home, which explains my current intense interest in the subject matter of this task force.  One of the most vivid memories I have at age 12 is of being in the emergency room when a doctor approached me and asked me to explain what had happened to my mother because he didn't believe that the injuries she had sustained came from falling against a door knob. Since I'd had my parents drill me on how I'd be punished if I ever spoke of what went on in my home, I refused to answer at the time, which left me feeling very guilty and traumatized.  So I personally know what it is like to be in the shoes of these children about whom we are speaking and I believe that the interests of children are central to any discussion in regard to domestic violence.
I want to thank each and every one of you individually for your service on this task force and also thank the various presenters who took the time to share their insights with the task force.  The current focus of this task force is very timely and welcome to members of the community who have long endured the damage that results from domestic violence, particularly those who are struggling with custody issues in family court.  As one expert stated, "Domestic Violence puts millions of women and children at risk each year and it is one of the single greatest social ills impacting the nation."  The impact on children can be profound.  As the task force report states, in 11% of DV incidents in 2012 children were present and involved in the these incidents, while in 20% of the incidents children were not involved or present.   However, I assume we can expect that on one level or another, children experience the shock waves of these DV incidents even when they are not present.  It is worth noting that other studies report that an even greater cohort of children are exposed to DV than the task force has indicated. Further, as the task force report indicated the impact on children as the result of this exposure to DV is extremely damaging, i.e., "children exposed to domestic violence may show increased aggression, persistent sleep problems, increased anxiety, difficulty with peer relationships and diminished capacity to concentrate in school" as well as a core loss of a sense of security in the world around them.

My interest regarding this Task Force is in connection to the inadequate response of the CT Judicial Branch to regard to the issue of domestic violence.  These areas are as follows:

Description of Victims of DV Acts as a Barrier:  On a personal level, my primary exposure to the issue of DV occurred during my time in family court when I filed for divorce, an experience which lasted from 2006 up until 2012.  During the time that I was in family court, attorneys, judges and court personnel refused to acknowledge my experience of DV.  In particular, when I reported the abuse to the GAL in my case, she responded, "All women claim abuse."  This was a former head of the Family Relations Division in New Britain.  Since that time, I have seen many cases where legal professionals and judges have responded to DV cases with indifference and disregard.  It is my view that some of this puzzling response is related to how these legal professionals define a victim of DV.  The definition they have received from DV professionals is that a DV victim is the passive recipient of batterer violence who would not fight back.  They also presume that a victim would deny the abuse and would be reluctant to speak of it, and that such a victim would necessarily wish to return to her abuser, not divorce him or her.  While some victims of domestic violence meet this definition, not all of them do.  Unfortunately, if you do not meet this widely disseminated description of a DV victim, if you actually assertively engage in defending yourself from DV and seek to divorce your abuser, legal professionals are unlikely to believe your reports of abuse.  This means that if you speak up and state that you are a victim of DV in family court, you are unlikely to be believed simply by virtue of your ability to speak of it. 

I believe this characterization of the DV victim as passive victims has undercut the ability of the legal profession and the CT Judicial Branch to identify DV victims properly.  The problem arises from the fact that while time has marched on and our understanding of who the victims of DV are has become more complex and enriched, task forces such as this one continue to depend on DV literature that is at least ten or more years old, particularly when it comes to how they characteristize DV victims. Since DV became such a significant issue in the 70s and 80s, a new generation has grown up which, through extensive education and the widespread availability of PSAs and movies regarding DV, has become considerably educated on what DV is.  This means that the victims of domestic violence are not as afraid of the stigma of DV as a previous generation has been.  This is a culture where in literature and within the film industries taboo subjects that few people used to speak of out loud are now the subject of living room conversation--pretty much there are no holds barred.  This means that while the more traditional intimidated and silenced DV victim continues to exist, there are many more victims who are willing to speak up and who feel it is their duty to speak up.  Many victims fight back in the face of batterer violence, but doing so does not make them any less victims.  These individuals' experiences should not be denied and ignored as they have been in connection to family court matters, and victims should not be revictimized and retraumatized by ignorant denials, simply because they break the mold of a past, more traditional, conservative generation.  Why is this important to children?  This is important to children because when they observe their parents being subjected to ongoing, unhindered abuse through the actions of a batterer, and an indifferent family court system, such children endure the trauma which has been reported in this task force as being so harmful to their young minds and bodies.

Psychological, as well as Physical Abuse:  Not only is there a problem with defining who is a victim, there is an additional problem when it comes to defining what DV is.  Currently, our CT statutes solely define DV in terms of physical injury or a threat of physical injury between members of a household or family.  Yet, the June 2015 report on DV presented by the CT Academy of Science and Engineering specifically states that the issue of DV goes beyond physical violence.  On page 4, that report states, "Although the literature primarily focuses on physical and/or sexual abuse, research suggests that psychological abuse appears to have as great a negative impact, if not more, on mental health and physical health."  The report continues on to state that "an additional 14-17% of women have experienced psychological abuse alone."  While work on DV in this task force thus far has solely focused on physical violence, the evidence is clear that psychological abuse is equally, if not more, damaging.  These results concur with the discussion found in Dr. Evan Stark's book "Coercive Control" published on March 1, 2009.  Furthermore, the Academy's report points out that "psychological abuse often precedes physical abuse" which indicates that taking decisive steps to intervene in the presence of psychological abuse could prevent harm that could occur from later physical violence.  Ignoring psychological abuse, which is the current approach taken now, particularly in family court in connection to custody issues, is simply irresponsible and inhumane.  We need to have specific legislation attached to CT DV statutes that directly addresses psychological abuse as well as physical abuse in order to protect both DV victims and their children.  

Even without statutory changes, in family court, Judges and attorneys can go a long way towards eliminating much of this psychological abuse simply by insisting that perpetrators obey court orders. Unfortunately, Judges repeatedly see abusers violating court orders and yet fail to hold them in contempt, despite knowing very well what is going on. Examples of such wrongdoing would be refusing to pay child support as court ordered, refusing to pay for heat and hot water--particularly in the middle of winter--as court ordered, refusing to pay for electricity as court ordered, refusing to pay for telephone services as court ordered, refusing to pay rent or mortgage as court ordered, or refusing to obey access plans regarding the children as court ordered.  Perpetrators have indulged in this kind of nonsense for years with judges allowing them to avoid the consequences.  It is time to put a stop to such behavior because it ultimately leaves children insecure and at risk in their own homes where they live on a daily basis and puts the parent who is being victimized under stress such that attention that by rights belongs to taking care of the children ends up being diverted to issues of survival.

An Unacceptably High Dual Arrest Rate:  Closely allied to the issue of identifying the victims of DV is the problem of CT's unusually high dual arrest rate. Again, the CT Judicial Branch comes across as the wrongdoer in this situation since it has blocked attempts to resolve this matter.  I personally consider the Judicial Branch's actions in this matter extremely outrageous and typical of a Judicial System which has shown great insensitivity to the issue of DV on an ongoing basis.  The facts are as follows.  According to a 2011 study, CT "has the unwelcome distinction of having the highest domestic violence dual arrest rate in the nation."  The article reports CT's dual arrest rate as ranging "between 20% to 40% from 1988 to the present."  As a point of comparison, the article indicated that the nearby state of  Rhode Island has a rate between 2-5% and the national rate is around 3.8%.  Apparently, the reason why CT has such a high dual arrest rate, according to this report, is because CT is pretty much the last State in the nation that has a "mandatory arrest law without a companion primary aggressor provision."  However, in 2004 when the Judiciary Committee attempted to insert a primary aggressor provision in the CT Statutes on DV, according to journalist Chase Wright of  "The Hour" the CT Judicial Branch intervened and had the provision removed.  Just to inform you of how this problem has continued to fester as the result of the Judicial Branch's irresponsible actions, according to the Family Violence Arrests Annual Report of 2013, published by Commissioner Dora B. Schriro of the CT Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the dual arrest rate in CT for the year 2013 was 39% indicating that the rate has shown no signs of slowing down.  In the last few years, large numbers of family court victims, many including DV victims, have stepped forward to state that the CT Judicial Branch has treated them harshly and unfairly. This extremely high dual arrest rate, and the CT Judicial Branch's gratuitous intervention in 2004 which has kept it high, indicate that the Branch has an unacceptable attitude of indifference towards family violence and the children who suffer from the consequences of this violence. This must change.   

Final Issues:  I have also spoken many times in other contexts in regard to the multiple cases in the State of CT where victims of DV who reported abuse were subsequently accused of PAS for speaking of the abuse and denied all access to their children.  I would again like to draw your attention to this issue. Furthermore, many family court victims have spoken about the fact that the CT Judicial Branch does not comply with Federal ADA law.  It is essential that victims of DV and their affected children who have thereby become disabled, or who have been disabled ongoing, have the necessary modifications they need in order to access the legal proceedings in their cases.  Thus far, the CT Judicial Branch has failed to do this.  Not only is the CT Judicial Branch's refusal to comply with ADA law a violation of federal ADA law and a violation of the constitutional and human rights of our most vulnerable, it is also foolish, short sighted, and bottom line negligent.  I would urge this task force to address this issue as well.  

I do apologize here that, to a certain extent, I am focusing more the CT Judicial Branch's weaknesses rather than its strengths.  The Judicial Branch's call for more information sharing within its own departments and with other agencies are well taken.  It is my belief that there is a pressing need for additional advocates in family court to assist victims in filling out forms to obtain restraining orders and in articulating their experiences of DV to the judge.  I also agree with the CT Judicial Branch that it would be helpful to have the Family Relations Division screen applicants for restraining orders for DV in advance of court proceedings.  I appreciate the CT Judicial Branch for taking the positive step of self scrutiny in this area.


Elizabeth A. Richter

Elizabeth A. Richter, M.L.A.
Certified ADA Advocate
P.O. Box 5
Canton, CT 06019

Monday, July 20, 2015


Madeline Stocker of CT NEWS JUNKIE reports as follows:
"The death of 7-month-old Aaden Moreno of Middletown was a painful reminder to lawmakers about why they created a new task force to look at family violence cases. 
Moreno was allegedly thrown off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown by his father after a judge rejected a request for a no-contact order against him, citing a lack of “imminent harm,” court documents show
Moreno’s death and the events leading up to it are just one of the many cases the new task force on family violence will tackle when it convenes for its first meeting later this month.
Though the task force has not yet been fully appointed, Senate President Martin M. Looney and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced their appointments Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.
Looney named Karen Jarmoc, president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as co-chair."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Channel 8 (WTNH) reports as follows:

"HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There were 11 domestic violence homicides in Connecticut in 2014. Five of them involved children. The most recent was just last week. 

Now, the legislature wants to start a task force that would prevent these tragedies. Part of it would be a call for more training for judges..."

For more information on this topic, please click on the link below:

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Nicola Menzie of "The Christian Post" states as follows:
"The issue of domestic violence took center stage earlier this month when video emerged of NFL player Ray Rice punching wife Janay Rice inside of an Atlantic City elevator. The ugly event prompted numerous discussions, including introspective ones among Christians about how church leadership handles, or mishandles cases of domestic abuse. According to one survivor, biblical illiteracy among church leaders actually enabled her abuser.
Autumn Miles, founder of The Blush Network and author of the Appointed: Your Future Starts Now, spoke with The Christian Post about her own past as a domestic abuse victim and how growing up as a preacher's kid in a conservative church actually enabled her abuser.

According to a LifeWay Research survey published in June, pastors seldom preach about domestic violence, although a majority of these leaders consider domestic violence to be a pro-life issue.
"Researchers found about 4 in 10 (42 percent) pastors 'rarely' or 'never' speak about domestic violence. Less than a quarter (22 percent) speak to their church about the issue once a year," LifeWay reported..."


Friday, February 6, 2015


The International Business Times reports the following:
"Activists have launched an online campaign calling for a boycott of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie on the grounds that it promotes domestic violence. 
Almost 6,000 people have given their backing in the form of a Facebook like to the "50 dollars not 50 shades" initiative urging cinemaviewers to donate the cost - $50 (50 pds.) - of a movie night to charities supporting abused women"
For more information on this topic, please click on the link below:

Friday, January 23, 2015


General Assembly
  Proposed Bill No. 651  
January Session, 2015
  LCO No. 2205

Referred to Committee on JUDICIARY
Introduced by: 

SEN. LOONEY, 11th Dist.
SEN. DUFF, 25th Dist.
SEN. BYE, 5th Dist.
SEN. CASSANO, 4th Dist.
SEN. COLEMAN, 2nd Dist.
SEN. CRISCO, 17th Dist.
SEN. FLEXER, 29th Dist.
SEN. LARSON, 3rd Dist.
SEN. MOORE, 22nd Dist.
SEN. WINFIELD, 10th Dist.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That title 46b of the general statutes be amended to require that any person charged with the commission of a family violence crime, as defined in section 46b-38a of the general statutes, or violation of an order issued pursuant to section 46b-15 of the general statutes or subsection (e) of section 46b-38c of the general statutes, shall be held without bond for a period of twelve hours if, at the time of the arrest or any time preceding release, the police officer finds any of the following factors: (1) The use or threatened use of a deadly weapon by the arrested person or a pattern of prior conduct involving the use or threatened use of violence with a firearm against the victim; (2) threats to seriously injure or kill the victim or a minor child by the arrested person; (3) threats to commit suicide by the arrested person; or (4) serious physical injuries inflicted upon the victim or a minor child by the arrested person.

Statement of Purpose:
To provide victims of domestic violence who may be in immediate danger with a significant, set period of time to make provisions for their safety.


General Assembly
  Proposed Bill No. 650  
January Session, 2015
  LCO No. 2202

Referred to Committee on JUDICIARY
Introduced by: 
SEN. LOONEY, 11th Dist.
SEN. DUFF, 25th Dist.
SEN. BYE, 5th Dist.
SEN. CASSANO, 4th Dist.
SEN. COLEMAN, 2nd Dist.
SEN. CRISCO, 17th Dist.
SEN. KENNEDY, 12th Dist.
SEN. FLEXER, 29th Dist.
SEN. LARSON, 3rd Dist.
SEN. WINFIELD, 10th Dist.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That section 46b-15 of the general statutes be amended to improve the service and effectiveness of temporary restraining orders issued, including, to: (1) Require a sworn police officer to serve such order in certain circumstances, including whenever the applicant indicates on the application therefor that the respondent has access to a firearm or ammunition or is in possession of a state-issued firearm or ammunition permit or eligibility certificate; (2) allow a court to extend such order if the applicant is present for the subsequent hearing fourteen days after issuance but the order has not yet been served; (3) increase access on the part of applicants to domestic violence advocates who can assist them in properly filling out applications; (4) broaden the methods by which respondents may be given legal notice of such orders by sworn peace officers; and (5) allow the court to order the respondent to a temporary restraining order that has been issued by the court to temporarily transfer, deliver or surrender all firearms and ammunition that he or she possesses, along with any permit issued pursuant to section 29-28 of the general statutes, and all eligibility certificates issued pursuant to sections 29-36f and 29-37q of the general statutes.

Statement of Purpose:
To provide greater protection to applicants who are granted temporary restraining orders by Connecticut courts.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Sara Schoener of the "New York Times" exposes the truth about two parent households and false accusations of PAS:

"AFTER spending two years studying services for domestic violence survivors, I was surprised to realize that one of the most common barriers to women’s safety was something I had never considered before: the high value our culture places on two-parent families.

I began my research in 2011, the year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than one-third of American women are assaulted by an intimate partner during their lives. I talked to women in communities that ranged from a small rural mining town to a large global city, in police stations, criminal courts, emergency shelters, job placement centers and custody proceedings. I found that almost all of the women with children I interviewed had maintained contact with their abusers. Why?"

For more information, please click on the link below:

Monday, March 24, 2014


In a September 2013 article by Macklin K. Reid found in "The Ridgefield Press", Attorney Sharon Dornfeld adds new insight into the definition of domestic violence:
"Caveman behavior — a husband screaming at his wife, beating her, demanding obedience, subservience, sex — may still be the classic face of domestic violence, but it is no longer viewed as the only face.
“People think of domestic violence as somebody hitting the other person, smacking them with a frying pan,” said Attorney Sharon Dornfeld. “But the understanding of it has evolved to be a much broader set of things. The term that is typically used now is ‘coercion and control.’ ”

Just as a note of interest, last year Attorney Sharon Dornfeld completed a stint as Chairwoman of the CT Bar Association's Family Law Division.  Even more recently, she acted as Co-Chair of the controversial Task Force held at the Legislative Office Building in regard to the role of Guardians Ad Litem in complex custody cases.
For more information on this topic, please click on the link below:

Friday, January 24, 2014


Parental Alienation as voodoo science invented solely with the purpose of removing protective mothers from the lives of their children, and handing those children over to their abusers.  For more information, see the article below:

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Major Victory for All Women: House Passes Inclusive VAWA
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
February 28, 2013
With a resounding vote of 286-138, the House passed a bipartisan, inclusive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This is a major victory for all women, including women in the LGBT community, Native American women, women on college campuses and immigrant women. NOW thanks the steadfast champions of VAWA in both the House and the Senate as well as the activists around the country who refused to give up on the countless women who will now be protected in this bill.
We should not have had to work so hard and for so long to get such a bill passed. Since its initial authorization in 1994, VAWA has rightly enjoyed bipartisan support -- until the last Congress, which failed to reauthorize VAWA for the first time in the bill's history. The House GOP leadership was responsible for this delay, introducing a regressive version of the bill in 2012 and again this year. But our friends on Capitol Hill would not back down, and we salute their courage and support.
While we celebrate today's victory, we must begin immediately on the hard work of ensuring that VAWA's authorized programs are fully funded. NOW calls on Congress to appropriate every last dollar authorized in this bill. Women's lives are on the line. How could we settle for anything less?

Saturday, December 29, 2012


* "Donna Kristofak was terrified and letting the court know it.  John S. Kristofak, who was her husband for 19 years, had been arrested when he chased her in a Wal-Mart parking lot. In his car were a butcher’s knife and what police called “a suicide note.”
Six months later, in a court hearing  held on Oct. 12, Mrs. Kristofak begged a Cobb County judge not to release him from jail. “I fear for my life,” she told Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs, telling the judge that a court-issued order of protection would not stop her crazed ex-spouse.
Early Thursday, fugitive squads arrested John Kristofak, 58, after a short struggle at a Motel 6 in Union City, ending a publicized five-day manhunt. He was charged with doing exactly what he’d promised earlier this year: murder.
The worst had happened.  Late Saturday morning, John Kristofak allegedly entered the garage of his 48-year-old ex-wife’s East Cobb home and stabbed her once in the upper torso, according to a warrant. She died later at a hospital.
So why didn't the Judge listen to Donna Kristofak who predicted her ex husband would kill her if the Judge released him from jail? 
Mr. Kristofak had a history of being violent and threatening towards his ex wife.  Apparently, they were divorced in August 2011 and circumstances were sufficient to justify the imposition of a restraining order one month later. 
Then in March the following year, he started harassing his ex-wife, according to court documents, repeatedly calling her workplace using “vile, vulgar language to her and her coworkers.”

He allegedly sent an e-mail March 19 saying, “You are in danger — protect yourself. No one can help you at this point. You won’t know where it is coming from.”
Then another, “I warned you never cut me off from my children. You did and you will pay, ” according to an arrest warrant from March. “I am not living past tonight so I will do anything to get you back.”
On March 26, he erected posters in front of her house accusing her of “vile, vulgar sexual things,” a warrant states. One of their teen-aged sons found the posters.
Three days later, he was arrested at the Wal-Mart parking lot as she “frantically called for help.”

Kristofak remained in jail until October, when he cut a plea deal with the court that would sentence him to seven months in jail and have him serve the rest of the 5-year term on probation.
According to the transcript of the guilty plea Oct. 12, Donna Kristofak told the judge: “I definitely want a permanent order of no contact. May I also say that a protective order existed the night of the arrest and I do not feel that will necessarily bring safety.”
Judge Grubbs: “I understand that. It’s a little different with a TPO and filing a protective order. … If he violates the order in this case he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately.”
Mrs. Kristofak: “Yes, your honor, I respect that and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that …”
“I understand,” the judge said, cutting in.
“… I fear for my life,” Mrs. Kristofak continued.
“I can’t tell you with 100 percent, I’d be lying to you and I am sorry you are in that position,” said the judge, sounding sympathetic. “But whatever I do, you can go out and, you’ve got that risk but you will have that … copy of the protective order so the minute you get nervous about anything you call the police. … It’s as close as we can get to 100 percent.”
“Thank you, your honor,” Mrs. Kristofak said. “May I ask, your honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?”
“It is on the record,” said Judge Grubbs, who then threatened John Kristofak, saying she would send him to prison in an instant if he ever came near his ex-wife or tried to contact her.
So why didn't Judge Adele Grubbs keep John Kristofak in jail longer?  Why wasn't every possible step taken to prevent him from killing his ex wife?  Perhaps the answer is in Grubbs response to the case.
Grubbs, who has sat on the bench for 16 years, said the domestic violence cases that worry her the most are the ones where a woman tells the court that her husband didn’t mean to threaten her and she wants him back.
In other words, if you know your ex husband is violent and state you are afraid of him, you are not truly in danger.  However, if you say your ex is not violent and "didn't mean to threaten you", and that you "want him back" then you actually are in danger. 

Does that make any kind of sense to you?  Sorry if it doesn't, because that is exactly what attorneys and judges think.
If you as a woman litigant actually know what you have experienced, know who you are and what you think about what you have experienced, and then articulate your thoughts, you must be either misguided, wrong or exaggerating. 
But if you are too immature and/or beaten down to the point where you are incapable of making the right choices, or stating what you think and feel, then we should conclude your circumstances are dire. 
Likewise, in family court, and in the AMC/GAL training, attorneys are informed that if a mother states outright that she has been abused, then she must be inventing it.  However, if she is ashamed to talk about abuse, or refuses to discuss it, presumably because she lacks maturity or understanding to do so, then she probably was abused.
Talking about being caught in a Kafkaesque trap!
Why is Donna Kristofak dead right now?  Because she knew what she had experienced and she was smart enough to talk about it.
Jean Douglas, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, said her organization assists in seeking more than 1,000 temporary protection orders each year in DeKalb County.
Douglas said the fact that Mr. Kristofak had a knife and suicide note when arrested in March was “a huge red flag.”
“Every one of these cases is excruciating; the victim called it right here,” she said. “She did incredibly well. She articulated exactly what he would do. . .”
And that is the problem.  As a reasonably intelligent, insightful woman, Donna Kristofak was aware enough to speak clearly and concisely to the Court about the problem.  And, from what I can see, it was just this clarity and ability to speak up about the problem that convinced the judge that there was no need to protect her.
The conclusion I draw from this woman's story is crazymaking to all of us, but it is a fact.  Had Donna Kristofak been stupid and clueless, my best guess is, she'd be alive today.
*The facts of the Kristofak case are loosely based on an article from The Atlanta Journal