High Court Judge: Don’t always believe claims of domestic violence, as parents can ‘rewrite’ history when making accusations against each other
By STEVE DOUGHTY
23 December 2013
A High Court judge yesterday warned social workers that they should not automatically believe allegations of domestic violence.
Parents in a broken marriage can ‘rewrite history in their own minds’ when they make accusations against each other, Mrs Justice Parker said.
The judge condemned a mother of three boys who had accused their father of violence.
In reality, Mrs Justice Parker said, the woman had herself been violent towards the boys.
She had manipulated her 15-year-old son, turned him against his father, and encouraged him to act as ‘a knight in shining armour’ on her behalf.
The ruling overturned the advice of social workers that the children should spend Christmas with their mother. Instead, the judge ordered that the 15-year-old should go to his grandmother while the younger boys stay with their father.
Mrs Justice Parker said that social workers had uncritically accepted allegations of violence the mother made against the father.
They had also ignored his evidence which showed she was very emotionally troubled.
The mother had shown physical violence to the children and had inappropriately allowed her eldest son to become her confidante and to discipline his brothers.
He had even sent ‘disturbing’ texts urging them to resist contact with their father.
The judge said: ‘Parents who obstruct the relationship with either mother or father are inflicting untold damage on their children and it’s about time the professionals truly understood this.’
She said social workers had not taken into account the degree of parental manipulation in the case and the danger represented to the younger children from the power given to their 15-year-old brother.
The couple, who married in the mid-1990s, were both intelligent and articulate but their inconsistent parenting had led to the eldest boy showing some extraordinarily violent behaviour. He was the ‘carrier for the toxic emotions in this family’, the judge said.
‘It is my view that the ascertainable wishes and feelings of these boys have been demonstrated. They are more than happy to be with their father and may feel some relief being out of the maelstrom.’
She added: ‘I regard parental manipulation of children, of which I distressingly see an enormous amount, as exceptionally harmful.’
Mrs Justice Parker said she was in no doubt that the mother’s record was such that she should not currently have contact with the two younger boys. ‘Much as I would like to give these boys Christmas as they believe they want it, it is unsafe for them to spend Christmas Day with their mother and her family,’ she said.
The judge ruled that they should live with their father until the case returned to court, while the older boy should live with his grandmother and only see his mother under supervision.
Mrs Justice Parker said she was not suggesting the father was an angel, but that he was genuinely concerned for the boys, had a more objective view of what was in their best interests, and far more empathy than the mother.
She added: ‘I take domestic violence extremely seriously. It is a terrible social evil when it exists. But not all allegations of domestic violence and abuse are true and at the end of a stormy and difficult marriage as this has been between the parents of the children, it is very easy for parents to re-write history in their own minds.’