Note: This post refers to sociopaths and abusers as men and fathers. I apologize if this offends any of you. It is not my intention to discriminate against men on this issue. However, statistically men make up the majority of abusers and those diagnosed as sociopaths. For this reason, most studies focus on the male gender when compiling data. It is not personal.
I came across an interesting report today that I want to share. The study, by the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Family Violence, asks a hard question: Do abusive fathers have an equal right to child custody when the relationship with the mother ends?
Make no mistake, if you are involved with a sociopath your relationship is abusive. He (or she) doesn't have to punch you or break bones to be a terrorist. Psychological abuse is every bit as valid as physical abuse.
Along with identifying the dynamics that are common in abusive relationships, the study identifies three critically important elements that all of these cases have in common.
- Sociopaths and other abusive ex-spouses will try to alienate your child from you. They accomplish this by telling the child negative things about you and restricting your telephone access with your child.
- Almost always, the parent now seeking custody was NOT involved in raising your child prior to you splitting up.
- They may have a history of threatening to abduct (or actually do abduct) your child if you leave them.
“Fathers that are abusive in a relationship can be EXPECTED to use abusive power and control techniques to continue to exert control over the mother and child”
Yet, courts often don't consider how abusive behaviors are relevant in child custody issues. Why? Public opinion dictates that fathers should have equal access to a child. The obvious flaw is that this opinion is based on an assumption that the father is a mentally healthy individual and will act in the best interest of the child.
Clearly, a sociopath NEVER acts in the child's best interest. He acts in his own. If it gets him what he wants, it is okay regardless of who gets hurt. Barry Goldstien, a tireless domestic violence advocate, has this to say about custody issues:
“A standard abuser tactic is for him to tell the mother she will lose custody if she leaves because of some real or imagined charge. Too often, women stay with an abuser because she is afraid she will lose custody over an issue that he can't prove or is not important.
Another common abuser tactic is seeking joint custody. Such a request seems benign (too often to the courts), but is often misunderstood. Joint custody is not about visitation. A father can have normal visitation without custody. Instead, it is used to control his ex-partner. Joint custody is generally a bad idea and should never be considered where the father has been abusive. Many decisions affect the parent living with the children more, but joint custody requires equal rights in decision-making. “
Other things a sociopath will do:
Encourage the child to disrespect to the mother by interfering in her attempts to create structure for the child, contradicts her rules, and ridicules her in front of the child. He may also permit activities prohibited by the mother (such as watching violent tv shows) and seek custody for vengeance.
Interfering in the relationship between the mother and child by refusing to let the mother comfort a distressed child and/or encouraging the child to be abusive to the mother. A sociopath sees a child distressed at being separated from the mother as a direct attack on him personally. He will often counter by convincing the child that it is the mother's fault.
Use the child as a weapon against the mother by neglecting abusing, and endangering the child to hurt the mother, threatening to harm or kidnap the child, and refusing to buy the child anything because he knows the mother won't let the child go without.
The Presidential Task Force study summerizes this issue by stating that it is better for a child's development to have limited contact with an abuser. These behaviors are harmful and a very valid reason to fight the sociopath for custody.
Wheel of Abuse for Children: