Honey, I killed the kids

This guy, who has JOINT CUSTODY, kills his 3 young daughters and then calls the ex to let her know:

Slaying of 3 River Falls Girls Stokes Community Fears of Domestic Violence

Schaffhausen and his ex-wife had joint custody of the girls, and on the day of the killings, he contacted her to ask whether he could see the children, who were being watched by a baby sitter. Jessica Schaffhausen agreed, the criminal complaint states.

Less than two hours after the sitter left the girls at the home with Schaffhausen, he called Jessica Schaffhausen and said, “You can come home now because I killed the kids,” according to the complaint.

She called police, who then found the girls dead from cuts to the neck. The youngest girl also had been strangled. Schaffhausen soon after turned himself in to police.

On Friday, Wojcik said crimes such as the River Falls killings are less about violence than they are about power and control.

“He didn’t just murder them, he then called her to say (what he had done),” she said. “It’s a final act of trying to control that person and inflict the most harm they can on them.”


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  How many of these stories do we have to read before these family court judges get a clue? Joint custody is for mild to moderate conflict, which are NOT typically the cases you see in family court. It’s just re-traumatizing to keep reading these cases. The media has to do its job, too, and provide some context. This is a pattern and deserves the media’s attention.

Shared parenting in the press

Arizona State University researchers found the public favored shared parenting “favored by most fathers’ groups” even when conflict was present. What it didn’t mention is that experts ‘favor’ shared parenting when there is low-to-moderate conflict, not high conflict and certainly not in cases of abuse (domestic violence or child abuse). Access should not be more important than safety, but that seems to be the course we’re on.

Studies: Public favors equal custody for children of divorce

Here’s some links that caution use of presumptive shared custody:

The case against joint physical custody

Debunking the claims about joint versus sole custody

Level playing fields, or not? “One lady’s” response to Rob Hahn’s piece in the Huffington Post

 (Note: This is rather long – You can scroll down to the bottom to see the summary of my points)

Apparently, Rob Hahn believes his Huffpost piece is a level playing field to my e-mails. It is not. And that’s not the only unfair playing field he believes in.

Hahn believes he has created an “equality” model called EAP – Equality through 50/50 shared physical custody as the legal presumption.

(Here’s a source that contradict the idea that shared custody is equal: 

Joint Custody Laws Facilitate Abuse by Jack C. Straton


Treating parents equally at divorce time ignores past child care time and effort, parenting skills and history of abuse. We don’t get equal pay checks for showing up at work – nor should we get equal custody for showing up at family court —f amily court, of all places – – “the place” for couples with moderate-to-high conflict and abuse cases (domestic violence, child abuse, and child sexual abuse).

He says there should be “accountability by judges.” That’s a good one. Judge Lemkau, for instance, accused Katie Tagle of fabricating lies to deny the father access to their 9-month old baby. He gave the father custody. The father rode off into the mountains and killed the infant and committed suicide. Shouldn’t this judge be held accountable for his decision? Many more mothers have similar stories of abusers getting custody.

Katie Tagle case: http://ncmbts.blogspot.com/2010/02/tagle-garcia-transcript-of-deadly.html

Goher case: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/7244130.html  and http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7210150.html

 Choosing Jail Over Joint Custody by Michael A. Lindenberger


Abused Mothers’ Mental Health http://www.hhs.gov/news/healthbeat/2010/11/20101101a.html

Research citations: http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/dv.html

In defense of this accusation, Hahn proposes “prevention” of domestic violence through “divorce courses.” Tell that to the women who’ve been stalked, strangled, and kicked in their pregnant stomachs. Two hours (his proposal) of domestic violence “prevention” is an absurdity. It’s thrown in as a crumb to victims of family violence. 

He goes on to mention the “well-documented research” that supports shared custody. Since shared custody is in its infancy in the US, I would like to see the “well-documented research.”

How about studying the effects of joint custody where’s it been used longer and more widely than the US, like Australia?

Shared parenting in Australia (it’s “hurting children”)


And yet Hahn, who you would think has researched this topic extensively, believes criticism is “down right perplexing” as if there wasn’t supposed to be an opposing viewpoint to this perfect plan.  

Actually, many couples do voluntarily choose shared parenting so it’s more perplexing that he believes legislation that forces couples to share children 50-50 and go through a 2 hour course on domestic violence is anything less than ideal.

He writes, “one lady emailed me that she was “dismayed” that I could support shared custody.” That “one lady” was me.

“She went to great length to note all her credentials and pointed me toward studies that did not specifically address my repeated questions about how shared custody and domestic violence prevention could co-exist in legislation. (Note 1)

Hahn questions my statement that most couples make their own parenting plans. About 10-15% actually go to court to have a judge settle custody for them. If he disagrees with this, I’d like to see citations instead of taking his word for it. Surely, he can enlighten me.

He says he talked to a representative from a battered women’s organization and that the “lobbyist went so far to suggest a legal presumption of shared custody and best interest of the child(ren) are mutually exclusive.”  This, he says, sticks in “his craw.”

Tell me Mr. Hahn, how would legal presumption of shared custody help children who were abused physically, sexually or emotionally? How would shared custody help children who weren’t abused themselves but witnessed it in their parents (which many studies state leads to future problems)? How would shared custody help children whose parent controls and coerces the other? How can shared custody help children whose parents argued extensively prior to divorce? How can shared custody help children whose mother now lives in poverty because she didn’t work during marriage and will receive little if no child support during shared parenting? How will breastfeeding during shared parenting work for babies? How will timely medical decisions be made? What will be the result of a child that flip-flops back and forth between two homes, some since infancy?

If he doesn’t have the answers to these important questions, how can he say the lobbyist’s statement ‘stuck in his craw.’  How can he say he’s never been given “any semblance of an explanation of how shared custody and domestic violence prevention could coexist in legislation.” I personally referred him to several sources on domestic violence. I would imagine if he’s proposing legislation that includes domestic violence, he would be quite up to date on what it involves. And rather than take accountability for his lack of understanding, he blames others.

“Nor has any of these individuals offered any reference to legislation – successful or not – they’ve helped introduced or supported that included custody issues and domestic violence prevention.” Why would anyone support legislation that includes custody issues and domestic violence prevention unless it would be to enforce supervised visitation?!? This is so utterly ridiculous. Domestic violence can’t be “prevented” at the time of divorce (if it can, again, please enlighten me).

Most experts believe domestic violence prevention needs to be introduced in schools in order for it to be effective (which I mentioned to Hahn in our email conversation.) Does he really think that after a woman has gone through hell with a man that she’d be willing to co-parent with him? (Some women do choose this route – because society tells them the child needs both parents. Other women want to escape their abuser at any cost and question the abuser’s ability to parent or cooperate. For women that suspect child sexual abuse, I can’t imagine they’d want the other parent in the child’s life, can you?)

Hahn says his model addresses judicial accountability and identification of potential high conflict cases. How? He never quite tells us. You can’t sue a judge. The best you can do is appeal your case. Judges are not accountable for abusers getting custody. Nor are they accountable for injuries or deaths that occur due to their judgments.

And, as for Hahn identifying potential high conflict cases. Again, How? Batterers can be upstanding citizens. They can be charming. They can be more in control of their emotions than their partners. They can lie. They can manipulate. And they deny, deny, deny. Often judges uses their gut instincts – but it is far easier for any one of us to believe a woman is lying than a man is abusive or a potential killer.

Hahn says his model will be a “giant step” in assuring both parents start on a level playing field with custody decisions. I asked him, “Why doesn’t shared parenting start at birth?” Because if shared parenting started at birth, there’d be no need to force it on couples when they divorced. “Best interest of the child” could still be used (safety would be more important than access) and the parent that provided the most childcare would have more time with the child (based on merit not entitlement).

Here are my points about shared parenting:

  1. Shared parenting should start at birth not divorce – that would be true equality.
  2. Shared parenting is best left to couples that voluntarily and willingly accept it. It shouldn’t be something that’s forced. If children witnessed arguing and violence during the intact marriage, it will surely follow during the co-parenting stage (and a 2-hour course will not prevent it).
  3. Shared parenting works best for couples with low to moderate conflict. Experts agree, it is not recommended for those with high conflict or abuse.
  4. In the argument that “both parents are needed,” why is it that women can be punished with loss of custody if they “alienate” a child. If both parents are necessary, why transfer custody – which both punishes the mother and ignores “best interest of the child.”
  5. The argument that “both parents are needed” ignores death of a parent, lesbian and gay couples, as well as other alternative family situations. In effect, saying “father absence results in social ills” is akin to blaming society’s problems on single mothers. In reality, poverty, drugs, and gun laws, to name a few, have more to do with social ills than gender, marital status, or having two adults in your life. It is more important to have good role models than it is to have shared time with a parent that is unsafe, makes poor decisions, or lacks parenting skills. 
  6. Safety is far more important to the child than being forced to live with two adults for the sake of their “equality.” Access does not trump safety. The best interest of the child takes safety into consideration while shared parenting takes access into consideration. The best interest of the child is being replaced with best interest of the adult.

The Liz Library


Shared parenting arrangement doesn’t require a special law


Note 1 (cut & pasted from parts of our email conversation)

Here is the explanation for me noting my credentials at “great length:”

Hahn:  “I think I can elucidate some misconceptions.”

Me: I do take offense at the comment that I have “misconceptions.” While I’m not an expert, I have excellent credentials and have been active in family court issues specifically for 4 or 5 years and I have experience in health, human rights, and violence against women. I serve on 2 boards, belong to a commission, and write on the subject when I can. I also worked for a domestic violence organization for a short time, but was furloughed when budgets got tightened. I should not have to say this, but I’m defending myself – I shouldn’t have to when there’s mutual respect.
Otherwise, I’m quite happy to continue this conversation so that we may both be enlightened, as I’m sure we both have something to contribute to the conversation.

Hahn: How can shared custody and domestic violence prevention co-exist?

Me: How can you get an abuser – somebody who uses physical violence, perhaps sexual violence, threats, intimidation, and coercion – akin to what some call “terrorism” – get shared custody? I referred him to Lundy Bancroft’s book on batterers as parents. It’s the best I can do because I don’t know how on Earth one prevents an abuser from abusing. Many of the batterer programs actually fail because – like alcoholics – until the batterer admits his abuse, there really is no help.

Femicide…where’s the outrage?

George Sodina killed three women…

George Sodini shot and killed three women and injured 11 more before killing himself in a hate crime against women Tuesday night in Pennsylvania. Sodini entered an aerobics class at a gym in the Pittsburgh area intending to take revenge on women, who he saw as rejecting him en masse, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sodini did not know anyone in the aerobics class he targeted, according to the New York Times, contradicting earlier reports of an ex-girlfriend inside the gym. In a blog that has since been removed from the internet, Sodini wrote of his plans for the killing and his hatred of women.

“I actually look good,” Sodini wrote in December of last year. “I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne – yet 30 million women rejected me – over an 18- or 25-year period. That is how I see it. Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are.” Sodini also repeatedly referred to women as “hoez,” and wrote of his sexual frustration, claiming to have been celibate since 1990.

“This killer fits into a long pattern of males who harbor hatred towards all women, the image of ‘woman,’ and towards individual real women, and who take out their frustration on a female scapegoat,” Professor David Gilmore of Stony Brook University told the Christian Science Monitor.

Source: Feminist Majority

Please read Bob Herbert’s (my hero) write up in the New York Times called Women at Risk.

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.

Back in the fall of 2006, a fiend invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

Unbelievable, isn’t it? No outrage. No uproar. No uprising.

We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.

For more about outrage (or lack thereof), read: Femicide: There’s not enough outrage

But, as Toronto author Brian Vallee points out in his 2007 book The War on Women, nobody counts the dead, nobody connects the dots, nobody calls out the problem.

“Compare the raw numbers,” he writes of the period 2000-06. “In the same seven-year period when 4,588 U.S. soldiers and police officers were killed by hostiles or by accident, more than 8,000 women – nearly twice as many – were shot, stabbed, strangled, or beaten to death by the intimate males in their lives. In Canada, compared to the 101 Canadian soldiers and police officers killed, more than 500 women – nearly five times as many – met the same fate.”

There’s not enough outrage.

How many women and girls must die – often brutal – deaths before society is outraged enough to do something about it?

He should be IN custody, not WITH custody

We learn that this man punched his ex-girlfriend and threatens to kill her and her children and threatens suicide (a suicidal abuser is extremely dangerous).

A Gastonia man is accused of punching his ex-girlfriend in the back of the head and threatening to kill her and her two young children before committing suicide.

We learn that this man has joint custody:

Gilmore and the accuser have a joint custody arrangement.

We read his words, as if they were straight from a domestic violence textbook:

“…(I)f I can’t have you, nobody can,” Gilmore allegedly told her. “I’ll kill you, the kids, then myself.”

And then we read in print, right before our very eyes, a dirty little “secret” in family courts nationwide:

A Gaston County magistrate released him on a $5,000 unsecured bond and ordered him to have no contact with the accuser outside of their child custody agreement.

He continues to have child custody.

I sincerely hope this doesn’t have a textbook ending.

Read the full article here: Gastonia man accused of punching ex-girlfriend, threatening to kill her, kids, self