II, Section 201
finds as follows:
(1) Witnessing domestic violence has
a devastating impact on children,
placing them at high risk for anxiety,
depression, and, potentially, suicide.
These children may exhibit more aggressive,
antisocial, fearful, and inhibited
(2) Children exposed to domestic violence
often have problems in school.
(3) Domestic violence is strongly
correlated with child abuse. Studies
have found that between 50 and 70
percent of men who abuse their female
partners also abuse their children.
(4) Boys who witness parental abuse
during their childhood are at a higher
risk of being physically aggressive
in dating and marital relationships.
(5) Girls are 3 times as likely as
boys to be victims of sexual abuse.
(6) Children often fail to report
child sexual abuse because of the
fear that disclosure will bring worse
consequences than being victimized
again, including consequences from
the family, feeling guilty for consequences
to the perpetrator, and fear of subsequent
retaliation from the perpetrator.
Victims may also feel that the abuse
is their fault.
(7) Women are at an increased risk
of harm after separation from an abusive
partner. Separated women are three
times more likely than divorced women
and 25 times more likely than married
women to be victims of violence at
the hands of an intimate partner.
(8) Children are also at increased
risk of harm during separation. In
1 study, 34 percent of women in shelters
and callers to hotlines reported threats
of kidnapping, 11 percent reported
that the batterer had kidnapped the
child for some period, and 21 percent
reported that threats of kidnapping
forced the victim to return to the
(9) According to a 1996 report by
the American Psychological Association
(APA), which Congress views as authoritative
on matters of domestic violence and
child custody and visitation determinations,
custody and visitation disputes are
more frequent when there is a history
of domestic violence. Further, fathers
who batter mothers are twice as likely
to seek sole custody of their children
and they may misuse the legal system
as a forum for continuing abuse through
harassing and retaliatory legal actions.
(10) The need for supervised visitation
centers far exceeds the number of
available programs, resulting in courts
ordering unsupervised visitation and
endangering parents and children or
cutting off visitation altogether.
(11) One-third of high school and
college age students experience violence
with an intimate partner.
(12) A 1992 study concluded that being
abused or neglected in childhood increases
the likelihood of arrest for girls
and women by 77 percent.
(13) Although courts should diligently
protect the interests of both parents
in frequent and continuing contact
with their children, in the case where
1 parent has committed domestic violence
against the other parent, protection
of the other parent and the children
is a vital consideration that should
(14) Every State has legislation or
judicial decisions that base its custody
determinations on what is in the best
interests of the child, and the vast
majority of States include considerations
of domestic violence as a factor in
determining the best interests of
(15) The National Council of Juvenile
and Family Court Judges includes the
option of supervised visitation centers
in their Model Code on Domestic and
(16) Despite the perception that mothers
always win custody cases, studies
show that fathers who contest custody
win sole or joint custody in 40 to
70 percent of cases.
(17) According to the APA, there is
no reliable empirical data to support
the so-called phenomenon of `parental
alienation syndrome,' although courts
and custody evaluators frequently
use such terms to discount children's
reasonable fear and anger toward a
violent parent. This `syndrome' and
similar ones are used almost exclusively
(18) The documented rate of any child
abuse allegations in custody cases
is approximately 2 percent, and there
is no evidence that false accusations
are more common in the context of
(19) Congress never intended that
the Parental Kidnapping Prevention
Act be used to prohibit an abused
or protective parent from protecting
themselves or their child by relocation
to a place of safety.
(20) When domestic violence is or
has been present in the relationship,
shared parenting arrangements, couples
counseling, or mediation arrangements
may increase the danger to children
and to the nonviolent parent.