© 2019 by Battered Mothers Custody Conference. 

BMCC XIV Hour by Hour Schedule

THE 14th BATTERED MOTHERS CUSTODY CONFERENCE

April 26th - 28th,  2019

THE DESMOND HOTEL, ALBANY, NEW YORK
 

Title Sponsors

California Protective Parents Association and the

Mothers of Lost Children
National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)

 

Purple Sponsors

Safe and Together Institute

Kathy Jones, Justice Advocate, Consultant & Trainer, DV Sur5r Network

Sheryl Erfurt, Majestic Massage


Partner Sponsors
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
KidsAreHuman.org

 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

MAIN SESSION-- FRIDAY MORNING, APRIL 26TH

 

10:00 - 10:15 a.m. OPENING ADDRESS AND GREETINGS

      Mo Hannah, Ph.D., Chair

      Liliane Miller, Vice Chair and Diane Meyer, Executive Director
   Ruth Glenn, President and CEO, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence  (Skype)

      Rose Garrity


10:15 – 11:00 a.m. Lisa Fischel-Wolovick:  Keynote Address: Battered Mothers in the Family Courts: Next Steps  

               The treatment of protective mothers and their children is a human rights violation of national proportions.  The protective mothers’ movement can draw many parallels to the MeToo movement.  The recent U.S. Senate response to testimony of a victim of sexual assault, in which she was criticized for failing to promptly report the abuse, and her memories were discredited, is remarkably similar to that of battered mothers in the family courts. Bringing this problem into public consciousness will require a hard look at our resources, legislative and clinical responses, and an evaluation of the Fathers’ Rights Movement’s strategies.  Many survivors have engaged in this process and can provide us with a knowledge of their strategies. Solutions can be found in the research focusing on the lack of transparency during custody litigation, the harm to mothers and children who are re-traumatized by the family courts’ response. Human rights research has recommended transparency, including court houses that are open to the public, the development of court observers, training, services, to traumatized families, development of trauma-informed custody jurisprudence, and changes in the judicial selection process. Finally, advocates, mental health practitioners, community members, must add our voices to the common goal of protecting children and survivors.  

 

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Toby Kleinman:  Keynote Address:

11:45 – Noon    Break

 

12:00 – 12:45   Garland Waller: Keynote Address:  Media and Gaslighting: They Do It Too

                  Many years ago, Diane and Charlie Hofheimer, a husband-wife legal team that represented women only in divorce and custody cases, introduced me to a shocking scandal – that men who beat their wives and sexually abused their children could actually get custody in America’s Family Courts. They inspired me to make a documentary, Small Justice: Little Justice in America’s Family Courts and they guided me as I tried to expose a complicated and outrageous scandal. I was sure that when it was completed, when viewers heard about it and saw it, the system would change…. People would be outraged. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I tried again with No Way Out But One, the Holly Collins’ story, believing that the story just needed to be more hopeful – have a happy ending… a mother saved her kids. But no such thing happened and I learned that the mainstream media is not our friend. I will speak about the process of making the documentaries, the effort to get publicity and exposure, and my new effort to move toward drama instead of documentary. I will also give some suggestions and observations about how I think women could help themselves when they speak with journalists about their stories and this issue.

12:45 – 1:45  Lunch in the Main Ballroom

 

1:45 – 2:00   Break

 

2:00 – 2:45  Jennifer Collins: Keynote

 

2:45 – 3:30   Barry Goldstein: Keynote: Representing the Domestic Violence Survivor

                 The most common question we receive is where to find a good attorney for a DV custody case.  Elizabeth Liu and Barry Goldstein wrote the book to train attorneys to be the answer to this question and to help protective moms if they have to represent themselves.  Attorneys need to tell the judge that there is now a specialized body of scientific research that courts can use to recognize and respond to domestic violence and child abuse.  This information can change a conversation that protective moms have been losing.  Barry Goldstein will discuss how to use this research to protect children.  The new edition of this book includes new chapters about ACE and gender bias and updates the earlier chapters with new research that is now available.  

3:30 – 4:30   Break

 

4:30 -5:30   Concurrent Workshops: Session One

​     1.  Garland Waller:  Telling Your Story So Others Will Listen

Related to the keynote, this workshop is designed to help women craft their stories so that they will be succinct, riveting, and targeted to journalists and/or the mainstream public. I will work one to one and with the group on taking key parts of their individual experiences and creating a clear, powerful, and with luck persuasive personal story of no more than five minutes in length. Basically, over the years, I have seen what makes reporters respond to stories and what doesn’t.  Yes, it’s an uphill battle, but with #wetoo, the time might be just right. The result of this work can be used for the Testimony Project which will be videotaped on Sunday. Please come to the workshop with notes and specifics and what you consider to be the five most important aspects of your story.

Testimony Project:  Videotaping will be available for those who register to speak truth to power in what will be a powerful and moving testimony by loving mothers who have lost custody – full or partial – of their children. No testimony will be longer than five minutes. In other words, the full story MUST come in under 5 minutes. The workshop may be useful but it is not required.

     2.  Lisa Mehos:  Trauma to Triumphs:  Discovering Inner Strength Through Healing

This session brings mothers together to practice transforming trauma into purpose, hope, and personal growth.  It includes background information on the benefits of Trauma Sensitive Yoga for both mothers and children; and includes simple exercises for any fitness level, guaranteed to invigorate, empower, and heal.  Together, mothers use body awareness and movement to confront anxiety, negative triggers; and discover how Yoga effectively regulates emotions, while erasing the lingering trauma from abuse.  Participants will take home a personal gift as a reminder of the power of goodness and gratitude that’s meant to be shared.

 

     3.  Christine McCue: Pay Close Attention…Very Close Attention…to that Man Behind the Curtain!  Strategies, Tips, and Observations for the Family Court Litigant

If you are a family court litigant who is either pro-se or, even if represented, wishes to understand what is truly happening in your case, join me for my workshop describing various scenarios, pitfalls, and tactics that I have witnessed throughout my 20 years as a protective mother and family court attorney. In addition, while I cannot and will not offer legal advice, bring your questions and I’ll be more than happy to offer my friendly opinion.

     4.  Sam Yuwar, Greg White, & Barry Goldstein:  Batterer Programs Do Not = Safety: Realities Women Need to Know!

Batterer Programs were created in the United States to stop men from abusing their intimate female partners.  In many ways they have created a sense of false hope for many victim/survivors; especially women partnered with men attending programs.  Their hope is often that their partner will be fixed, and his abuse will end.  Often said: Batterer Programs Don’t Work!  It is critical that survivors (and advocates) understand the efficacy issues, essential to their safety, and safety of their children.

• Participants will have greater knowledge of the realities of batterer program efficacy outcomes and how the New York Model is a solution to the discourse of batterers programs across the country;

• Participants will understand the realities, limits, and risks of having a batterer program in their community, wedded to behavioral change outcomes, including, the serious implications for partners of men who attend programs that report they are ending men’s violence;

• Participants will be informed of critical role of a New York Model Batterer Program that is contextualized in a coordinated criminal / civil justice response;

• Participants will understand the rationale for accepting mandated men into the program as a way to ensure accountability / monitoring roles of the program – an essential element to the court’s ability to hold men accountable; voluntary participation will be addressed from a NY Model perspective;

• Presenters will offer: concrete illustrations, concepts and principles of the model; PowerPoint illustrations; didactic material and facilitate questions and discussion.

 

     5.  Michelle Etlin:   Psychohistory or Psycho ”HIS” story?

Michelle Etlin presents a theory that suggests the epidemic of battered mothers losing custody of, and even visitation with, their children is part of a social phenomenon meant to preserve the American Society’s “Patriarchal Warrior Culture,” which has come under attack by movements in many quarters:  civil rights; feminism; domestic violence prevention and remedy; child abuse prevention; women’s financial rights in family law; and now the #MeToo Movement.  She believes that as these social movements threaten the supremacy of the patriarchy, the society’s legal and economic power will be employed to exert even more coercive control over mothers and children, to neutralize the threat.  The way the society does this is by redefining the problems and re-prescribing the solutions needed.  She will give examples of legal “redefinitions” of the various movements, such as the metamorphosis from “We need to get mothers to report suspicion of child sexual abuse and get help to improve children’s lives” to “We need to stop mothers from making false allegations of sexual abuse in vindictive attempts to ruin men’s lives.”  Thus, in a “he said [rightfully]/she said [falsely]” paradigm, psychohistory becomes psycho-HIS-story. 

4:30 -5:30   Concurrent Workshops: Session Two

      1.   Sarah Nixon: When All Else Fails: A Personal Perspective

on the Criminalization and Incarceration of Protective Mothers

This presentation provides the perspective of a mother who was criminalized, convicted in federal court, and incarcerated, after having sought to protect her small daughter who had credibly reported abuse at her father’s hands, and whom multiple child abuse experts had determined he had sexually and physically assaulted.

Taking as its starting point the large body of research data, program evaluations, formal reports and recommendations funded and published by the Office on Violence Against Women, the first part of this presentation offers first-person insight into the critical disconnect between policy and practice – between what the Department of Justice knows about family court’s endemic mishandling of child abuse allegations, and what the Department of Justice does when handling cases that arise from those courts’ failures to safeguard abused children and protective parents.1

The second part explores the pressing question of how criminalized protective parents can best advocate for their children, and traces the presenter’s efforts in attempting to navigate, pro se, the malfunctioning family court system, which, having transferred sole child custody to the father, continues to miss the overt symptoms of child abuse, and domestic violence by proxy, while isolating a traumatized, and now alienated, daughter from her mother.  

 

    2..  Teri Yuan: Employing a Feminist Approach to Ending Intimate Partner Violence: Tools & Strategies to Build Awareness and Collective Responsibility

Domestic violence affects people of all genders, races, classes and physical abilities.  My workshop will provide an overview of the differences between patriarchal and feminist ideology as it is manifest in the social service sector, in family court, and in the criminal justice systems,  and their respective and collectives responses to addressing domestic and gender-based violence.  Our workshop will address building skills to:

1)    understand domestic violence and coercive control as a gendered crime

2)    build consciousness around systemic sexism, misogyny and gender bias

3)    recognize when the above shows up in the context of DV services/systems/policies

4)    name and respond to these experiences

5)    identify concrete steps to share with our family, friends, community to become allies in the struggle to end gender-based violence

 

      3.  Dara Carlin: Spiritual Warfare: the Battle in Family Court 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12.  Family court is far from a heavenly realm but it is where we have been placed to do battle.  This workshop will focus on tools for spiritual preparedness through faith because it's hard to face the enemy and put on "the armor of God" when you can't even get out of bed.

     4. Elsa Newman: The Three Branches of Our Government and What Their Roles Become in DV Cases: A Slide Presentation and Q and A

There are 3 branches of government:

• The judicial

• The legislative, and

• The administrative

In theory, they operate separately and distinctly. In practice, where there are DV cases, whether they arise in court (judicial branch) or in an agency (administrative branch) setting, the branches dissolve. Courts hold sway. 

Take a look at a divorce in court involving a custody issue, and you find social services supporting the judge. Even if the judge believes the myth that fathers don’t lie and mothers are vengeful, social services will not raise a challenge. This means a protective parent faces a swath of immense power vested in denying DV exists. The 3rd branch, legislative, can enact and fund protective laws like the Violence Against Women Act, but laws are only as strong as their enforcement. Enforcement occurs in the administrative branch which, in practice, echoes the court.

This workshop will explore #MeTooProtectiveParents and gender bias in our courts and offer some answers to questions raised by BMCC XIV. Participants will receive suggestions for successful ways to make themselves heard and believed in this difficult climate.

      5.  Kathy Jones:  Counter-Parenting: How Abusers Utilize Their Children as Collateral Damage in War Against Their Adult Targets

We all instinctively know that abusers make bad parents, and a few authors and researchers have even named the characteristics of perpetrators as parents.  But, in order to more strategically plan for our children’s safety, we need to delve into the minds of our tormentors to understand their motivations, their priorities, and their strategies, and brainstorm ways—both active and passive—to camouflage, prepare or insulate our children from as much of the conflict as possible.  We need to strategize “After-Dad Debrief/Detox” to build teamwork and strengthen family bonds, and promote a new label for the toxic and harmful parenting tactics used by abusers in order to avoid the pitfalls associated with claims of Parental Alienation—a legal tactic almost universally and exclusively used to harm battered mothers and their children.

 

 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner on Own

 

8:00 – 9:30 Friday evening session

“What Doesn’t Kill Me,” by Rachel Meyrick, followed by a panel-and-audience discussion led by protective mothers.

 

Main Session--Saturday Morning,  April 27th  

 

8:30 – 9:15  Title Sponsor California Protective Parents Association Panel:  Vicky Masotti, Kathy Lee

Mothers of Lost Children, a retrospective in pictures ~ by Kathy Lee of H.O.L.D.E.N, Heroes On Line Defense Network

 

9:15 a.m. –  10:00 a.m.   Panel Presentation: Dara Carlin, Vicky Masotti, and Heather Boltz:  Crossing the Finish Line: Homecomings

If this is your first BMCC as a survivor mom, all of us here were once in your seats: traumatized, disoriented and desperate - desperate for someone, anyone, to understand us and give us suggestions, guidance and probably most importantly hope - hope that the words on our last court order weren't written in stone; hope that the wrongs could be righted; hope that we weren't all alone as family court had rendered us by taking our children…  Despite all the possibilities in our cases, one thing is certain: there will come a day when each of our children will "cross the finish line" by turning 18 and that hope sustained all of the moms on this panel because in each of our hearts, we knew that hope would turn into a homecoming.  That imagined homecoming - where the truth could finally be revealed and healing tears would flow amidst so many missed hugs and kisses…  Actually, that's not how it goes.  Just as we wish we could have been given a preview into what was to come in our family court cases, this panel would like to give you a preview of what your mother and child reunion may be and what it could entail.

        

 

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15– 11:00  Paula Caplan: Keynote (live video): Psychiatric Diagnoses as a Weapon Used Against Protective Mothers

Psychiatric diagnosis is completely unregulated and is widely — and unjustifiably — believed to be solidly grounded in science, to help reduce human suffering, and to expose psychiatrically labeled people to no harm. Dr. Paula J. Caplan resigned from two committees involved in revising the diagnostic manual when she learned that none of the above was true. Over the decades, she became aware of thousands of stories of people whose lives were destroyed, including through loss of a vast array of their human rights, by events that began with and were "justified" by their being diagnosed. One of the most pernicious consequences is the psychiatrizing of mothers who report that their children are being molested by their fathers. Mental health professionals work against protective mothers in other ways that will be discussed. Paula's activism to prevent harm takes a variety of forms, and although the powerful systems are resistant to amelioration, she has some suggestions about actions that can possibly be helpful.

 

11:00 – noon   Barry Goldstein, Andrew Willis, Kathy Giglio, & Leigh Block:  Tragedy When Safety Doesn’t Come First

Custody Courts will continue to be in crisis, and children will continue to be harmed and killed, unless America’s Custody Courts put children’s health and safety first. Kayden Mancuso and Mikayla Olson would be alive today if judges had. In this plenary session you’ll hear from their mothers about the decisions that put Kayden and Mikayla at risk, and caused their death. You’ll hear from from Barry Goldstein a leading expert in, child custody and a frequent commentator on the Custody Court Crisis, about how a focus on safety first, and the passage of the Safe Child Act will protect children in custody decisions. Andrew Willis, founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign will share what the Stop Abuse Campaign is doing to pass the Safe Child Act and how you can help.

 

Lunch  Noon – 1:15

Main Session Saturday Afternoon, April 27th 

 

1:15 – 2:00  Camille Cooper: Keynote:  Parenting the Traumatized Child: Building Resiliency and Empathy During and After Traumatic Events.

Parenting children is challenging even in the best of circumstances, but parenting a child who has experienced trauma is daunting and demanding in unique ways. Learn how to effectively parent a child during and after the traumatic events and through ongoing litigation to foster empathy, resiliency, and to combat the negative effects of traumatic events on the brain.

 

2:00 – 2:45   Phyllis Chesler: Keynote:  Custody Battles, Pedophile Fathers, and the #MeToo Movement

 

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 -  3:45  Nancy Erickson: Keynote:  Battered Women’s Custody Cases:  Update on Parental Alienation and How to Fight It

3:45 – 4:30   Wendy Murphy: Keynote:  Family Court and Accountability:  Can #MeToo Help?

4:30 - 5:30  Concurrent Workshops:  Session Three

      1.   Agnes Pala:  Rebuilding Your Financial Life After Abuse

This workshop seeks to move the personal and communal conversation from survival to thriving. Areas to be covered are

1. What is a full balance sheet of life – the true measure of our worth

2. Rebuilding/ Building a full economic life

3. Am I able to help anyone

4. How can I model health and continue to grow in

Presenter will work from real life examples of people’s lives and present opportunities for participants to make change.

 

      2.  Rose Garrity

 

      3.  Michelle Weiss, LCSW:  Silent Epidemic:  Estranged Mothers of Adult Children

Given the substantial distress experience by parents and adult children who have become estranged from one another, it is surprising that little scholarly attention has been paid to the topic. In fact, with the exception of the estrangement that often occurs between fathers and their children following divorce, there has been virtually no consideration of the phenomenon of estrangement between mothers and their offspring in adulthood.  We will explore estrangement between the mother and children of divorce and domestic violence.

      4.  Moshe Rozdial:  Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma is a core attachment trauma experienced in primary relationships.  Betrayal by an intimate partner violates the core human desires and needs of safety and security and represents the traumatic death of a relationship. Betrayal trauma is the wound that is manifested in intimate partner violence and underlies the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is then carried through time.  This workshop will focus on 1) Understanding the Trauma response cycle, 2) Understanding the impact and triggers of relationship betrayal, 3) Understanding attachment security and insecurity and its connection with childhood trauma, 4) Understanding the neurobiology of traumatic healing, 5) Tools for healing betrayal trauma.

      5.  Renee Mazer

5:30 – 6:30   Concurrent Workshops:  Session Five

 

1.    Rita Smith:  Building Alliances to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault with Non Traditional Partners

Rita Smith, formerly with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, will present on the partnerships she developed while at NCADV and what she is doing presently to increase the number of people actively aware of battered mothers' issues and ways people can combat these problems. 

 

2.    Richard Tollner:  The Passage of the Child Victims Act in New York State

Richard Tollner will speak on the creation of the Child Victims Act in New York. The Bill S2440 Child Victims Act allows victims of childhood sexual abuse of all types the opportunity to civilly sue their abuser and  other parties responsible. He will detail the bill’s benefits and deadlines. He will inform on how the new law will benefit those victims and their families. In the past, before January 28th , 2019 victims were not allowed to go to court. Now the new legislation allows anyone sexually abused as a child to present their case. He will offer information to support victims.

3.   Teresa Gil:  Women Who Were Sexually Abused as Children: Mothering, Resilience, and Protecting the Next Generation

This workshop will examine the risk and protective factors that mothers who have experienced child sexual abuse had to overcome in order and protect their children from the abuse they experienced. The workshop will examine the social and emotional challenges faced by this particular group of mothers. However, the workshop will also focus on the protective factors in their lives of these mothers that help them to “defy the odds” and give their children something positive and significantly different from what they experienced as children.

4.   Betsy Stando: Meditation for Protective Mothers

This workshop will be a guided meditation that will focus on helping grieving mothers recover from the trauma they have individually suffered through the legal system.  It will help take fear, sadness, and anger away, and replace with hope, love and strength. 

 

5.  Renee Beeker & Paul Holdorf:  WeToo: Connecting Protective Mothers and the MeToo movement: Developing a Community Court Watch

This workshop will discuss methods for creating and implementing community court watch programs. The presenters will review family law courtroom procedures, language, and decorum. Ideas for creating a fact collection instrument will be discussed. Attendees will be given insight to the various aspects of court watching and the possible results that can be attained.

 Saturday Evening Social Event

7:00 pm - 10:00pm - BMCC’S SATURDAY SOCIAL EVENING at ‘The 202 Hangar’ at the Albany Airport.

Free for BMCC conference attendees.

Attire: Casual, bring light jacket if cool outside.

 

Free shuttle buses will transport all BMCC attendees (6 minutes away) to the special Saturday evening event at the Albany International Airport Hangar 202; meet at hotel lobby to await transportation.

6:50  pm - FIRST TRIP TO THE 202 HANGAR by charter coach bus. 

Please be in hotel lobby at 6:30pm.

7:15 pm - SECOND TRIP TO THE 202 HANGAR, please be in hotel lobby at 6:50 pm.

 

9:45pm - FIRST TRIP BACK TO THE HOTEL by charter coach bus. Please be in the hangar lobby at 9:40pm.

 

10:05pm - SECOND TRIP BACK TO THE HOTEL, please be in the hangar lobby at 10:00pm.

Main Session Sunday Morning, April 28th 

8:30 – 10:00 Battered Mothers Testimony 

Coordinator:  Garland Waller

 

10:00 -10:15 Break

 

10:15 – 11:15   Joan Meier:  Powerful Data and Powerful Voices Bring Real Progress:  NIJ Family Courts Study and Congressional Resolution

Joan Meier will present the new, improved findings from her federally funded study of family court cases involving abuse and alienation.  She will also describe 2018’s major polity victory: Federal adoption of H. Con. Res. 72.  Finally, she will describe some of the beneficial impacts we have already seen from both developments. 

 

11:15 – 12:00   Renee Beeker and Paul Holdorf: WeToo:  National Family Court Watch Project: Connecting Action Research to Change

This session will begin with a history of the National Court Watch Project. We will discuss the process used to develop the data collection instrument and the underlying goals which were used to decide what information to record. We will also provide a description of the initial pilot study and the later involvement with universities to aide in the observation of family court activities as a part of their curriculum or approved internship activities. The information collected has been analyzed, and is being prepared for publication. Some of the interesting results will be shared with the conference attendees

 

Noon – 2:00 Lunch; Awards; Closing 

 

Lifetime Achievement Awards Bestowed at

The Fourteenth Battered Mothers Custody Conference

 

Rita Smith

Dara Carlin

Garland Waller

Joan Meier

Kristen Hofheimer (posthumous)