About Barry

Barry Goldstein is the co-author with Elizabeth Liu of Representing the Domestic Violence Survivor REPRESENTING THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR, co editor with Mo Therese Hannah of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY and author of SCARED TO LEAVE AFRAID TO STAY. He has been an instructor and supervisor in a NY Model Batterer Program since 1999. He was an attorney representing victims of domestic violence for 30 years. He now provides workshops, judicial and other trainings regarding domestic violence particularly related to custody issues. He also serves as a consultant and expert witness.

Barry's new book, The Quincy Solution: Stop Domestic Violence and Save $500 Billion demonstrates how we can dramatically reduce domestic violence crime with proven practices.

Contact Barry today to speak at your event, consult or as an expert witness!

Contact Barry!

Dear Judge

Readers are encouraged to send local and administrative judges this letter.  You are welcome to modify the letter to fit your situation or the circumstances in your community.  Please remember it is considered unethical to send anything to your trial judge without sending a copy to all other parties.  If it is too dangerous to send the letter during the pendency of your case, please wait until the case is over.

Scientific research is now clear. Custody courts do well in cases involving two safe parents, but are getting a high percentage of domestic violence and child abuse cases wrong. In the last ten years over 700 children involved in contested custody were murdered mostly be abusive fathers. In many of those cases the courts gave the killer the access he needed. Every year 58,000 children are sent for custody or unprotected visitation with dangerous abusers.

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) studies are medical research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research led by Dr. Daniel Saunders and Professor Joan Meier come from the National Institute of Justice in the US Justice Department. This research is highly credible and would help courts recognize and respond to abuse, but most court professionals are not using this vital information.

ACE demonstrates that children exposed to domestic violence (DV) and child abuse will live shorter lives and suffer a lifetime of health and social problems. Most of the harm is caused not by the immediate physical injuries most courts focus on, but from living with the fear and stress caused by abusers.

The Saunders study found that court professionals need very specific DV training that includes screening for DV, risk assessment, post-separation violence and the impact of DV on children. Most professionals the courts rely on do not have this specific information. Inadequately trained professionals tend to focus on the myth that mothers frequently make false reports and unscientific alienation theories. This leads courts to disbelieve true reports of abuse and make decisions that harm children.

In our still sexist society, the typical abuse case involves a father who wanted or demanded the mother provide most of the child care during the relationship. In any other type of litigation, this would be understood as an admission the mother is a good parent. The mothers did not suddenly become unfit because she decided to leave her abuser or report his abuse, but this is exactly what courts, relying on mental health professionals without the needed DV expertise repeatedly believe.

Without ACE courts inevitably minimize abuse reports and without Saunders they disbelieve true reports. Meier confirms the problem. Although mothers make deliberate false reports less than 2% of the time, they are believed only 41% of the time and when fathers use the alienation tactic, they are believed only 23% of the time. Sexual abuse cases are worse with mothers believed only 15% of the time and 2% when the alienation tactic is used. Alienation is a sexist theory based not on any research but the personal beliefs of Richard Gardner that included many public statements that sex between adults and children can be acceptable. Alienation has been used in courts in a prejudiced way that only helps fathers but not mothers. This means the way it is applied is a fundamental violation of due process and equal protection.

Children do not need both parents equally. They need their primary attachment figure more than the other parent and the safe parent more than the abuser. Children exposed to ACEs can be saved from the awful consequences but contested custody is usually the last chance to save them. Courts have the power to force children to live with their abusers but cannot take away the fear and stress. This means the fear is pushed deeper inside the children where it will come out later in more harmful ways. Better practice is to force abusers to change their behavior if they want a relationship instead of asking victims to accommodate his abuse.

My child, like all children is precious. Please don’t take away our children’s last chance for a full and healthy life by making dangerous decisions without the benefit of the highly credible scientific research that is now available.

BARRY GOLDSTEIN