“First battered at home and then by the State”

In today’s Times of London, Camilla Cavendish has a column entitled, “First battered at home and then by the State”. It’s about a specific case involving a woman victim of domestic violence.  The abusive ex-husband won custody of their boy after alleging that his ex-partner suffers from a disorder that used to be called Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy and is now referred to as fabricated or induced illness.  The local authorities became concerned after the woman became pregnant and had a second child from another relationship — Cavendish writes that the parents found the suspicion of the local authorities hard to bear.  In the event, the baby then ten weeks old was taken from the mother and put into care. The parents have sought help from their local M.P. and want him to have access to all available information, even if it is damaging to them.  But the local authorities have invoked the principle of confidentiality and will not disclose information about families with whom they work,

Cavendish raises some key issues and comments:

What constitutes “confidentiality” for a ten-week old baby? Should her right to privacy trump her right to family life? If a council puts people under such pressure that one of them makes a silly remark and it then punishes them for that remark, is that not persecution? Not only is Ann a victim of domestic violence, but the State has made her a victim a second time. If she really is ill with FII, she needs help. Yet all she has received is punishment.

This story looks like an example of a Catch-22 that I have begun to notice. You could call it “once a victim, always a victim”. It is well known that if you have been in care yourself, the authorities are more likely to consider you a risk to your child, keep you under scrutiny and to put your child in care. But it appears that something similar holds true if you have suffered domestic violence. It is not illogical to keep tabs on women who have fallen for cruel, manipulative men who can harm them and their children. What is surprising is that allegations made by such men are given so much weight.

Read the entire column by clicking here.