A government agency filed a complaint against a couple for negligence towards their three children. Sources found that the parents impaired or placed their children in the danger of being mentally or emotionally impaired as a result of the children’s exposure to domestic violence. The parents were found to have continuously engaged in domestic violence against each other in the presence of their children over the 10-year period of their marriage.
Friends, neighbors and police officers testified that the parents kick, beat and shout obscenities at each other in front of the children. Following several of these abusive incidents, caseworkers were called in to assist the children. The caseworkers testified to the fear and distress the children were experiencing as a result of their exposure to these altercations.
The family was evaluated in 1981 at a mental health clinic in connection with behavioral problems of their oldest child, Theresa, then age six. The mental health professional who assessed the child said the source of her anxiety is marital conflict and the child’s resulting peace maker role. Theresa had been enuretic off and on and her enuresis coincides with family turmoil. Both parents admitted that Theresa was affected by their arguments which have often led to physical attack.
In 1986, the children were seen by a child protective caseworker while temporarily in the care of a maternal aunt after a particularly violent episode. Theresa was rebellious and defiant and still enuretic at age 11. Her brother, Thomas, was withdrawn. The caseworker said the children were upset and depressed by the domestic violence.
In 1988, the children were counseled on several occasions by a therapist. As to the child Joseph, who was acting out both violently and sexually, the therapist stated that Joseph’s behavior was at least partly attributable to the domestic violence in the household.
The inference of a causal relationship between the parents’ conduct and the impaired condition of the children is also supported by the testimony of a clinical psychologist who was a specialist in studying children witnesses of domestic violence. While the psychologist testified without ever having examined the children, the hypothetical question he answered was based upon his reading of the pertinent records and case history of the family. He testified that the emotional and behavioral problems of respondents’ children were consistent with his general findings in his studies of the effects upon children of witnessing domestic violence. Although he conceded that other factors could have contributed to the condition of the children, he stated unequivocally that a causal relationship between their problems and witnessing parental violence “is certainly very consistent and very likely”.
Based on the testimonies, the court concluded that the children’s serious pathology was at least partially due to their apparently regular and continuous exposure to extremely violent conduct between respondents.
Children are direct, or indirect, victims of domestic violence. The child’s welfare is the outmost priority in domestic violence cases. Being a victim of domestic violence is difficult. There are New York Domestic Violence Attorneys who will stand by you and help see you through your case. These Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are compensated.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its NY Family Lawyers, has offices located in the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, NY. Our Attorneys will provide you with advice to guide you through your difficult situation. Without our Attorneys, you may lose your rights which may cost you a significant amount of money.
In addition to Injury Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates will recommend Assault Lawyers who will help you.