And just as true then as it is ... now. Now ... on y2011’s ... Father’s Day. Regarding, of course, those of us many, many mamas "insanely long - suffering" with various DSM - V's "Patriarchal Defiance Disorders" ...
"Sure to inspire anger, understanding and action." Gloria Steinem
"Extremely subversive. It should and will enrage, entice, incite and liberate." Kate Millett ... ... "An essential work." Erica Jong
i) "The 25th anniversary edition of Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody (with eight new chapters) is just coming out. It is the best and only book of its kind and, over the years, has been referred to as THE DEFINITIVE WORK for mothers who are faced with a custody battle.
Mothers have described underlining the entire book, taking it to court with them, begging their lawyers to read it –– and keeping it near their bedsides.
Over the years, with some very few exceptions, things have gotten worse in the court system, not better. This is one of the reasons
I decided to both update and add to this important work.
This book is now available online [ http://tinyurl.com/3o7l6an ] and in paperback. In terms of helping a book find its natural audiences, online reviews really matter.
Therefore, if you are moved to do so, please write an online review of this book wherever you buy books online. It is currently for sale at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, etc.
I am attaching a June 2011 Library Journal review of the new edition of Mothers on Trial. I am also attaching selected endorsements and reviews that appeared in 1986 – 1987. Some of you may recall that I also coordinated a Congressional Press Briefing with then – Congress members, now Senators Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer and a large, well publicized, and well attended National Speakout about Mothers Losing Custody of Children. If you can, if it's easy, please send me your review when you have posted it or simply tell me that it is up.
ii) "Custody Disputes Now Tougher for Battered Moms by Phyllis Chesler, WeNews guest author -- Sunday, 26 June 2011
It's been 25 years since Phyllis Chesler wrote "Mothers on Trial" to help women fight their child-custody battles. In this excerpt from her revised book, she reviews what's changed, for better and worse.
(WOMENSENEWS)--Going through a custody battle is like going through
a war. One does not emerge unscathed. Yes, one may learn important lessons, but one may also be left broken and incapable of trusting others, including our so-called justice system, ever again.
Custody battles can take a very long time. They range from only several years to more than 15 or 20. They may have profound legal, economic, social, psychological and even medical consequences for years afterward, perhaps forever.
What's changed since I first started researching and writing about custody battles?
Documented domestic violence does get factored in somewhat more than before. Where real assets exist, judges have the power to award more of them to mothers and children. Fewer mothers and fathers automatically lose custody or visitation because they are gay or because they have high-powered careers.
However, certain injustices (crimes, really) that I first began tracking in the late 1970s have now gotten much worse.
For example, battered women are losing custody to their batterers in record numbers. Children are being successfully brainwashed by fathers, but many mothers are being falsely accused of brainwashing. Worse: Children with mandated reporters--physicians, nurses or teachers--who report to them that they have been sexually abused by their fathers ARE USUALLY GIVEN .TO. THOSE VERY FATHERS. The mothers of these children are almost always viewed as having "coached" or "alienated" the children and, on this basis alone, are seen as "unfit" mothers.
'Parental Alienation Syndrome'
I understand that this sounds unbelievable. But it is still true. The mothers of raped children, who are also described as "protective" mothers, are seen as guilty of "parental alienation syndrome." The fact that this concept, first pioneered by Dr. Richard Gardner and widely endorsed by fathers' rights groups, has been dismissed as junk science does not seem to matter. Most guardians ad litem, parenting counselors, mediators, lawyers, mental health professionals and judges still act as if this syndrome were real and mainly find mothers, not fathers, guilty in this regard. In 2010 the American Psychiatric Association was still fighting to include a new disorder in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders": the parental alienation disorder, to replace the debunked parental alienation syndrome.
In 2009 and 2010 more than 50 mothers from 21 U.S. states and a number of foreign countries all shared their stories with me. Their cases took place between the late 1980s and 2010. Some cases are still ongoing.
In some instances, I spoke with the mothers in person or at length on the phone. Some mothers filled out questionnaires, but many also sent additional narratives and documentation. Some mothers sent me eloquent, beautifully written, full-length memoirs. Some wrote pithy but equally heartbreaking accounts of their marriages and custody battles.
With a few exceptions, most of my 2010 mother-interviewees said that the system was "corrupt" and that lawyers and judges don't care about "justice," are "very biased," or can be "bought and sold."
Feeling Actively 'Disliked'
These mothers said that social workers, mental health professionals, guardians ad litem and parent coordinators--especially if they were women--actively "disliked" and were "cruel and hostile" to them as women. (Perhaps they expected women to be more compassionate toward other women. In this, they were sadly mistaken.)
Also, MANY mothers found that female professionals WERE OFTEN COMPLETELY TAKEN IN BY charming, sociopathic men ("parasites," "smother-fathers"), dangerously violent men and men who sexually abused their children.
Perhaps the mothers who sent me their stories were married to uniquely terrible men who used the court system to make their lives a living hell. Perhaps mothers who did not write to me had the good fortune to have been married to and divorced from far nicer men.
Good fathers definitely exist. Some fathers move heaven and earth to rescue their children from a genuinely mentally ill mother but do not try to alienate the children from her. If the mother has been the primary caretaker, some fathers give up custody, pay a decent amount of child support (and continue to do so) and work out a relationship with their children based on what's good for both the children and their mother.
These men exist. They do not launch custody battles from hell."
Phyllis Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at City University of New York, a psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness. She is the cofounder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network, a charter member of the Women's Forum and the Veteran Feminists of America, a founder and board member of the International Committee for the Women of the Wall and an affiliated professor with Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities. She is the author of Women and Madness and Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. She lives in New York City.
---- June and July 2011 reviews ----
i) by (multiple - works') Author Talia Carner
Not since slavery in the USA were mothers punished by having their children taken away from them. Yet, in family courts all across America, judges and quasi-judicial officers of the court do just that: children who are abused or molested by their fathers are removed from their primary-care good mothers and are placed in the hands of their molesting fathers.
How this scandal can go on for decades with hardly any change, without any public outcry, and without any protest from human rights' activists is due to the fact that outsiders to the gutter of our family courts' justice simply refuse to believe it.
In her revised and updated milestone fact-filled book, "Mothers on Trial," Phyllis Chesler fights to save thousands of children from becoming yet another generation of victims of a court system that betrays them time and again. She points out that while adult women often recount childhood sexual molestation at home by close relatives--and these women's stories are believed--people tend to disbelieve when actually facing such cases as they happen in real time, right in front of them.
It is a documented fact that when fathers fight for custody, 70% of the time they obtain full or partial custody. People often assume that the reason these men who, in most part, have not been fully involved in their children's lives--sometimes have been absent for months or even years--now gain custody is because the mothers are unfit.
The naked truth is that IN MOST of these cases, the father is emotionally and verbally abusive or outright violent. The mother, often the product of an abusive home, often abused for years in her marriage to the father of her children, now faces battle for which she is woefully unequipped to wage. Distraught, terrified, isolated, alienated in a system that scrutinizes her with the same critical and belittling attitude she's encountered in her private lives, panicked over the fate of her sexually molested children, she seems "emotional" "unreasonable" and "difficult." Her refusal to share parenting or give access to a man who sexually molest her children is viewed as her being "rigid" and "uncooperative."
Furthermore, with limited or no financial resources, she comes to court either unrepresented by an attorney, or by an incompetent lawyer with little interest in the complexity of such a case. Or, as is often the case, she does not have the funds to keep the protracted legal battle a high-conflict custody case requires. Filing fees, transcripts, payments to evaluators and her lawyer's hourly rate quickly rise to thousands of dollars.
In the 1990s I stumbled upon the phenomenon of protective mothers losing these battles in droves, researched it for a few years, and finally published a novel about one such fictional mother in 2002. (Puppet Child.) Since then, I became an activist, trying to find ways to save thousands of children each year from family court's "justice." What amazes me is HOW LITTLE HAS CHANGED in the over decade in which I've witnessed more mothers enter the nightmare of family court, where they are discredited, disenfranchised and disbelieved.
Dr. Chesler has been at it a lot longer. Twenty-five years ago she published "Mothers on Trial," a book that starts with the history of men's ownership of their families and the lingering feudal notion of male supremacy as the head of the household. She pointed then--and continues to do so now in this excellent revised edition--that society and court hold men to much lower parenting standards than they do women.
Mothers fail at every single checklist (Does the divorced mother have sex? Is she overwrought with anxiety? Is she poor?) while men can be cold, disinterested, dysfunctional or even violent and they will be excused. In fact, fathers are given new chances time and again to foster their relationships with their children regardless of their abhorant personal histories, while mothers' contact with their children are not only curtailed or cut down to expensive supervised visitations, but ALL TOO OFTEN ARE SEVERED COMPLETELY.
If a father poisons a child's mind against the mother, it does not enter into the question of his parenting skills. But all too often, a child's fear of an abusive father is regarded as the mother's brainwashing the child, rather than the father's own doing. A judge will then chastise the mother for not encouraging enough the relationship with the father--and ACTUALLY TRANSFER CUSTODY TO THAT ABUSIVE FATHER. The notion of the best interest of the child and how much the child stands to suffer from CUTTING THE BOND WITH THE PRIME CARE-TAKING MOTHER and shuttling the child into a new life with a man the child fears, DOES NOT ENTER INTO THE EQUATION.
In this revised edition, after editing out six chapters and adding eight more while updating the available research, Dr. Chesler examines closely MANY SUCH CASES OF OUTRIGHT INJUSTICE THAT DEFY ANYTHING PEOPLE KNOW AND BELIEVE POSSIBLE IN OUR SOCIETY.
Phyllis Chesler's book is a must read for every judge, court evaluation, guardian ad litem, social worker, psychologist and lawyer. But more importantly, IT SHOULD BE READ BY ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS OR ABOUT CHILDREN, because it is time we raise our collective indignation to stop and reverse the life sentence without parole our courts inflict upon children placed in the hands of their molesters.
ii) by Paula J Caplan
Phyllis Chesler's work was brave and groundbreaking when the first edition of this book appeared many years ago and is equally brave and poignantly still much-needed, because things are no better and in some ways are worse for mothers than they used to be. Every parent going through a custody battle, every lawyer, and every judge should have to read this book. In fact, _everyone_ should read it, because I am astonished by how many people think, upon hearing a fragment of what Chesler reports in the book, and want to believe ... it cannot be true. That it is true, no one reading her book can ever doubt.
iii) by Lauren Crane
As an experienced matrimonial lawyer in Manhattan, this updated and modernized classic should be required reading in law schools. It should be in the library of every single professional who deals with custody, divorce, and children. That means judges, law guardians, mediators and mental health personnel. Child Protective Service workers should be required to read this. It is a solid piece of work about a heartbreaking situation.
iv) by Zara Feingold
As a college student and as a young feminist, I find Phyllis Chesler's Mothers on Trial to be a unique and invaluable resource. This book should be required reading for feminists, future lawyers, and all those who care about social justice. In her classic whistle-blowing fashion,
Dr. Chesler exposes America's courts as anti-mother. Chesler's thousands of interviews that span three decades tragically expose women as survivors of many different intersecting oppressions. White women, black women, American Indian women, poor women, and lesbian women are all victims of a sexist, racist, classist, and homophobic bureaucracy.
This book is not only for mothers who are going through a custody battle.
It is for young women who want to dismantle patriarchy for their generation. Chelser's interviews are heartbreaking and tragic, but can create real change within the American legal system.
Thank you, Phyllis Chesler, for your bravery and vigilance!
v) by Kerry V MacKenzie
Embroiled in a world and a system that I never knew existed, I felt lost and alone. More than lost and alone, I felt horrified. I was a fulltime mother fighting for custody from my ex who called me 'crazy, a bad mother, delusional.' The worst of it was that in family court I was presumed guilty until proven innocent. From the lawyers to the legal guardian to the judge,
I was treated as if I was invisible. If my forensic psychiatrist had not been unbiased and thoughtful, I would have lost my children to a bitter and vengeful man, and it would have been likely I would have never seen them again.
It was so bizarre that I thought I was the only person in the world to experience this institutional contempt, or worse, that I was imagining it. That is, until I read this book.
If you are going through a custody battle, your experiences need to be validated with this book. It is a dear friend during hard times.
vi) by Mordechai Stern
This book is not just for feminists and certainly not just for mothers. Anyone who cares about fighting injustice in the American legal system should read Mothers on Trial.
Reading about the pain of these mothers who have been robbed of their children, and about their courage and devotion to their children in the most trying circumstances has certainly made me a better son.
vii) by Fern Sidman
Feminist icon Phyllis Chesler does it again!! The newly released, updated version of her classic monograph, Mothers On Trial, is a powerful testament to the flagrant and continuing injustices that custodially challenged mothers face in this country and beyond. This compelling tome is a real page turner guaranteed to evoke palpable emotions as egregious facts about the patriarchal family court system are revealed in nuanced detail. Beautifully written, empathic and courageous, tremendously insightful.
For all mothers caught in the maelstrom of a child custody battle, it is strongly recommended that you run out and buy this book !! It will serve as a soothing and compassionate source of succor while simultaneously educating, enlightening and empowering women who are faced with this excruciatingly painful tribulation. A must read !!
viii) by (multiple - works') Author Trish Wilson
I read the original edition of this book many years ago and I saw how well – researched and supported it was. This new version is even better. The additional chapters show the difficulties and impossible position mothers are in these days worldwide and throughout history. This is an important book that must be required reading for all students so they know the truth about child custody and motherhood the media refuses to report.
ix) by Lorraine Tipton
Thank you, Phyllis Chesler, for being one of the voices of reason, sanity and truth with these social injustices we have faced in family court. Our time is coming....our voices are no longer silenced...we have suffered...but we have persevered and grown stronger. There is nothing stronger than the mighty Phoenix who rises through the ashes. We are beyond "survivor" label and are now warriors...and we will be victorious! Hell hath no fury like the most dangerous place to be: between a mother and her child!
Twenty years later and now the mothers have figured out what they have been doing to us. We have social networked with thanks to the internet; and now we are never going to shut up, give up or go away!
x) by Valette Clark
For those of us who have been through this nightmare, this book is hope.
It is hope for the future victim families who will be discriminated against in a system and process that mirrors our societal views promoting institutionalized sexism.
It is at the base of who we are as a society and why violence is accepted in the home and continues to rise statistically each year. Violent crime in the home has been given a separate category governed by a separate set of "domestic laws" rather than criminal laws while all violence is a crime. The politicians could and should change this but I do not believe they really want to and this attitude is not gender specific. Women and men alike hold deep seated feelings and ideas that they learned from a young age that families deserve whatever they get -- from an abusive spouse to an abusive court system. I can only hope and pray that all family court systems in the US review this book and actually take a look in the mirror. They may not like what they see!
xi) by Judy Gee
Dr. Chesler has written this very important book that should be on the reading list for every woman who is unprepared for the way the world works. This book should also be required reading for every young woman who is considering marriage. If you are involved with a man who is controlling toward you and vengeful toward others while you are still in the enchantment stage of your relationship, you might want to reconsider. These are poignant and quite terrifying cautionary tales from women who desperately try to gain custody of their children. Their courageous struggle not to be overwhelmed by the injustices of our justice system as it applies to custodial mothers is an inspiration to fight on.
xii) by Louis Santacroce
Every word of this book is true! I see these guys EVERY DAY! They are the bane of my job. Right now, I have a guy calling me daily about how the guy his ex is now living with is a registered sex offender (he's not, not even an unregistered one) and how they sleep in the same bed with his five year old daughter.
Another calls to complain that his wife has him arrested for no reason whenever he tries to see his children, neglecting to inform me (as the police have no trouble doing) that he shows up to see his kids drunk and at 3 AM, and tries to run the mother over with his pick-up when she tells him to go away.
They all want custody because their ex's are no good whores who suddenly became alcoholics, junkies and sleep-arounds without them to keep 'em in line. But when I go to interview the kids, 90% of them are terrified of the FATHERS and beg not to be returned to them.
xiii) by Jennifer Jones
Phyllis Chesler's Mothers On Trial is a remarkable contribution to contemporary feminist activism. Current liberal academia completely neglects America's anti-mother courts. This is to the detriment of the millions of good mothers who are systematically robbed of their children every day.
Chesler writes about thousands of white, American Indian, black, and lesbian mothers spanning a wide socioeconomic net. Third wave feminists will find great profundity and inspiration in Dr. Chesler's analysis of racism and homophobia within America's custody battles. Chesler's experience as a psychologist gives deep and unique analysis to these devastating custody battles.
Well researched, intellectually ambitious, and highly emotional, Mothers on Trial is a sacred friend for mothers who have experienced unjust loss of children. Chesler's work is also a frightening cautionary tale to a younger generation of activists who are blind to this hidden manifestation of patriarchy.
xiv) by Ann
How can this happen in a "good country"; what is happening to families will effect the future. Most people turn a blind eye to what is really happening to good mothers. This book highlights the belief that "mothers who lose their children must have done something awful"----is a myth.
xv) by Fern
Feminist icon Phyllis Chesler does it again!! The newly released updated version of her classic monograph, "Mothers On Trial" is a powerful testament to the flagrant and continuing injustices that custodially challenged mothers face in this country and beyond. This compelling tome is a real page turner; guaranteed to evoke palpable emotions as egregious facts about the patriarchal family court system are revealed in nuanced detail. Beautifully written; empathic and courageous; tremendously insightful. For all mothers caught in the maelstrom of a child custody battle, it is strongly recommended that you run out and buy this book !! It will serve as a soothing and compassionate source of succor, while simultaneously educating, enlightening and empowering women who are faced with this excruciatingly painful tribulation. A must read !!
xvi) by Brenda
Mothers on Trial is eye opening. Per Dr. Chesler, most people who have never experienced a custody battle believe the myth that mothers always win custody as they are believed to be inherently more nurturing. This falsity has achieved prominence because most fathers do not want custody. However, when fathers do want custody, they usually get it.
Stereotypically nurturing women are held to completely different standards than are their male counterparts. Good mothers are shunned and abusive and neglectful fathers are rewarded for their "devotion."
Others have tried to shed light on this tragic problem. However, only Phyllis Chesler has done justice to these thousands of women's stories. Mothers on Trial incorporates rigorous research, including hundreds of interviews spanning a wide ethnic and geographical net. Mothers on Trial tells all those who care about children's welfare to rise up and create change. Beyond Chesler's tragic stories and psychological analysis is a plan for progress and human rights.