What You Need to Know About a Child Who Has Been Murdered In Domestic Violence by Kathie Mathis, Psy.D, CEO California Cognitive Behavioral Institute and SpotlightforJustice Podcast co-host, January, 2023
People, including you, who read about a tragedy in the news and might make a post or two about it to share on social media. After posting, one’s emotions may be negatively affected by the story, but ultimately all go on with their day. What most people don’t realize is that their little post actually has the power to change everything. What you have to say matters, and what you post makes a difference.
Recently, three precious children were murdered during a supervised visitation with their father. It was reported that the children’s mother had a restraining order against the father. If you were shocked to see this story on your social media feed, you shouldn’t be. A story similar to this is in the news on a regular basis.
Everyone will post about it for a day or two and then we move on to the next viral story. But if we want to lead the conversation to prevent future tragedies, we have to realize that what we post during this horrible time really does matter. Let’s discuss messages to never post after you read that a child has been murdered in domestic violence.
- The very first type of post after a murder is the sad tear emoji.
And I understand, a parent murdering their own child is the most horrific act of violence imaginable. It’s completely natural to be devastated. But simply posting a sad emoji and moving on with your day is entirely ineffective. There are other children right now being forced into visitation with an abusive parent. These children at risk don’t need your tears — they need you to be mad as hell, and they need you to show it and do something about it like demanding Child Protective Services in your county and state DO SOMETHING to stop allowing abusers reunification camps to brainwash children into believing they weren’t abused when they were; to get trained in child abuse, domestic violence victims and batterers (2 separate trainings); to be trained in the coercive control tactics of predators/perpetrators, and to stop lying to courts about alienation theories called “pop psychology” and “junk science” and have been debunked. This demand goes to our Judicial Councils as well for proper training of the judges in family courts who are undertrained and ignorant, yet allow abusers every day to get custody and murder their children due to their ignorance.
There’s too much that needs to change for you to not use your voice to help. Child court systems should prioritize the safety of children above all else, but in truth and reality – they don’t. Every time a tragedy like this happens, it is revealed there were multiple reports warning about the danger of the murderer. All of this needs to change so that the child is always protected, but nothing will get better if we don’t talk about it and do something about it by demanding change. That starts with the way we utilize social media to spread awareness and stand up for the child. Why aren’t you? Why are you allowing this to happen to someone’s child and possibly your child by being complacent? Why shouldn’t you just post a sad emoji? Because there’s so much else you could say and do, and there’s too much at stake if you don’t.
- Stop making excuses and giving ‘sympathy’ to the abuser/predator murderer.
Most people can’t even fathom how a parent could harm their own child so they analyze and ask the question, “How could this have happened?” Too often, people answer that question by making an excuse or giving sympathy to the murderer. People will post “He must have felt like he was losing his children.” “He must have been pushed to the edge by his ex-wife.” “He must have been so distraught by what he did that he then ‘died by suicide’.” By the time you get done reading all these things, you start to see the murderer as the ‘victim’ and focus on what/who drove him to do such a horrible thing. You start off reading a post about a horrific murder of children by their father and once you’re done scrolling, you feel sorry for the murderer.
Stop now. It must be understood that these murderers and perpetrators are NOT mentally ill, not distraught people who “die by suicide” or who lost control. They are ALWAYS in control and what they do is always plotted and planned. They look normal but underneath that fake façade, have evil and “ownership of family members” cloaked with entitlements to do whatever they want, with their children and spouses. They are family terrorists and family concentration camp dictators. To treat them as if they are anything but people who need to be prosecuted in domestic violence as felony crime perpetrators, is complete disrespect and invalidation to innocent people who die by these men and what they went through being in a relationship with them.
Calling ‘murder-suicide’ implies that the perpetrator took his own life in despair after having murdered. But that’s not how these murders usually happen. In fact, perpetrators often threaten and even warn that they are going to commit murder before they do it. They are assassins who are willing to die in order to complete their attack of terror and murder.
When you talk and post about these crimes, do not call them ‘murder-suicides’ and don’t make excuses for the murderer. Call them what they really are: “the calculated assassination of children, and the murderer is dead.
- In domestic violence we see sympathetic posts call these hideous murders “senseless acts,” which is incorrect and should not be posted.
A senseless act implies that it didn’t have a purpose or benefit. Entitlement and enmeshment from an abuser gives them permission to murder their family members. We may not be able to make sense of this crime, but it made perfect sense to the murderer who had a very calculated purpose for it.
These perpetrators assassinate their children as a final act of taking full control. It is the final way of showing everyone that they had the power and no one could tell them they didn’t. They do it as a way to permanently torture the person that dared to defy them and who they can no longer control – usually a wife, ex-wife, mother of the child, who survived the murder or who the murder was meant to injure for the rest of their life.
By posting that these crimes as “senseless acts”, we are purposefully ignoring the fact that this was all part of the perpetrator’s conscious plan. As heinous as it is, these murderers kill their children because they want to and because it benefits them. And some get great satisfaction from doing the murders.
There was a very clear purpose to these murders, and the systems responsible for these children’s safety should have understood that and prevented it from happening. We are all part of those systems and should be enraged nothing is being done to hold abusers accountable for their crimes. In California, a perpetrator of abuse can beat up his wife to the point of near death, put her in the hospital and get charged with a misdemeanor. But if that same perpetrator did the same act to the neighbor, it would be a felony. Why? Because our laws protect murderers and perpetrators of domestic violence. Are you outraged yet? Are you willing to call your politician and demand a change in that law?
- When reading about these tragedies, never lose focus of the real problem — the fact that this murderer was allowed access to his victims by a system that does not protect children.
So many court systems believe that abusive parents should still have the right to visitations with their children simply because they are ‘family’. The children are told they need to have a relationship with their abuser. If the protective parent and/or child tell child protective agencies, judges, law enforcement, they are not believed, denounced as “alienators”, punished by judges who take the children away from the protective parent and put them in cruel brain washing camps run by mental health professionals who lie to the courts willingly to make money. These camps and programs were outlawed when used on gay youth who were told they had to be “straight” and therefore sent to these same type of brain washing programs. They were outlawed for gay youth but are still allowed for children of domestic violence and sexual assault by our courts and deceitful mental health professionals.
These systems need to understand that abusers do not love their children — they own them. They have huge entitlement. That’s why the abuser feels they have the ‘right’ to take their child’s life. These systems fail to recognize that.
Like in this recent tragedy, if the mother is a victim of domestic violence and has a restraining order against the abuser, then the children are also victims of child abuse and should be equally protected. I wrote the law in California that states adolescents don’t need their parent’s consent to get a restraining order. But courts stop them. Just last month I had a teen client of mine go to get a restraining order against her abusive father and the courts would not even turn it into the judge. The clerk told her to go away and not waste their time.
Court reports will say that the child ‘witnessed’ or ‘experienced’ domestic violence but was not themselves abused — which is complete ignorance of abuse. California law states that if a child is present, witness’s the abuser or is not present during the abuse – it is child abuse!!! How do you torture someone? By making them ‘witness’ or ‘experience’ the abuse of a parent that they love. For a child who not only loves but is dependent on and gets protection from the domestic violence, is the victim and protective parent. To see this person abused is terror and torture. Domestic abuse IS child abuse. If there is a need to protect the mother, there is a need to protect the child. But these court systems care more about the abuser’s parental rights than the child’s right to safety.
Are you angry yet?
The court systems are the ones at fault for allowing the murderer access to his children, and it is these systems that we need to focus on holding accountable. Keep the focus on the system that failed these children and allowed this evil man to commit this crime. Family courts and child protective service agencies, evaluators and mediators who are not trained and collude with perpetrators and murders of domestic violence.
- DO NOT BE SILENT!
The worst thing you could do when you read a child has been murdered, is to not DO anything at all.
The victims of these murders, and many other children who are at risk of being forced into the same situation, deserve for you to use your voice and platform to help them. When you know about horrific abusive situations happening by reading about it online or seeing it in your own life, it is your responsibility to say something and do something about it. Send the very clear message that you do not tolerate systems that protect the abuser’s rights and that you will always stand with the child. Start by contacting your local politician, support domestic violence and child abuse agencies, get on a task force to make policy change, and never, never, never, feel bad for an abuser. Feel bad that our system supports that abuser and they literally get away with murder.
We must also use our social media platforms to call out the child advocacy organizations for not condemning the broken court systems that are allowing this to happen. Child abuse organizations call themselves experts in child safety and activists for children. But when murders like this happen, they are silent. Domestic Violence agencies are the same. They pat themselves on the back for protecting victims, when in fact, they do not. If they do say something, it is usually just about ‘educating’ people on how to recognize the signs of abuse. All these messages do is victim-blame the millions of abuse victims who reported their abuse, but were not defended. Advocacy is more than “educating” – it is speaking, representing, providing resources and safety for those who have no voice. Domestic Violence agencies are part of the problem and are to be held accountable for their lack of policy advocacy, court advocacy, and lack of protecting victims. I know. I work with their clients who have been traumatized by these very agencies who give out wrong information, who are “entitled” and feel that their job doesn’t include, as specialists and experts, the condemning of judges, family courts, abusers, child services and more. They are as culpable as the abuser in allowing abuse to happen. Are you outraged yet?
These organizations never say a word about the real problems: the failures inside the court system and multidisciplinary teams that allowed these murders to happen. These organizations have the platform, the money, and the obligation to stand up for these victims, yet they continue supporting systems that do not protect children. No more. From now on, use your social media posts, your local politicians, your news media, your church’s, your schools, your law enforcement, your voice, to call out all those who are silent and who are not focusing on the real problem.
It is impossible to understand how anyone could harm a child — let alone their own child. But it is just as hard to understand how we could have a system that allows this to happen. So many people are staying silent when they should be using every platform they have to focus on the problem. We need to make it clear that these three precious children were brutally murdered because of a system that handed them to a violent man.
Are you angry enough to do something now? When you read that a child has been hurt or murdered, remember that social media, your local politician, the state Judicial Council, child protective services, and law enforcement need your voice and action, which is incredibly powerful tools when changing the way people think and calling them into action. Don’t take this for granted that you can’t do anything. Yes you can! Stand up for the child! Hold murderers and abusers accountable for relationship terrorism and make it a felony crime not just a civil rights crime!! It is not a misdemeanor. (Spotlight for Justice Podcast covers these topics and more. www.facebook.com/spotlightforjustice)