Judicial Bias Against Mothers & Children Who Have Survived Abuse Exists in La Crosse, WI
Local court officials and systems are in dire need of attention to gender, racial, and economic equality.
Together, we can help our county and state prioritize survivors over their abusers.
For immediate release 9/26/20:
La Crosse County mothers and children who have survived domestic abuse are being systematically harmed and punished by the La Crosse County Family Court System, La Crosse County Circuit Court System, and hires and employees of the same. In trend with national data – in which women who speak up about abuse at the hands of their husbands, especially about the potential for abuse to their children, lose custody more often than the abusers – La Crosse County is currently committed to forcibly reunifying children with their abusive fathers, and blaming mothers for their own and their children’s symptoms of trauma survival, neurodiversity, and other medical diagnoses. This trend towards antiquated psychological practice, by La Crosse County hires in psychology and social work, especially as part of Custody Assessment Teams, leans heavily on improper reliance on the concept of “alienation,” wherein mothers are held accountable for the negative acts and offenses committed towards them and their children by abusers.
During an historical moment, when we as a species and society are correctly examining and challenging how we wish to support intersectional and marginalized communities with equity and empathy, we would do well to include women, mothers, and children in these considerations. The more survivors are ignored, the more survivors fall further prey to discrimination via legislation, enforcement, and judicial proceedings. Without reexamination of flawed norms and biases, survivors fall further and further into lack of education, healthcare, and economic stability, simply because at least one county in Wisconsin prefers the rights of abusive men and fathers to their victims and survivors. If five mothers are willing to risk retribution to reveal our names and stories – and we know of three other families who are too afraid to speak up for fear of retribution, could find each other just via word-of-mouth of our attorneys and correctly practicing trauma therapist practitioners – there are most certainly more of us, with even fewer resources to speak on behalf of us all. Wisconsin and La Crosse should be stepping forward with progress and equality, not falling into patterns of social and psychological practice from six and seven decades ago. Please join with us in investigating and describing what is happening to those of us left on the margins of judicial and public practice in Wisconsin and La Crosse.
For immediate release 9/30/20:
As the original four mothers who came forward to officials local to the La Crosse, WI area with their stories on September 26th, 2020 continue to seek justice for their children, Mothers and Children Surviving Abuse (MAKSA) have received many supportive letters from local officials and fellow mothers who have survived domestic abuse only to have their abusers preferred for custody, finances, and visitation.
MAKSA has received letters of tentative support from La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, La Crosse County Board of Supervisors Chair Monica Kruse, La Crosse County Board Supervisor Noelle Weber Strauss, and Representative Steve Doyle. These letters of support are encouraging, but represent a small slice of local officials elected and charged with protecting the most vulnerable among us. These letters of support have also been extremely vague, barely addressing the needed actions of an external review of the La Crosse area courts’ practices and data regarding abuse allegations in custody cases, Wisconsin legislation regarding the pseudo-psychology concept of “alienation” in family courts, and the regulation of professionals who should be formally trained and experienced in trauma-informed care and implicit and explicit biases.
MASKA is now, at the time of this release composed of sixteen mothers brave enough to unite with each other, across five counties and two states, and begin working together to protect our children and selves in ways that our local representatives have not. Several of us are already facing continuation of our cases in front of the very officials who have already displayed bias against us, and all of us face the terror of what will happen to the first of us to come forward, before any much needed changes have been made to our local systems. Despite this, several more letters from mothers with children surviving abuse at the hands of their system-preferred abusers will be available in the next week, as mothers are available to support each other in coming forward. Until then, fellow mothers and survivors can be seen coming forward in the comments of the press coverage we have already received.
For Immediate Release 10/5/2020
Most officials and representatives who have written to Moms and Kids Surviving Abuse, have either offered support so vague that “mothers,” “trauma,” and “abuse” are not even mentioned, or are not writing in support. Several have claimed that there is nothing within their scope that can be done to help their residents, constituents, or any survivor of abuse. This is simply untrue. Everyone, near or far, official or civilian, can help spread the word that “alienation” is a garbage, pseudo-psychology concept that should not be allowed in courts, that all those who work with families should be trained in implicit and explicit biases and trauma-informed care beyond the entry level of practice, and that we all have a right to know the data, policies, and oversight in place to determine if the outcomes for survivors who speak up are better or worse than for the abusers who charm, deny, and obfuscate. This is multiplied during a global pandemic in which our abusers fight to control the even more dire medical, educational, financial, and physical safety decisions made for our children.
Attached are five previously unpublished letters from area mothers who have reached out to MAKSA in the last week, demonstrating that the biases are wide-spread, consistent across tiny situational differences, and in need of being addressed at every level of safety, health, and legal service provided to citizens and residents. There are now twenty-two mothers in contact with MAKSA who have survived abuse only to have their children subjected to continued trauma, because the rights of abusers were more important than the rights of women and children. We now represent seven counties across three states. MAKSA call on all to act within their own sphere of influence to stop the preference and prioritization of abusers over survivors.