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California Looks Out for Youngest Victims of Domestic Violence

By: Martin Brenner

Tel: (213) 500-8865
Email Martin Brenner

Profile on

Family violence is a serious issue that plagues societies across the world and clogs up the already overburdened criminal justice system. Domestic abuse can occur between any two or more people living together - husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, partners, children, siblings, parents and others. It can include any type of physical, emotional, monetary or sexual abuse, as well as property crimes. Most often, when we hear of domestic violence, it entails the physical aspect. This includes slapping, punching, biting, pushing, shoving, scratching, hair pulling and throwing things. Domestic violence can have a detrimental impact on families but the youngest victims often rely on the courts to speak for them.

California Law Addresses Family Violence and Parental Custody

California Family Code Section 3044 attempts to speak for the children, addressing parental custody rights in families affected by domestic violence. Custody and visitation issues are among the most contested in cases of divorce, dissolution and legal separation. Under this California state code, individuals who are convicted of or admit to committing domestic violence or abuse can lose child custody rights.

The law states: "Upon a finding by the court that a party seeking custody of a child has perpetrated domestic violence against the other party seeking custody of the child or against the child or the child's siblings within the previous five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child, pursuant to Section 3044. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence."

Judges Can Make Exceptions For Batterers Who Better Themselves

The courts do take certain factors into account before rendering a decision in a child custody case. These include:

  • Whether the perpetrator of domestic violence has successfully completed a batterer's treatment program that meets certain criteria.
  • Whether he or she has successfully completed a drug or alcohol treatment program if the court determines this is necessary.
  • Whether or not the person has successfully completed a parenting course if the court deems it necessary.
  • Whether the perpetrator is on probation or parole and whether or not he or she has complied with the terms.
  • Whether the perpetrator has committed any further acts of violence against any of his or her family members.
The Innocent Victims Deserve to Feel Loved and Protected

One problem with this section of California's family code is that it cannot protect every child. The shame and degradation victims feel when they are abused often keeps them from reporting incidents. Because of the stigma associated with family violence, many people and their children live in silence and constant fear.

Children deserve to have a loving and safe place to call home. They deserve to feel secure and protected, especially in their homes. Yet they are often the innocent victims. They can suffer long-term psychological damage even if they are not abused but witness a parent or guardian being victimized. Witnessing or experiencing violence first hand in the home can also lead young people to continue the cycle of violence. Experts will tell you that a great majority of domestic violence abusers grew up in violent homes. The psychological toll of family violence on children is devastating. It can manifest in physical, psychological, emotional and behavioral problems.

Where to Go For Help in Dealing with Domestic Violence

Mediation is available for families struggling with domestic violence issues. Getting control of anger and knowing the triggers is often the first step. The underlying feelings that boil over into rage could include jealousy, frustration, guilt or inadequacy. In many cases, domestic violence is about control and one person's desire to exert it over another. Manipulation is often a factor in domestic violence cases, and many abusers will apologize and vow to never let it happen again. But it usually does.

Marty Brenner, CCDC, has helped to salvage thousands of lives and relationships by counseling men and women from every walk of life on anger management and domestic violence. Because the two are so closely linked, Marty works to help clients overcome their issues so they can avoid anger that escalates into violence toward another. Brenner is a certified chemical dependency counselor who has helped people from varied backgrounds, from ex-cons to company executives and high-profile celebrities. Marty's well-known and successful practice is based in Beverly Hills, Ca. where he has spent 20 years providing guidance and counseling. He is also available for interventions and phone consultations.

Uncontrolled anger can devastate relationships, families and careers. Anger and domestic violence are often fueled by alcohol or drug abuse and addiction. Professional help is needed to sort through the complicated mess that this creates. Marty has been sober for 20 years and completely understands the ramifications of addiction and how to treat it. He can help those affected by domestic violence get to the root of their anger and addiction.

Healing from Domestic Violence is Possible

Domestic violence is said to affect one out of every four women at some time in their lives. Children are often caught in the middle, whether directly or indirectly. In California, children of parents who are splitting up and have experienced domestic violence in the home have some protection under California's Family Code. An abuser convicted in the last five years of domestic violence jeopardizes his or her parental custody rights. The code aims to keep kids safe from a turbulent and violent home life.

Marty counsels those who have been abused and the abusers who need help in order to recover. His strategy is to help people channel their negative, destructive behaviors into healthy, productive actions. Healing from family violence is possible. If you are the one abusing a domestic partner, spouse or family member, don't wait to get help. Your family and your life depend on it.

Martin Brenner is a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor and Anger Management Facilitator. He has 20 years of experience providing guidance and counseling to a wide and diverse range of people. Mr. Brenner provides services to individuals challenged with various addictions including but not limited to - Substance Abuse, Alcohol, and Anger.

See Martin Brenner's Profile on

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