An online event launched by the Women’s Coalition aims to raise awareness around domestic abuse and child contact in family courts.

The social media event, “Faces Of The Crisis”, takes place next month and invites women from around the world who have lost custody of their children to abusive partners to send in a photo of themselves to the organisation, with details of their experience. The event will include an exhibition of photos of mothers who have experienced losing their child to an abusive partner.

Currently 379 people are confirmed to take part, with a further 706 interested in engaging with the event.

The Women’s Coalition is an international non profit organisation based in California and was founded by Cindy Dumas. She set up the coalition after a family court awarded custody of her son Damon to her partner, who went on to sexually abuse their son throughout his childhood. Damon was only able to escape the abuse, and the family court’s control, by getting married at sixteen. He is now the Communications Director for the coalition.

Cindy went on to develop a new model for child contact cases with a view to protecting future generations of children from abusive parents. She has proposed legislation to tackle this issue, which she has called The Child Custody Court Act, or Damon’s Law, after her son. The law proposes a new structure in which child contact cases are heard in conventional civil courts rather than family courts, with the right to a jury trial and full due process protections which are given within civil courts and jury trials.

As part of the model, Damon’s Law also suggests the following:

  • Custody cases heard in regular civil court, i.e. not Family Court
  • Right to a jury trial
  • Right to a speedy trial
  • Videotaped forensic interview of children ​​​​
  • Children may testify only by closed circuit TV​
  • Parents may hire experts to testify​
  • All law enforcement and forensic interviewer evidence admissible​​
  • Primary attachment figure retains temporary primary custody until jury verdict
  • No mandatory or recommending mediation
  • No court-appointed evaluators, children’s attorneys, mediators, psychologists
  • No social services involvement until and unless jury finds both parents abusive​

After trial:

  • Jury decides 1) who is the primary parent and 2) if either parent is abusive.
  • Primary parent maintains primary custody; other parent gets frequent visitation.
  • Visits with abusive parent only with primary parent’s consent and supervised
  • No contact with a sexually abusive parent
  • Judge may not overrule jury verdict
  • Database documenting relevant variables and outcomes​

Mothers who wish to take part in the event should send a photo of themselves (alone), their first name and the country they are from, to or on the event’s Facebook page. Only first names will be used for the exhibition.

In order to take part, you will need to have been:

  1. The primary nurturer of your children and that role was taken from you after separation/divorce through being forced into equal or less parenting time
  2. Unable to protect your children from an abusive father, i.e. if he was given unsupervised visitation, regardless of whether you maintained primary custody.

The Facebook page for the event says that parents can also include a brief summary of how custody and/or unsupervised visitation was given to the father, if they’d like to and that the organisation may edit the summary for clarity, brevity and anonymity.

The exhibition will include photos sent in by mothers previously, which can be seen on the coalition’s website, along with short video clips of mothers talking about their experiences.

The event takes place on Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 1 PM – 4 PM PDT. 

If you would like to take part in this event and you are based in the UK, please be aware that sharing details of your case, including your name and your photo, may constitute a breach of your court order.