Domestic Violence Discussion with
Jennifer Bowles, MSW, LCSW

Jennifer Bowles is a licensed clinical social worker currently working in California as a medical social worker at a county hospital. She obtained her Master's degree in social work from U.C.L.A. Since graduating in 1993 she has worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, with children and families, frail elderly, and chronically and terminally ill clients. Prior to becoming a social worker she was a deputy sheriff. She believes this law enforcement background provided her with an increased sensitivity to abuse issues, including domestic violence.

She has seen first hand the damage domestic violence does to the individual and family. It crosses all demographic barriers: financial, racial, ethnic, age and sexual orientation.

Our thanks to Jennifer Bowles!

 

29. StorkNet Member: Hi Jennifer, I wrote a couple of months ago about my children living at my ex's because of a lie by him. We are still involved in court, and it doesn't seem to ever go any way but his way.

My children have been abused by him and his wife in the form of a metal BBQ spatula that left bruises on my 10 year old daughter. I got a restraining order, but things continue. Her step mother made her eat on the floor of the garage with the dog because she burped at the table. My daughter also accidentally hit her step sister in the face with a ball, and her stepmom made her stand still and threw the ball at her, hitting her in her face so she could "feel what it felt like." My ex has now enrolled my kids into another school, which I knew nothing about, and when I called to talk to my daughter her step mother kept hanging up the phone while we were talking. I went over there, I wanted to make sure my little girl was ok, and my ex's wife among other things stood there yelling at my daughter, "Your mother is making these things up to make your dad go to jail" and "Tell your mother right here in front of me that I beat you, DO I BEAT YOU?" It was horrible.

This little girl has nightmares every night over there. She was also talking of suicide. I'm sorry this is so long, but my main question is this: If my children were told they CANNOT go to counseling do you feel it is ok for me to take her anyway on my visitation time and tell her its ok not to tell her dad? I feel she will tell him anyway, and I don't want her any more abused than she already is. My son is not as abused, not that I'm not worried, but she gets the brunt of everything. I love them so much, it's breaking my heart that this man that abused me, and my children can go into a court, lie, and then say, "Out of the goodness of his heart he "LET" me have custody for 2 years but it didn't work out. He is clearly delusional, if not psychotic (his mother was a schizophrenic institutionalized for a very long time) and I worry so much about them. Thank you.

Jennifer: My heart goes out to you and your children. You must spend all of your time worrying about them. It sounds like such an upside down world or nightmare that you've woken up in.

I can tell you have thought out the possible ramifications of taking your daughter to counseling. I'm sure your instincts are correct that there would be a big risk of him using that as an excuse to cause her more harm and humiliation. So how to help her? DOCUMENT EVERYTHING: dates things happen, exact quotes from your children, photos of bruises, etc. You need support now. NOW. Go to counseling with a therapist who you can connect with and with whom you feel safe. This person can advise you on how to help your children during their visits and will be mandated to report any abuse you discuss with him or her. What is your attorney doing to provide you with a plan? If it seems stalled seek a referral from a local domestic violence group/program. They should be aware of who is experienced in these cases. Keep talking with your children. Give them outlets when they are with you to express themselves (drawing, journals, talking) that you can keep at your house so they do not get further harmed by bringing these to their father's house. If your daughter is talking about suicide conferring with a counselor that you are seeing (another reason this would be helpful), or a crisis team could be the first line of intervening. This would begin a process of "outside" people/professionals assisting the children and being witnesses to their descriptions of abuse.

You need support right now also. You need to have caring family or friends who can allow you a safe place to vent. Please seek counseling.

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Questions and Answers (Click on the linked numbers below):

 1.  Husband's temper
 2.  Divorced, did not keep documentation for protection. What should I do?
 3.  I'm getting divorced. Do I tell the judge about my husband's anger? Should my daughter be with him?
 4.  How do I find an Abuse Center in My area?
 5.  How can I help my friend see that she's in a cycle of abuse?
 6.  Thank you, Jennifer
 7.  Is verbal abuse considered domestic violence?
 8.  I've left my husband - why do I feel so sad and guilty?
 9.  I'm being abused but no one can tell.
10. How does domestic abuse affect the children of the marriage?
11. When do you get past the damage?
12. Husband abusive and terminal. I'm pregnant. Can I make it on my own?
13. Therapists and false memories
14. Who do we tell if a child in my son's class is being molested?
15. My children are afraid of their father but he has part custody, what do I do?
16. This relationship is tearing down her self-confidence piece by piece.
17. I got away from the abuse but now my daughter is suffering.
18. Why do so many women end up in abusive relationships?
19. Is yelling verbal abuse?
20. Steps toward recovery?
21. Parents drinking affects the holidays
22. My dad was verbally abusive to me and I now suffer from low self esteem.
23. I can hear the neighbors fighting. What should I do?
24. My ex says no to counseling, but I want my kids to go.
25. Is my boyfriend showing signs of being abusive?
26. How can I prevent visitation rights?
27. Question about one of Jennifer's comments
28. Finding strength and independence
29. I worry so much about my children when they are with him and his new wife.
30. My friend got out of one abusive relationship and into another.
31. Helping my brother with his temper
32. My husband is an alcoholic.
33. My sister is abusing me.
34. My mom was abusive. Will I be too?
35. Abusive husband and a new baby
36. How is past abuse from my deceased husband affecting my 4 1/2 year old?
37. My best friend chose a controlling boyfriend, just like her father. Help me explain to her.
38. My husband intimidates me into sex. Is this abuse?
39. Husband has anxiety and is becoming violent
40. Separated, pregnant and thinking of working things out with abusive husband
41. Question about verbal abuse?
42. Is my boyfriend abusive?
43. Ex-husband and unpaid child support
44. Surviving molestation
45. Our arguing has turned physical now
46. I left my verbally abusive husband
47. Woman realizes she is the abuser
48. Husband's health is making him angry
49. Abuse and chronically ill
50. Abusive relationship and going through divorce proceedings
51. Granddaughter may lose custody
52. Relationship with abusive boyfriend is like obsession
53. Very afraid of abusive, threatening husband
54. Are my boyfriend's actions abusive?
55. I worry that my children will be molested because I was
56. Why do women stay or have a hard time leaving?
57. I need help to get away. What can I do?
58. Elderly parents are abusing each other, alcohol involved.
59. Is my daughter being abused by her stepmom?
60. Do you discuss female domestic violence towards men and children?
61. Friend keeps going back to abusive boyfriend
62. Alcohol problems as teens related to growing up in a violent home?
63. I left my abuser... a message of hope
64. How to help a pregnant friend
65. Resources for domestic violence in the military?
66. Nephew in abusive relationship
67. My husband is too controlling
68. Advice from someone who stayed
69. I left and now I'm confused
70. Thank you, Jennifer
71. My husband mentally abuses me
72. I've taken steps to leave my abusive husband, but am worried about my daughter
73. Abuse in friendships?
74. Why do women oppose mandatory reporting?
75. My husband is frightening me with his anger
76. Am I becoming my father?
77. Love and abuse
78. Boyfriend threatens me
79. Husband wants me to get an abortion, is verbally abusive.
80. My mother-in-law is harrassing us
81. Children verbally abusive like their father
82. Son and daughter-in-law's arguing affecting grandson
83. Should I call my husband on each verbal abuse?
84. My fiancÚ babysits and I am worried about his temper
85. My friend's child is affected by abuse by father
86. Every time he hits me, he blames me for it, then repents, apologizes and feels bad.
87. Acquaintances from church--the woman is attacking her husband. How can I help?
88. Shelters - how do you find your funds to live on and where to go?
89. My friend appears to have no way out!
90. My husband is in prison and we're divorcing. Visitation rights?
91. If you are in immediate danger

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