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!


59. StorkNet Member: My daughter has been physically and emotionally abused my my ex and his new wife. I've gone through court, and somehow HE got custody even though he abused her. She recently told me of an incident, and honestly it makes me furious. I need to have someone not related to me help me to decide whether or not to go to child protective services, or if I'm just so angry I can't see straight.

This time (many forms of emotional abuse have occurred including being made to eat off the floor like a dog) my daughter tells me they are made to get up at 5:30 AM for school. They don't leave until 7:30. She told me she was so tired and had gotten up at the normal time, got ready, did everything expected, and then asked stepmom if she could set her alarm and lay back down until time to leave. Stepmom told her no and to go do the laundry. This was about 6:00 AM. My daughter went, did the laundry, and asked her stepsis who was sitting on the couch watching TV to wake her up when it was time to go. A few minutes later stepmom came in, told her that she was told she couldn't go lay down and made her stand in the corner until 7:30 AM. This is a common thing, standing in the corner for hours. My daughter is always singled out, she reported physical abuse by this woman, and is always singled out, confirmed by my son. I also have a restraining order for no corporal punishment against her father for her, and stepmom tells her "I don't have a restraining order so I will spank you if I want."

My daughter is scared. She doesn't want me to say anything to my ex because she knows what will happen. She doesn't want to go to court ordered counseling because as soon as my ex finds out she will be in trouble. I just can't sit back and keep watching this, its gone on for over a year, she is depressed and I don't know what to do. If you can, please let me know if you think that is considered emotional abuse, and the best way to get her into counseling. She really is terrified to go. Thank you and sorry so long.

Jennifer: My heart goes out to your daughter for the pain she is in, to your son for being victimized by having to watch his sister suffer and of course to you for being in such a helpless situation.

She needs help and it will help to have the protective service report made by someone other than you. I have seen from clients that so often when there is a divorce it's far easier to chalk things up as a "custody issue." Perhaps it is like that only in the counties near me, but it is excruciatingly painful for the other parent who is trying desperately to protect his or her child. And YES what you described to me is abusive. Your daughter will need counseling, but it will be hard for her to open up as she will fear the abuse being reported and the resulting vulnerability. I don't know if your son will be strong enough to back up what is happening to his sister, but perhaps the therapist will be able to help assess that. I'm glad she has a mother willing to help her. If you have a domestic violence program/shelter near you talk to them about local therapists and any legal people that they could advise you to talk to. Can you also talk to your daughter's teacher and see what her assessment is of your daughter's behavior and mood in school? Some teachers are sharp and pick up on the red flags and can be an ally for the child. It's worth looking into. I don't know how much of this will help, but if she has a place to work through her depression (in therapy) and at the same time if she has another ally in her therapist there's a chance you could gain custody at some point. I also think it would be helpful if you could also get some professional support. You are at risk of depression and anxiety as you struggle to help your daughter deal with this very difficult situation.

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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
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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?
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44. Surviving molestation
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46. I left my verbally abusive husband
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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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