Domestic Abuse Assessment in Child Custody Disputes:
Beware the Domestic Violence Research Paradigm
by Donald G. Button
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia
In some states custody assessors are now required to become familiar with the dynamics of prevalence of domestic abuse since the presence of one or more abusive parents in the house has impact on the “best interests of the child”. The domestic abuse literature is misleading in setting a framework for abuse incidence and threat source for children. Males are represented as primary perpetrators of physical abuse although data from meta-analytic studies show otherwise. Indirect aggression is scarcely mentioned in the literature, although prevalent in research on aggression. Physical violence directed towards children is actually more likely to be mother–perpetrated. Child safety may be compromised if attention is focused solely on the possibility of abuse from a male perpetrator.