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Sep 212014


One in Three Campaign

One third of domestic violence victims denied services

Following last week’s launch of Our Watch,  a new national initiative aimed to prevent violence against women and their children – the One in Three Campaign has released a new analysis of the latest Australian data on male victims of family violence.
Senior Researcher Greg Andresen said, “We are very glad to see violence against women being taken so seriously by the Australian Government. However we are extremely concerned that one third of victims of sexual assault and family violence are excluded by One Watch and its sister organisation ANROWS simply on the basis of their gender.”
The analysis of the ABS Personal Safety Survey and the AIC Homicide in Australia, 2008?10, published today by One in Three, challenges the claim that the vast majority of family violence is committed by men against women and children. Using the same data sources as Fact Sheets recently released by ANROWS, the new data analysis paints a very different picture of gender and family violence in Australia.
“The statistics presented by ANROWS have been designed to over-inflate female victimisation by using lifetime experience of violence instead of current rates, while downplaying male victimisation by taking only the female perspective,” said Mr Andresen.
“75 males were killed in domestic homicide incidents between 2008-10. That’s one death every 10 days,? said Mr Andresen. “1.2 million Australian men have experienced emotional abuse by a partner, almost half a million have experienced violence by a partner and almost a third of a million have experienced violence by a girlfriend/boyfriend or date. Where are the services for these men and boys?”
The vast majority of domestic violence services in Australia are closed to males. There are no shelters for men and their children, no safe rooms or legal support at courthouses, no community education and prevention programmes, no support groups, no perpetrator programs for women or health service screening tools for men.
One in Three is calling upon the Australian Government to comply with its international human rights obligations and provide programs and services for male, as well as female victims of family violence.
“There is simply no excuse for this kind of sexist discrimination in Australia in 2014,” said Mr Andresen.
Male victims of family violence: key statistics
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of domestic homicide were male (38.7%)
  • 2 in 5 victims of physical and/or sexual child abuse were male (39.0%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of current partner violence were male (33.3%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of violence from a boyfriend/girlfriend or date were male (27.9%)
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of partner emotional abuse were male (37.1%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of stalking were male (34.2%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of sexual assault were male (29.6%)
Male victims of family violence were:
  • 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about experiencing partner violence
  • Twice as likely as women to have never sought advice or support about experiencing partner violence
  • Up to 40% more likely than women to have not contacted police about experiencing partner violence
  • Half as likely as women to have had a restraining order issued against the perpetrator of partner violence.


Greg Andresen, Senior Researcher, One in Three Campaign, 0403 813 925 or

Jul 142014

Independant Children's Lawyer family law surveyIf you are one of the many fathers who believe that they have been discriminated against by a Court appointed ICL (Independent Children’s Lawyers) during child custody proceedings, simply because of your gender, well these family law researchers want to hear from you.

Family Law Express have just released a survey asking for feedback from parents who have worked with an ICL during their child custody matter.

Do you believe the ICL was professional, did they understand the family law act, did they treat you differently because of your gender, did they even bother to talk to you?

The Family Law Express Independent Children’s Lawyers survey asks these questions and more, probing the professionalism of a group of effectively unregulated solicitors who are better known for their gender-political ideologies than they are for their focus on a child’s best interests.

Whilst the Australian Government Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has recently released a report aimed towards the better utilisation of ICL’s, Family Law Express is endeavouring to add to the debate through its own direct-to-consumer research. In doing, these researchers wish to both elaborate on and question findings of the AIFS report, and to define the common experience between families and ICL’s in an attempt to uncover truths and offer suggestions for innovative legal reform. Through such research they aim to add to the public debate what many parent’s believe to be the real value of involving an ICL in child related Court matters, without the double-speak or self-justification that often occurs when governments focus almost solely on the opinions of so called experts.

Family Law Express is asking all parents who have been involved with ICL’s to contribute in prompting important and necessary legal reform. We ask you to please participate in our short survey on your experience with ICL’s and to add to this significant debate within family law.

Your help in promoting out survey on your site would be instrumental in our aim to reach out to as many parents as possible from diverse backgrounds in order to truly understand the experience of parents with independent children’s lawyers.

This survey will only take a few minutes of your time but would provide invaluable feedback on the performance of ICL in Family Law children’s matters.

Tell us about your experience with an ICL at

If you have any questions please contact Jessica at

Jun 282014

women-the-aggressors-in-dvContrary to the overwhelming perception in society, numerous studies and statistics recently published from a variety of disparate sources have indicated that women are more likely to be verbally and physically aggressive to their partners than men, and are increasingly participating in serious acts of violence against other men, women, the elderly and children.

The findings were presented to a symposium on “intimate partner violence” (IPV) at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria and colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire gave 1104 students (706 women and 398 men) questionnaires about their physical aggression and controlling behaviour, towards partners and to same-sex others (including friends).

Women were revealed to be more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners, and men were more likely to be physically aggressive to their same-sex partners.

Women were also shown to engage in greater levels of controlling behavior, which is understood to be a predictor of physical aggression in both sexes.

“This was an interesting finding,” Dr Bates says. “Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary.

“This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men.

“It wasn’t just pushing and shoving,” Dr Bates said, of responses to the anonymous questionnaire. “Some people were circling the boxes for things like beating up, kicking, and threatening to use a weapon.

“The feminist movement made violence towards women something we talk about. Now there is more support for men and more of them are coming forward.”

In another finding in Australia, the number of men who report experiencing domestic violence from their current partner has almost doubled since 2005, according to a new survey released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012 collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of violence since the age of 15.

Meanwhile, girls have been found to be more devious than boys in their torment of classmates, Australia’s biggest childhood study reveals.

Kids who are poor, overweight, Aboriginal, disabled or living with a single mother are most likely to be picked on in the playground, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found in a survey of more than 4000 children aged 10 and 11.

Three in every five kids had been subjected to “unfriendly behaviour” in the past year, ranging from hitting to name-calling and being left out of social groups.

And according to new national crime figures women are now outpacing men in the violence stakes, with the rate of women committing assaults jumping 49 per cent since the mid 1990s.

Australian Institute of Criminology data shows the number of female assaults per 100,000 women increased from 125 to 186 between 1996 and 2010 compared to an increase of just 18 per cent for men, while other figures show that mother’s were by far the single biggest group responsible for child abuse and child murder in Australia.

Griffith University’s Violence Research and Prevention Program director Professor Paul Mazerolle said there was “no question” young women were getting more involved in violence: “There’s been a moderate increase in [female] violence but we as a community are less tolerant of violence so we’re seeing more of a response from police.”

Credit: Roberta Parisi – Family Law Express

Jun 012014

Angie Hooper works to supplement her Newstart payment.

LOLLIPOP lady Angie Hooper dreams of a better job. One with decent pay and regular hours, so she can get off welfare and still collect her son after school. A job with holidays, sick leave — perhaps even an understanding boss who lets her stay home when Dylan’s sick.

The 32-year-old single mother from Melbourne has been stuck on the Newstart allowance, knocked back repeatedly for flexible jobs that fit around caring for a 10-year-old boy with no help from family.

Hooper works as a school crossing supervisor, paid $20 an hour for two hours’ work — with no holidays or sick leave. And she is worried sick about the Abbott government’s decision to cut her family payments.

“I’ve got experience in hospitality but they always need people on evenings and weekends mostly and I can’t work then,’’ she told Inquirer yesterday.

“I went for one job in a bowling alley where the manager told me that I’m exactly what he was looking for — except for the fact I’m a single mother because I would need time off when my son was sick and I’d be unreliable.’’

Hooper’s dilemma — trying to care for her son while competing against no-strings school-leavers and backpackers for scarce jobs — will be the achilles heel of Tony Abbott’s strategy to get more mothers back in the workforce.

The government will strip $7.3 million from family tax benefits across the next four years, giving low-income mothers a financial nudge to work harder, while offering high-paid breadwinners an incentive to keep their income low.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra has calculated the cuts will strip $122 a week from the budget of a single-income couple with two kids, earning $65,000.

The average-wage family will lose $1600 a year in Family Tax Benefit Part A, $3367 in Part B and $1392 in the School Kids Bonus. A single parent dependent on the dole, now receiving $32,855 a year in payments, will lose $4243 a year by 2017, plunging them below the poverty line.

The cuts are intended, according to budget papers, to “encourage increased workforce par­ticipation by primary carers when their youngest child reaches primary school age’’.

Or as Joe Hockey bluntly put it in his budget speech: “Staying at home should be a parent’s choice, but there are limits on how much support the taxpayer can give.’’

John Howard, the self-described “father of the family tax benefit system’’, has already proclaimed the cuts to be a tax increase. “Family tax benefits are not welfare payments, they’re tax breaks for couples who have children,’’ he said after the budget.

“We all know it costs money to have children and it never ends.’’

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick declared yesterday that forcing mothers back to work is “devaluing motherhood’’.

“We’re saying the work a woman does caring isn’t important,’’ she tells Inquirer.

“Who’s going to do the caring? Increasingly it’s not just about children, it’s about elder care. Who’s going to care for ageing parents and elderly neighbours? The fact is it’s got to be both men and women.’’

Broderick says mothers — and especially single parents — find it harder to get work because employers prefer the “24/7’’ worker with no family responsibilities.

“In workplaces in Australia, the ideal worker is available 24/7, has no visible caring responsibilities and the result is preferably a male,’’ she says.

“If you don’t fit the box it’s going to be more problematic to find a job.’’

Bob Birrell, a demographer with the Centre for Population and Research at Monash University, notes that mothers who have been out of the workforce for years will soon be competing for jobs against the under-30s — who are being denied welfare payments for six months — as well as 1.2 million backpackers and temporary migrants with work rights.

“They are desperate for work and willing to accept wages and conditions that mothers are not in a position to take on,’’ he says.

“The Coalition is proposing to force young people and mothers into a slack labour market at the same time as it is running a record high migration program.’’

Even if the jobs are there, working parents need to pick up their kids at 3pm or pay up to $30 a day for after-school care.

Parents get at least half that money back — more if they are on low incomes — but after-school and holiday care can be hard to find.

Australia has 3.6 million kids at school, yet only 208,000 attend before or after-school care and just 135,000 go to vacation care, which covers up to 15 weeks a year of school holidays.

In Sydney, parents have reportedly tried to bribe their way to the top of the waiting list. The National Out of School Hours Association estimates that after-school centres can cater for one in every three primary students.

“Ten years ago it would have been 10 per cent of the school and now it’s 30 per cent,’’ spokeswoman Kylie Brannelly says. “If demand were to go up to half the school, we would not have the infrastructure to do that.’’

High school students have no after-school care, so the only alternative for working parents is to knock off early or leave “latchkey kids’’ as young as 12 at home alone — which is illegal in some states.

The scarcity and cost of after-school care is the pragmatic reason so many mothers choose to work part time. Barely one-quarter of Australia’s working women have full-time jobs; the rest work an average of 17 hours a week.

The Grattan Institute has found the cost of childcare to be a powerful disincentive for mothers to work more than three days a week before their kids start school. A woman earning $40,000 a year with two children in childcare takes home $156 for three days’ work after tax and daycare fees. If she works a five-day week she takes home just $49 more for the extra two days.

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley says the $100,000 cut-off for FTB will encourage breadwinners to cut back their hours or look for tax breaks.

“It gives substantial incentives to play silly games, working a few less hours so you earn just less than $100,000,’’ he says.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Helen Conway points out that mothers who work are less likely to retire in poverty, as they build up their superannuation. She lectures employers that those who offer a work-life balance and flexible hours will reap the rewards of loyal and appreciative staff, and a deeper talent pool. When mothers do head back to paid work, Conway argues, men must not lumber them with all the “homework’’ of domestic chores and childcare.

“Women naturally pick up the tab at home,’’ she tells Inquirer. “Burnout after a couple of years is not the ideal outcome.’’

Single mum and part-time La Trobe University law student Jessica van Dyk is fretting over how she will pay her bills without the Pensioner Education Supplement worth $31 a week. She volunteers at a legal centre, where other single mothers have confided that they regretted leaving their violent partners, “because it was better being beaten up behind closed doors than having to worry about how to feed their kids’’

Read More

Feb 062014

child-support-agency-mistakes-to-avoid-themMistake #1 – You expect the CSA to be Fair and Unbiased (you’re joking right?)

Of the approximate 3600 staff at the Child Support Agency approximately three quarters are women. Of the number of parents paying child support nearly 90% are men. There is a perception of an endemic anti male culture in the Child Support Agency.

The following are extracts from the recent valedictory speech by retiring Federal Parliamentarian, Alby Schultz, on the rate of suicide amongst men as a result of the biased decisions of the Child Support Agency.

“Not surprisingly, that is the one constant I have been confronted with in many ways in this and another place in the past 25 years. Marginal seat politics, party-political point scoring, failure to act on serious social issues and irresponsible waste of taxpayers’ resources are both frustrating and morally wrong. As an example, in 2005 I produced a booklet based on three years of hard research about the Child Support Agency and its relentless, unjustifiable anti-male culture, which culminated in the suicide of a number of my young constituents. Confronting the very serious issue of male suicide caused by the gender biased CSA was treated as a politically sensitive no-go area by many politicians, which I embraced as a challenge on behalf of 4,000 families and individuals across the country.

That culture, despite some cosmetic changes, is still endemic in the CSA today. The increase in male suicides is due in no small part to the unrelenting anti-male culture of the CSA. The Lone Fathers Association, led by Barry Williams—the man is a saint—is taking 70,000 calls per annum from depressed males, many of whom are desperately trying to deal with CSA pressure. Were it not for him, the suicide rate would be even higher.

The incoming government would be doing a great service to oppressed payers facing criminal activity, such as entrapment and denial of natural justice—which is the modus operandi of the CSA today—and to the nation as a whole, if it introduced a parliamentary inquiry which would allow people to give evidence of the covering up of male suicides caused by the Child Support Agency. More importantly, it will give those living under threat of legal action by the CSA—if they release any part of taped conversations which prove intimidation, false information, abuse of civil rights and denial of natural justice—an opportunity to expose these issues under parliamentary protection.”

Be encouraged. You are not alone and no, you are not going crazy when you think you are being ‘hard done by’. Countless men’s groups, online forums and general discussions around the BBQ, along with damming statements like the above from Alby Schultz cannot be wrong.

CSA workers are not lawyers, they are trained under a system and backed by a litigation team. With the gender imbalance of the workforce, no matter how impartial a worker may be, they are human.
Let’s be fair and honest here, most workers have the best intentions to handle cases to the best of their ability, but keep in mind, with divorce rates soaring every worker has a friend, or a friend of a friend with a hard luck story that biases their decision.

One way to avoid this is to make sure you know all the rules, legalities and loop holes. In this busy world most people don’t, and let’s get real here.

Who has time for it, who understands it, and who wants the emotional turmoil of knowing you are in the right but having to justify your position, after explaining it for the tenth time!, to a faceless person on the end of the phone line who doesn’t even know it all themselves.

Make sure you do it though – educate yourself – or find someone that does know so you don’t have to and instead get on with living your life.

Mistake #2 – You Assume CSA will have your correct information from Centrelink and the Taxation Department in your child support assessment.

A couple of years ago there was a big Hoo Ha in the press about the sharing of records across all government departments – specifically, Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office and the CSA.

While in ‘principle’ this is supposed to be the case forget it, and don’t assume that the CSA has any of your cross departmental records.

All too often the CSA records are NOT up to date. So if you are assuming, just because the other parent, or yourself, has completed the most recent tax return and lodged it with the ATO that this is reflected in your CSA file – think again.

Unfortunately it gets worse.

Centrelink records, and updated information on changes of levels of the care of your children, re-partnering or new births, or employment (you know, all the important stuff that changes your assessment) are also, more often than not, missing from the Child Support Agency records.

The bad news is, that if you are a paying parent it is likely that you are not only paying an incorrect rate, but will continue to do so while the slow bureaucratic wheels of the Child Support Agency continue to grind.

Meanwhile if you are a receiving parent waiting for funds or arrears, these will continue to accrue and stack up in the background while you continue to be left not only in the dark about what is happening to collect them, but also short on cash.

If you do know what information the CSA requires from you (and most parents unfortunately don’t) make sure you check each and every time you call that your records are up to date in regards to you or your ex-partners changes in circumstances.

Tedious we know – but if you don’t be warned it’s at your own peril – and don’t expect to be paying or receiving the correct amount.

Mistake #3 – You Expect To Be Given All Your Options.

Most parents when told they can apply for a change of assessment are informed of the obvious – That a change of income or earnings can change how much they have to pay. The rule is however, if your income has not reduced by 15% or more a request for re-assessment will be flatly refused.

What is often not said though is that, depending on your circumstances, there are often reasons that under the current legislation the Child Support Agency is obliged to consider a change to your assessment.

We have experienced countless stories of parents on many occasions paying child support at a higher level than is fair or necessary as they did not know of the many other options available to them that meant they were within their client rights to demand a change of assessment.

Do not expect the Child Support Agency staff to inform you of all the options available to you to apply for re-assessment – ask, drill down on them, and be sure to explore ALL your options.

Mistake #4– You Think When the CSA sends you a Penalty Bill for Arrears You HAVE to Pay – Wrong!

Finally some Good News!

You may already be aware (many parents are) that the Child Support Agency has the right to charge late payment penalties on arrears.

Over the years these penalties have been known to not only surprise paying parents, but increase the emotional and financial burden (let’s not even talk stress levels) and stack up to be as much as tens of thousands of dollars.

Not only do paying parents see their financial future slipping away before their very eyes, it also adds to the frustration and aggravation of dealing with the Child Support Agency on existing arrears.
What many child support staff will not tell you (there’s a lot the CSA is not telling you right?) is that there are certain circumstances when the penalties can be wiped from your file. In part or in FULL! Saving you thousands of dollars, your financial future, and countless nights’ sleep in the process.

Be aware though, you will need to present your arguments and grounds in a manner that gives them little room to move. Just recently we represented a parent who had arrears of more than $5,000 – we wiped it clean. So, yes! It’s possible. Be sure you find out exactly what your rights are when it comes to penalties, what deals can be made and how you can wipe this burden from your life.

Mistake #5 – You Expect to have a Case Officer – For Your Issue to Be Dealt With Promptly and for them to maintain accurate notes of your phone discussion.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to call the CSA once, get through quickly, speak to the same person you spoke to earlier, explain your situation and reach a solution. Easy right? Wrong!

The reality is: the Child Support Agency has approximately 3600 staff of which about 2000 handle 1 million incoming calls a year. Simply put – It is not going to happen.

Don’t assume you have a Case Manager. Most customers we’ve spoken to don’t.

Because of this, you must expect the frustration of having to explain your circumstances or your problem over and over again, and having to wait on the line for hours each time.

If you are a paying parent you will inevitably be frustrated. If you are a parent who is supposed to be receiving Child Support you will inevitably be frustrated too. If you are lucky or smart, and have someone representing you, they get to punch #2 when going through the CSA automated telephone system. The waiting cue is not only much shorter, but they also know exactly what to say to make sure action is taken around your case. The CSA workers also know that when talking to representatives they have to be on the ball – accurate and ensure all their dealings are above board and straight down the line.

This leads to the next mistake parents make when dealing with the child support.

Mistake #6 – You Don’t Get a Receipt number for your Call.

If you take one thing away from this report – take this – Get a receipt number for ALL your calls to the CSA.

It’s impossible for all Child Support Agency staff to accurately record all the details of each and every telephone conversations and the advice given on any given day. With hundreds of calls a day CSA staff are pressured to selectively choose, what is important to record, what advice they gave and whether any action should or
shouldn’t be taken.

How many times have you had a conversation with CSA, figured no action was being taken, only to receive a ten page letter in the post a couple of days later. A letter you had no idea was coming and no clue or understanding what prompted it and you can’t work out what it is about anyway.

So being the good parent you are, you set aside a window of time to call the CSA – again!…Only to have the CSA representative you are now talking to give you different and conflicting information or advice from your previous call – Arrrgh!

When you contact the Child Support Agency it is highly likely that the details of your earlier contact will be not be in the records – wasting time and increasing your frustration levels. This is how a 10 min call turns into hours.

Our advice – Get a receipt, ask for discussion points to be added to your record and take serious notes on the things that matter.

Mistake #7 – You Think The Child Support Agency is Actively Chasing Arrears on Your Behalf.

It’s bad enough to be owed substantial amounts of money, especially if you are struggling to pay bills as it is, what’s worse (and we hate to be the bearer of bad news) is that despite having the power to wield, the CSA is an overloaded system and as a result is just unable to put in the effort to actively chase every single arrears case on its books.

Don’t assume if you have extenuating circumstances that 100% effort and expertise is being put towards exploring the numerous options available to them.

# BONUS MISTAKE – You Think You Are Capable, Know all the Ins and Outs of the CSA and Try to Go it Alone

Hopefully by now you would have realised some of your suspicions about the CSA have just been confirmed. If you think you are capable of dealing with this overloaded government system without some kind of help, advice or assistance from someone that knows all the ins and outs of it you are wrong.

Sorry – let me be clear – perhaps if you had a law degree, and 24 hours a day to devote to it you may be OK – but I’m guessing you don’t, right?

Mistake #1 alone, that you expect the CSA to be unbiased, demonstrates the need for someone to hold the CSA accountable to legislation, to be in your corner and stick up for you.

As a parent dealing with the CSA please make sure you protect yourself against the stress, frustration, depression and ultimately in the most tragic of cases suicide by seeking support.

Download the Report

Dec 182013

The following are some of the questions our counsellors are frequently asked by callers. Please note that the responses to these questions are necessarily general and may not apply to your individual circumstances. Please call the helpline if you need further information.

Where can I get legal advice?

Community Legal Centres and legal help-lines offer free legal advice. Legal Aid in your state may also be able to offer free advice. Law associations can usually refer you to a solicitor in your area. Search our 
services directory for legal services close to where you live. The Family Relationships Advice Line (1800 050 321) also provides legal referrals Australia-wide.

My wife has said she is going to leave me. What do I need to know?

There are three important practical areas you need to consider if you are facing divorce: division of property, maintenance payments and residency of/contact with children. Hopefully you will be able to settle some or all of these matters without recourse to lawyers. This is clearly the preferred option as court proceedings may be lengthy and very expensive. They are also extremely stressful and can involve considerable hostility, which can have a very damaging effect on children caught in the cross-fire. However, even though court should be avoided if at all possible, it is wise to seek legal advice in order to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities in the event that matters do have to go to formal proceedings. Note that from July 1st, 2007 it will be a legal requirement for separating couples to go through a mediation process prior to taking their case to court.

After separation, you may be required to pay child maintenance to your ex-wife to contribute to the cost of raising your children. The amount you will need to pay will depend on a range of factors including how many children you have and how old they are, your income, your wife’s income, and the amount of time you spend looking after your children each week. The formula is set by legislation. The Child Support Agency (CSA) is the government body responsible for making assessments and helping separated parents manage their financial responsibilities towards their children. In the event of separation, you will need to make contact with CSA to arrange an assessment. Note that separated parents can also make a private maintenance arrangement without going through CSA, if both parties agree.

Residency and contact arrangements for children are often the area that is most difficult for separated parents. A good idea is to prepare a parenting plan, which is a written, signed and dated agreement outlining care arrangements for your children. The main purpose is to specify who cares for which children and when, but it may also cover such areas as who pays for what expenses, as well as other matters such as choice of school, house rules and so on. A parenting plan is not legally enforceable (unless made before 14th January, 2004), although it can be converted into an enforceable ‘consent order’ if both parties agree. Mediation can help this process if parents are having trouble agreeing or even discussing arrangements.   Contact the Family Relationships Advice Line (1800 050 321), the Family Court of Australia or your local Family Relationships Centre to find out more about how to formalise a parenting plan.

Will I ever get over the pain of divorce?

Like any major loss, divorce brings with it a grieving process. How painful this experience is and how long it lasts can vary enormously. Even when a relationship has deteriorated to the point that both people feel quite certain of the need for a divorce, the pain of separation can still be very intense. There are many losses involved in a divorce, including children, identity, and emotional and financial security. Men can also grieve the loss of roles such as husband, partner or full-time dad.

In the throes of grief, it is easy to imagine that the pain will go on forever. However, with time the pain does diminish and eventually it becomes possible to move forward and put it in the past. Unfortunately it is not possible to say how long this will take. Grieving is a natural, human process for dealing with and coming to accept loss. Like the healing of the body, it occurs in its own time and cannot be hurried.

What is important is getting support to allow you to talk about what you are going through and to reduce the loneliness that many men feel during this time. This could be through seeing a face to face counsellor, attending a men’s group, or participating in MensLine’s callback counselling service. There are no short-cuts, but regular support can help you to reach the point sooner where you are able to say that your divorce is a part of your past, rather than your present.

My wife/partner and I have recently been fighting a lot. She has suggested counselling, but I’m not so sure about it. What should I do?

There are a number of common misconceptions that can make people reluctant to seek counselling for relationship difficulties. Some men fear that the counsellor will ‘take sides,’ especially if they feel that their partner is more able to express their feelings or to talk about the problems in the relationship. Counsellors are trained to remain neutral in their dealings with couples. If one partner is finding it more difficult to talk than the other, the counsellor will try to assist them to find ways to communicate better, and will not assume that their point of view is not important, or that they don’t have one.

Good couples counsellors will not have a fixed idea about the goal of counselling. Their goal is to assist you as a couple to clarify your goals and feelings; it is not necessarily to ‘keep you together’ at all costs. If you are clear that you wish to stay together, they will try to help you to improve your relationship. If you decide that you need to separate, they will respect this choice and support you.

Another fear some men express is the perception that counselling services are run ‘by women, for women.’ Couples counselling is not gender-biased. Couples counsellors recognise that men often have different perspectives and priorities than their female partner, and will work even-handedly with both. There are also many male counsellors working in this field, although the gender of the counsellor is less important than their ability to listen to and understand both of your points of view.
If you are concerned about couples counselling, individual counselling may be an option, either as a first step or as an alternative to couples counselling. Individual counselling, although focussing on one person, can still help to improve a relationship if it helps you to learn better communication skills or to manage your own emotions better.

Sometimes people are put off counselling by stories they hear about other peoples’ bad experiences. Although the great majority of counsellors are highly skilled, professional and well-trained, there is always the possibility of a particular counsellor not suiting you. It is important that you ‘click’ with your counsellor. If for whatever reason you feel that the counselling process is not working for you, and you have fed that back to the counsellor and nothing has changed, then you are entitled to look for another counsellor. By comparison, if a repairman did a bad job on your house, you would seek another tradesman. You wouldn’t assume that the house can’t be fixed.

Remember that relationship counselling is very unlikely to cause any harm to your relationship, and is far more likely to improve it. Most men who are initially anxious about the idea of counselling find it to be a positive and helpful experience once they give it a go. As an initial step, you may like to consider calling MensLine to get an idea about what counselling is like. For counselling services in your area, see our 
services directory.

My wife and I have recently had a baby. I work full time and I feel overwhelmed when my wife expects me to look after the baby after I get home from work. What should I do?

The key issue here is communication of expectations. When a couple have their first baby, they frequently don’t know what to expect and may underestimate how demanding the care of an infant can be. It is important therefore to negotiate some ground rules that are acceptable to both parties. There are no ‘right answers.’ Each couple must work out their own rules. Looking after a baby is very tiring and it is understandable that your wife would feel the need for a break at the end of the day, just as you may after a long day at work. The fact that both of you are tired at the same time can lead to a conflict between your needs. The solution might involve setting aside some time for both of you to take a break (say, an hour for you and an hour for her), or alternating the days when each of you takes responsibility for caring for the baby after work. You might also discuss how paid, casual child care could help to lighten the burden.

Arguing about who works harder and is more deserving of a break is a ‘blame game’ that usually only leads to both of you feeling under-appreciated and misunderstood. Listen to each other’s needs and try to approach the issue as cooperative partners rather than adversaries.

I suspect I may not be the father of my child. How can I find out?

The answer to this depends on whether or not the mother of your child agrees to provide a sample for DNA-testing. In most cases, the DNA of the mother, the child and the man is taken, although in exceptional circumstances a (less reliable) test can be done without the mother’s DNA. In the event that the mother agrees to provide a sample, and gives permission for a sample to be taken from the child, there are a number of private companies that provide paternity-testing services (see our 
services directory)

You can choose to have a test that will be accepted as evidence of paternity in court, or an ‘informal’ test. Legally admissible tests cost more because the DNA samples must be collected by an independent agent and there are more rigorous procedures.
If the mother of your child is not willing to provide a sample, you may be able to obtain a court order through the Family Court. You will need to seek legal advice about the correct procedure to obtain this order. You may have to establish a case for why you believe you may not be the father.

I want to get more time with my children. What can I do?

Any move towards renegotiating the amount of contact you have with your children should begin with an informal approach to your ex-partner to discuss the issue and request the changed arrangements. In the event that she refuses your request, you can seek professional mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party who can sit with you both to try to help you to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement. You can find mediation services in your area by looking up our 
services directory. The final option if mediation fails is to seek an amendment of your contact/residency arrangements through the Family Court. Be aware that from July 31st, 2007 it will be a legal requirement that all parties go through a mediation process before bringing their case to the Family Court.

I am concerned that my ex-wife/partner is not looking after my children properly. What can I do?

The first step if you are concerned about the way your ex-wife or partner is looking after your children is to discuss the issue with her and tell her your concerns. Obviously this requires sensitivity. You are much more likely to get a satisfactory result if you approach her in a spirit of concern rather than blame. The following are some tips:

  • State your observations factually rather than emotively. Don’t exaggerate, but just state what you have noticed that concerns you.
  • Avoid blaming language and generalisations (“You never…” “You’re a bad mother/ a slob etc.”)
  • Focus on solutions rather than problems.
  • Rather than looking for your ex-wife’s or partner’s faults, focus on what support she might need to care for the children better. Can you help in any way? Are there any community services that could assist?
  • Try to reach a plan together.
  • Agree to meet again to see how things are going and whether the plan is working.

Obviously, in many situations, such ideal communication will not be possible due to many factors, including all the ‘baggage’ of your past relationship together. If you are unable to make any progress on the issue together, you could suggest seeking the services of a mediator to help you reach an agreement on a way forward. 
If you have serious concerns which you are unable to resolve, you might wish to approach a child abuse prevention organisation. These agencies are in most areas (look up ‘Child Protection’ in our 
services directory), and can look at developing a plan to support your ex-partner to provide better care for your children. 
Finally, if you have grounds to believe that your children are at serious risk or are being harmed or neglected by their mother, you can formally notify Child Protective Services about the situation. This does not always mean that the children will be removed from their mother’s care. This would only occur as a last resort, after other attempts to resolve the issue (through, for example, linking the mother with community support agencies) have failed.

Whenever I see my ex-wife/partner to pick up my kids, we end up having a fight, and I am concerned how this is affecting our children. How can I stop this?

Due to the ongoing anger and bitterness of some separations, picking up and dropping off children can sometimes be the point at which tensions flare up. Research shows that witnessing such disputes between parents can have a harmful effect on children. The first step if you wish to prevent this harm from occurring is to attempt to reach an agreement with your ex-wife/partner not to argue in front of your children. If there are issues that need to be discussed, agree to talk about them at some other time when the children are not present, for example on the telephone when the children are in their beds asleep. If this does not work, you could consider using a drop-off centre in your area. These centres allow parents to drop off their children for collection by the other parent at a safe place, so that the parents do not have to come into direct contact.  These can be found under “Contact Centres” in our
service directory.

My step-children won’t accept discipline from me. What can I do?

Parenting in step-families is complex, far more complex than in non-step families. Step-children frequently resent the fact that a stranger they have not chosen is entering their lives and presuming (in their minds) to assume the role of parent. They may – unfairly – blame the step-father for the loss of their relationship with their biological father. Furthermore there is no particular reason why step-parents and step-children should or will like, let alone love, one another. The absence of an affectionate or at least respectful relationship between step-parents and children can make discipline very difficult.
For you as a step-father, there are other issues. Many step-fathers are fearful of permanently losing their relationship with their step-child if they are too strict. This is rarely an issue between parents and their biological or adopted children, where the underlying strength of the bond is usually taken for granted. This anxiety can make them unsure about how strict to be. Children can sometimes pick up on this and exploit it.
All these factors can make you uncertain of your role in relation to step-children. Usually a heavy-handed approach backfires. Young children may submit to discipline from an authoritarian step-parent, but they will resent it and the control is likely to break down as they grow older. It is generally a mistake to try to discipline step-children too early. Discipline cannot truly be enforced without some foundation of trust and mutual respect.
Here are a few tips for helping to be more effective in disciplining your step-children:
Negotiate rules with your partner in advance so you aren’t sending mixed messages. Different ideas about the step-father’s role in disciplining children are a frequent cause of relationship friction in step-families. 
Avoid loud, blaming or abusive words (e.g. ‘Are you stupid?’ ‘You are very bad!’ etc.). Talk in a firm, clear manner without using put-downs. 
Have clear rules and try to get your step-children to agree on thesebefore you try to enforce them. 
Explain the reason for rules, don’t just say, ‘Because I say so!’ 
Fit the consequence to the offence. Over-the-top punishments only create resentment. 
Avoid getting into power struggles. Pick your battles carefully. 
Explain that you can never replace your step-children’s biological father and will never try to. 
Accept that you will make mistakes and sometimes be unfair. Just do your best! 
See the step-families links on our 
links page for more information about how to manage the complexities of step-parenting.

My teenage child is out of control. What should I do?

Parenting teenagers is a big challenge. The teenage years are a time in which young people experiment with their identities and challenge parental authority in preparation for establishing themselves as independent adults. Although uncomfortable for parents, the rebellion of adolescence is an absolutely necessary and important developmental stage.
However, this does not mean that teenagers do not need limits. Although they may complain about the boundaries placed around their behaviour, adolescents feel more secure if they know what the rules are. It is important to have firm guidelines about what your teenage child is and is not allowed to do, what time they should be home by, and so on.
On the other hand, research has shown that an authoritarian approach – the iron fist – usually backfires. If a young person feels that their parent is unreasonably harsh and does not respect their judgement or trust them, then they can react by rejecting the parent’s control altogether.
Here are some simple tips for effective parenting of teenage children:

  • Be aware of the fact that your child is growing and changing and adapt rules to suit their level of maturity and judgment. Loosening controls may feel scary at times, and their may be times when your child makes a mistake, but in doing so they will learn.
  • Try ‘active listening’ with your child. Active listening means listening without judgements, reactions or attempts to ‘fix’. Listen and try to understand the world your child lives in, and their experience and perspective.
  • Admit your mistakes and be prepared to compromise.
  • Don’t expect hard and fast rules about things like sex, alcohol and drugs to deal with these complex challenges. Talk honestly about these subjects and help your child to understand the risks so that they can make mature decisions when confronted by situations.
  • Remember what yougot up to when you were an adolescent. It may help you to keep perspective!
  • Admitting to your child that you have never parented a teenager before and therefore may need some help from them could establish a collaborative relationship with your teenager and demonstrate that you trust and value their input.

1300 78 99 78 – Available 24/7

Contact Mens Helpline

Helpline 1300 78 99 78
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Nov 222013

A pregnant Sydney mother accused of murdering her seven-year-old son will spend her first night behind bars.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested at Woodpark in Sydney’s west on Wednesday morning.

The 25-year-old was charged with a range of offences, including murder, production of child abuse material, failure of a person with parental responsibility to care for child, and common assault.

The woman was scheduled to appear in Fairfield Local Court on Wednesday but the matter was adjourned and she will remain in custody overnight.

She will now make her first court appearance along with her boyfriend and co-accused at Parramatta Local Court on Thursday.

A group of female family members along with a baby were in court supporting the woman.

The woman’s 29-year-old boyfriend, who was in jail, was also charged on Wednesday with murdering the child.

Earlier this year the man was charged with 25 offences including assault, child neglect, taking action resulting in injury or sex abuse and producing child abuse material.

The little boy was found dead in the early hours of May 21 in a unit in Oatley, in Sydney’s south.

Family members had called paramedics, telling them the child had sustained head injuries after falling from a pogo stick the previous day.

Detectives will allege the injuries were not accidental.

A court has already heard the boy suffered “deplorable, prolonged abuse”.

He was allegedly reduced to begging for water from shocked campers in the Illawarra two months before he was found dead, the court was told at the man’s September bail hearing.

A police statement of facts previously tendered in court said an autopsy showed three fractured ribs, a bruise in the shape of a fist, feet injuries and bruises to the boy’s legs, back and buttocks that were inconsistent with normal childhood injury.

The boy and his two younger siblings had been previously well cared for, but police allege that changed dramatically after the family moved early this year to the man’s studio, which was windowless and had no toilet.

NSW State Crime Command Homicide Squad Commander Mick Willing on Wednesday described the case as among the most horrific he has ever seen.

“The circumstances surrounding the death of this child involve some of the most distressing acts that we’ve ever seen,” he told reporters.

Lema Samandar, Sophie Tarr and Isabel Hayes

Oct 282010

A Bishop Lavis mother who tried, but failed to kill herself and ended up killing her one-year-old daughter, may face a murder charge.

Tuesday’s incident brings to seven the number of cases involving children who have been abandoned or murdered, allegedly by their mothers, during this month alone.

The 32-year-old mother left suicide notes saying she was struggling financially because her daughter’s father was not supporting their only child and no one was helping her.

Police suspect she had tried to take both their lives by overdosing on pills and feeding her child other medication.

While the police continued investigating the Bishop Lavis incident on Wednesday, a 14-month-old girl allegedly poisoned by her mother in Philippi last week was buried. The girl’s eight-year-old sister, who had also been poisoned, was recovering in hospital, while their mother, 29, was in prison charged with murder and attempted murder.

Police spokeswoman Marie Louw said the incident in Bishop Lavis was on the day the one-year-old girl’s mother was supposed to have taken her to enrol in a creche.

The girl’s grandmother had left her daughter and the child at home, expecting them to go to the creche. But when she returned in the afternoon, she found her grandchild dead on the floor near her unconscious daughter.

It was not clear how long they had been there.

Louw said the police found boxes of tablets belonging to the grandmother, along with a baby bottle.

“We’ve sent the bottle for testing to see if tablets were put in the bottle. We’re also looking into whether the mother gave her daughter tablets orally,” she said.

Louw said officers found suicide notes written by the mother saying her daughter’s father was not supporting their child and she was struggling financially.

Louw said it appeared the mother had gathered all the tablets she could find in the house and had taken them.

She said according to family members it was not the first time the woman had tried to commit suicide.

After visiting her daughter in Tygerberg Hospital on Wednesday, the child’s grandmother said she was in shock.

“I’m sick in my heart. My daughter is okay but my grandchild is gone. My daughter isn’t talking to me. That was her only child,” she said in a telephone interview.

The grandmother confirmed the tablets used belonged to her. She said she was too traumatised to say anything further.

Caryn Dolley


 Posted by at 10:28 pm
Oct 052010

courts-treat-fathers-differentlyMEN are being unfairly treated during custody battles according to an Albany father.

The man whose case is still in court cannot be named, but he alleges fathers in the system were being treated like common criminals.

The man said he had been charged with child abuse but felt the allegations were baseless.

He felt the issues were no more than infrequent domestic arguments, and he cannot get help or advice on the matters.

The children in question have been in the care of their mother since December, 2009. He alleges she is a drug addict.

“These children have been taken out of my care without any proof,” he said.

“The matter has gone to the Department of Child Protection (DCP) but as far as I am aware has not gone on to the police.”

When police protectors were contacted, they were unaware of the family in question.

“She (ex-partner) keeps lying to these government departments and putting the children into dangerous situations,” the father said.

“I’ve hit a brick wall and these departments seems to just want to protect her.

“I am a decent parent and the way I’ve been treated is disgraceful.

“No-one is doing their job and if DCP don’t start doing their job they will have blood on their hands.”

Family Law Action Group (FLAG) member Simon Hunt said fathers were often removed from their children’s lives on an interim basis.

“Their only prospect is to convince a biased court (and biased practitioners) that the situation should change and their role restored, which is ridiculously difficult,” he said.

“The notion of shared parenting after divorce is seen as radical and only possible in rare circumstances where both parents get on very well.

“The Family Court actually cite ‘conflict’ as the reason why one parent – usually the father – must be excluded from their children.”

Mr Hunt said child custody litigation was about winners and losers with very few mothers able to cope with the idea of being excluded from their children’s lives.

The DCP would not make comment on the case but denied men were being unfairly discriminated against in cases of alleged domestic violence and custody battles.

“The department observes a stringent non-discrimination policy to provide fairness and equity to all Western Australian families and ensures that these people who need direct assistance have an opportunity to receive that assistance,” a spokesperson said.

“The department conducts rigorous interviews and risk assessments to determine the best accommodation and care option for children.

“In some instances the child will be placed in care outside of the immediate or extended family.”

DCP said various services were available through government and non-government agencies including Anglicare, Regional Counselling and Mentoring Services.

“There are also a number of group counselling sessions including Changing Tracks for male domestic violence perpetrators, post-separation services and substance abuse counselling provided primarily by not-for-profit organisations,” the spokesperson said.

“In the Albany area, men are able to access individual counselling through a number of local private practitioners.”


Oct 042010

We all tend to focus on the evil men in the world and forget some of the truly evil women that have lived. I hope to correct that with this list. Here we have not just serial killers, but other utterly despicable women who have caused tragedy in many people’s lives. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 most evil women in history.

10. Queen Mary I
 Born: 1516; Died: 1558 
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Mary was the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to live past infancy. Crowned after the death of Edward VI and the removal of The Nine Days Queen-Lady Jane Grey, Mary is chiefly remembered for temporarily and violently returning England to Catholicism. Many prominent Protestants were executed for their beliefs leading to the moniker “Bloody Mary”. Fearing the gallows a further 800 Protestants left the country, unable to return until her death. It should be noted that Elizabeth I shares position 10 on this list for her equally bad behavior.

9. Myra Hindley
 Born: 1942; Died: 2002 
Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were responsible for the “Moors murders” occurring in the Manchester area of Britain in the mid 1960’s. Together these two monsters were responsible for the kidnapping, sexual abuse, torture and murder of three children under the age of twelve and two teenagers, aged 16 and 17. A key found in Myra’s possession led to incriminating evidence stored at a left-luggage depot at Manchester Central Station. The evidence included a tape recording of one of the murder victims screaming as Hindley and Brady raped and tortured her. In the final days before incarceration, she developed a swagger and arrogant attitude that became her trademark. Police secretary Sandra Wilkinson has never forgotten seeing Hindley and her mother Nellie, leaning against the courthouse eating sweets. While the mother was obviously and understandably upset, Hindley seemed indifferent and uncaring of her situation.

8. Isabella of Castile
 Born: 1451; Died: 1504 
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Isabella I of Spain, well known as the patron of Christopher Columbus, with her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon, are responsible for making possible the unification of Spain under their grandson Carlos I. As part of the drive for unification, Isabella appointed Tomás de Torquemada as the first Inquisitor General of the inquisition. March 31, 1492 marks the implementation of the Alhambra Decree; expulsion edicts forcing the removal or conversion of Jews and Muslims. Roughly 200,000 people left Spain; those remaining who chose conversion were subsequently persecuted by the inquisition investigating Judaizing conversos. In 1974, Pope Paul VI opened her cause for beatification. This places her on the path toward possible sainthood. In the Catholic Church, she is thus titled Servant of God.

7. Beverly Allitt Born: 1968 
 38792011 Allitt150
The “Angel of Death, Beverley Gail Allit, is one of Britain’s most well known serial killers. Working as a pediatric nurse, she is responsible for the murder of 4 children and the serious injury of 5 others in her care. When available, insulin or potassium injections were used to precipitate cardiac arrest; smothering sufficed when they were not. Although convicted with death or injury in nine cases, Allit attacked thirteen children over a fifty-eight day period before being caught red-handed. Allit has never spoken of the motive for her crimes, but Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy explains her actions. This debatable personality disorder involves a pattern of abuse or harm to someone in your care in order to garner attention (Alitt was known as a child to wear bandages and casts over wounds, but would not allow them to be examined).

6. Belle Gunness
 Born: 1859; Died: 1931 
Belle Gunness was one of America’s most degenerate and productive female serial killers. Standing 6 ft (1.83 m) tall and weighing in at over 200 lbs (91 kg), she was an imposing and powerful woman of Norwegian descent. It is likely that she killed both her husbands and all of her children at different times, but it is certain that she murdered most of her suitors, boyfriends, and her two daughters, Myrtle and Lucy. The motive was greed-pure and simple; life insurance policies and assets stolen or swindled from her suitors became her source of income. Most reports put her death toll at more than twenty victims over several decades, with some claiming in excess of one hundred. Inconsistencies during her post mortem examination; the corpse was reported to be two inches shorter than Belle’s six feet, paved the way for Belle Gunnes to enter American criminal folklore, a female Bluebeard.

5. Mary Ann Cotton
 Born: 1832; Died: 1873 
Englishwoman Mary Ann Cotton is another for-profit serial killer, predating Belle Gunnes by thirty years. Married at age twenty to William Mowbray, the newlyweds settled in Plymouth, Devon, to start their family. The couple had five children, four of whom died of ‘gastric fever and stomach pains’. Moving back to the north-east, tragedy seemed to follow them; three more children born, three more children died. William soon followed his offspring, dying of an ‘intestinal disorder’ in January 1865. British Prudential promptly paid a 35 pound dividend, and a pattern was established. Her second husband, George Ward, died of intestinal problems as well as one of her two remaining children. The power of the press, always a force to be reckoned with, caught up with Mary Ann. The local newspapers discovered that as Mary Ann moved around northern England, she lost three husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother and a dozen children, all dying of stomach fever. She was hanged at Durham County Gaol, March 24, 1873, for murder by arsenic poisoning. She died slowly, the hangman using too short a drop for a ‘clean’ execution.

4. Ilse Koch
 Born: 1906; Died: 1967 
“Die Hexe von Buchenwald” the Witch of Buchenwald, or “Buchenwälder Schlampe” the Bitch of Buchenwald was the wife of Karl Koch, commandant of the concentration camps Buchenwald from 1937 to 1941, and Majdanek from 1941 to 1943. Drunk on the absolute power rendered by her husband, she reveled in torture and obscenity. Infamous for her souvenirs; tattoos taken from the murdered inmates, her reputation for debauchery was well earned. After building an indoor sports arena in 1940, with 250,000 marks stolen from inmates, Ilsa was promoted to Oberaufseherin or “chief overseer” of the few female guards at Buchenwald. She committed suicide by hanging herself at Aichach women’s prison on September 1, 1967.

3. Irma Grese
 Born: 1923; Died: 1945 
Another product of the Nazi’s final solution, Irma Grese or the “Bitch of Belsen” was a guard at concentration camps Ravensbrück, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Transferred to Auschwitz in 1943, (she must have shown particular enthusiasm and dedication to the job), she was promoted to Senior Supervisor, the 2nd highest ranking female in camp, by the end of the year. In charge of over 30,000 Jewish female prisoners, she reveled in her work. Her work included; savaging of prisoners by her trained and half starved dogs, sexual excesses, arbitrary shootings, sadistic beatings with a plaited whip, and selecting prisoners for the gas chamber. She enjoyed both physical and emotional torture and habitually wore heavy boots and carried a pistol to facilitate both.

2. Katherine Knight
 Born: 1956 
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The first Australian woman to be sentenced to a natural life term without parole, Katherine Knight had a history of violence in relationships. She mashed the dentures of one of her ex-husbands and slashed the throat of another husband’s eight-week-old puppy before his eyes. A heated relationship with John Charles Thomas Price became public knowledge with an Apprehended Violence Order that Price had filed against Knight and ended with Knight stabbing Price to death with a butcher’s knife. He had been stabbed at least 37 times, both front and back, with many of the wounds penetrating vital organs. She then skinned him and hung his “suit” from the door frame in the living room, cut off his head and put it in the soup pot, baked his buttocks, and prepared gravy and vegetables to accompany the ‘roast’. The meal and a vindictive note were set out for the children, luckily discovered by police before they arrived home.

1. Elizabeth Bathory
 Born: 1560; Died: 1614 
Countess Elizabeth Bathory is considered the most infamous serial killer in Hungarian/Slovak history. Rumors had circulated for years about missing peasant girls; offered well paid work at the castle, they were never seen again. One of these rumors reached the ears of King Mathias II, who sent a party of men to the massive Castle Csejthe. The men found one girl dead and one dying. Another was found wounded and others locked up. Described atrocities, collected from testimony of witnesses, include; severe beatings over extended periods of time, the use of needles, burning or mutilation of hands, sometimes also of faces and genitalia, biting the flesh off the faces, arms and other bodily parts, and the starving of victims. The victim total is thought to number in the hundreds occurring over a twenty-five year period. Due to her social status she was never brought to trial but remained under house arrest in a single room until her death. The idea that the Countess bathed in the blood of her victims is folklore, and one of the few things she did not do.
Note: In order to clear one point up, Lizzie Borden is not on this list because she was found innocent of the murder of her parents.