By now, we are all familiar with the various versions of tips to prevent rape, which change the focus from actions of victims to actions of rapists. If you have not seen one, they are available here, here and many other places. These shed light on a common cultural bias known as victim-blaming.
In representing victims of domestic violence, I am constantly appalled by the victim-blaming from some other lawyers, some mediators, and even some judges. We see this in horrible and obvious ways with people questioning the credibility of victims of abuse, even asking the proverbial “so why didn’t you leave?” In a case I once litigated, when I objected to victim-blaming questions of my client, the Judge responded to the effect of “she came to court, what did she expect would happen?”
We also see victim blaming in more subtle ways, such as characterizing ongoing abuse and bullying as “two parties who do not get along” or “a high conflict case.” There is huge value in seeing shades of gray in the actions and situations of our clients and opposing parties, but when it comes to domestic abuse, anything short of naming and addressing ongoing abuse head on enables the abuse.
I was recently asked, in one such case, to think of creative solutions to help “the parties” have less “conflict” during exchanges of the child. To protect confidentiality, I refer to the “conflict” as Name Calling. Here are my ten “creative solutions” for reducing Name Calling at exchanges: