Batterers often minimize or deny their violence or project blame on others, and can appear charming and in control. Visitation center staff who do not understand the nature and dynamics of domestic violence may have difficulty believing the batterer has abused the children or adult victim, and unwittingly comply with a batterer’s tactics.
Visitation center staff, therefore, need to be aware of the ways batterers may attempt to use the services to threaten, intimidate, and control their victims. A sampling of tactics batterers use in a visitation setting include frequently changing the visitation schedule in a way that causes problems and anxiety to child(ren) and adult victims; passing messages to the adult victim by way of the children; or bringing to the visit a toy or object that the children or adult victim associates with past abuse.
Supervised visitation and exchanges are artificial situations that have protections built in to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the visit or exchange. In this context, a batterer is highly motivated to follow the rules. Therefore, it is important for visitation centers to understand and articulate to collaborative partners that observations of no battering behavior in this artificial setting provide little if any information needed to predict future behavior.