Battered women's advocates often oppose members of the fatherhood movement when attempting to influence public policy regarding contact between abusive men and their children. The fatherhood movement consists of several different factions that have varying perspectives of domestic violence and methods for preserving family relationships. The segments include father involvement advocates, responsible fatherhood groups, and fathers' rights groups. Father involvement supporters condemn violence, but attribute violent behaviors to a sense of powerlessness. Responsible fatherhood groups promote traditional values, blaming violence on the natural impulses of men. Fathers' rights groups refuse to acknowledge the extent of domestic violence and focus attention on violence perpetrated by women. Domestic violence advocates must confront the misperceptions of fatherhood advocates about the dynamics and prevalence of spouse abuse. Specifically, they must increase awareness of the consequences of domestic violence for children and the real experiences of women who are not protected by the justice system. Research can contribute to greater understanding by identifying risk factors for spouse abuse, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, and investigating the influence of socioeconomic status and race. Visitation issues, the elements of successful treatment for batterers, and strategies for coparenting after divorce also should be addressed. Collaboration between domestic violence and fatherhood advocates should promote recognition of the problem of spouse abuse and the impact of parental conflict on father-child relationships. 48 references.
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