Scared to Leave Afraid to Stay tells the stories of ten women going through the court system as part of their efforts to leave their abuser. The women were clients of Barry Goldstein. A variety of court issues related to domestic violence are featured in these cases and the reader is taken through the process. The author explains why choices were made and how courts would be expected to respond to a variety of situations. The last section of the book discusses the reforms needed to make the courts safe for battered women. It is important to know that there is a potential better life for the women on the other side of the court case.
In 2009 the Battered Mothers Custody Conference gave Barry Goldstein its “Believer” Award in response to the retaliation by the New York courts to his ethical actions in exposing an abusive judge. The “Believer” Award was named after a chapter in this book which has proven inspirational to many protective mothers and professionals seeking to help them.
Three brave children, whom the book is dedicated to, told their mother that their father was physically and sexually abusing them. The mother complained to Child Protective Services (CPS) and sought a protective order and sole custody. Initially the children were protected and the father limited to supervised visitation. The children told their attorney, the evaluator, the judge, and the CPS caseworker what their father did to them, but as often happens in these cases, the professionals assumed the mother was brainwashing the children and threatened to take the children from her unless she stopped. The judge ordered normal visitation to resume. Before the first visitation, the father was confronted by the baby sitter in the presence of the law guardian and admitted to kissing his daughters on their privates. The law guardian immediately made a motion to stop the visitation which was supported by the mother’s attorney, Barry Goldstein. The judge consulted with the evaluator. The evaluator said the father used bad judgment but there was no reason to stop the visitation. The four-year-old was penetrated for the first time during the visitation. Barry made a new CPS complaint based on the father’s admission. When the judge found out he yelled and screamed at Barry saying that CPS had already investigated. The new caseworker conducted a more thorough investigation, learned the father had acted even worse than alleged and brought charges against him. The children never had any visitation thereafter that wasn’t supervised. When the mother won custody she invited the caseworker and her attorney for a celebratory dinner. The children had gifts for them, but most important was the name they called them. They called them believers because they believed the children when all the professionals who were supposed to protect them didn’t. There is no greater honor than to be called a believer.