Picture this: Ordinary citizens arrested in the middle of the night, thrown in jail on false charges, never seeing the inside of their homes again. Show trials with predetermined outcomes. Dissidents forced into treatment for politically incorrect thoughts.
Does this describe Stalinist purges? Totalitarian repression? The USA Patriot Act in action?
No, this nightmarish scenario is our current domestic violence system. Introduced in the 1980's with good intentions, these laws have mutated into a system of repression, power and control, manipulated by the domestic violence industry and exploited by vengeful spouses seeking advantage in divorce and child custody.
The crowning achievement for the victim industry was the passage in 1994 of VAWA, the federal Violence Against Women Act. VAWA codifies gender-based myths that domestic violence (DV) is virtually always committed by men against women. VAWA is up for reauthorization in 2005.
VAWA was based on lies and distortions about the true extent of intimate partner violence, yet it continues to be funded at astounding levels. Feminist groups, led by the domestic violence "scream queens," tout hysterical claims such as "the leading cause of emergency room visits by women is domestic violence," and "95 per cent of victims of domestic violence are women."
The government's own statistics contradict these ubiquitous factoids, yet Congress can't help pandering to the women's vote with a billion-dollar gravy train. The Justice Department's 1998 "Intimate Partner Violence" report reveals that 1/3 of total domestic violence murder victims are male. Further, less than one per cent of females (and males) are victimized each year. Hardly an epidemic justifying a monstrous government system.
In today's domestic violence police state, it's expected the woman is the victim. All she has to do is call 911 and report her husband assaulted her. In many cases she conveniently fails to mention she slapped, punched, kicked or pummeled him to the point that he pushed her away. As a family law attorney for 17 years, I have experienced the DV system personally. Every example cited in this article has happened to one of my clients.
The stereotype that the man is always the abuser ensures he has no chance of being believed when he says he is the victim. The police take him to jail, and in many cases, he never goes home again.
The next scene in his nightmare is getting served with an order for protection. Originated to immediately protect victims of severe abuse, protection orders have become "weapons of mass destruction" in family courts.
Drive-by protection orders (obtained ex parte, with the accused not present) almost always prohibit contact with his children and presence at the family home, virtually guaranteeing full custody to the accuser.
After 14 days living in a van down by the river, the accused gets a hearing, an "opportunity to be heard." In reality, it is a show trial with a predetermined outcome. Whenever a woman claims to be a victim, she is automatically believed. No proof of abuse is required.
Judges with "do-something disease," afraid of some real victim being denied relief, hand out protection orders like candy. In fact, the accused is sometimes treated more harshly for having the audacity to object. Meanwhile, real victims must share crowded courtrooms with DV fakers.
In many cases, the accused is sent to "domestic violence perpetrator treatment," following an "assessment" with the foregone conclusion that he needs treatment. If he admits any abuse, it will always be used against him. Denial of abuse is punished more severely than actual abuse. Those who profess their innocence are often forcibly "re-educated" for two or even three years.
The only escape is to unconditionally surrender to the authority of the oppressors (the court and treatment providers), bow down and capitulate to the accuser, then you might get some time with your children. You still don't get to go home.
Ten years of VAWA has resulted in the wholesale criminalization of being a man. VAWA didn't originate this nightmarish system, but it legitimizes and subsidizes it. To some, the solution is a gender-neutral law, such as "Violence Against Persons Act." Even without overt gender bias, federal intrusion into local domestic violence policies is corrupting. It nourishes a gargantuan beast and ensures a massive stream of taxpayer dollars creating endless constituent groups lining up to feed at the federal trough.
We must de-fund and de-fang VAWA. We must let police do their jobs without fear of making politically-incorrect decisions. In the old days they used their discretion on how to handle domestic conflict. The parties were often separated until things cooled down. Without evidence of serious assault or injury, that was the proper response.
VAWA turns every argument into a potential murder case, and what police officer wants to risk making a wrong decision? The easy way out is to arrest the man.
It's time to stop systematic violence against civil rights and recognize that even well-intentioned laws can be used as a bludgeon. Like the war on terrorism, the war on domestic violence can go too far.
The laudable goal of ending domestic violence cannot justify nullification of the fundamental rights of an entire gender. We should all be outraged at what is being done to innocent people in the name of helping victims.
is a Bellevue, Washington attorney practicing in the areas of family law,
divorce and domestic violence. She is also a founding member of TABS,
Taking Action against Bias in the System, http://www.tabs.org.