GUESTWORDS: Rethink Domestic Violence

By Marilyn Fitterman

    Our society has created an environment where beating women and children and violating their civil rights are acceptable. In fact, we have actually created an industry — the violence against women movement. This movement thrives on building “safe houses” and places of “retreat” to protect victims, as opposed to enforcing on-the-books laws against the men who abuse.
    The 1970s ushered in the epitome of misogyny with the development of facilities to protect women from violent men. As well as brutalizing and maiming women, violent men in the United States kill three women each day. That’s more than we were losing in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Although we don’t acknowledge it, this is war.
    A few years ago, the governor of Illinois signed legislation increasing protections for domestic violence victims. The bill allows courts to order the abuser to wear a GPS tracking device as a condition of bail. The legislation was sparked by the murder of a woman whose ex-boyfriend shot her, even after on two separate occasions he had been arrested and prosecuted for violating a restraining order. Similar legislation has since passed in many states.
    In 2009, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to establish an online registry of convicted abusers. But the measure was vetoed by the county executive at the time, Steve Levy, who claimed the bill was unnecessary. The Retreat, a safe house for women and children in East Hampton, and the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence also denounced the bill as not necessary. Often legislation to protect women and children from violent men is met with “yes, but” objections and resistance, especially from those feminists, sometimes called protectionists, who choose to hide women away as opposed to changing the system that imprisons them.
    A too-large faction of the domestic violence industry is more involved with raising money, gathering volunteers, and building safe houses than with solving problems or empowering women to take care of themselves. By hiding women and children away, we are certainly not fixing the problem, as can be seen by the latest statistics showing that more and more retreats are being built as more and more women and children are being abused.
    Instead of being overly concerned, as we currently are, with the rights of men who abuse, we should begin to look at this problem by thinking outside the box, with a fresh perspective, with an egalitarian attitude, and with better ideas for aiding the women and children.
    We have semi-effective measures, using GPS and registering convicted abusers online in order to track them. These practices are not a panacea, however, as proven by the previously mentioned escalating numbers.
    Why not consider the obvious? Why should women and children be carted away, bleeding and bruised, often in the middle of the night, while violent men stay in the family home, resting comfortably, perhaps beer in hand, watching television, and showing absolutely no remorse? By anyone’s standards this is not equality of justice. If a man were to beat up another man he would be arrested. But beating a woman is tolerated. We hide the women away so abusers can’t find them. It’s absolutely outrageous.
    Why not use these “safe houses” to board the men? They could be put on work release and equipped with GPS devices, allowing them to go to work each day while being monitored. They would then be responsible for supporting their families, and at the same time be charged room and board. We could also be sure they were taking care of themselves in such ways as doing their own laundry and preparing their own meals.
    If judges and offenders had such a choice, offenders could avoid jail and still be held responsible for their violence. Furthermore, convicted batterers could keep their jobs, pay child support, and avoid incarceration without endangering their victims. Additionally, judges would be more inclined to impose meaningful sanctions. It would also save hundreds of thousands of dollars on prisons.
    The United States is spending close to $6 billion every year on domestic violence. This covers housing, counseling, medical expenses, etc. This money would be much better used if we implemented stronger sanctions against the men who batter. Meanwhile, our criminal justice system’s failing policies exacerbate criminal behavior and contribute to its prevalence.
    We need to put our heads together for a new domestic violence approach, a policy grounded in equality, to ensure that battered women are treated the same as victims of stranger violence.


    Marilyn Fitterman is a former president of the National Organization for Women in New York State and current president of the organization’s East End chapter. She lives in Springs.
 

Comments

Marilyn Fitterman failed to mention the CDC's most recent report on domestic violence found 1 out of 4 women and 1 out of 6 men have been victimized by domestic abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse was about the same among the sexes. Child abuse is perpetuated equally among mothers and fathers. So one may wonder why she failed to mention such facts? Its simple, she's a feminist which means accurate data is irrelevant if it doesn't support the goals of her movement. Unfortunately such goals often include any means necessary to take fathers away from their families. ****The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)**** http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf
As usual, no mention of male DV victims or the near-total lack of services for them. Just read some more, open your minds, and don't let extremists think for you. See http://www.sccadvasa.org/domestic-violence-facts-and-stats/overview-of-domestic-violence.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence
As the past President of the Long Island Chapter of the Coalition for Family Justice, domestic violence continues to be routinely minimalized and mis-understood. The hiding (protecting)of women from their abuser was meant to keep them safe, a quick fix in a dangerous and volatile environment. I agree, hiding them indefinitely while the abuser continues their life un-accountable, should no longer be the way this is handled. Shining the light on the violence, whether it be the stereotypical guy with a "beer in his hand" or the influential politician, needs to be exposed and dealt with for the national problem that it is. Education, at the elementary school level, on relationships, marriage, domestic violence, must be taught so that those who are living with this violence, see the danger and do their best to escape and do better in their own lives. As a society, holding the wrong doer accountable, not only under our penal law but more importantly with mandatory in patient education must be the way to end this never ending cycle. And for the record, quite a number of my men, are slapped, kicked, hit with objects by their wives and there is next to nothing to aid them. In fact, when I have gone to the authorities with them, they were ridiculed for not sticking up for themselves! Dr. Kim Lurie Alliance to Restore Integrity in Divorce President "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead This communication is gratuitously submitted to members of a listserv for the Not For Profit Alliance to Restore Integrity in Divorce (ARID). It is not intended as legal advice and shall not be relied upon as such by any recipient. www.jurisdictionary.com?refercode=LK0003
IN DIVORCE COURT JUDGES AWARD SEX ABUSERS CUSTODY OF CHILDREN 85% OF THE TIME AND BATTERERS CUSTODY 70 % OF THE TIME. A REPRESENTATION OF ABUSE IS LABELED PARENTAL ALIENATION. PROTECTIVE PARENTS ARE COURT ORDERED SUPERVISED VISITS OR NO CONTACT WITH THEIR CHILDREN. IN THIS SYSTEM, WOMEN WOULD BE ORDERED GPS DEVISES, NOT ABUSERS. SAN DIEGO MOTHER, JOYCE MURPHY'S REPRESENTATION OF ABUSE LED JUDGE SALCIDO TO AWARD FATHER SOLE CUSTODY OF THEIR DAUGHTER. IN JOYCE'S ATTEMPT TO PROTECT HER DAUGHTER, JOYCE WAS CONVICTED OF A FELONY. SIX YEARS LATER, FATHER, HENRY BUD PARSONS WAS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR MOLESTING HIS DAUGHTER'S LITTLE GIRLFRIENDS.
Ripping women and children out of the community and shutting them away in "safe houses" does not solve the problems they encounter. The only it does is make their problems worse. It leads them, both women and children, to internalizing the belief that they did something wrong to be removed from their home and community, that they are responsible for the abusive behavior. As a result, they feel less and less powerful about themselves and overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness. Meanwhile, the abuser feels that they won and becomes embolden to repeat their abusive behavior. At the very first incident, the abuser needs to be removed abd start proper treatment and held responsible for their behavior. Another step is early education on conflict resolution and proper conduct toward people and pets. Often pets are also abused along with women and children. Early detection and treatment can go a long way toward prevention of more serious behavior.