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Maine Gov. LePage gets It wrong again on domestic violence

Maine’s Governor Paul LePage has long been in the forefront of the fight against domestic violence. In that way, he’s the state’s version of Vice President Joe Biden; domestic violence is his pet issue. There are other ways in which he resembles Biden too, like his frank willingness to ignore male victims of DV and female perpetrators. I’ve read many of LePage’s remarks as well as Biden’s, and if either has ever so much as mentioned the possibility that a man might be a victim of intimate partner violence, I’ve never seen it. I’ve seen extensive interviews with both men and neither has ever said a word about male victims.

As of this article, not much has changed in Maine (Bangor Daily News, 10/6/13). There’s LePage hauling out the same old chestnuts. For a man to be this wrong and misleading about an issue that’s as close to his heart as DV, it’s hard not to conclude that he’s just playing politics. LePage clearly wants to keep his fences mended with the DV industry in the state, so he carefully toes the party line. He does so at the expense of real opposition to intimate partner violence. That again is just another play out of Joe Biden’s playbook.

LePage is right when he says ‘“We can have all the strict laws in the world, but we have to make [domestic violence] socially unacceptable.”’ I’ve said the same thing myself. Laws are fine and necessary, but they’re no substitute for teaching people how to behave. Until the culture changes on any number of issues, laws will be largely unavailing.

So you might think LePage would actually do something to try to change cultural perceptions about domestic violence. After all, that’s what he rightly says is needed. But he doesn’t. In fact, he does the opposite; he trots out the same tired, disproven, misleading claims. If those things worked to stem the tide of DV, we’d have eradicated it years ago, but as one researcher for the Department of Justice said in 2006, there’s simply no evidence to suggest that our approach to DV has reduced the incidence of violence in the home.

That’s why I conclude that LePage is just playing with DV like it’s a political football.

“We, the men, have to help to eliminate abuse,” Lepage continued. “We are 80 percent of the perpetrators, and we have to find a way to stop people from doing this, and we can’t expect women to fight this battle alone.”

No, actually men are not “80% of the perpetrators.” In fact, men are about half the perpetrators or maybe a little under that. Literally hundreds of studies have concluded that men and women perpetrate DV equally. Analysis of thousands of studies of DV recently completed by the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project once again showed the same thing: men and women are about equally likely to perpetrate and be victims of DV. Women are more likely to start a fight and about twice as likely to be injured. Those are known facts, but LePage ignores the truth in favor of claims more agreeable to the DV industry.

That makes his admonition to men that they need to solve the problem of domestic violence all the more ironic. Believe me governor, men know we’re supposed to stop domestic violence. The lavishly taxpayer-funded domestic violence industry has been telling us that for decades now. What no one’s yet said is that women need to stop their violence too. In fact, if they did so, it would result in fewer men getting hurt, of course, but it would have the same effect on female victims. That’s because, in cases in which both a man and a woman are part of a fight, there’s a 70% probability the woman started it. That information comes from a 2006 study done for the Centers for Disease Control. Clearly, if women were taught not to start fights, they’d be less likely to be injured in one. But Paul LePage, Joe Biden and all the other true believers in the DV establishment wouldn’t dream of asking women to change their behavior in the least.

And of course the notion that we can just tell men (or women, for that matter) to not commit domestic violence and they’ll all stop is about as absurd as it gets. Domestic violence is a pathology that certain members of both sexes suffer from. For the most part, people who commit DV as adults were abused as children. So Job One is to get parents to stop hitting their kids, but again, LePage, et al prefer to ignore that constructive approach to curtailing DV.

Rather, they prefer the Duluth Model of domestic violence intervention, an approach that’s been shown time and again to have little to no effect on DV perpetration. It doesn’t affect rates of DV for the perfectly good reason that it conceives of the problem as something it isn’t. The idea that all DV consists of men who resort to violence in order to keep the little lady in her place is absurd to the point of madness.

In the first place, very little domestic violence has control as its object. The vast majority of it consists of isolated or rare instances of minor violence associated with periods of high stress in the relationship. The great majority of that is non-injurious or results in only “a minor cut or bruise,” in the words of a 2009 survey in Scotland. In short, the great majority of what’s called DV has nothing to do with exercising power over one’s partner, irrespective of the sex of the perpetrator.

Mental health professionals have some pretty good ideas about how to deal with adults who commit domestic violence, and it has nothing to do with the Duluth Model of DV intervention. So what did Maine do?

Earlier this year, LePage signed into law a bill aimed at ensuring that courts can require that offenders convicted of domestic violence complete batterers’ intervention programs as part of their sentence.

Here’s a promise: those programs will have zero effect on rates of DV in Maine.

But LePage didn’t stop there. He went on to connect DV not only to homicide, but suicide too.

Of the 17 homicides in Maine this year, six were related in some way to domestic violence, he said. He also said many people who commit suicide did so after being plagued by violence in their homes.

What he scrupulously avoided mentioning were the two DV homicides committed by women, Gail Judd and Arline Lawless, who respectively stabbed and shot to death their male partners. Again, the mention of female perpetrators or male victims is not part of the LePage playbook on DV.

Perhaps worse is his suggestion that suicide victims in Maine are (a) women and (b) victims of DV. Neither is true. In fact, as this site shows, men made up 92% (145 male suicides, 12 female) of suicides in Maine to date this year and that, for men between the ages of 34 and 44, suicide is the number one cause of death. How many of those result from domestic violence? We don’t know, but it would be strange indeed if more female than male victims came about because of intimate partner conflict.

LePage doesn’t care. He’s happy to overlook every one of those male suicide victims for one simple reason – to acknowledge them might mean fewer votes and less money from the DV industry.

LePage is right that we have to change the culture if we’re to reduce the incidence of DV. Too bad he can’t admit that he’s part of the culture that perpetuates it.

About Robert Franklin

Robert Franklin, Esq, is an attorney, writer and former editor of the Houston Law Review.

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  • FrayedLace

    Happy to see a post by Robert Franklin here at AVFM.

  • Jay

    Governor LePage you are one willfully ignorant and ideologised human being. To destroy the lives of families just to appease misandrist feminists. You clearly take delight in destorying the lives of men and their children. I certainly do not wish this, however it would be karma for your life to be destroyed by the same laws you and your radfem friends have passed resulting in the needless destruction of so many families and lives.

  • Alessandro

    Many politicians try to suppress the truth that domestic violence is perpetrated by a small percentage of persons, women and men equally, because false accusations of domestic violence become a business used by feminism as self-financing.
    The problem of domestic violence cannot be addressed until all women’s only shelters are closed and replaced by mediation centers for families with DV problems, managed by normal people. Feminists and their agenda of hating men must be stopped and prosecuted

  • John Narayan

    OT: I have had spintheshitpress decide not to press charges (damn) then I turn on my PC to see this…


    Ya just can’t make this stuff up.

    • Rukumouru

      16 months for a gang beating. Swap the genders and you get nothing short of public mass-character assassination and life in prison.

    • Bewildered

      Indeed ! Utter craziness ,but yet we won’t let go of our favourite stereotypes.

  • oldfart

    He’s not one to let the truth get in the way of making a dishonest dollar and furthering the power of the door kickers.
    VAWA grants are to him what Wagner was for Hitler.
    Full speed ahead,damn the torpedoes.

  • rayc2

    “Believe me governor, men know we’re supposed to stop domestic violence. The lavishly taxpayer-funded domestic violence industry has been telling us that for decades now. What no one’s yet said is that women need to stop their violence too. In fact, if they did so, it would result in fewer men getting hurt, of course, but it would have the same effect on female victims. That’s because, in cases in which both a man and a woman are part of a fight, there’s a 70% probability the woman started it.”

    I remember when this anti-domestic violence campaign was starting up in earnest. There were posters of some poor lady with her face beaten to a pulp and the implication was that her husband, like husbands everywhere, did this to her because she didn’t fetch his beer fast enough or something. Everyone, of course, including me, was like “Holy cow! We need to do something to make this illegal!” Gradually the legal definition of domestic violence has expanded to include such things as marks on her arms because the man was trying to restrain her from hitting him, or even, made contact with her while he was trying to walk past her in the hallway or to get out the door. The perception in the public’s mind though, when they hear about a new domestic violence bill, is still that poor lady with her face bashed in. When is enough, enough when it comes to these laws? When will the law start holding women accountable on par with men instead of effectively just unilaterally stripping men of more and more their rights to empower women further? You can see the same pattern with rape laws. Rape started out as any act of sexual intercourse that was forced upon a ‘person’. Easy enough to support strict laws against that. Then it morphed to any forceful or coercive sex act against a woman only and then to any sexual contact with a woman unless she gave a verbal affirmation before hand (never mind what her own actions and body language were saying). Again, why aren’t women held accountable for their actions on par with men? When is enough, enough and why should men support stricter and stricter laws (against themselves only) when the only apparent intent and effect seems to be to marginalize them further and strip them of more of their rights, even when they haven’t done anything at all?

  • Robert St. Estephe

    Welcome back Robert Franklin. I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering if you would ever send AVfM an article again. And here it is. The stars are in alignment.

  • Stu

    What LePage is, is a career mangina of the highest order.

  • chris.caroll

    Having lived in the state of Maine, I know something about what drives Gov. Paul LePage on this issue of domestic violence, and I also know that given the research the author of this post did, he knows this too as it is mentioned in practically every news story written about him and his work with domestic violence. I have a lot of respect for Gov. LePage for what he has overcome in his life and I think it is unfair to him for you to have omitted his personal background which is relevant to what drives him. LePage has been very open about the fact that he grew up in a violent home with a controlling, alcoholic father. His father beat him up when he was 11 years-old putting him in the hospital, then tried to make him lie about what happened to him. He ran away from that hospital and lived on the streets for a number of years, scrounging for food, going to school with worn out, dirty clothes, and working an odd job here and there to buy food for himself and his brothers and sisters. He was eventually able to find places to stay with friends and moved from house to house until he got help from a couple of different families who worked with him to finish his high school education and get into college where he earned a master’s degree in business. Whatever you may think about the work he is doing, you should at least be honest about what is driving him because it is certainly not what you put in this story or what the commenters are saying it is.

    • http://www.shrink4men.com/ Dr. Tara J. Palmatier

      Then maybe Gov. LePage should get some therapy for his unresolved childhood issues instead of pushing legislature that strips men of their constitutional rights, portrays all men as potential batterers and rapists and punishes innocent men for the sins of his father. It also might temper his drive to be the “hero” and “save” women like he probably wished he could have done for his mother and himself as a child.

      Furthermore, by ignoring female perpetrated DV, he does a disservice to every child for whom the violent monster in the home is their mother, of which there are a great many.

      I don’t give a flying fig what Gov. LePage’s childhood circumstances were. They may explain the damage he is causing in the present, but it certainly does not excuse the damage.

    • onca747

      What, so all men should suffer because Gov LePage’s father was a drunken asshole?

      Then I put it that LePage is not fit to hold supreme authority over the state of Maine, as his childhood trauma is seriously impairing the good judgement and impartiality expected of a high-ranking public official. If it would be grounds to get him kicked off a jury, then it’s grounds to get him kicked out of office.

    • rayc2

      Do you think it would have helped the governor’s argument if we knew from this article about his Dad? The author did him a favor by leaving it out. No, that only shows that he has a limited and emotion laden perspective on this issue that is naturally biased against men and only reinforces our suspicions that he is not gender neutral when it come to domestic violence law. He has only seen one side to the story, while many of us have seen the other – just as bad or worse than his experience. No one here denies that abuse can occur at the hands of men. No one here denies that it should be stopped. We do have some objections about what is being defined as “domestic violence”. We have strong objections about how domestic violence accusations can be used as a weapon without any due process, and we also have strong objections that women aren’t being held accountable for their role in domestic violence in the same way that men are. The point is that men have already been beat down, smacked down, berated, and demonized for their role in domestic violence. Some have lost their rights, their property, and families on mere accusations. You can only squeeze so much blood out of a turnip, and if you really want to reduce domestic violence further, you are going to have to address the female side of it. Maybe you missed this part of the article;
      “That’s because, in cases in which both a man and a woman are part of a fight, there’s a 70% probability the woman started it.”
      That’s a hell of a lot of low lying fruit there, and it would put a huge dent in domestic violence cases if we would start addressing it instead of just focusing on grinding men deeper and deeper into the dirt.

    • AlexB

      That makes him more vulnerable to feminist misinformation, but that doesn’t make the ones spreading the misinformation or the person himself any more right or any less responsible.

    • Theseus

      This is exactly the same rational that drives Patrick Stewart; he came from an abusive household where his father was quite the tyrant. Therefore Stewart makes this broad leap across a chasm, and assumes this sweeping generality that since he and his mother suffered then it must be this way for everyone in DV. Same with the Gov. And this my friend is harmful bigoted bullshit, pure and simple.

      Prejudice and bigotry contrary to PC thinking aren’t necessarily just made up out of thin air because someone just wants to be a dickhead. No. Many times bigotry has a basis in childhood experiences; like the nerdy kid that gets beaten up by black kids for lunch money, and later becomes a skin head or neo-nazi. Y’know what though? That was when you were a kid; you’re an adult now.

      It’s time for people like the Gov, Stewart, and and any racist fuckwad out there to grow up, get therapy and “put away childish things”.

    • Shortcircuit

      That he has some reason for his evil makes him no different from any other evil person.

      We all have a responsibility to handle our own struggles in ways better than that. You think racists, terrorists, and other sorts have nothing behind what they do other than the desire to be horrible? You think they woke up some day and thought “What should I do with my life? Oh, I know! I’ll be a horrible monster!”

      Regardless of what we have been through we have a personal responsibility to handle it in a way that is just without giving into some selfish way out such as hurting all those who physically resemble a tormentor, no matter how hard that is or how much pain we are in. Many go through enormous pain yet refuse to give into such things. Those who do give in are behaving selfishly and others have a right to judge them for it.

      His story is a good example for how far reaching and destructive abuse can be, but it does not excuse his behavior. He, like his own abuser, is creating an environment that will promote the creation of more damaged individuals like himself. He way have been a victim of abuse in the past, but he is not a victim of his own selfish choices now.

      There are people who have been starved, beaten, drugged, raped, and so on who go on to treat abusers better than this monster treats victims.

      • theoutside

        Simone Weil said, you must always remember when considering historical events, that there was a moment — and in that moment, there was a choice. A choice was made. It was a free choice. And they made that choice.

    • theoutside

      Political office is no place for emotional casualties of this kind. His abuse history is not an excuse. By his actions he shows that he is a moral casualty as well. The US must rid its political system of mentally unstable, abnormal individuals, who use public office as a theatre to play out their personal distortions. We have had far too much of such people, on both Left, Right, and Center.

    • Mr. XY

      “Having lived in the state of Maine, I know something about what drives Gov. Paul LePage”

      Men are at least 50% of domestic violence victims and according to the article account for 92% of suicides in Maine. This Gov. is spreading lies and hate against men which will cause more domestic violence, more homicides, and more suicides of men and boys. Don’t you care about that?

  • theoutside

    Maine is a state that would be very vulnerable to strikes by men, in that a lot of its economy is based in physical labor — agriculture, fishing, logging, paper and wood products, ship building, leather and textiles. Think there’s many feminists in those industries? And then of course the food in their grocery stores is all via trucking. So what happens if they go on strike?

    This is what has to happen.

    • AlexB

      First step is informing people.

  • Randin16

    I think what some are missing here is that next year is an Election year. Governor LePage is one of the least popular governors in this country and is in grave danger of losing the Governorship. He doesn’t want to lose his seat, obviously, but he also doesn’t want this to be a defeat for the Tea Party, who had historical victories back in 2010.

  • theoutside

    This is the time and place. The MHRM must make its first demonstration of political power by removing this jerk and his VAWA/DV minions.

    Use information. Letters. Broadcasts. Pamphlets. Strikes.

    I read somewhere that truckers were striking across the country to protest “Corruption”. I’m not sure how far that got. (I read something about 2 weeks ago,maybe.) And I have no doubt it was some scam orchestrated behind the scenes by someone. (Maybe the delusional Adam Kokesh or whoever is behind him.)

    But if there were some outreach to truckers on this issue — say, the Filler case, or the case of Thomas Ball (though that’s a different state, but still…). Maybe you could get something like that going. Let the people of Bangor get real short on groceries for a few weeks and make sure they know the reason why.

    • Mr. XY

      “This is the time and place. The MHRM must make its first demonstration”

      92% of suicides are men and #1 cause of death for Maine men in their prime. I think Maine is a powder keg that could explode if men there are given a voice. And just maybe some in the media may find enough balls to report about it (especially during an election cycle).

  • Mr. XY

    “men made up 92% (145 male suicides, 12 female) of suicides in Maine to date this year and that, for men between the ages of 34 and 44, suicide is the number one cause of death. “

    Let me get this straight. Suicide is the number 1 cause of death for men in Maine who are in their prime but because 4 of the 6 domestic violence deaths were of women last year the State declares open war on men?