It’s been some 17 years since our nation declared war on domestic violence and enacted the Violence Against Women Act. It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, who could be unmoved by tales of women trapped in lethal relationships, enduring ritual beatings at the hands of an overbearing mate?
But unnoticed to most, the Violence Against Women Act was soon hijacked by a radical ideology, a belief system that ascribed all partner violence to a single root cause – patriarchy. Soon the war on domestic violence became transmogrified into an unrelenting fusillade trained squarely on the male of the species.
It began with a propaganda-like effort to promote the view that women are incapable of engaging in physical violence. Or if they did lash out, it was only done as an act of self-defense.
So when University of Delaware researcher Suzanne Steinmetz published her watershed book, The Battered Husband Syndrome, the Gender Guerillas mounted a whispering campaign and called in a bomb threat to her daughter’s wedding.
Having cleared the intellectual nit-pickers out of the picture, it was time to commence the real work of undertaking an extreme make-over of our nation’s domestic violence laws.
First to go was the Fourth Amendment requirement for the existence of “probable cause” for arrest. This standard, drafted long ago by a group of dead white males, was replaced by VAWA’s mandatory arrest provisions. Over the years, millions of dollars has been channeled to states to arrest a man based solely on an allegation.
Next to go was the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws.” VAWA’s Legal Assistance for Victims foots the legal bills of accusers, but not of the accused. Equal protection, out the window!
But legal formalities were allowing too many putative batterers to go free. So why not pull off the biggest civil rights heist in American history – let’s transfer most cases out of the criminal courts and treat them as a civil matter? Genius move!
In civil court, you can dodge the Sixth Amendment’s dictum that the accused must enjoy the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against him,” since temporary restraining orders are routinely issued on an ex parte basis without the accused being informed of the charge.
Plus, the preponderance of evidence standard made it child’s play to strip the accused of his home, children, assets, and reputation. Remember, the real goal is to overthrow the patriarchy, not to curb domestic violence.
Another fly in the ointment arises because in most cases, a woman who files a criminal charge later recants the allegation or refuses to cooperate with the prosecution.
The solution? “Evidence-based” prosecution in which the DA files the case, even absent the star witness. Again, no need to allow burdensome probable-cause requirements to get in the way.
Another sticky wicket: Research shows half of all partner abuse is mutual – she slaps him, he shoves her, and off to the races we go! Mutual violence is a verboten phrase among the true believers, of course, because it challenges the unassailable notion that women are incapable of abuse. (“Repeat after me…”)
The solution? Promulgate so-called “predominant aggressor” policies that say when both persons are mixing it up, the police should arrest the male since he’s the bigger and stronger of the two — even if the woman threw the first punch!
We’re still not done. Next we broaden definitions so practically anything falls within the ambit of domestic violence. The Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women now defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”
Did your spouse ever hand you a Honey-Do list?
Was she attempting to exert power and control over you? You betcha, you were a victim of domestic violence!
But some vestiges of due process still remain, so we need to re-educate judges into correct thinking about these matters. We explain the judge’s role has evolved from being a minister of justice to ensuring that abusers be “held accountable.”
We then repeat the catechism that men are “overwhelmingly” the perpetrators of partner abuse, and it’s ridiculous to even suggest that a woman could inflict harm on a bigger, stronger man. (Under no circumstances will you mention the name of Crystal Mangum, the disgraced Duke rape accuser who is currently awaiting trial for the fatal knifing of her boyfriend.)
As a result of all this legalistic gerrymandering, the problem is not just that our domestic violence system has eliminated the presumption of innocence. It’s that even when a person is found innocent, he’s still treated as if he was guilty. Is it any wonder that these men sometimes snap?