Dr. Phil: Wrong Again on Domestic Violence

Dr. Phillip “Dr. Phil” McGraw gave inaccurate and biased testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on VAWA.  He testified on Wednesday on behalf or reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  He was called by committee chairman, Senator Pat Leahy, D-Vt.

Over the years, “Dr. Phil” has taken on a number of issues related to fathers on his television program.  To say that he has an anti-father bias is putting it mildly.  A few years ago he had a show dedicated to showing how lazy fathers are.  Hey, he and Jeff Pearlman should team up; great minds think alike.

Then there was the “Dr. Phil Show” in which he asserted that abusive fathers routinely get custody of their children.  One of the “examples” he gave was that of Sheldon Creek (a pseudonym) in which the mother accused the dad multiple times of child sexual abuse of his young daughter.  The only problem was that every single doctor, nurse, clinic, hospital, custody evaluator, guardian ad litem and child welfare agency that investigated, concluded that there had never been any form of abuse.  Into the bargain, the judge concluded that the mother fabricated the accusations shortly before court hearings on custody.

To Dr. Phil that meant the father had abused his daughter.  What apparently didn’t mean much to him was that the child had to undergo five separate medical examinations due solely to her mother’s false claims of sexual abuse against her dad.  That concerned the girl’s guardian ad litem as well as the judge.  From Dr. Phil?  Not a peep.

Glenn Sacks demolished the “Creek” case here.

So when Dr. McGraw  showed up to testify on behalf of VAWA, we knew we were in for a rough ride.  And so we were.  Here’s a transcript of his testimony.

In keeping with so much commentary on domestic violence, Dr. Phil evinces no awareness that women ever injure their male partners.  In that he’s reading directly from the Joe Biden handbook.  Biden, who’s proud of nothing more than his support for VAWA, has no notion that women ever perpetrate domestic violence or that men are ever their victims.

(As an aside, a matter of hours before his testimony, Catherine Kieu of Garden Grove, California, drugged her husband’s food and, when he went to bed feeling sick, tied him to the bed, cut off his penis with a kitchen knife, and ground it up in the garbage disposal.  She did nothing to stop his profuse bleeding and the 60-year-old man was listed in serious condition at the hospital.  Kieu told police “he deserved it.”  The two are in the middle of divorce proceedings.  In keeping with the Biden/Dr. Phil take on DV, no article has yet called her actions “domestic violence.”  Here’s one article on the case (NBC Los Angeles, 7/14/11).

So McGraw’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was both wrong and biased.  It’s wrong because women perpetrate domestic violence at least as often as do men and possibly more.  It’s wrong because, while men are more likely to injure women than vice versa, over one-third of DV injuries including deaths are suffered by men.  And of course, we’ve known this to a certainty for 36 years, ever since the first major study was done for the National Institute of Mental Health in 1976.

And yet Joe Biden and Dr. Phil can still tiptoe merrily through the tulips pretending we don’t know what we’ve in fact known for decades.  Keep in mind, this guy was testifying before a senate committee charged with gathering facts – facts, mind you – about domestic violence, VAWA, it’s shortcomings, its strong points, etc.  Wouldn’t you think they’d want informed people before them?  Wouldn’t you think they’d demand accuracy?  After all, there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and national policy is being made.

But Dr. Phil didn’t stop there.  He came out with this doozey:

Domestic violence is now the most common cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44.

No, actually it’s not.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s nowhere in the top five, being far outstripped by things like falls, motor vehicle accidents and overexertion.  Indeed, anyone who’s ever taken a defensive driving course would hesitate to say that anything causes more injury to the young than do motor vehicle accidents.  The least regard for accuracy would have stopped Dr. Phil from making the patently untrue claim and the committee from hearing it.

From the outright false, McGraw improved to the merely misleading.  For him, all DV is done by men and all of it is serious.  He’s like so many in the DV establishment who are pleased to inflate the definition of DV to include every minor push or shove and every raised voice.  That’s on one hand; on the other they call all DV “battering.”

That allows them to vastly exaggerate how many instances of DV there are and at the same time pretend they’re all life-threatening.  They shift their definitions without letting on they’re doing it.  And so it is with the august Dr. McGraw.

2,000,000 women a year are victimized meaning as we sit here today in the 1st hour of this hearing, 228 women are being beaten, terrorized and intimidated, all behind closed doors, all undoubtedly feeling very alone.

See what I mean?  If you define DV to include imagined slights, shouts and minor pushes and shoves, then yes, 2 million women may indeed be victims.  But if you define it as being “beaten, terrorized and intimidated,” the number is a small fraction of that.  Indeed, the Scottish study I’ve referred to frequently found that there was no injury at all or only a minor cut or bruise in 80% of domestic violence incidents, i.e. far from “battering.”

Dr. Phil, like so many in the DV establishment, wants to define the term as he wishes when he wishes.  He wants to have it both ways.

Reading what McGraw said to the committee, the untutored might actually believe he meant it.  How’s this for a clarion call?

And so I pledge to you today our campaign to End the Silence on Domestic Violence is just beginning. With legislation like VAWA we can turn obstacles into stepping-stones. I will continue to use the Dr. Phil platform to raise awareness and educate the public. We will advocate for victims of violence and partner with others, from the roadhouse to the Whitehouse until we can at last, lay down our swords.

Stirring stuff, no?  Well, it would be if he had any intention at all of “educating the public” or “advocating for victims of violence.”  But, based on his previous behavior and his testimony to the committee, he has no such intention.

Dr. Phil will no more educate the public about male victims like Catherine Kieu’s husband than the man in the moon.  He has no intention of advocating for men.  To him, male victims of violence at the hands of their intimate partners are just so much collateral damage in a war declared long ago – a war in which Dr. Phil is a high-ranking officer, a war on the truth, a war on male victims of female violence.

Phillip McGraw talks about ending the silence, but he himself silences every male victim of domestic violence.  It’s how the DV establishment likes male victims – voiceless.

He added,

I long ago resolved to never speak unless I could add something to the silence.

Would that it were true.

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