Holstein: Modern Domestic Violence Policies Reminiscent of McCarthy Era, Past Anti-Immigrant Hysteria

Ned Holstein, executive director of Fathers and Families, claims that “in a relatively short period of time, we will look back on this as an embarrassing era. It reminds me of the McCarthy era, or the anti-immigrant hysteria, or other periods of time when we have singled out particular groups.”

David Yas, the publisher of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and other legal publications, quoted Fathers & Families’ Ned Holstein MD, MS on restraining orders in his recent column “Domestic violence: out of the frying pan” (5/4/09). The article, which is only available to subscribers, is both good news and bad news:

Bad News: Yas is unfamiliar with domestic violence research and skeptical about what researchers have overwhelmingly concluded—women are at least as likely to attack their male significant others as vice versa, and women’s (and men’s) domestic violence is generally not in self-defense.

Good News: Yas makes an effort to be fair and open-minded.

Bad News: Yas seems to confuse Holstein’s correct assertion that women commit at least as much DV as men with the impression that men suffer from DV as much as women. This is not true–about a third of domestic violence injuries are suffered by men. Women balance the scales through use of weapons and the element of surprise, but as a whole they still sustain more injuries.

Yas quotes Lydia Watts, executive director of the Victim Rights Law Center, as saying there is no epidemic of women fabricating tales of domestic violence–“I have heard thousands of victims’ stories and barely ever doubted one.”

The fact that an ardent domestic violence advocate “barely ever doubted one” is very much a symptom of the problem–women are believed, no matter how weak the evidence and how much advantage they may stand to gain from lying.

Good News: Yas is honest, writing that while he’d like to believe Watts, “[T]he uneasy truth is that I don’t know for sure.”

Bad News: Yas writes that Watts says “[In opposing judicial appointments, fathers’ groups] are free to do what they want, but the frustration I have is that this is a calculated effort against judges. These are judges who have shown strong understanding and commitment, and they are penalized for doing so.”

When a domestic violence advocate who denies the problem of false accusations says a judge has a “strong understanding” of domestic violence, what she really means is that the judges are following what is taught in domestic violence training courses. These training courses are controlled by the domestic violence establishment, which ignores the mountain of evidence on female domestic violence, but instead sticks to the woman victim/man perp line.

Though David Yas needs to learn more, he is to be commended for addressing this serious issue in a thoughtful way.

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