New Hampshire local politician Crow Dickinson is being crucified for uttering some inconvenient truths about divorce and domestic violence–“There are a lot of women who use [domestic violence] as a gimmick in divorce proceedings.” Hundreds have responded to Fathers & Families’ Recent Action Alert to write letters in support of Dickinson.
According to an Associated Press article which has appeared in 200 media outlets, “A town official’s comment that many women use domestic violence claims as a ‘gimmick’ during divorce has drawn ire from supporters of a group that helps abuse victims.” According to the AP:
The Conway Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 against $7,500 in town funding for Starting Point, which offers a hot line, shelter, support groups and advocacy services for people who have suffered domestic or sexual abuse.
“There are a lot of women who use (domestic violence) as a gimmick in divorce proceedings,” Selectman Crow Dickinson said in explaining his vote. “All they have to do is call the police and get the person thrown out. If I call the police and say you’re abusing me, they’d have to believe me. I wish people would split up and be more polite about it.”
Dickinson’s comments outraged the 28-year-old agency’s supporters, including County Attorney Robin Gordon.
“I think comments like that are blatantly based on Neanderthal thinking,” she said. “I think it’s a shame our legislators don’t understand the value of a program such as Starting Point.”
Nancy Clark, who owns a local marketing firm, called Dickinson’s comments deplorable. She and her employees responded by launching an Internet-based education campaign about the tragedies of domestic violence and the worth of organizations such as Starting Point.
Kathy Bennett, director of marketing at a local ski area, went on the Facebook social networking Web site to urge people to call town hall and donate to Starting Point to make up for the “shameful snub.”
Starting Point’s executive director, Suzette Indelicato, said Dickinson’s comments highlight the need for education.
“I welcome the opportunity to speak to Crow and the other selectmen about the nature of domestic violence and what it is,” she said.
Dickinson said he was sorry he upset some people.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn,” he said.
Despite the controversy, many family law professionals agree with Dickinson’s contention that false claims of domestic violence are often used as custody maneuvers in divorce cases.
For example, an article in the Family Law News, the official publication of the State Bar of California Family Law Section, explained:
[Domestic Violence] Protective orders are increasingly being used in family law cases to help one side jockey for an advantage in child custody… [they are] almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person.
An article in the November, 2007 issue of the Illinois Bar Journal explains:
If a parent is willing to abuse the system [by making false DV claims], it is unlikely the trial court could discover [his or her] improper motives in an Order of Protection hearing.
Domestic Violence Protective (aka “Restraining) orders have become so commonplace that the Illinois Bar Journal calls them “part of the gamesmanship of divorce.’
To write a letter defending Crow Dickinson, click here.
[Note: We are not familiar with the details of the funding dispute involving Starting Point, and we take no position on the matter. However, we oppose Starting Point’s supporters’ vilification of Dickinson and their apparent refusal to discuss the very real issue of false allegations.]