April 15th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
In Maine, Governor Paul LePage has made quite a show of signing into law ever-more draconian and invasive domestic violence legislation. Here’s one article (Bangor Daily News, 4/13/12). At the same time, the most recent report of the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel was released. The same article reporting on the new laws also reports on the Panel’s report and typically, gets it wrong.
Here’s what the News says about the panel’s work:
The Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel’s report gives conclusions and recommendations based on the 21 domestic violence-related homicides the state had in 2010 and 2011. Sixteen of the perpetrators were male and two were female, while seven of the homicide victims were male and 14 were female. Four of the victims were children.
Those numbers are all accurate, but, for reasons the Panel doesn’t explain, they’re not the data it examined or on which it made its recommendations. Here’s what the Panel said about what it did:
During 2010 and 2011, the Panel reviewed thirteen domestic violence homicide cases that occurred between March 2008 and July 2011. Four of those homicides occurred in 2008, six in 2009, one in 2010 and two in 2011. Of the thirteen homicide cases reviewed, eight were intimate partner homicides and five were intrafamilial homicides. The homicide cases reviewed involved thirteen perpetrators and fifteen victims.
Interestingly, of the 15 victims, seven were male and eight were female. Of the 13 perpetrators, eight were male and five were female. So for starters, the Bangor Daily News utterly misrepresents what the Panel actually did. Now, just why the Panel selected the cases it did to report on, is anyone’s guess. They don’t explain. Nor do they explain why they went back to 2008 to cull cases when their previous report on DV-related homicides for the years 2008-2009 presumably included those.
But what’s most remarkable about the Panel’s report is that it consists to a great degree of unsupported assertions. The report is 37 pages long, but objective factual data stop at page 13. Those data are simple and non-controversial items such as the age and sex of victims and perpetrators, the type of weapons used, the outcomes of criminal cases against the perpetrators and the like.
Beyond that, there are many pages devoted to assertions of fact and opinion with literally nothing to back up either. The document has neither footnotes nor endnotes. It has no list of scholarly references because it cites none. For example, on page 14, there’s this:
The panel observes that there is a lack of consistency statewide regarding the prosecutorial use of deferred disposition.
Well, that may or may not be true, but the Panel cites no authority for its assertion and suggests nothing to indicate how it may have come to that conclusion. And the report goes on for page after page in exactly the same vein. Assertions are made with absolutely no evidence offered for any of them.
That brings me to this claim found on pages 19-20:
“The panel further observes that mental health treatment is inappropriate for domestic violence since it is not a mental health issue. The batterer receiving mental health treatment may conclude that “the illness caused the violence.” Domestic violence is a choice and offenders who choose to abuse their intimate partners and family members often choose not to abuse others in their lives such as co-workers, friends, etc. Mental health counselling is appropriate when an abuser presents with a mental health issue, yet, even in this case, such counseling cannot be considered a substitute for a Batterer’s Intervention Program to address issues relating to the individual’s use of power and control tactics in intimate partnerships.”
That got my attention. After all, the bald statement that domestic violence perpetration has nothing to do with mental health is absurd. On the contrary, it has everything to do with mental health and the claim to the contrary is the product of the typical DV industry mindset. It’s the theory that men commit domestic violence, but women don’t, and that men do so to assert and maintain the type of power and control over women that radical feminism has always claimed they have.
But just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I sent the Panel’s assertion to Dr. Donald Dutton of the University of British Columbia who is a world authority on domestic violence, and asked him for his response. Here it is in full:
Everything about this statement is wrong- it is a political statement not a scientific one. There substantial evidence that IPV is related to 1) attachment insecurity 2) anger and depression 3) personality disorder 4) alcohol/substance abuse . It is also clear from numerous surveys that the most common form of dv is bilateral, matched for level of severity. The so called “psychoeducational model” for dv is an abysmal failure. I reviewed much of the research material in Rethinking Domestic Violence”- I attach 2 papers on these issues.
So that gives us an idea of the mindset of the people who make up the Maine Panel. They’re happy to attempt to influence public policy with frankly false statements. They would enshrine their radical political ideology in law.
What also gives us an idea of that mindset is that the report is littered with little boxes in its margins. Each has a statement or a quotation from someone that highlights a particular DV case. In 100% of the cases in which the sex of the perpetrator can be identified, it’s male, and in 100% of the cases in which the sex of the victim can be identified, it’s female. That’s despite the fact that, as I mentioned before, seven of the 15 victims were male and five of the 13 perpetrators were female.
Since we’re on male/female ratios, it’s worth noting that the Panel itself consists of 24 women and four men. And interestingly enough, one of the women is somewhat familiar to us. She’s Polly Campbell, RN, Director SAFE Program, Office of the Attorney General.
Don’t remember Ms. Campbell? Perhaps you’ll remember one of the most egregious cases of a narcissistic mother whose outrageous behavior eventually lost her custody of her daughter and earned her the title of severe emotional abuser by the local Maine child welfare agency. Her name is Lori Handrahan and here’s the first post I did on her and here’s the second.
Handrahan’s modus operandi consists of relentless efforts to persuade anyone and everyone that her ex-husband, Igor Malenko is a child sexual abuser. Despite being investigated by DHHS numerous times, Handrahan’s claims against him were invariably rejected as unsubstantiated. Psychologists recruited to the case found Malenko to be a fine and loving father and Handrahan to be a child abuser, borderline personality and narcissist.
But, as I said, Handrahan relentlessly tries to convince people that her ex is the abuser. Eventually, everyone figures out that Handrahan is out of control and a serial liar, and puts as much distance as possible between them and her. Everyone, that is except Polly Campbell.
Campbell attempted to intervene in her custody case on behalf or Handrahan. That means she talked to Handrahan and concluded, without talking to any other professional involved in the case, without talking to the DHHS caseworkers, without talking to the child and without talking to Malenko, that (a) Malenko had indeed sexually abused his daughter and, most risibly, (b) Malenko had child pornography on his computer. How she pretended to know such a thing when no one, not even the nutcase Handrahan had told her, is one of the many strange aspects of the case.
Despite knowing nothing about the case beyond what Handrahan had told her, Campbell went ahead and issued her opinion that Malenko was a child abuser and that he probably had child pornography on his computer.
And that, my friends is one of the members of the Maine Panel on whom the governor and the legislature are relying to make policy on domestic violence.