Press Release: Obama Misstates Facts on Domestic Violence in New DV Awareness Month Proclamation

October 5, 2011
CONTACT: Ned Holstein, MD, MS
617-542-9300 ext 1

In President Obama”s new proclamation “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2011′ he misstates several key facts on men, women, and domestic violence. Harvard-trained public health specialist Ned Holstein, MD, MS explains:

Obama tells us that ‘One in four women and one in thirteen men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.” In reality, over 200 studies have found that women initiate at least as much violence against their male partners as vice versa. Obama”s 3.25 ratio is actually 1-1. And men comprise about a third of domestic violence injuries and deaths.’

The most recent large scale study of DV, published in the American Journal of Public Health, surveyed 11,000 men and women and found that, according to both men”s and women”s accounts, 50% of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal (involving both parties). In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70% of the time.

Dr. Holstein, Board Chairman of the national family court reform organization Fathers and Families, says, “Obama”s distortion is no mere quibble over statistics–the myth that ‘only men do it” has crept into family courts, leading judges to put children into the custody of dangerous mothers whose violence is ignored because of the pervasive myth that women do not injure or kill.’

Holstein cites the Mary Winkler case, wherein a mother who shot her husband in the back while he slept was able to get off with a few months in prison by making unsubstantiated abuse claims. Today this dangerous woman has custody of her children.

Fathers” efforts to get shared child custody are often thwarted by spurious DV claims–recent research shows that a 1997 Oregon joint custody law has had little effect because of increased DV claims.

Some of the programs Obama touts are examples of how bad data lead to bad policy, including his administration”s promotion of “tools for better enforcement of protective orders.’ Holstein explains:

DV victims need protection, but, as many prominent family law attorneys and legal scholars have pointed out, domestic violence protection orders are often handed out to women almost automatically, with little examination of the evidence. Under this system, many innocent men are being booted out of their homes and cut off from their children by protective orders based on invented claims. The system is a product of bad stats, anti-male stereotypes, and gender bias run amok. The victims are children, who end up in the care of violent mothers and/or are deprived of the guidance and nurture of loving fathers.’

Fathers and FamiliesTM improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child”s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce.

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