ProPublica Follows DV Industry Narrative; Let Them Hear From You!

September 18, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The domestic violence industry is on the march again. According to this article, they’re in Washington trying to convince Congress that family courts too readily overlook allegations of domestic violence when awarding parenting time and/or custody (ProPublica, 9/13/16). DV activists say that family courts should do nothing regarding custody – even temporary custody – until all allegations of violence are “thoroughly investigated by the courts.”

The activists claim that custody evaluators often lack the basic skills necessary for determining whether DV has occurred.

The advocates say that children are too often endangered by family courts and the supposed experts those courts rely on. Psychologists used by the courts to help make decisions “in the best interest” of children, the advocates argue, often lack expertise in child abuse and domestic violence.

Although the ProPublica article doesn’t mention it, I’m going to go way out on a limb and guess who the DV activists will recommend to Congress should train custody evaluators in the realities of domestic violence. I’m going to guess they’ll do their best to appoint themselves and when they do, there’ll be trouble. That of course is because the domestic violence industry has long peddled a theory of DV that’s factually and conceptually at odds with the facts. That theory holds that men perpetrate the vast majority of violence in the home and that they do so for the purpose of imposing their own control over the behavior of their female partners.

As vast amounts of data and science on domestic and intimate partner violence have long demonstrated, that conceptual framework is, in all but a tiny percentage of cases, utterly without validity. As but one example, just two years ago, researchers Elizabeth Bates, Nicola Graham-Kevan and John Archer reviewed the gender feminist paradigm of domestic violence and found it all but entirely contradicted by the facts of DV. Here’s my piece about that study. I urge you to read it to get the full flavor of just how thoroughly the gender feminist concept of DV has been debunked by science.

To be blunt, every single [gender feminist] assumption has been definitively proven to be false. This study is but one of many to debunk every aspect of gender feminism’s construction of domestic violence. First, in intimate relationships, women are the more likely to engage in controlling behavior either via verbal or physical aggression. Second, men in intimate relationships are more likely than women to withhold aggression. Third, that fact is explained by men’s socialization (never hit a girl). Fourth, women’s greater aggression in intimate relationships is also explained by their socialization, i.e. there are few or no social messages that girls shouldn’t hit boys and a fair number encouraging them to do so. Fifth, for both men and women, their violent behavior within intimate relationships does not mirror their violent behavior toward same-sex non-intimates, i.e. friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.

But as we know, the DV industry exists as it does today mostly on the funding of the federal government and private sources that share the conceptual framework of gender feminists regarding DV. As such, the industry is loath to give up its patently false claims. Now they’ve come to Washington to make their pitch and at least some members of Congress have taken the bait.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, has introduced a resolution that spells out what advocates call urgent and long overdue improvements to the way family courts handle allegations of abuse made during custody disputes. The resolution will require that any claims of abuse be thoroughly investigated by the courts before any custody proceeding even begins.

“Protecting our children is one of the most important things we can do for society,” said Poe in a press statement announcing the measure. “Courts should resolve all claims of abuse independently before looking at any other factors in deciding custody or visitation. An independent and rigorous investigation into claims of abuse, coupled with heightened evidentiary standards, will help courts prevent the endangerment of any child.”

The resolution does not carry the force of law, but rather expresses the sentiment of both houses of Congress. Still, a coalition of 18 anti-domestic violence and child advocacy groups say adopting the resolution would be a critical step forward. They circulated a letter to Congress last Friday, encouraging support for the resolution.

“Too often, family courts sideline violence and abuse concerns in favor of unsound quasi-scientific psychological claims about the parents and children,” the letter said.

This of course is all couched in gender-neutral language, but don’t be deceived. The DV industry has never been anything but anti-male and it’s shown no signs of reforming. So the strategy seems to be to encourage state courts to allow industry activists to indoctrinate evaluators in their erroneous theories that, unsurprisingly, find fathers to be the main culprits in family violence. And, as night follows day, the result would be that (a) when Mom claims DV by Dad, she’s believed and (b) he’s sidelined in his kids’ lives.

What are those “unsound quasi-scientific psychological claims about the parents and children?” Well, according to ProPublica, one is parental alienation syndrome.

Foremost among them is a diagnosis known as “parental alienation syndrome” — a highly controversial theory that, in its most extreme application, suggests parents, typically mothers, will concoct allegations of abuse during a custody dispute to heighten their chances of winning. 

That characterization of PAS strongly suggests that the ProPublica writer, Joaquin Sapien, knows little or nothing about his topic. Indeed, I’d suggest he’s done little but read the DV industry’s script on the matter. After all, no one (except the DV industry) has ever claimed that alienation is committed solely or even mostly by mothers. And no serious person believes that some parents don’t in fact concoct false allegations of abuse. Every family lawyer knows they do. Finally, Sapien seems not to grasp the difference between PA, which is parental behavior aimed at alienating the child from the other parent, and PAS, which is behavior by the child indicating alienation.

Gilding the lily, Sapien (again reading from the DV industry playbook) includes in his article an example of a father who killed his three children during a contentious custody battle. That suggests that fathers are uniquely dangerous to their kids, a theory contradicted by facts. Data collected every year by the Administration for Children and Families reveals that mothers acting alone commit twice the abuse and neglect that fathers commit acting alone. But those facts don’t make it into Sapien’s piece, likely because the DV industry has never admitted the truth about DV.

This isn’t Sapien’s last article on this topic. He clearly hasn’t heard from those who know – and are willing to admit – the truth about DV. By all means, let him know from you that the DV industry is peddling its false narrative, to the detriment of DV policy, child custody outcomes and public discourse on those subjects.




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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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