I recently attended the excellent Los Angeles domestic violence conference “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention.” The conference featured many domestic violence dissidents–researchers and clinicians who do not believe that the mainstream domestic violence establishment and its “men as perpetrators/women as victims” conceptual framework is properly serving those involved in family violence.
The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that California”s exclusion of men from domestic violence services violates men”s constitutional equal protection rights in a decision in October. The taxpayer lawsuit — Woods. v. Shewry — was initially filed in 2005 by four male victims of domestic violence. The Court of Appeal held: “The gender classifications in Health and Safety Code section 124250 and Penal Code section 13823.15, that provide state funding of domestic violence programs that offer services only to women and their children, but not to men, violate equal protection.” To learn more about the lawsuit, click here.
David Woods, a partially-disabled male victim of domestic violence, was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. David spoke of the abuse he suffered at the hands of wife Ruth Woods at the From Ideology to Inclusion 2009. He explained:
There was a period of time, in the 90s, the violence — the interaction within our family — was insane…and I started trying to get out. Now, when I was a younger man…I worked construction work, I broke horses on a cattle ranch…I did a lot of physically intensive things….[I ended up with] two fractured vertebrae, and seven herniated discs. Plus multiple fractures to my knee, multiple dislocations to my shoulders. My body was a wreck. I couldn’t go out and hang sheetrock anymore and make, you know, lots of money…I wasn’t able to physically function that way anymore.
The violence really began in our family about 10 days after Ruth realized that she had all the power…I knew I had to get my kids out…I called an agency. It’s the predominant, primary domestic violence shelter agency in Sacramento County…WEAVE: Women Escaping A Violent Environment…I called them and told them what was going on, and they told me that I was a disgusting and repulsive beast to abuse my wife, and call them, and claim that I was the one who needed help. [Weave:] “Men are perpetrators of domestic violence; women are victims of domestic violence.” Click.
I had no way out. I had no money. Ruth insisted — whenever we bought a car — Ruth insisted that the car be in her name only, so that if I took it and went to the movies without her approval she would call the police, tell them and report, “I’m estranged from my husband, and he stole my car.” She did it, several times.
I called and asked for help from WEAVE three different times, and I was given the same answer three different times: “Men are perpetrators of domestic violence, women are victims of domestic violence, you’re a disgusting pig, goodbye.”
When I participated in the “Woods v.” lawsuit, WEAVE was named among the co-defendants. The director of WEAVE emphatically stated that they did provide services to men, they had always provided services to men, they would continue to provide services to men, and that our allegations were a lie. She was either sadly misinformed about how her staff functioned, or she was telling a fib.
The plight of David and his daughter Maegan is detailed in my co-authored column Domestic Violence Lawsuit Will Help Secure Services for All Abuse Victims (Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, 12/28/05). Maegan told her story in Abused Man’s Daughter Speaks Out–Maegan Talks About Her Childhood. Carol Crabson, Executive Director of the Valley Oasis domestic violence shelter–which has served male victims for 17 years–presented with David, and we’ll also be providing some highlights from her speech in this series.
To read all reports from the Conference, please click here. From Ideology to Inclusion 2009 featured some of the world’s leading experts on domestic violence, many of whom serve on the Editorial Board of the new peer-reviewed academic journal, Partner Abuse, published by Springer Publishing Company. The conference was presented by the California Alliance for Families & Children and co-sponsored by The Family Violence Treatment & Education Association. Some of you may remember that I also wrote extensively about the 2008 conference–to learn more, click here.