Woods Case Amicus Brief: ‘Abusive use weapons and assault when their partners are preoccupied or asleep’

Sacramento, CA–Recently we discussed a tremendous victory, as the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled in Woods. v. Shewry that California”s exclusion of men from domestic violence services violates men”s constitutional equal protection rights.

Marc Angelucci, Esq. was the lead attorney in the case, and the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center (led by legislative advocate Michael Robinson, pictured, and John Hamel, LCSW) submitted a powerful amicus brief in support.

The brief was co-authored by some of the world’s leading experts on domestic violence.

Robinson identified the case’s lead plaintiff, David Woods, a disabled Sacramento-area veteran who, along with his daughter, was the victim of his wife’s domestic violence.

I will be publishing several excerpts from the amicus brief in coming weeks. In one section discussing the Violence against Women Act, the authors write:

Prior to its reauthorization in December, 2005, the National Violence against Women Act (VAWA) did not provide for services for male victims. Even with its newly acquired gender-inclusive language, the law”s primary focus is evident in its title, the Violence against Women Act. Victimized males do not have access to services because of the assumption that they are only minimally impacted by Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), if at all.

This assumption, however, runs contrary to an overwhelming body of research evidence. A significant minority of IPV-related physical injuries, between 25% and 43%, are incurred by men (Archer, 2000; Laroche, in preparation; Mirrlees-Black, 1999; Straus, 2004; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), and men are the victims in nearly a quarter of intimate homicides (Rennison, 2003).

Abusive women are sometimes bigger and stronger than their male partners and can physically overpower them; more likely than not, they make up for their smaller size by using weapons and assaulting when their partners are preoccupied, asleep or inebriated (Cook, 1997; Hines et al., in press; Mann, 1988; McCleod, 1984; Shupe et al, 1987).

Because of cultural norms that require men to suppress feelings and that minimize female-perpetrated abuse, male victims are reluctant to verbalize fear of any kind, even when their lives are in danger (Cook, 1997; Hines & Malley-Morrison, 2001; Migliaccio, 2002).

Read the full NFVLRC brief here. The Court’s Opinion in Woods can be read here.

(To read Woods’ powerful story, see 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, as well as Woods’ daughter’s heart wrenching letter about her childhood here.)

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