Issues -Domestic Violence - Harvard and DV
The reader needs to be forewarned that this is not a satirical
article although it may appear to be. It’s also true
that many other District Attorneys think, act and behave very
much like this one. The first thing the reader needs to do
is to go to this Cumberland County, Maine District Attorney’s
website and read her mission statement. I have pasted it in
below, however, I have added my comments because it is so
unreal that I thought the readers might not believe it unless
they went to the site itself. Again, this really is from a
real DAs website in Maine.
Mission Statement: The District Attorney is committed to ensuring
public safety and promoting public respect for government
through the prompt, effective, and compassionate prosecution
of cases in a manner that advocates for the interests of all
victims, [emphasis added] respects law enforcement agencies,
holds offenders accountable while at the same time protecting
the constitutional and legal rights of the accused, and responsibly
stewards public resources.
All that is changed above is the fact, as noted, I highlighted
the “all victims.” Because of her very myopic
and limited understanding of domestic violence she can not
advocate, in an unbiased manner, the interest males accused
of domestic violence. I can not fathom how a District Attorney
can be so uninformed about such an important issue. Next the
reader needs to visit her domestic violence statement. After
reading that page please read my comments in bold below.
"He doesn't allow her to see certain friends, or to have
a job, or to leave the house, or to call the police. He takes
the phone, the car keys, her money, her purse, her clothes.
He insists that they have a conversation in the middle of
the night, or that she must be having an affair."
These are all examples of domestic violence. Domestic violence
is an extremely serious and rampant problem. The National
Crime Victimization Survey conducted yearly by the National
Institute of Justice documents that less than 1/2 of 1% of
households surveyed report incidents of domestic violence.
The National Violence Against Women Survey documents that
1,510,455 women and 834,732 men are victims of physical violence
by an intimate. It is the number one cause of injury to women
in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and
rapes combined. The National Institute of Justice documents
that approximately 3% of women’s visits to emergency
rooms are from ALL forms of violent behavior and 1% of that
total is from domestic violence. One in five women admitted
to emergency rooms is there due to battering. The Centers
for Disease Control study “National Hospital Ambulatory
Medical Cary Survey” documents that 13.6% of injuries
to women seen in emergency rooms are from car accidents. The
CDC reports that is approximately 10 times the number of injuries
from domestic violence. The Official Journal of the American
College of Emergency Physicians reports that women do suffer
more injuries from domestic violence than do men. However,
it also documents that 28% of men and 33% of women report
they had experienced domestic violence.
Please note that we refer to the abuser as "he"
because most often the abuser is male. Most often the abuser
or victim is from the lower end of the socioeconomic educational
strata, however, she doesn’t say "when the poor
and uneducated" when she makes reference to offenders
and victims. Clearly the "he" is intended to paint
the picture of abusers as being male. However, please be aware
that abuse can be - and is - perpetrated by women against
men, This is the only passing mention of men as victims. Although
there is an acknowledgement that men can be victims nowhere
on the DAs site does it mention statistics for male abuse
and no where in the resource section is there any assistance
for male victims. There are only “batter programs”
for men or in same sex relationships. The National Institute
of Justice reports that lesbian domestic abuse is reported
at a higher rate than that of gay men. The common element
is one person in a domestic relationship with superior status,
who uses that status to emotionally, financially, and/or physically
keep the other in a powerless position. This is far from the
truth. The vast majority of academics, researchers and professionals
agree there IS NO COMMON CAUSE, VARIABLE, OR CURE. What the
DA demonstrates here, for all to read, is her very intentional
bias against men as she has chosen to cite only from the Sociocultural
Model of Domestic Violence. She must be very well aware that
what she cites is only ONE of a myriad of theories. However,
because she, as noted above, believes that domestic violence
abusers are those with a “superior status” in
the relationship she and others in her office, regardless
of the evidence, must because of her beliefs, continue to
view males as the perpetrators and females their victims.
Thus the criminal justice hallowed presumptions of innocence
becomes, in her office a presumption of guilt. While the DA's
Office may only be able to prosecute violent acts or threats
of violence, all of these factors and tactics are indicators
of chronic domestic violence, and they are considered for
Other problems spin off domestic violence and contribute to
the erosion of our community. Children are especially affected.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services documents
that more women physical abuse their children than do men.
The single greatest variable for child abuse is that the abuse
will come from a non-biological parent or caregiver. In a
1998 study of 2245 children and teenagers cited by the National
Resource Center on Domestic Violence, recent exposure to violence
in the home was found to be a significant factor in predicting
a child's violent behavior. Children who witnessed violence
have also been found to show more anxiety, self-esteem, depression,
and anger problems than children who did not witness violence
in the home.
It is the strict policy of the Cumberland County District
Attorney's Office and the State of Maine to take important
steps toward enforcing and expanding the criminal laws of
the state against perpetrators of domestic violence. As prosecutors
and public servants, the District Attorney's Office must do
their best to effectively intervene and break the cycle of
violence. The DA's Office owes it to the community to make
it safer, both on the streets and in the home.
The DA’s Office owes it to the community to tell the
truth. What other than a bias against males can cause the
DA’s Office to really believe that domestic violence
is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States,
more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined? If
it is not bias it must be ignorance and I don’t know
which is worse.
Until this DAs office recognizes there is more than one “theory”
concerning domestic violence, justice for all will not be
served in her county. Only when she recognizes domestic violence
for what it really is, can her office expect to intervene
into domestic violence incidents without bias.
There is little doubt that until she removes the gender “he”
from her public statements and until she recognizes domestic
violence is much more complex and multifaceted than those
with a “superior” social status (read males),
will males receive unbiased justice in Cumberland County Maine.
If she, or in fact anyone else involved in the criminal justice
system in Cumberland County Maine would read the following
studies, all sponsored by the National Institute of Justice,
their extremely biased domestic violence intervention policies
would be changed. Until then, men enter her system with the
bias and presumption of guilt before any evidence is presented
Richard L. Davis
The Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences
of Violence Against Women at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf,
Batterer Programs: What Criminal Justice Agencies Need to
Know at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles/171683.pdf,
and The Criminalization of Domestic Violence at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles/crimdom.pdf,
and Findings About Partner Violence From the Dunedin Multidisciplinary
Health and Development Study at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/170018.pdf.
Richard L. Davis served in the United States Marine Corps
from 1960 to 1964. He is a retired lieutenant from the Brockton,
Massachusetts police department. He has a graduate degree
in criminal justice from Anna Maria College and another in
liberal arts from Harvard University. He has a BA from Bridgewater
State College in History and he minored in secondary education.
He is a member of the International Honor Society of Historians
and an instructor of Criminology, Group Violence and Terrorism,
Criminal Justice and Domestic Violence at Quincy College in
Plymouth, MA. He is a past president of the Community Center
for Non-Violence in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the vice
president for Family Nonviolence, Inc. www.familynonviolence.com
in Fairhaven, MA. He is an independent consultant for criminal
justice agencies concerning policies, procedures, and programs
concerning domestic violence. He is the author of Domestic
Violence: Facts and Fallacies by Praeger publishers and has
written numerous articles for newspapers, journals, and magazines
concerning the issue of domestic violence. He has columns
concerning domestic violence at www.policeone.com, and www.nycop.com,
is a distance learner instructor in Introduction to Criminal
Justice and Domestic Violence for the Online Police Academy
and has a website at www.policewriter.com.
He and Kim Eyer have a domestic violence website The Cop and
the Survivor at http://www.rhiannon3.net/cs/.
He lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts with his wife and the
two youngest of five children. He experienced domestic violence
professionally for 21 years as a police officer and personally
as a child and as an adult. In his retirement he continues
to use his education, experience, and training to help the
children, women, and men who have had to endure violence from
those who profess to love them. He may be reached at email@example.com.