Last week, the National Organization for Women issued a press release titled, Where the Real Shame Lies: Calling Victims of Violence Liars and Their Advocates Crooks. The author, NOW’s President, Terry O’Neal,” was referring to Representative Sandy Adams successful bill to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4970).
O’Neal’s rant failed to mention that Representative Adams was a victim of serious domestic violence as well as a police officer who saw up close and personal the benefits and problems associated with the VAWA. Like Representative Adams, I too have experienced domestic violence, on both sides of the fence, and, I have professionally worked with well over a thousand perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. Experience I suspect critics like Ms. O’Neal lack.
O’Neal noted there were over 300 organizations supporting NOW’s favored bill (H.R. 4971). She attempted to minimize Representative Adams by saying, “Adams’ bill did get the support of “one” organization, the National Coalition for Men, which issued a statement saying VAWA must be amended to prevent ‘false accusations.’” And, she attacked Stop Abusive and Violent Environments because SAVE had been diligently working for VAWA reforms to protect people from false accusations.
News articles and blog posts about NCFM’s support of Representative Adams’ bill contained caustic comments like, “House GOP legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act got an unexpected endorsement Tuesday — one that Democrats couldn’t be happier with” (TPMDC). Or, “House VAWA Bill Picks up Unhelpful Ally: National Coalition For Men” (Huffington Post). Numerous other publications ran with the same theme.
Interestingly, NCFM did not send out a press release. We faxed a letter to members of Congress. Apparently, one or more legislators opposing Adams’ bill enlisted the aid of various media outlets including the blogosphere, which, one after another, singled out NCFM because we stand up for men, all men. They apparently believe that’s bad or that NCFM is unworthy of voicing informed opinions.
The Violence Against Women Act, on its face, says it applies to only women, and that’s an irrefutable fact. In the broadest sense, men are only served up through programs designed to help men end violence against women. I know of no VAWA sponsored program specifically designed to help women end violence against men; or, even against other women. To reiterate what I have said elsewhere, if anyone says men receive equal treatment under VAWA as it exists today, they are ignorant or lying.
To be clear, as applicable, H.R.4970, the bill we favored, simply substituted the word “victim” or “victims” for the words “woman” or “women.” That change would make VAWA gender inclusive. No one would be excluded.
Even with 300 heavyweight supporters, sponsors of H.R. 4971 could not successfully defend their anti-male legislation. Consider, if sponsors of H.R. 4971 excluded Blacks from their bill instead of “men,” they would have been tarred, feathered, sat on a rail, and jeered out of Washington D.C. People are beginning to realize that discrimination against men, like discrimination against Blacks, is horrifically wrong. Such discrimination is not sustainable, not even through VAWA.
Opponents stooped to attacking a board member of another organization supporting H.R. 4970. There was a the appearance of a conflict of interest. She resigned from the board rather than remain as a detractor. The list of 300 H.R.4971 supporters is comprised of stakeholder organizations that one way or another benefit from VAWA. Each of those organizations has an actual conflict of interest, especially those that reap millions of dollars in VAWA funds annually. I’m sure no one from the 300 organizations sucking from VAWA’s teat resigned because of their glaring conflicts of interest. Tragically, those who favor O’Neal’s rant are surely blind to the hypocrisy of their own politics; or, more likely, they don’t care because they are otherwise ideologically impaired.
O’Neal opines, “The principles underlying H.R. 4970’s rollbacks of existing law seem to be that victims don’t tell the truth, and that the governmental and nonprofit agencies that provide services to victims and hold perpetrators accountable are engaged in self-enrichment.”
It’s not a question of “victims” telling the truth, but it’s a fact that many people claiming to be victims falsely accuse innocent people. No reasonable person can believe that false accusations of domestic violence or sexual assault don’t occur or are not a problem. Those who make false accusations are not victims, they are perpetrators.
Still in the news is the recent release of potential football star Brian Banks who was falsely accused and convicted of rape. Anyone involved in the family court system knows false accusations are like a scourge of dead rat maggots eating away at our judicial system. In fact, Lorna Alksne, once supervising judge of Superior Courts of San Diego Family Court Division, has told me that, “[e]veryone lies in family court,” the court where many or most allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault first surface.
The nationwide problem of women falsely accusing men of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, or even paternity might be quickly solved if legislation like the VAWA motivated prosecutors to start filing perjury charges against false accusers. As of this writing Wanetta Gibson has not been criminally charged, the school district has decided to let her keep the money she scammed, and Mr. Banks has decided not to pursue holding Gibson accountable, thereby rewarding Gibson for her horrific crimes. If Gibson had reasonably feared she could lose her freedom for lying about her consensual sexscapade with Banks, he may not have lost ten years of his life to the criminal justice system, and taxpayers would not have lost the $1.5 million to settle Ms. Gibson’s civil claim against the Long Beach Unified School District.
As I’m writing this, I answered another phone call, one of many, from the mother of a young man with no criminal record, a good work history, good education, high skill level, and bright future who was accused of shoving his girlfriend. He was arrested, spent a night in jail, had to make bail, and his family went into debt $15,000 for an attorney who failed to help him.
There’s still a restraining order preventing him from going to his own home, the home he had before the girlfriend, and preventing him from getting his personal possessions, including his tools from which he makes his living. The accuser may have already destroyed, given away, or sold his personal possessions. If so, she will suffer no consequence other than whatever benefit she got from her contemptible behavior. It’s a “he said, she said.” There is no evidence, none, to support the woman’s accusation, which the young man says is false. Even if he did shove her the resulting consequences are ridiculously disproportionate and an overreaction to the alleged offense, especially since no criminal charges were filed.
If her allegation is false, don’t you think she should be held accountable for her egregious behavior? Isn’t the young man then the victim rather than the perpetrator? Should not he be entitled to benefits under VAWA, and even the Victim Compensation Fund? Shouldn’t she be in jail?
But, what if, as the opposition would like you to believe, people don’t make false accusations. If that’s true, then there can be no harm including language in VAWA to discourage what does not exist. However, the opposition continues to resist such provisions. Why? No harm, no foul, right? Or, perhaps VAWA operatives prefer a lack of prohibitions, which by their absence creates a legal atmosphere that encourages and rewards false accusers like Gibson?
O’Neal and her ilk think VAWA programs are free of fraud and corruption too. Yet, in February of this year, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office reported that the head of Peace and Joy Care Center – a Carson-based non-profit organization that provides services for domestic violence victims under a contract with Los Angeles County – was arrested for allegedly ordering employees to assist in the creation of fraudulent bills totaling more than $700,000.
On June 5, 2012, yesterday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Mary Beth Semerod, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on embezzlement charges. Semerod was the former Executive Director of the Rape & Victim Assistance Center of Schuylkill County (RAVC). She was ordered to make restitution of over $200,000.
H.R. 4970, our favored version, allowed immigrants alleging domestic violence to apply for protections through any Immigration Service Center, thereby expanding services. Currently, all applications are processed through the Vermont Immigration Service Center. Vermont is represented by Senator Patrick Leahy. Leahy happens to be the principle sponsor of the Senate version of the failed bill H.R. 4971. Leahy’s bill advanced 34,000 unused U-Visas thereby creating an application processing gold-rush of sorts in Vermont. Even though the reauthorization is stalled, recruitment is underway to fill 150 new jobs at the Vermont Immigration Service Center. Is that just politics? I think not. There’s a distinct odor of corruption.
Representative Adams called the opposition’s behavior “shameful.” I watched a few hours of the House debate. Representative Adams was too kind. The blind allegiance and ideological fervor shown by supporters of the anti-man bill shook me to the bone. I had never experienced such hate-speech.
If it is true that men, or organizations representing men, hinder VAWA from serving all the abused, then our country is in deep trouble. There is something seriously wrong with people who support laws that marginalize an entire gender. Please don’t vote for anyone who does. They are dangerous people. Many purported victims are indeed liars, and there are advocates who are indeed crooks. Hubris like O’Neal’s is merely a regurgitation of the DV Industries’ traditional party line, women only and all for women. Supporters of Senator Leahy’s vision of VAWA even viciously verbally abused women who disagreed with their anti-male legislation. These pretenders may want to end violence against women, but it appears they also want to continue adopting laws that abuse men. Representative Adams was right in calling such behavior shameful. It’s also divisive and disgusting.