a   #189, Drano Series





DECLARATION OF THE

VAWA Reform Coalition

 

1.     Whereas, the family is the foundation of American society.

2.     Whereas, research shows that when children are removed from regular contact with one of their parents, they are placed at greater risk of a broad range of academic, emotional, behavioral, and criminal justice problems.[1]

3.     Whereas, the U.S. Constitution provides for a range of civil liberties, including the rights to due process and to equal protection under the law.

4.     Whereas, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children -- is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court,”[2]

5.     Whereas, physical aggression between intimate partners is a problem in our society, and extensive research shows that women are at least  as likely as men to engage in partner aggression.[3],[4],[5]

6.     Whereas, in 1994 the U.S. Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act which eventually spawned 1,500 civil and criminal laws at the state level.[6]

7.     Whereas, VAWA funds factually-misleading education programs[7] that serve to bias and politicize the judiciary and criminal justice system.[8]

8.     Whereas, state laws define partner abuse broadly[9] and provide incentives to file questionable and even false allegations of abuse.[10]

9.     Whereas, allegations of partner abuse have become so commonplace that the legal system has become overwhelmed with minor and false claims, and such complaints divert resources away from the true victims of domestic violence.[11],[12],[13]

10.  Whereas, VAWA-funded programs have engaged in widespread discriminatory practices against male victims of domestic violence, [14] even though Congress intended that men were entitled to such protections.[15]

11.  Whereas, VAWA promotes "pro-arrest" and "primary/dominant/predominant aggressor" laws, policies, and practices which undermine fundamental standards of probable cause and lead to gender-profiling.[16]

12.  Whereas, VAWA-funded programs have been found to have a disproportionate negative impact on low-income African-American and Hispanic communities.[17]

13.  Whereas, the Ms. Foundation for Women has found that “Criminalization of social problems has led to mass incarceration of men, especially young men of color, decimating marginalized communities.”[18]

14.  Whereas, divorce courts in most states are required to consider partner abuse in their child custody determinations,[19] and some courts use trivial or false allegations of partner abuse to separate a child from one of his or her parents,[20] thus placing the child at risk.

15.  Whereas, most instances of partner aggression are minor in nature,[21] and while such cases may benefit from counseling, they do not require legal intervention.  

16.  Whereas, VAWA-funded programs and policies often prohibit couple counseling and preclude partner reconciliation.

17.  Whereas, a variety of VAWA programs and policies inappropriately induce family break-up,[22] thus depriving children of the love and guidance of one of their parents and placing them at greater risk of child abuse and other problems.[23]

18.  Whereas, many domestic violence programs are ineffective and ideologically-driven,[24],[25] placing victims at greater risk of violence.[26]

19.  Whereas, a variety of women’s organizations are now calling to reform the nation’s domestic violence laws.[27]

 

The undersigned organizations FIND that:

 

1.     Most of the existing domestic violence programs are ineffective in reducing abuse and sometimes place victims at greater risk of subsequent violence.

2.     Rigid and intrusive VAWA policies and programs often lead to the destabilization of American families, and the break-up of families profoundly harms children.

3.     The harmful effects of VAWA are especially pronounced among low-income communities and people of color.

4.     Traditional domestic violence programs violate Americans’ basic civil rights and undermine due process protections.

5.     The preferences and needs of victims are often ignored by rigid domestic violence programs.

 

Therefore, the undersigned organizations urgently REQUEST that:

 

1.     The mass media, educational institutions, and other interested groups portray the domestic violence issue in an accurate and balanced manner, consistent with objective research.

2.     Persons who work in the domestic violence industry, including judges, law enforcement personnel, treatment providers, social workers, and custody evaluators, identify ways to make domestic violence programs more responsive to the needs of the family, children, and alleged victims, while also assuring due process for the accused.

3.     Lawmakers begin the process of undertaking the reform of our nation’s domestic violence laws, consistent with RADAR’s Agenda for VAWA Reform.[28]

 

Signed:

Mark B. Rosenthal

RADAR: Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting

 


National Organizations:

Elizabeth Crawford
African-Americans for VAWA Reform


Michael McCormick

American Coalition for Fathers and Children


Spencer Mewha

Domestic Violence Men’s Support Group


John Dias

DVStats.com


Phyllis Schlafly

Eagle Forum


Natasha Spivack
Encounters International


Ned Holstein

Fathers and Families


Jamil Jabr
Fathers-4-Justice

Don Mathis
Fourteen Percenter Newsletter

Michael McManus
Marriage Savers

Harry Crouch
National Coalition of Free Men

Marty Nemko

National Organization for Men

 
John Hayes

National Coalition on Domestic Violence Against Males

 
Tristan Laurent

Online Dating Rights

 
Lee Newman

Stop Abuse for Everyone -International

 
Terri Lynn Tersak

True Equality Network

 
Torm L. Howse
United Civil Rights Councils of America
 

Alabama:
Michael Polemeni

Alabama
Family Rights Association

James Blackstone
DADS – Alabama

Alan Rusmisel

Fathers-4-Justice – Alabama

 
Sandra Carroll

Saving America’s Families Everywhere

 
Alaska:

June Marsh

True Equality Network – Alaska

 
Arizona:

Tammy Sears

True Equality Network – Arizona

 
California:

Tom Smith

American Union for Men

 
Scott MacDonald

GiveBackMySon.org

 
Marc Angelucci

National Coalition for Free Men – Los Angeles

Teri Stoddard

Shared Parenting Works

Carol Johnson
True Equality Network – California

Colorado:
Sheryle Hutter
Colorado
Cross Disabilities Coalition

Charles E. Corry
Equal Justice Foundation

Don Hutter

Fathers for Justice – Colorado

Eve Smith
True Equality Network – Colorado

Connecticut:
Ken Krajewski
Father Without Christmas

 

Florida:
Theresa Martin
Florida
Civil Rights Council

Carl Steppling
Florida Coalition for Families and Children

Tony Spalding
Florida Dad, Inc.

Grayson Walker
Parents without Rights 

Alice Barnard

True Equality Network – Florida

Georgia:
Bessie Hudgins

Three Sides to Every Story

Karla Stavich
True Equality Network – Georgia

Hawaii:

Tom Marzec

Hawaii Justice Foundation

 

Frank Martin

True Equality Network -- Hawaii

 
Illinois:
Michael Burns
Illinois Alliance for Parents and Children

Gina Holleran
True Equality Network – Illinois 

Rev. Terry Weston
TW Ministries

Indiana:
Pastor Kenneth Deemer

Shattered Men

Nancy Altman
True Equality Network – Indiana

Iowa:
Julie Garafollo
True Equality Network – Iowa

Kentucky:
Mike East
F.A.T.H.E.R.S.  

Wes Collins
KyFamilyOrg
 

Louisiana:

Mark & Gina LaDotto

True Equality Network – Louisiana


Maine
Theresa Marks
True Equality Network – Maine

Maryland:
Tom Golden
Men’s Equality Conference

Jane Tomaccicio
True Equality Network – Maryland

Massachusetts:
Steven Shepardson

Children Need Both Parents


Barbara C. Johnson

FalseAllegations.com 

Wayne Jewett

Fatherhood Coalition - Southeast Massachusetts Chapter


Ashley Carnes
True Equality Network – Massachusetts

Michigan:
Angela Pedersen

A Child’s Right

Minister Ronald Smith

Children Need Both Parents

 
James Semerad

DADS of Michigan

Michael Ross

Family Rights Coalition

Susan Austin
True Equality Network – Michigan

Minnesota
Will Hageman

National Coalition of Free Men – Twin Cities

Missouri:
David Usher

ACFC  Missouri

Montana
Selma Zawora

True Equality Network – Montana

New Hampshire:
Richard Smaglick

FathersAndHusbands.org

 
Michael Geanoulis

National Congress for Fathers and Children – NH

 
Debra Roy & Joanie Comeau

Stop Abuse for Everyone – NH

 
Christine Hoffen

True Equality Network – NH

 
New Jersey:
Bruce Eden, Director

DADS (Dads Against Discrimination) – NJ & NY

Jeff Golden – NJ
Fathers’ and Children’s Equality
 

Michael Argen

New Jersey Council For Children and Family Rights

Kris Whitehall
True Equality Network – NJ

New York:
Randall L. Dickinson

Coalition of Fathers and Families, NY

Yonda Ashley

Children and Parents Network

 
Maggie Becker

True Equality Network – New York

 
North Carolina:

Amber St. Claire

True Equality Network – NC

 
North Dakota:
Tina Jordan
True Equality Network – North Dakota 

Ohio:
Christopher Tock

DADS of Ohio

Jack & Sina Robinson

True Equality Network -- Ohio

 
Oklahoma:
Bob Batterbee
Equal is Equal

Oregon
:
Loraine Martin

True Equality Network – Oregon

Pennsylvania:
Ben Vonderheide

DaddyJustice.com

David Nelson
Fathers and Children’s Equality – Bucks Co, PA

Donald Hank

Lancaster-York Non-Custodial Parents

Jeff Dick
Men’s Custody Shelter Network 

Kathy Michaels

True Equality Network – Pennsylvania

South Carolina:
Paul Clements
DADD-SC

Brianna Walters
True Equality Network – South Carolina

South Dakota
:
Teri Hand

True Equality Network – South Dakota

Tennessee:
Marsha Folley
True Equality Network – Tennessee

Texas:
Deborah Watkins

National Coalition for Free Men – Dallas/Ft. Worth

Doug Conley
People for Equal Parenting

Jackie Meyers

True Equality Network – Texas


Utah
:
Alan Millard
Men and Fathers for Justice

Sylvia Domeco
True Equality Network – Utah 

Virginia:
Fred Hawkins
Fathers for Virginia

Janice Larken
True Equality Network – Virginia


Washington
:
Lisa Scott
Taking Action Against Bias in the System
 

John Lucas
Washington
DV Press

West Virginia:
Mary Gray

Domestic Violence Counseling Center

Tim Fittro

Men and Women Against Discrimination

Wisconsin:
Debbie Weltz
True Equality Network – Wisconsin



[1] Horn WF and Sylvester T. Father Facts. Gaithersburg, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative. 2004.

[2] Troxel et vir. v. Granville, 530 US 57, 67, 2000.

[3] John Archer: Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 126, No. 5.

[4] Renee McDonald, Estimating the number of children living in partner-violent families, Journal of Family Psychology, March 2006. http://www.smu.edu/experts/study-documents/family-
violence-study-may2006.pdf 

[5] Whitaker DJ et al. Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, May 2007, Vol. 97, No. 5.
 www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941

[6] Miller N. What does research and evaluation say about domestic violence laws? Alexandria, VA: Institute for Law and Justice, 2005, footnote 28.

[8] RADAR. Bias in the judiciary: The case of domestic violence. 2006.
 http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Bias-In-The-Judiciary.pdf

[9] RADAR: Expanding definitions of domestic violence, Vanishing rule of law. 2006.
 http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Vanishing-Rule-of-Law.pdf

[10] RADAR: Perverse incentives, false allegations, and forgotten children. 2006.
http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Perverse-Incentives.pdf

[11] Wendy McElroy. Abuse of temporary restraining orders endangers real victims. FoxNews.com, December 27, 2005. 

[12] Tersak, TL. VAWA Fails to Protect Women Who Need Protection the Most. Ifeminists.net, October 11, 2006. www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2006/1011tersak.html

[13] Foster BP. Analysis of domestic violence costs in West Virginia and the potential cost of false or unnecessary claims. Sept. 12, 2007. http://madmenunitedwv.org/False%20&%20Unnecessary%20
Domestic%20Violence%20Cases%20-%20WV%20Cost%20
Analysis%20-%20Doctor%20Ben%20Foster.pdf

[14] RADAR. VAWA Programs discriminate against male victims. Rockville, MD: Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting, 2007. www.mediaradar.org/docs/VAWA-Discriminates-Against-Males.pdf

[15] Congressional Record, October 11, 2000, pp. S10191-92 and Violence Against Women Act 2005, Section 40002(b)(8).

[16] RADAR. Justice denied: Arrest policies for domestic violence. 2006. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies.pdf

[17] Archer C et al. National Evaluation of the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies Program. Alexandria, VA: National Institute for Law and Justice, 2002, page 90.

[18] Ms. Foundation for Women. Safety and justice for all. New York, 2003, p. 17. www.ms.foundation.org/user-assets/PDF/Program/safety_justice.pdf

[19] American Bar Association. Custody decisions in cases with domestic violence allegations. Accessed May–June 2006. http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/childcustody/
domestic_violence_chart1.pdf

[20] RADAR: Perverse incentives, false allegations, and forgotten children. 2006. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Perverse-
Incentives.pdf

[21] Linda Kelly. Disabusing the definition of domestic abuse. Florida State University Law Review Vol. 30, 2003.

[22] RADAR. A culture of false allegations: How VAWA harms families and children. 2007. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-VAWA-A-
Culture-of-False-Allegations.pdf

[23] American Coalition for Fathers and Children. Family violence in America: The truth about domestic violence and child abuse. Washington, DC: ACFC, 2006. http://www.acfc.org/site/DocServer/familyviolence.pdf?docID=641

[24] Independent Women’s Forum. Domestic violence: An in-depth analysis. Washington, DC: IWF, 2005. http://www.iwf.org/specialreports/specrpt_detail.asp?ArticleID=815

[25] RADAR. Why have domestic violence programs failed to stop partner abuse? 2007. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Why-DV-
Programs-Fail-to-Stop-Abuse.pdf

[26] Dugan L, Nagin D, Rosenfeld R. Exposure reduction or backlash? The effects of domestic violence resources on intimate partner homicide. NCJ Number 186194. 2001.

[27] RADAR. Has VAWA delivered on its promises to women? 2007. http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/VAWA-Women-Call-For-Reform.pdf

[28] Agenda for VAWA Reform: Reducing partner violence, Respecting civil liberties, and Protecting the family.
http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARdocument-Agenda-for-
VAWA-Reform.pdf

 

June 17, 2008