“You have bullsh*t; we have research”: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence v. Daddy Justice (Or, Why False Allegations Are a Serious Problem) | TALKING BACK to restraining orders
(Note: The word in the video’s title should be spelled “poohbah,” after a comic opera character whose name was probably formed from the interjections pooh + bah. Mr. Vonderheide’s spelling it “poobah” might have been an accident—or it might have been on purpose.)
The setting of the interview, which would more aptly be called an exchange of words, isn’t clear, but it seems to be a post-conference mix-and-mingle. Mr. Vonderheide takes issue with the NCADV’s feminine bias and the propagandist tenor of the fact sheets it publishes, which aren’t uncommonly cited by feminist advocates.
As the quotation in this post’s title suggests, the questions he poses to Ms. Smith aren’t favorably received. Those questions regard the NCADV’s disinclination to acknowledge maternal child abuse (Ms. Smith: “It’s not our focus of work”), as well as its denial that false accusations of domestic violence are a serious problem, false accusations that Mr. Vonderheide alleges are “promoted by [the NCADV’s] budget.”
Daddy Justice’s interview style (à la Michael Moore) is obtrusive—he’s plainly crashed the party—but while Mr. Vonderheide is necessarily assertive, the worst you could say of his questions is that they’re confrontational. They’re nevertheless called “abusive” and “aggressive,” and he’s prodded to leave.
The grudging answers his questions prompt before he’s rebuffed don’t provide much informational grist for the mill, but to his allegation that more than 80% of restraining orders are based on false accusations, Ms. Smith significantly counters that her facts say it’s only “2% of the time” (and she urges Mr. Vonderheide to “stop lying”). Later she revises her estimate of the number of false accusations from 2% to “2 to 5%,” dismissively, despite the fact that if, say, 2,000,000 restraining orders are petitioned a year (and the total may be much higher), the extra 3% translates to the invasion, disruption, and possible dismantling of 60,000 innocent defendants’ lives, besides those of their children and others peripheral to the mischief.
A mere 5% false allegation rate means the victimization of 100,000 (or many more) innocent people per year (again, not including ambient casualties). Anecdotal reports, of course—including from judges and attorneys—put the false allegation rate 6 to 18 times higher than 5% (30 to 90%). It just depends who you’re asking.
Even a ridiculously conservative false allegation rate like the posited 5% plainly recommends legislative reform, because there’s absolutely no accountability in the restraining order process. False accusers aren’t punished, and damages from false allegations aren’t remediable by lawsuit. Additional false claims can what’s more be lodged almost immediately by the same accusers using the same process. There’s no statutory ceiling on the number of orders a single complainant may apply for. (Some victims of procedural abuse report spending tens of thousands of dollars to fend off one petition only to throw up their hands—and in cases forfeit their custody entitlements—when a second comes down the pike a few months later. See here for an example.)
It should be appreciated, too, that any audit-derived estimate of the number of false allegations can only be based on allegations that are recorded as false (by “somebody”). No official false allegation rate accounts for the number of times false allegations succeed or the number of times cases based on them are simply “dismissed” without comment.
In other words, false allegations may well be rampant or “epidemic” (a word favored by anti-domestic-violence advocates), and there would be no record that says so.
The nyah-nyah from the title—“We have research; you have bullshit”—deserves reflection, also. (It doesn’t come from Ms. Smith, incidentally, but from an unidentified confederate who can’t resist a Parthian shot at Mr. Vonderheide before she and the “Grand Poobah” turn their backs to him).
The “research” that advocacy groups posit is survey-based, that is, it amounts to responses to questionnaires that are administered to sample groups and then extrapolated to the population as a whole. Even this survey data we must take on faith.
Appreciate that conducting “research” of this sort depends on means, which depend on money, which is only allocated to groups like the NCADV. Consider:
Among the programs toward which the NCADV’s 2011 budget was dedicated were “General Program – provides information to educate and inform the general public about domestic violence” ($240,991), “Public Policy – works in collaboration with other national organizations to affect societal response to domestic violence through public education and coalition building, monitors federal legislation, and contacts legislators regarding domestic violence issues” ($88,808), “Membership – publishes a newsletter and provides networking opportunities for individuals and organizations interested in the work to empower battered women and their children” ($67,607), “Child custody – provides resources, referrals and support to advocates working with victims of domestic violence involved in family court cases with their abusers also provides resources to victims, attorney, and family members when family court issues are present” ($97,402).
In contrast to the social largesse enjoyed by groups like the NCADV, no money is allocated for the administration of surveys to determine, for example, incident rates of depression, drug or alcohol abuse, stress-related injuries, or suicide proximal to being falsely accused; no surveys appraise the resulting lost earnings and assets; and no surveys attempt to measure the hits taken by health insurance providers as a result. Prognosis of the long-term consequences to the welfare and life prospects of injured children is, moreover, impossible. Worse, it’s not even considered, which casts rather a long shadow on the purported “mission” of groups like the NCADV to protect kids.
Clearly, that motive is context-specific.
Daddy Justice makes up for the lack of information his “interview” questions elicit with quotations interposed between snippets of footage. Here are some of them:
- “Everyone knows restraining orders…are granted to virtually all who apply.” […] “In many cases, allegations of abuse are used for tactical advantage” (Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association).
- “Restraining orders are now considered part of the ‘gamesmanship of divorce’” (Illinois Bar Journal, 2005).
- “In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases” (American Journal of Public Health, May 2007).
- “Women were slightly more likely than men to use one or more acts of physical aggression and to use such acts more frequently” (Psychological Bulletin, 26, No. 5, pp. 651-680).
- “Leading sociologists have repeatedly found that men and women commit violence at similar rates” (Law Professor Linda Kelly, 2003).
- “More women than men engage in controlling behavior in their current marriages” (Violence and Victims, 22, Issue 4, 2007).
- “Of all persons who suffer injuries from partner aggression, 38% are male” (Dr. John Archer, Psychological Bulletin).
- “There is no doubt that this law [Ohio’s domestic violence statute] has been abused” (Judge Nadine Allen of Hamilton County, Ohio).
- “Standards for proving abuse have been so relaxed that any man who stands accused is considered guilty” (Cheryl Hanna, William and Mary Law Review).
- “Women are nine times more likely to report domestic violence than male victims” (National Family Violence Survey).
- “85% of temporary restraining orders are filed against men” (Cathy Young, “Domestic Violence: An In-Depth Analysis,” 2005).
- “Many judges view restraining orders as ‘a rubber-stamping exercise,’ and subsequently hearings are ‘usually a sham’” (Attorney Arnold Rutkin, Family Advocate, Winter 1996).
- “The mere allegation of domestic violence may shift the burden of proof to the defendant” (Massachusetts Law Weekly, 1995).
Notable is that cited remarks from legal experts that categorically define the restraining order process as prejudiced, if not an outright abomination against rudimentary civil rights and principles of law, may be a decade or decades old. Rhetorical stances like the NCADV’s aren’t fooling anybody in the know, and they haven’t for a long time. But they continue to dominate political debate. They’re heeded because they’re supposed to be. Not coincidentally, women’s advocates hold the keys to the treasury.
The value of Mr. Vonderheide’s video, finally, isn’t in the information it educes or even the information it asserts but the psychological study it offers of the women behind the dogma and the sway they exercise on public perception. His questions, only impeachable as indelicate, inspire predictable reactions: antagonism, levity, or disdain.
According to tried and true method (a method both practiced and preached), the “self-reliant” feminist women who are the targets of Mr. Vonderheide’s questions register alarm. These deniers of false allegations and undue hysteria…call the police.
Copyright © 2015 RestrainingOrderAbuse.com
*Daddy Justice’s videos can be found here.