Saturday, October 18, 2008
California Appellate Court Finds Law Discriminatory Against Abused Men
A recent ruling of the California Appellate Court found that California domestic violence laws violate battered men's rights because they provide state funding only for women and their children who use shelters and other programs. Finally! Common sense wins out over ideology. Our agency specializes in working with men who are in relationships with abusive women so the question of why domestic violence shelter programs make it a rule not to offer abused men services has come up quite often. With over 2000 shelter programs in 50 states that specialize in services for battered women and children and NO shelters for battered men the question is a valid and important one. Although battered men have been treated like abusers and made invisible for the last 30 years of the battered women's movement they do exist and in greater numbers than many have been led to believe. No doubt research has found that women are the more injured group of victims but there are many facets to domestic violence and physically injury is just one of them. The movement that has brought public awareness and services to domestic violence has not been so much a movement to end domestic violence as it has been a movement to end violence against women. What's the difference you might ask. Well it's the difference between being able to protect yourself and your children and being in a great deal of danger. What if we gave military men the appropriate protective gear, guns, and hand grenades as they went into a battle and then turned around and told military women that there aren't enough of them to be concerned with so no equipment for you-- just duck and run really fast? That wouldn't go over too big now would it? Yet this is what our current domestic violence system does to battered men everyday in this country. According to the appellate courts decision 85% of California women's shelters offer services to battered men. That's not what we hear from battered men on our helpline. Domestic violence shelter programs responses to men calling for help run the gamut from, "we don't help men," to (although this isn't said directly it's inferred) "IF we believe he is a victim and not a perpetrator we may pay for one or two days in a hotel or refer him to a homeless shelter." If homeless shelters are appropriate and safe for male victims of domestic violence (and their children) to stay in then why is it that we have specialized shelters for victims of domestic violence?