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September 6, 2006
Contact: Michael Geanoulis, <>

Almost Anything Can be Called Domestic “Violence,” Report Finds

Rockville, MD – Last December TV talk show host David Letterman was hit with a restraining order from a woman he had never met or heard of. New Mexico resident Colleen Nestler had accused Letterman of harassing her with televised “thoughts of love.”

According to a report issued today, Letterman’s actions could well be construed as domestic violence, according to the state laws of New Mexico.

“Expanding Definitions of Domestic Violence, Vanishing Rule of Law” analyzes the civil domestic violence laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report concludes that statutory definitions have been widened over the past decade to the point that almost any action can be viewed as “violent.” The report can be viewed at http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Vanishing-Rule-of-Law.pdf.

In most states a person can get a restraining order simply by claiming he or she is “afraid” or “fearful,” without providing proof or verification. As a result, half of all restraining orders are issued without even an allegation of physical abuse. In most cases, it is the husband or boyfriend who the target of the order.

“Domestic violence has become whatever the man does that the woman doesn’t like,” notes RADAR spokesperson Lisa Scott of Washington State. “Finding out she is having an affair and demanding she stop is seen as ‘abuse.’ This often triggers the woman to file for a restraining order, where no real evidence is required.  In my 18 years of practice, I have seen this pattern occur over and over.”

Two to three million domestic restraining orders are issued each year in the United States. In most cases, it is the husband or boyfriend who is the target of the order.

Most orders are issued on an ex parte basis, which precludes the defendant from telling his side of the story at the time the order is issued. Restraining orders require the defendant to vacate the house and restrict contact with his children.

The report was issued by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – a non-profit organization devoted to assuring fairness and accuracy in domestic abuse issues.

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org.

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