Testimony the Senate Judiciary Committee Refused to Hear
A male domestic violence victim asked to present testimony at the July 19, 2005 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on reauthorizing VAWA. If he had been permitted to testify, he would have discussed his experience of being excluded from services funded by the Violence Against Women Act on the basis of his gender. On the advice of his attorney, this individual has requested to remain anonymous for purposes of this on-line posting.
I am a heterosexual male victim of repeated female-perpetrated domestic violence. All the incidents involve the same woman. I first met the woman who committed repeated acts of domestic violence against me at our church. Shortly after I married her I became a victim of her verbal and physical abuse. Every loving kindness I showed to her was rewarded with scorn and derision.
During the first week of our marriage she began calling me names and using profanities against me. She went into rages on a daily basis. While enraged, she took on a stalking and hulking appearance. She yelled and used profanity, and became entirely irrational. She repeatedly damaged my property due to her violence and incessant slamming of doors and throwing my belongings around the house. Living with her was unbearable. I had to tiptoe around the house and
try to stay out of her range
since the first week of our marriage.
The most serious incident left me with a permanent injury to my left knee (torn cartilage). On that occasion, she threw things that were on top of my entertainment center onto the floor, and then she kept pummeling me with her fists on my arms and shoulders. She then threw a wire basket and pan and several sharp long knives onto the floor. She stormed into the dinning room and threw the telephone and an antique cigar box on the floor and then began banging a pewter dish repeatedly onto the floor. I had been in the bedroom trying to stay away from her. When I went into the living room she picked up a heavy book stand and hurled it at me with great force striking me in the knee. The force of the blow swept my leg out from under me, and I fell on the floor. I later required medical attention and got x-rays and crutches. The left side of my left knee was swollen for over a month. If any Senator or Congressman wishes to see proof of these injuries, I will be glad to provide a copy of the doctor's report. As I lay on the floor in agony, I told her that I was not going to take her abusive conduct any longer and that she had to clam down. She then went to the kitchen and began sawing (lightly dragging) a steak knife across her wrist, while telling me that I was going to burn in hell.
I went to work on crutches for a week, but after no improvement I went to my medical provider to have my injury evaluated. The doctor asked my how I had received the injuries and I told her I had been hit by a board. The doctor never once asked if I had been hit by my wife, and never once mentioned the subject of domestic violence. The doctor did ask a second time how I had received the injury and I told her I had been hit by a board, not wanting to get my wife in trouble. The Violence Against Women Act provides funding for trainings, which teach hospital personnel to ask injured women whether they were injured by a husband or boyfriend, and to probe further if they suspect a woman may be lying so as not to get her husband or boyfriend in trouble. Clearly the doctor who treated me had been trained to be blind to the possibility that a man's injuries could have been caused by his wife.
On another occasion, when I had an earache, my wife squirted a water bottle of chilled water at me, striking me in the ear. On still another occasion, she struck me in the groin area with a bouquet of roses I'd given her. Another time when I'd taken refuge in my station wagon in the back yard so I could get some sleep before going to work, she followed screaming and shouting, disturbing the entire neighborhood and causing me personal embarrassment.
On the one year anniversary of my mother's death, she screamed at me, "Your parents are sh*t," and then grabbed a 60 lb. wooden coffee table and flipped it over. She then called the police and falsely accused me of having sprained her wrist. My Pastor testified in a City Attorney hearing to how she had told him two versions of a story about about how her wrist had been injured. Both versions were lies. As a result of her phony report, I was falsely arrested and imprisoned. The truth is I have never hurt her or threatened to hurt her, and never would.
The bruises she falsely swore to have been caused by me were yellow and obviously several days or weeks old, but the police did not arrest her for filing a false police report. Would a man who made such an obviously false accusation have been given a free pass by the police, as she was?
A mutual restraining order was later issued. She violated this restraining order five times, and the police have done nothing. I am quite certain that if I were to violate the restraining order even once, the police would arrest and incarcerate me.
Most male victims are conditioned, as I was, to “take it like a man.” Indeed, when I served my country in Vietnam, an oft-repeated phrase bantered back and forth amongst the Marines on my ship was, “Get tough or die.” It's appalling to find that advice, which was intended to help our boys survive a war with the Viet Cong and NVA, is now also the best advice for any male victim of domestic violence who expects help under the current biased and discriminatory Violence Against Women Act.
After my wife threw the bookstand at me and caused permanent damage to my knee, I began to look everywhere I could think of for help. I searched the web for any information I could find on domestic violence. But every organization I found that said they help victims had a website explaining that domestic violence is caused by men exercising their “male privilege”in our “patriarchal society”. So I didn't think they'd believe me or want to help me if I told them my story. I've since heard battered women's shelters claim that there's no need for services for men because hardly any men approach them for help. Perhaps my reaction to what I read on their websites and in their literature may help you understand why they're the last place in the world that any man in need of help would want to approach.
A few years later, when I was no longer in such dire straits, I began to wonder whether it was really true that federally-funded domestic violence agencies were allowed to discriminate against men. So I contacted 10 different VAWA-funded battered women's shelters in and around Los Angeles to find out whether an abused man could find help there. Each one treated me as if I were a perpetrator rather than a victim, and all admitted they did not provide services for men.
The abuse I suffered at my wife's hands was bad enough. But knowing that the system is not set up to help male victims, but rather is set up to re-victimize them, has left me psychologically devastated.
The fact of the matter is, that the system intended to help victims of domestic violence is badly broken. It can only be fixed by changing the discriminatory Violence Against Women Act into a gender inclusive Family Violence Act which specifically states that funding shall be provided to programs primarily focused on helping male victims in an amount equal to any funding provided to programs primarily focused on helping female victims.