I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Domestic Violence Misinformation in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Education and housing would reduce domestic violence in the Sault

Posted By BOB MIHELL

Posted 2 days ago

Until we treat domestic violence as the serious crime it is, it is not going to disappear, according to two front line veterans.

Detective Sergeant Monique Rollin of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and Dale Kenney, director of the Women in Crisis shelter for abused women and children said last week that far more has to be done in terms of education and early prevention programs if we are to begin to see a reduction in the alarming number of domestic incidents reported to the police.

But two of those education programs aimed at educating the public and young people in the school system are facing serious challenges because of funding cuts by the government.

Kenney described the Choices Program funded in 2007 through the Ministry of the Attorney General and supported by the Sault Police Service and both school boards as an example of an excellent proactive approach to fostering healthy relationships.

All Grade 9 students in both boards throughout the District were delivered the program aimed at teaching them about healthy and unhealthy relationships. She said the program was so well received that some schools had requested that the program be extended to Grades 10 and 11 students as well. But in 2008, the program will only be delivered in Sault Ste. Marie and only at the Grade 9 level.

Kenney explained, "In 2007, we offered it as a pilot program funded through the Ministry of the Attorney General, but this year, we had to scrounge around for different sources of support."

Rollin described the successful Neighbours, Friends and Family program adopted by Algoma Council on Domestic Violence last year. Its goal was to educate people how to recognize domestic violence and what to do to help. The program was offered as public education to service providers and educators.

"Nine times out of 10, people around a woman know she's being abused, but feel powerless to do anything about it. Or they know he is abusive or are seeing signs of abuse in children. We started the program recently in the Sault to show people how to recognize violence, and what to do if you're a neighbour, a friend or a family member," Rollin said.

But there was little funding available, and the program was cut this year, she said.

Between 2004 and 2007, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service was called to investigate between 1,130 and 1,337 domestic disputes annually. In 2005, when the number peaked at 1,337, police laid 346 criminal charges.

While Rollin did not identify the exact number of criminal charges for the other years, she said that the stats had remained fairly stable. According to Ministry of the Attorney General data, 300 new partner assault cases were opened up in Sault Ste. Marie between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1, 2008.

Rollin, who is the City's domestic violence coordinator, added that the Sault Ste. Marie statistics were consistent with those reported in communities throughout the province.

In fact, the veteran officer said despite a recent overhaul by the provincial government of the court system to address domestic violence, little had changed over the past 20-plus years, in her view.

"I don't think [domestic violence] is on the rise at all," Rollin said. "You just see it a lot more in the news, and you see a lot more charges because of the mandatory charge policy. However, that could backfire too because we are taking away the decision of the woman whether to lay charges and she may not call next time."

Under the new policy, police officers called to investigate a domestic dispute incident are mandated to lay charges where there is evidence that a criminal offence has occurred. And those criminal offences do include much more than physical assaults.

"If somebody steals your car to prevent you from going to work, or slashes your tires, or is stalking you, or pulls your phone out of the wall so you can't call for help....all those things are related to domestic charges," Rollin noted. "The violence may not be directed at you personally, but may be directed toward you in a controlling pattern of behaviour. In a domestic incident, we will lay those charges if we find the grounds."

What this has meant for Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, however, is a huge demand on available manpower. "I can tell you generally the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service responds to between three and five domestic incidents a day," Rollin said.

She said that those disputes between partners take up a huge amount of time and resources for officers. Statements often have to be taken, evidence has to be gathered, and some victims have to be assisted in getting medical attention.

"We only have five cruisers on the road for the whole city, and when we have three domestics going on, with a minimum of two officers for each situation, it hampers their ability to do other calls," she said.

The Government of Ontario has recognized too the extent of the problem. In March 2003, the Ministry of the Attorney General launched its Domestic Violence Court Program in Sault Ste. Marie, as part of provincewide changes.

The DVC Program has developed a team approach to domestic violence that includes members with specialized training from the police, crown attorneys, Victim Witness Assistance Program, the Partner Assault Response Program, probation and parole officers, and other community agencies.

According to a recent Ministry of the Attorney General news release, the program has three main goals. They are: to intervene early in the cycle of domestic violence; to help victims of domestic violence with supports and services they may need; and to effectively investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases.

The DVC program, and new legislation introduced last week to permit police to lay criminal charges for breaches of family court restraining orders, both are steps in the right direction, said Rollin. But they are not enough.

"The penalties rarely reflect the crime. They are absolutely not serving as a deterrent," Rollin stressed. "We are seeing breach, after breach after breach. These are usually a contact breach. It's more than harassment."

Rollin compared the situation for the victim of domestic violence to that of a hostage.

"The police are essentially taking a hostage out of a hostage situation, and we're telling the hostage-taker not to bother them any more. And when they do, we don't punish them," she said.

"It's very frustrating; the crime repeats itself over and over, and the courts are recognizing the punishments are not fitting the crime, in many cases."

Rollin admitted that incarceration is not a panacea, but it can provide breathing room for a victim. "If the offender is immediately out and in her face, the victim often is not very skilled at extricating herself from the relationship," she said. "She can't fight anymore, and she may resign herself that the person is going to be in her life and put up with it."

For Dale Kenney, director of the Sault's Women in Crisis shelter, whose 24-bed facility has been running at full or over capacity for some time, a key issue remains the lack of safe, affordable housing.

Kenney said that the average length of stay at the shelter for women and their children had doubled from six to eight weeks to 12 weeks because of Ontario's chronic housing problem.

"If a woman and her children are fleeing abuse and the woman needs to find income from public sources, the income is very limited," Kenney said. "We have had people stay as long as 12 weeks, but it is in the best interest of the children and women to have their own home."

She said that while the shelter that will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year tries to provide an excellent service and a nurturing and non-judgmental environment, it is not a normal situation. "A child needs to have their own home where they can bring their friends and play freely, and the family unit can be together and have some privacy," she stressed.

"One of the reasons many women with dependent children don't leave an abusive situation is that they are not the one providing the income for the family unit," she said. "It is the abuser providing the income and [women] want to maintain that stability for their children. However, what they don't realize is they are getting caught in that cycle of abuse and dependency."

And for Kenney, asked what would top her wish list, she replied: "What I'd like to see is women who are abused treated with the same seriousness as the law treats drinking and driving. We have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and children today are raised with that mantra.

"We have to start by saying we are going to have zero tolerance for it. We just can't keep it on the back burner any more. People don't like to see it on the Front Pages all the time. But if you were to take the statistics of the number of women and children who are murdered and injured each year, and compare those with national averages for crimes of violence, people would be astonished by what is going on. But I don't think people are ready to acknowledge that it is happening, and it is happening in their backyard. It is happening in their city; it's happening here."

She said it's time too for men to play a role. The fact is that 95 per cent of the abusers are men. "Men can't just stand on the sidelines and say, 'Well, I'm a good guy because I don't do that.' They have to be proactive and they have to teach that it's wrong to abuse women and children, and it's not acceptable."

For Rollin, it is time for the people in power to put the funding into "escape routes" for victims. "We don't put the money now on victim treatment, and witness treatment, and housing and shelter and resources. We're reactive, rather than proactive," she said. "The research is done. The education is there, and the information is there. This is not a new phenomenon. It's gone on as long as people have had intimate partners.

"It is easier to throw some money at the odd program and pretend it's working when it's not."

My response follows:

From: Mike Murphy Date: 2008/12/4 Subject: Domestic Violence Misinformation in Sault This Week, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario To: Sandra Paul <stwnews@saultthisweek.com>

Dear Editor:

You had a lengthy piece on Domestic Violence (DV) in your Wednesday, December 3, 2008 print edition and online http://www.saultthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1325807 which contains factual errors and genuine misinformation and I would respectfully request you to also print my response as an op-ed which will provide balance to the article by Bob Mihell.

Firstly is the statement by Dale Kenney, Director of the Women in Crisis shelter. " She said "it's time too for men to play a role. The fact is that 95 per cent of the abusers are men." This can be viewed as mythology without any valid attribution for this statement which is not present. Credible citations for such gross exaggerations of the truth are important in the serious work of violence against spouses. She also indicates "Men can't just stand on the sidelines and say, 'Well, I'm a good guy because I don't do that.' They have to be proactive and they have to teach that it's wrong to abuse women and children, and it's not acceptable." This is standard information provided by members of the DV industry but she also needs to wake up to the fact this is not a one sided single gender issue.

Sgt. Rollins, the Sault Police Service point person for DV is right that DV is not increasing, in fact a decrease is evident over time nationally, according to Statistics Canada and shown in the chart below.

Five Year rates of spousal Assault 1993, 1999, 2004

5 year rates of spousal assault stats can.gif

Keep in mind as well that this information is from a broad Social Survey not only those reported by a subset of police services across Canada and is far more comprehensive. The iceberg is visible and not pretty but it is what is not reported to police that is the real eye opener and I will show you more of that below. I will also point out now the article is incredibly gender biased but that is the way it is often portrayed by the media and those deeply immersed in the DV Industry.

Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2005, a comprehensive report from Stats Can shows an estimated 7% of women and 6% of men representing 653,000 women and 546,000 men in a current or previous spousal relationship encountered spousal violence during the five years up to and including 2004. You can find the report at this link. Http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050714/d050714a.htm

The above chart shows in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available, that 6% of men are assaulted by their female spouses compared to 7% of females.

For every 6 battered women there are 5 battered men in Canada Men form more than 65% of the victims of violence in Canada For every 1 murdered woman there are 3 butchered men, For every 1 woman who ends her life, 3 men do the same – William Levy-FRA-Montreal, Quebec

In addition US Government federal data indicate 27.4 percent of child fatalities were perpetrated by the mother acting alone and an additional 11.5% acting with another who is not the biological father. That is a 38.9% of all fatalities in 2006. Fathers were responsible for 13.1 % alone and 1.5% with another not the biological mother for a total of 14.6%. That is a significant difference. The trend is the same in Canada.

In the same year 39.9 percent of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; 6.1% by the mother and another not the biological father for a total 57.5% rate of abuse. 17.6 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone and 1% by the father and another for a total of 18.6%. Abuse rates by mothers are significantly higher than for a father.

Victims by Perpetrator Relationship, 2006
Perpetrator Relationships of Child Fatalities, 2006

The data for years prior show similar patterns and are available for viewing at this link. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/index.htm

It is necessary for all participants in the DV industry, including important members like Rollins in the Police Service, to understand the big picture not a one sided, one dimensional, single gender viewpoint.

Dr Don Dutton, Professor of Psychology, University of British Columbia is quoted "Domestic violence 'research' has been misleading, in that data has been extracted from crime reports and/or 'crime victim surveys – in which men under report more than women – and have been publicized as indicating domestic violence is a gender issue (male-perpetrator/female-victims). In fact, when larger surveys with representative samples are examined, perpetration of domestic violence perpetration is slightly more common for females..."

Dr. Dutton is a well known and credible Canadian professional with great expertise in the study an analysis of DV.

Out of the more than 500 shelters in Canada not one provides support for battered men that I have been able to discern from my involvement in the National Fathers Rights movement. As a battered man and father I can attest there are no services for me in our community. That is unconstitutional discrimination. Not only that but I have encountered blatant bias by support services in this community. They frankly do not believe men can be abused.

Why the differences between police reported DV incidents and the survey reports? Men, and I can speak to this with experience, are socialized to internalize and "suck up" abuse. We do not want to demonstrate to others we are in pain or weak, when in fact, the pain may be overwhelming. We do not, for similar reasons, want to let others know we are fearful even in a life threatening situation, as witnessed by those police officers and firefighters, very likely all men, entering the twin towers of the World Trade Centre before they collapsed Men often resort to black humour to shrug off the danger. Men do not want to have to face their colleagues for a perceived lack of manliness. In simple terms pride plays a lead role in most men not reporting DV from their female spouse. I also include emotional and financial abuse as areas that can be very debilitating. When those two plus physical abuse are added it is nothing short of torture for any spouse male or female and the impacts on children are intolerable.

Another one which I pondered greatly as I was a stay-at-home dad due to the abuse I received was the issue of loss of the children. A dad in an abusive situation knows if he leaves his children they may be exposed to DV or other forms of emotional abuse and if he takes them with him - where could he go! He will have fear the tables will be turned and he could be accused of kidnapping or falsely accused of abuse, which is very common. You have all read in the paper or seen on TV the Amber alerts issued. Some may well be related to a dad fleeing a DV situation but it is not painted that way by the media. When you see them cancelled with little further explanation suspect the latter. He is in a lose-lose situation as most contested and uncontested custody cases go to the female partner. The ratio of this is over 9-1 in favour of the mom. As I feared I lost custody of my children due to false allegations of abuse. The family court system and its support services including the local DV shelter clearly think men are inherently violent and are highly biased toward females. Part of the indoctrination process at this shelter and others tends toward misandry as part of the so called "healing" process.

How many women are actually in these shelters because of DV; how many are in them for addictions; how many are either planning or being instructed on how to get an ex parte order to nail hubby while he sleeps based on false allegations; are they coached on how to do this in these shelters; how many are in there because they are hiding from legal pursuits of them; how many are "passing through" while traveling. The addicts, whether chemical or alcoholic, are some of the most abusive sometimes going to these shelters for a time-out before heading back home to continue the abuse. If a woman walks in ands says she is there because of abuse she is believed. That is just the way the system is set up everywhere. It need not be true. I think an accounting and operational audit of these facilities should be part and parcel of their ability to obtain tax funds. There is no doubt many women are there because they have no recourse and are subject to abuse but it casts a pall over them if many are there for other reasons. They are emergency shelters - so called - for Domestic Violence - at least in terms of the marketing of them to get tax funding. They are currently discriminating against men and their children.

Until DV is treated as a family problem rather than a female victim/male perpetrator we cannot expect much to change. Rollins noted it has been going on for a very long time with no end in site. Resources need to be spent on trying to salvage a family caught in the trauma of disputes holistically rather than all women are victims. I often wonder if that had been available to my family whether things would have worked out differently. How about a court order process requiring all family members into counselling and if the perpetrator does not respond in a timely manner then the criminal process kicks in? We know the downstream impacts of the current process with destroyed families, criminal records, loss of jobs, poverty, and increased social problems of children in single family homes. In fact children learn from their parents and the cycle becomes multi-generational. If such a system existed early warnings, as part of an education process, would allow the victimized spouse or child to seek counsel and have the family brought into a healthy counselling process before things got out of hand. It would be far more proactive and preventative. As Rollins points out they have limited resources to police the whole community and before it becomes a police action we should look for other alternatives. Note I say family not a single gender. That may reduce the fear factor of a non-working spouse and have them make the move earlier with a chance to salvage the relationship and family.

The trends are in favour of men never marrying and having children to avoid the consequences of a failed marriage which in 90% of cases means loss of his children, loss of a great deal of his income, probable loss of the family home, intense emotional grief, and a much higher suicide rate within 3 years of separation. A colleague, Gregory Eisenhauer of Alpharetta, Georgia in the fathers rights movement killed himself on November 30, 2008 after having access to his children reduced to visitor status of 15%, amongst other penalties in family court based on false allegations of abuse. The judge in this case was also his executioner. This trend to marrying is decreasing and was born out in the 2006 census where for the first time married status is in the minority.

That is a very unhealthy prospect for our nation as marriage and families are the bedrock of our civilization. All studies point to the fact that marriage, with a mother and a father is the very best environment for our children. It's not working currently and more and more appears to be spent on direct and indirect help for females only. We need a new approach for both genders given that men and women are almost equal initiators of DV.

Michael Murphy
Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A6J8 Another letter went to Sault This Week from Jeremy Swanson of Fathers Can, one of the main Fathers Rights Advocacy Groups in Canada as follows.
Thursday 5th December The Editor Sandra Paul Sault This Week Sault St Marie Ontario
Dear Ms Paul. with respect to the article on domestic violence published in your organ on Wednesday 3rd December by Bob Mihell ("Education and housing would reduce domestic violence in the Sault") there is a reference to a Ms Dale Kenney of the Women in Crisis shelter. Attributed to her is this statement: "it's time too for men to play a role. The fact is that 95 per cent of the abusers are men."
Could you please let me know in reply where this figure of 95 % is referred to in any statistics and what research or established data this figure comes from? Nothing in any study in any country and especially not Canada carries anything like this preposterous figure. I suspect strongly that Ms Dale like so many Shelter Industry directors before her has simply 'pulled that figure out of the air'. It is not a fact fortunately. It never has been and never will be a fact. The actual research for domestic violence in Canada over man years shows the rate of male on female and female on male violence to be closer to 53% to 47% respectively. Sadly your reporter has been misled and has at the same time failed to check his sources thoroughly. I am not aware of any Sault St Marie- based research, published or unpublished which records these figures as published in your paper and it is surely alarming that your readers are being subjected to such outrageous falsehoods. The credibility of your newspaper and your reporter have unfortunately been severely compromised. Would you be so kind as to urgently let me know the source of these statistics and why your reporter would submit a story for publication which is so clearly false? I look forward to your earliest possible reply.
Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Swanson Director: FathersCan Ottawa

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