August 20, 2014
By Kate and Richard Bayer, Members, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania
Each year, we give $5,000 to an organization we consider most worthy. This year, we have selected National Parents Organization and we intend to become regular contributors.
Since 2009, we have worked with six young men who have aged out of foster care. They refer to us as their grandparents. They are all now 26-years old. Over the years, we have seen them struggle to have joint custody or even visitation rights.
The women have often accused them of spousal abuse. Often, the women have hurt themselves to show the police “what he did to me.” The police and the courts always believe the women. One young man, whom we’ll call Roger, had his bail set at $100,000. We hired a lawyer, who had the bail reduced to $10,000 because the woman was a felon. Had we not hired this lawyer, the young man would still be in prison.
Roger is a big guy and she is much smaller. She had pulled a knife on him and hit him with a frying pan. She turned the story around. Because we spent the money on a good lawyer, Roger got off completely. The attorney was able to prove that the marks on her had to be self-inflicted.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. (American Journal of Public Health, May 2007) in relationships where violence was perpetrated by just one person, over 70% of that was committed by the woman.
Dr. Richard Gelles wrote, regarding his work with Suzanne Steinmetz and Murray Strauss, “The response to our finding that the rate of female-to-male violence was equal to the rate of male-to-female violence not only produced heated scholarly criticism, but intense and long lasting personal attacks. All three of us received death threats. Bomb threats were phoned in to conference centers and buildings where we were scheduled to present. ”Domestic Violence- Women are Half the Problem
We had personally met Dr. Gelles, now retired, when he was a dean at the University of Pennsylvania and held The Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence in the School of Social Policy & Practice. He is an internationally known expert in domestic violence, and was influential in the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. His book, The Violent Home was the first systematic empirical investigation of family violence and continues to be highly influential. He is the author or coauthor of 23 books and more than 100 articles and chapters on family violence.
One of our other young men, an African-American whom we’ll call Paul, has been in and out of court for a couple of years trying to get visitation or joint custody. He pays $500 a month in child support, a large percentage of his income for a young man who sleeps in his car because he is homeless. Paul works full time, goes to class every day to someday become an airline mechanic, visits his children when she allows it, but cannot get formal visitation. When she allows him to see his children, she wants more money than she gets from child support!
A third young man, whom we’ll call David, was granted visitation, but when he came to pick up the children, she called the police. When he went back to court, she gave a false address. This has been going on for three-years and David has still not seen his children except through stealth.
We are bothered by stories of women who raised their children alone. We wonder how many times the father was not allowed to see the children. The children are told that the father does not love them and does not want to see them. We know how untrue that often is. We are bothered by stories only of battered women when we know that men are also battered.
Everyone complains of absentee fathers, but it is so difficult to get the courts to allow joint custody, let alone full custody, or even court-ordered visitation that actually works in real life.
We are trying to do our part to help by working with these young men and bringing National Parents Organization to Pennsylvania.
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