October 18, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

One of the invariable exceptions to (what should be) the rule of shared parenting is domestic violence. Essentially every researcher in the field of children’s welfare and parenting arrangements post-divorce reminds readers/listeners that, while shared parenting is best for kids, if a parent is violent toward the other or the kids, then shared parental care isn’t indicated.

That’s sensible enough until we remember what is and what isn’t domestic violence. The domestic violence envisioned by psychologists when discussing shared parenting is, I suspect, very different from what ever-expanding “definitions” by legislatures and courts deem it to be.

After all, by now, pretty much any behavior that could possibly be construed as discomfiting to one person or another can now be called domestic violence. Indeed, it’s been over 30 years since a domestic violence shelter in New York made national news for identifying as “violence,” “failure to give gifts and compliments,” at least as long as the person so failing was a man.

In the meantime, “definitions” have grown broader and more vague. Now, something called “emotional abuse” is a thing cognizable at law. So is “financial abuse.” So is interfering in relationships. Never mind that every couple who’ve been together longer than a little while has engaged in behavior that could have been experienced by one partner or the other as emotionally painful. Never mind that a husband begging his wife to spend less might actually have more to do with the family’s financial condition than abuse. And never mind that his encouraging her to spend less time with her junky friends living in the trailer might be an exhortation to healthy and safe relationships.

No, now it’s all abuse if one party decides to call it that.

Of course, all that would just be so much nonsense to be ignored along with “fake news” and another Red Sox loss in the post-season, but for the fact that it has real-world consequences. Put simply, the entire expansion of what is meant by “domestic abuse” has, and has always had but one primary objective – the breakup of the family via the demonization of men.

I understand that the anti-domestic violence movement began with sincere motivations and a real problem to be addressed. Actual violence by one spouse against another or a child should be confronted and its incidence greatly reduced. But if actual violence is the problem, why expand the definition beyond recognition? The DV industry’s claim that, in some way, commission of any of the litany of non-violent “abuse” is the inevitable precursor of physical abuse is unsupported by data and dubious on its face.

Far more true is the fact that, from the very beginning of the domestic violence movement, zealots have claimed that the family is the seat of the abuse of women, that women are better off uncoupled to men, that men perpetrate either all or almost all of DV and that women are their victims. Those who demurred, like Erin Pizzey, were long since run out of the movement with, ironically, threats of violence.

The point being that the anti-DV movement has never made a secret of its antipathy for men, the family or heterosexual relationships. It is in that context that I link to this article (LinkedIn, 10/16/17).

Have you ever yelled at your spouse, perhaps out of frustration or even anger? If you say “no”, I don’t believe you.

For those of us who on those rare, embarrassing occasions have sounded off rather loudly, best keep away from England, since Britain’s highest court has found that raising your voice to your spouse qualifies as domestic violence…

The case involved 35 year-old Mirhet Yemshaw who lived in government subsidized housing with her husband and children. She brought an action against the housing authority for refusing to provide her with her own apartment after she left the home she shared with her husband because of alleged domestic violence.

Ms. Yemshaw had not been threatened by her spouse, neither had she ever been physically assaulted; no pushing, shoving, or slapping. Nothing.

She said that her spouse had yelled at her in front of the children and did not provide her with a sufficient allowance to run the household. She also said that she was afraid she would lose custody of her children.

The writer of the article, Georgialee Lang, understands the obvious.

Rather than viewing this as a preemptive strike in an obvious matrimonial dispute, Lady Hale declared that the definition of domestic violence must change to include a range of abusive behaviors.

Perhaps the justices understood as well that Mom was just doing what so many parents do in divorce court – firing off allegations of domestic violence to gain the upper hand. Or perhaps they didn’t. But whatever the case, the British high court made the breakup of families even easier than it had previously been. Now no one need make false allegations of domestic violence because simply revealing that your husband raised his voice will be sufficient to get a mother primary custody of the kids. After all, even pro-shared parenting scientists agree that domestic violence is the exception to the shared parenting rule, right?

 

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

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