Fathers' Rights Protect Perpetrators and Undermine Support for Domestic Violence Victims

The fourth way in which the fathers’ rights movement has had an impact on violence against women is in its efforts to modify responses to the victims and perpetrators of violence.

The fathers’ rights movement has sought to wind back the protections afforded to the fictitious ‘victims’ of violence and to introduce legal penalties for their dishonest and malicious behavior. The Lone Fathers’ Association and other groups argue that claims of violence or abuse should be made on oath, they should require police or hospital records, and people making allegations which are not then substantiated, and those who’ve helped them, should be subject to criminal prosecution. They call for similar limitations to do with protection orders.

Fathers’ rights groups also attempt to undermine the ways in which domestic violence is treated as criminal behavior. They emphasise the need to keep the family together, call for the greater use of mediation and counseling, and reject pro-arrest policies.

Such changes would represent a profound erosion of the protections and legal redress available to the victims of violence and the ease with which they and their advocates can seek justice. This agenda betrays the fact that the concern for male victims of domestic violence often professed by fathers’ rights groups is rhetorical rather than real. While such groups purport to advocate on behalf of male victims of domestic violence, they seek to undermine the policies and services that would protect and gain justice for these same men.

Fathers’ rights groups often respond to issues of domestic and sexual violence from the point of view of the perpetrator. And they respond in the same way as actual male perpetrators: they minimise and deny the extent of this violence, blame the victim, and explain the violence as a mutual or reciprocal process (Hearn, 1996, p. 105).

This sympathy for perpetrators is evident in other ways too. Fathers’ rights advocates have expressed sympathy or justification for men who use violence against women and children in the context of family law proceedings. And, ironically, they use men’s violence to demonstrate how victimised men are by the family law system (Kaye & Tolmie, 1998a, pp. 57-58).

Members of fathers’ rights groups also act as direct advocates for alleged perpetrators of violence against women. For example, one group distributes pamphlets for ‘victims of a false AVO’, giving no attention to how to respond to ‘true’ perpetrators of violence nor to the safety of family members.

Fathers’ rights groups also attack media and community campaigns focused on men’s violence against women, call for the de-funding and abolition of what they call the “domestic violence industry”, and engage in the harassment of community sector and women’s organisations which respond to the victims of violence.

You can read more on “Fathers’ Rights” and Violence Against Women by Michael Flood Presentation in Panel, “Myths, Misconceptions, and the Men’s Movement”, at Conference, Refocusing Women’s Experiences of Violence, Sydney, 14-16 September at xyonline.net.

Father's supremacy groups continue to lobby for bills to criminalize women who supposedly false report domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Now that I'm thinking about it, what father's groups are legislating for bills to protect children from abuse? They are about protecting themselves from these impending threats of false accusations. This shifts the focus and creates the idea that they are the victims.

How does the court determine a false report versus one that does not have enough evidence (unsubstantiated)? What kind of crystal ball exists to see if violence was committed for which there is no evidence? Black eyes don't last forever. All rapes don't involve scratches and bruises. And how many women would go through our court system, in the state that is in, and has been in, and go through the nightmare of forensics exams, police interrogations, psychological exams, attorney interrogations, public embarrassment, partner retaliation, court abuse....just to be "vindictive"?

The fact that domestic is still attached to the word domestic violence is relief enough for the perpetrators. Society still isn't taking these violent crimes seriously enough because they relate to "home," "personal," or "family" matters.

While father's supremacy groups are fighting against domestic violence victim support (and VAWA), it it obvious that they don't give a damn about protecting men as victims, either adults, or boys.

But wait a minute, what about all that effort they spent in attacking domestic violence shelters in California for not admitting men?

It was just the principle. How many d.v. shelters for men do you see springing up nationwide? Matter of fact, would men even want to go to d.v. shelters run by men and with other men??

Fathers' groups are quick to talk about news in which men murder their entire families. While publicly, it may seem that they are denouncing the behavior, many times, they are supportive of the perps, evidenced by the commentary on some of the fathers' websites and also on the media outlets.

It is a strange coincidence though because the majority of men don't condone a guy killing off his family, especially women and children. They are enraged. They are also not a part of these fathers' movements. However, the minority, that are sympathetic to the killers, are those that are part of the very vocal fathers' movement. They are enraged, but for different reasons.

Dr. Flood is correct in that the fathers' group embody the same characteristics as the perps...perhaps, because they are one in the same.

1 advocates for peace:

Michael66 said...

You fail to acknowledge that some women are vicious, malicious and liars, and do make false allegations for their own gain. These (few I hope) are the real enemies of the genuinely abused woman. My overwhelming sense of injustice has tempted me to join a fathers rights group. Who else will speak for me? The family courts? Obviously not! The current system is far too biased against the man or father.
However I have no wish to undermine the protection afforded to genuine victims of domestic abuse, and acknowledge many points you have made.
The most inocent victims in domestic conflict are the children, not the parents, and many things called for by FR groups are valid, to redress some of the injustices, without endangering mothers and children.
There is far too much conflict and emotive language used by opposing groups here.
Constructive dialogue is needed.