Obama’s Domestic Violence Initiative: Hope, Hype, and Hogwash

by Featured Guest on November 23, 2010

By Carey Roberts

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So shortly before the November 2 elections, Barack Obama pulled out all the stops to woo the fading female electorate, unveiling a multi-pronged effort to “end domestic violence against women,” as the president theatrically called it. But did the president’s 5-point initiative deliver on the goods?

Let’s begin with Obama’s Hope about “ending” domestic violence. Folks, let’s get real – the only way to put a stop to partner aggression – think Blondie chasing Dagwood with her rolling pin at the ready — would be to separate men and women at birth and ship them off to opposite corners of the universe.

But wait! It turns out domestic violence is twice as high among lesbians as among heterosexual married couples. Well, scratch that idea.

If the hopey-hopey routine doesn’t do the trick, let’s turn to the Hype. And here, Tinker Bell’s magic wand sparkles with a wondrous gleam.

Because President Obama has taken to casting a spell on women with this Abuse Fairy Tale: Take a piece of paper and inscribe the words, “Stay away, you big meanie!” Sprinkle Pixie Dust, and now call it a Restraining Order.

And the would-be ravisher of women will slink away, knowing her magical scroll has the amazing power to ward off bullets, knives, and any other conceivable weapon of mass destruction.

Seriously, there’s not a scrap of research that shows restraining orders deter violence, but this is what President Obama’s “Fact Sheet” claims with a straight face: “Protective orders are effective in reducing the level of violence.”

Once the woman comes to believe that piece of paper will ward off the Abuse Demons, the Protector-in-Chief will conjure up a copy of A Woman’s Guide to Green Jobs. According to the Department of Labor website, the Guide will “aid in increasing women’s access to high-growth and emerging industry occupations in the green jobs section nationwide.”

That and the Jolly Green Giant.

Enough Hype? Now on to the Hogwash!

Folks, this is really the best part. But before we plunge any farther into President Obama’s domestic violence rabbit hole, let’s get a firm grip on reality. (For the skeptics, I’m providing the links below.)

In the area of child abuse, the federal Administration for Children and Families somberly notes, “In 2008, approximately 56% of child abuse and child neglect perpetrators were women and 42% were men.” http://faq.acf.hhs.gov/cgi-bin/acfrightnow.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=70

As far as dating violence, girls win the battle of sexes hands down. According to a national survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 9% of teenage girls, compared to 11% of adolescent boys, have been slapped, hit, or otherwise hurt by their opposite-sex partner: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5704a1.htm, Table 11.

And in a landmark 2007 article published in the American Journal of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control researchers reported 7 out of 10 instigators of one-way partner violence are…can we break the spell?…female: http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/42/15/31.2.full

Scholarly research echoes the same theme: “Women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners,” according to a recent summary of 275 studies by California State University researcher Martin Feibert, PhD.

The evidence is conclusive: Government surveys and scholarly research point to members of the Fairer Sex as the persons who are more likely to abuse. But not a single word of the president’s carefully orchestrated White House event even hinted as to the existence of aggressive women or abused men.

The truth about female-initiated violence should be vexatious to persons who fancy themselves the champions of women. Because if the abuse escalates, it’s more likely the female who will be harmed. As CDC lead researcher Daniel Whitaker explains, “a woman’s perpetration of violence was the strongest predictor of her being a victim of partner violence.”

So in a sane world, we would get more help for stressed-out moms, teach conflict resolution skills to teenage girls, and provide drug and alcohol treatment for violence-prone women. We might even devise a few programs to help abused men.

According to a 2006 Harris Poll, 88% of Americans have seen or heard of a male abuse victim in the past year. So most voters, men and women alike, will view the Administration’s domestic violence initiative as a cynical political ploy.

But Barack Obama is seemingly enamored of a different logic: As long as we can sway unsuspecting women into believing their husband is a closet batterer, we can justify the unfettered governmental intrusion into the private affairs of citizens, and the continued expansion of the power of the state.

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