Letter to the Editor
Bancroft Overlooks Battered Men
By Dan Grubbs, Valley Advocate, February 20, 2003
Mr. Bancroft's views on domestic violence are almost understandable given his position ("Why Does He Do That?", Feb. 6). He never sees the large numbers of falsely accused men who are given restraining orders as ploys in divorce and custody cases. They aren't abusers, don't break the restraining orders, and don't end up seeing Mr. Bancroft.
He contends that women's complaints are nearly always true. But don't the divorce lawyers he characterizes as unscrupulous, vicious and manipulative also have female clients? Aren't women informed that they can spend six to 18 months working out parenting plans and an equitable division of assets, or, if she can claim abuse, she can have the house, most of the assets, custody of the kids, alimony, child support and Dad in the street that afternoon? Don't many women take the deal?
He states that abuse of men by women does occur but is rare in comparison. Perhaps he should read the more than 100 family conflict studies that, without exception, show about equal rates of assault by men and women? For example, the oft-quoted study of Strauss, Gelles and Steinmetz ("a woman is abused every 15 seconds") found that a man is abused by a woman every 14 seconds.
He cites the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court study. It doesn't say that abusive fathers who fight for custody win more than three times as often as mothers. (The report doesn't mention the abusiveness of parents in the study, and one may assume that abusive parents are less likely to win.) The report does state "fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70 percent of the time." Their data does not support the implied conclusion. It completely ignores more than 90 percent of fathers who don't engage in a custody battle they cannot win. It then makes no distinction between cases where the parties agreed to the custody arrangement and those that were contested. The most that can be concluded from their data is that women ended up with sole physical custody in 93.4 percent of cases, joint custody in 4 percent of cases and fathers got physical custody 2.5 percent of the time. A more recent study found fathers obtaining sole physical custody in fewer than 2 percent of cases, in most of which the mother was either dead or institutionalized.
Most men have always been appalled by the behavior of abusers and have never been "on their team." Many of us welcomed feminism back in the '70s with its promise of equality. We took responsibility in the home and cared for our children only to find sexism alive and well in Massachusetts' courts. The current witch-hunt for batterers is just its latest manifestation. Don't get me wrong, as a victim of domestic abuse myself, I'm all against domestic violence, but dodging blows is a whole lot easier than defending against false accusations where one is considered guilty until proven innocent.
Mr. Bancroft promotes misandry with his misinformation -- his reactionary and sexist politics, which preserve women's privilege in the home. Many of us look to a time when men as victims are considered more than the butt of a joke; fathers as loving caregivers are valued for more than their income; equality and due process are commonplace in our courtrooms.
(Dan is a member of the Fatherhood Coalition Chapter of Franklin County)