For Immediate Release
BOSTON, March 5 -- Are women really as victimized as some want us to believe? The Fatherhood Coalition, a Massachusetts, non-profit organization advocating for fatherhood, maintains that the multi-million dollar, publicly-funded, battered women's industry intentionally cooks the books on spousal abuse, and that they are a socially destructive industry benefiting from highly exaggerated accounts of female victimization.
Attorney General Tom Reilly's legislation to restrict public access to domestic restraining (209A) orders is an attempt to stifle legitimate inquiry into the use and long-term effects of abuse protection orders in Massachusetts.
Steve Basile, a software engineer with a Masters degree in Mathematics from the University of Lowell, and Co-Director of the North Central chapter of the Fatherhood Coalition, is the designer and implementer of the study that prompted this proposed legislation.
Basile is undertaking an analysis of restraining orders filed in Gardner District Court. Rather than using statistical methodology to screen for a data sample that would yield a predetermined result, Basile chose to collect all of the orders and supporting collateral from one year, 1997.
The Fatherhood Coalition maintains that AG Reilly's attempt to stifle this legitimate study is evidence of a conspiracy of silence regarding the widespread abuse of restraining orders.
According to Basile,
"It would be a political embarrassment to Governor Cellucci and Tom Reilly if the public discovered that the abuse of 209A is widespread. Denying the problem will not make it go away."
All pertinent information that can be gleaned from the court documents is entered into a database. Along with the analysis of the data, the study will survey litigants-defendants and plaintiffs-by telephone. The survey is conducted in a thoroughly professional manner. Participation is, of course, voluntary. Respondents can choose not to be involved at all, or to answer as many of the questions as they like.
In an effort to avoid any possibility of antagonizing victims, female litigants will only be contacted by women. Reilly's claim that the Fatherhood Coalition plans to "interrogate" the victims is pure nonsense.
AG Reilly believes legislation to restrict public access to the court documents is necessary to protect victims, but as Basile points out, victims can check a box on restraining order applications to maintain their confidentiality.
Father's rights advocates have maintained for years that 209A orders are routinely abused by women against innocent men for a variety of reasons. Because of the sweeping provisions of the law, men can be thrown out of their homes simply on the request of the woman at an ex parte hearing (where the defendant isn't present). A 209A order can remove a father's parental rights, including the right to contact his children by telephone, simply because the mother claims that she is in fear of him. No one should be surprised that 209A orders are the consequence-free weapon of choice in divorce and custody battles.
There has been a proliferation of studies (mostly of dubious scientific integrity) on male domestic violence. The most recent line of attack from the battered women's industry has been that children who witness domestic abuse (of mothers) in the home suffer long-term effects. To support these and similar arguments, the advocates cite the number of children who witness domestic violence in the home. These numbers are simply culled from information on 209A orders. The Fatherhood Coalition believes that fraudulent restraining orders which list children are thus used to validate this premise.
Basile claims that his study is essential:
"Studies such as mine are necessary so we may find out when, how, and why these orders are abused, so that the domestic violence and father advocate communities can sit down together and formulate constructive solutions that will benefit women, fathers, and children. Those in power are doing their best to assure that dialogue never happens."
CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition
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