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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Men and Domestic Violence

By Heidi Hiatt

2010 has been the year of betrayals, breakups, and divorces. I continue to be shocked at the number of relationships falling down around me.

While there are two sides to every story, it seems to me that it is becoming increasingly common for one party in a relationship to carry the majority of the blame. It’s like the world is dividing into two camps in anticipation of some great shift, narcissists and those who try to follow the Golden Rule.

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with several longtime friends and discuss their situations. It hit me that in nearly every breakup I’ve seen this year, it is the stable, hard-working, faithful, committed partner that does not abuse drugs or alcohol getting dumped like garbage.

Every one of these people openly admits their quirks and the things they need to work on, but none of those issues are divorce-worthy. Many are normal human shortcomings and residual trauma that can be worked through. I see these people as attractive, intelligent, fun, and successful, but their partners have decided that the grass is greener with more risky people.

Risky is the correct word. I’ve witnessed children being put on back burners to accommodate their parent’s games and used as weapons. I’ve seen how one parent’s hatred of the other conditions the children to become abusive, hate-filled people themselves. It is heartbreaking to see children form bonds and then be forced to break bonds with the people who are cycled through their parents’ lives.

Unfaithful partners are using their unwitting faithful counterparts as child care and their families as a resource to facilitate their liaisons. In one case, a friend’s in-laws had actually been encouraging the other woman’s presence and involvement while their son was still married. Other people find themselves used financially, or being pushed away when things aren’t adding up.

It is not unusual for families to enable a relative’s pathology even when that risks hurting their children. Enabling an unhealthy or dishonest relationship is sanctioning poor parental choices and setting the kids up for their own lifetime of instability. Children are often the last people who matter in the midst of these games.

One person told me how painful it is to watch another woman—the “friend” who decided to “help” her husband and kids at a critical time—end up with her house, her former vehicle, and many of her belongings. Another told me how their spouse demanded the divorce, but tries to control who they see and to keep them on hold in case they want them back in the future. It seems that a significant number of people are practicing this “Plan B” narcissism—if their affairs don’t work out, they want the option of going back.

The lengths that people go to in an effort to legitimize these unhealthy new relationships seem to be part of some sick rush they get by having affairs. One of the most common tactics seems to be blame-shifting, an attempt to make everything that’s wrong look like it’s caused by the faithful partner. Another is flat-out character assassination, slandering or falsely accusing that partner to relieve themselves of taking responsibility for their actions.

Yet a third is embarking on a public relations mission to build their new partner up at the expense of the old. If a person has to consciously try to win support for what they’re doing at the expense of another, there’s a good reason to question what they’re doing. When I see this happening, it reminds me of playground bullies that only feel good about themselves by putting someone else down.

The mental shift that unfaithful people undergo is frightening. They seem to have no genuine concern for any aspect of their partner’s well-being, physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. They recklessly put their partners’ health at risk and play head games with them either to avoid getting caught or punish them for not letting them have their cake and eat it too.

This has me wondering if deceptive, dangerous, or dysfunctional is the new “sexy”. Pop culture certainly seems to glamorize those “d” words—collectively, a darkness that destroys committed relationships. I understand the attraction that bad boys can have for women and bad girls can have to men. In those conditions we are able to indulge our own unresolved character issues and desire to rescue others.

But you can have a healthy kind of crazy, “bad”, or adventurous within a committed relationship too. To me, developing that sounds way more fun than risking my partner and family’s well-being to break a vow or a covenant. I would much rather spend time working on the tough issues in a committed relationship, reaping hard-earned rewards, than flitting around in dishonest, secretive hookups that won’t last.

This may seem like a long lead-in to the subject of men and domestic violence, but the point of mentioning all of these behaviors is that they go both ways. Women are abused, especially physically, more than men, but after hearing friends talk about female-on-male physical violence, control issues, stalking, and cheating, it’s clear that domestic violence is not a gender issue. Abuse is equally wrong whether a man or woman is committing it.

Statistics about domestic violence against men are probably skewed since it is very likely to be underreported. Not only is it awkward and embarrassing for men to publicly admit that they have been hurt by a woman, but many authorities won’t take them seriously or file reports when they do. The “you’re a man, deal with it” attitude, and many stereotypes about domestic violence, run rampant in this country. Men may think that reporting abuse or seeking help for it is a sign of weakness.

Reality is that men can be victims of psychological battering, physical violence, stalking (in growing numbers), manipulation, financial control, sexual abuse, and everything that a woman can. Somehow our society doesn’t want to believe these crimes and behaviors are as serious if they happen to a man.

Our culture has normalized aberrant behaviors in women, such as striking a man in the face, putting them down publicly, controlling them through sex, and allowing certain entitlement mentalities (see Much of this may be seen as valid payback for thousands of years of mistreatment of women, but it is still WRONG.

Man or woman, being attacked by someone else on any level damages your health and your self-worth. It can forever alter your existence and the way you look at life. The denial men engage in to cope with or rationalize woman-perpetrated abuse can lead to entrapment in unhealthy relationships. Men may endure many cycles, even years and decades, of abuse because they don’t want to be abandoned, see winning the abuser back as proof of their manhood, or mistakenly believe that they can love a pathological woman into healthiness.

The most common type of abuse I see when a woman abuses a man is not physical abuse. Most of the material you will find about female-on-male domestic violence is about that. But it is psychological abuse that seems to be the most prevalent form of abuse utilized by women. This may be because psychological abuse is the more subtle form of beating someone into submission. You also can’t get arrested for it unless you threaten their life.

In the 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It, moviegoers saw Ike Turner viciously beat and belittle his partner, then turn around and buy her expensive gifts to “make up for it.” A male friend of mine pointed out that women rarely do that; instead, they rip into men’s psyches and then use sex and seduction as the “make up gifts” to worm their way back into their lives.

That is an extremely abusive cycle because a man endures great personal harm, then is lulled back into a false sense of stability for awhile until it happens again. Over and over some men are verbally abused, taken advantage of, subjected to psychological terrorism, and cheated on, then reeled back in by the “gifts” of what is essentially sexual abuse. These cycles are all about power and control, not love. I call it “Reverse Ike Turner Syndrome” (with apologies to a man who hopefully got his rage under control).

Because of the lack of resources and shelters out there for male victims of domestic violence, a man’s best defense may be to educate himself on the subject. Both sexes need to know how to attract and retain healthy people with the ability to grow in mutually beneficial relationships. Instead, we often enter adult life without a proper sense of boundaries, tend to be attracted to the same type of controlling or abusive person that our opposite sex parent was, and can’t accurately define domestic violence.

Everyone needs to be educated about pathological behaviors, psychopathy, and other selfish, evil states of being that can damage us. Because men are expected to be the tough ones who take care of themselves, they may not recognize or acknowledge such issues when they encounter them. It is important to know what you might be dealing with to save your children, your current partner, and yourself from harm. My advice: read, read, read, get into counseling, and find Bible-based support through church.

One issue that continues to jump out at me when I research domestic violence is how personality disorders may dictate a person’s conduct in a relationship. Think of a personality disorder as a way of thinking that inaccurately colors the way a person looks at life. Of all the personality disorders that seem to affect women’s treatment of men, it is borderline personality disorder that seems to lead the pack. One of the first books written on this subject was called I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me.

Movies like Fatal Attraction and Single White Female are the Hollywood versions of this disorder. From my own experiences, I don’t think Single White Female was too far off. I’ve ended friendships and had other unsettling experiences because of that type of behavior. It wasn’t behavior I could “learn to deal with”; it’s unpredictable, backstabbing, and like being in a constant competition for a Miss Popularity award that I have no interest in vying for.

Some of these women will do anything to “prove” they’re the most “desirable” or to “win”, even if it means seducing or stealing someone else’s man. They get a thrill out of disrupting or slaughtering other people’s committed relationships, much the same as the rush some serial killers get when they take a life.

Alcoholism and substance abuse is common among borderlines, and in their private lives, many are emotionally immature, never progressing beyond a junior high emotional intelligence level.

These women have an empty spot inside of them that is never filled, and their behavior may become more dangerous and erratic with time. It may also become less obvious with time because they’re well-practiced.

If you try to leave them, though, you may soon find yourself looking down the barrel of the “if I can’t have you, no one can” mindset. They’re also the ones who will leave you of their own accord, but come back as soon as they see you having a serious relationship with someone else.

Some of these women might be fine with an open marriage or open relationship concept in which you are the emotional support, the “rock”, or even a sort of parent that they always come back to. But they want the freedom of seeing other people as well, whether they do that behind your back or coerce you into it.

Women like this will use anyone and anything to keep their targets at their beck and call regardless of the cost to others. Some borderline behavior overlaps with sociopathic behavior to the extent that experts have coined a new term for such people, borderpaths. Life is all about them, and they want men who will kowtow to that. They often purposefully latch onto nice and generous men believing that they will be easy to manipulate. That’s not love, that’s slavery. That’s sick.

If any of this sounds familiar, the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, and more information, is at I’d also recommend the book Sometimes I Act Crazy, below. While I do not advocate breaking up a marriage just because someone has mental issues (don’t we all), men need to be able to draw the line when they and their family’s safety is at risk. Unrepentant, chronic abuse and adultery can be valid grounds for divorce, sad as divorce is.

Men, although you may think that you have to tolerate certain behaviors because of your sex, please remember that abuse is not biblical. It’s not God’s way. This is not what He wants for you. You were created to, as I said in another post, live adventurously, love passionately, and accomplish feats that no one before you or after you can.

Abuse molds you into who someone else wants you to be, not who God wants you to be. It robs you of your strength and dignity, and it prevents your family from experiencing your authentic self. Your children especially need a consistent, healthy role model that will set the standard for their relationships.

Children are little sponges who thirstily absorb your example, and the legacy you create for them is important. It’s been said that children are messages you send to a time you will not see. Your current circumstances may be setting the stage for your great-great-grandchildren’s lives.

That’s a sobering thought. But a quick look at our own family’s histories might show that to be true already. We are the people who have to stop the dysfunction with this generation and raise the bar.

In a world of James 1:8s—double-minded people who are unstable in all of their ways—kids really need their parents to model loving, committed behavior if they are to have a chance at true love without violence.

This means that both men and women need to know their enemy—domestic violence– and get whatever help they need to deal with it. That may mean severing relationships, because you can’t solve someone else’s pathology for them, no matter how traumatic the pathology’s origins.

Lastly, I know that there are those that downplay domestic violence towards men believing that it detracts from domestic violence against women. Some experts don’t like to discuss male abuse because fewer men experience it than women, and even fewer men report it.

No one has to convince me how serious of a problem this is for women—I have been through several deceptive, damaging relationships and have experienced persistent sexism in the workplace. You’re preaching to the choir.

Here’s the bottom line, and I’m turning on the caps lock to shout it out on behalf of the men who have been hurt by it:



When Women Abuse Men, ABC News

Men Suffer Domestic Violence Too

Male domestic violence victim speaks out


The “Duluth Model” Power and Control Wheel, a version for female perpetrators

A Men’s Guide to the Signs of a Bad Dating Choice

Abused Men: Domestic Violence Works Both Ways

Male Abuse

Stalking & Domestic Violence Statistics


How to Avoid Dating Damaged & Destructive Women (E-Book), Sandra L. Brown

Sometimes I Act Crazy: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder, Jerold Kreisman and Hal Strauss

Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, Philip Cook

Women Who Love Psychopaths, 2nd Edition, Sandra L. Brown
I recommend this book for men? Yes. Men can absolutely be victims of female psychopaths. The material presented in this book can go either way despite the title.

Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t, Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Too Nice for Your Own Good: How to Stop Making 9 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes, Duke Robinson

Hold on to Your NUTs: The Relationship Manual for Men, Wayne Levine
(NUTs = Non-Negotiable Unalterable Terms)

Boundaries: When to Say YES When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life, Henry Cloud and John Townsend

The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout

Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You, Susan Forward and Donna Frazier

In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, George K. Simon

Venus: The Dark Side, Roy Sheppard and Mary T. Cleary (I have not read this, but it sounds like someone has finally come out with a book about female sociopaths. Hopefully it’s respectful.)

Love Must Be Tough, James Dobson

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence, Gavin de Becker

Please note that most of these books are secular, but I include them because I have yet to find equivalents in the faith-based realm. Obviously if any content runs counter to your Christian beliefs, disregard it, and keep only what’s worth keeping.


Whatever I do for my spouse, I do it to Christ as well. –Emerson Eggerichs

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Voice Actress Amy Robinson Creates Domestic Violence PSAs

Amy Robinson, Voice Actress, ImaginePublicity

Many organizations, advocates and citizens across the country are promoting national Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October raising awareness and educating the public about the nuances of violence in the home using traditional gatherings, events and speeches.
One woman who thinks outside the box has taken awareness a step further by creating FREE public service announcements to be used by any radio host, podcaster, or any means of broadcasting.
Amy Robinson has a stake in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, losing her sister to murder in 2011She created the blog, Justice for Nique, in memory of her murdered sister as a way of releasing her own emotions and being a resource for others.
Dominique “Niqué” Chatham Leili was murdered in July, 2011. Her husband, Matthew, is the only suspect. Her body was found concealed in the woods near the entrance to her subdivision in Lawrenceville, GA. Her husband has fled the state, and taken their two young daughters, Amanda and Rebecca, with him. This blog is to fight for Niqué’s memory – to provide a voice – to tell the truth so that one day her daughters have a record of who their mother really was and how much she sacrificed for them.
Amy had an idea to create the PSAs and put the idea out to her group and was surprised at the number of volunteers who stepped up to make her dream a reality.

These are PSAs for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you are in broadcasting, podcasting, or radio of any sort, please feel free and encouraged to download and distribute these freely. 

  1. He Says I Am…
  2. Kids Of Abuse
  3. Psychological Abuse
  4. Violent Relationships
  5. When Friends See Violence

The following amazing and talented voice actresses (and a couple of their children!) contributed to this amazing project.
About Amy Robinson
Amy Robinson, Voice Actress, ImaginePublicity
Amy Robinson
“The girl next door with the smile you can hear.”
With a character for every occasion, and a voice that’s easy on the ears, Amy (Elk) Robinson can bring your characters right off the page.
An actress from a young age, Amy’s first taste for acting was in a school production of “The Giving Tree” where she played the tree at the tender age of 6. She’s come a long way since then, studying Voice Over acting with heavy hitters like Bob Bergen, Rob Paulsen, Della Cole, and Paul Armbruster.
Amy is always looking to stretch her acting muscles, and take on a new challenge. She recently recorded the upcoming audiobook for Susan Murphy-Milano‘s Autobiography “Holding My Hand Through Hell” where she tells the harrowing tale of growing up in an abusive household.
She has also performed in several video games for European gaming company “Artifex Mundi” and is the official voice of NCR Advanced Store’s training presentations.
Amy is currently studying Improvisation at Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta.
Offering a wide range of inflections and accents, female voiceover talent Amy Robinson can bring a variety of characters right off the page. Amy’s voice is fun, friendly, and very versatile.
Visit Amy’s Website: AmyRobinsonVO.Com

Voice Actress Amy Robinson Creates Domestic Violence PSAs

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Cutting Edge Research Can Help Psychologists and Judges Protect Children

by Barry Goldstein

One of the most important research studies about the impact of domestic violence on children began as a project to treat morbidly obese patients and help them lose substantial amounts of weight by eating no food but taking supplements to satisfy their nutritional needs. Some patients failed to lose the expected weight because they did not follow the protocol, but it was successful patients who were the ones to drop out of the program. Upon studying the personal records and interviewing the patients who left, Dr. Vincent Felitti came to understand that rather than a problem, the patients had viewed their excessive weight as a protective factor. They had experienced childhood trauma, particularly sexual abuse and believed their weight would discourage anyone from attacking them.

These findings led Dr. Felitti with the assistance of Dr. Robert Anda of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to create of study involving over 17,000 middle-age patients in order to understand how childhood trauma impacted their health. This became the original ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) research. The first study was released in 1998 and since that time the CDC has sponsored at least five additional studies in other cities that confirmed and expanded on the findings of Dr. Felitti. There have now been over 80 research papers written for medical professionals about ACE research.

The patients were asked about ten different types of trauma in their childhood. The traumas were selected based on their prevalence in the obesity program. The traumas considered were domestic violence; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; an adult in the household who engaged in substance abuse; was imprisoned; depressed or mentally ill; separation from at least one of the biological parents; emotional neglect; and physical neglect. An ACE Score was created wherein the patient received one point for exposure to each type of trauma. The point was given whether there was one incident or many so the calculation often understated the harm.

The fundamental finding in the ACE research is that children exposed to domestic violence, child abuse and other trauma will suffer more illnesses and injuries throughout their lives and have a shorter life expectancy. The harm is cumulative so that each additional form of trauma multiplies the risk. Other research demonstrates that fathers who commit domestic violence are more likely to also commit child abuse. Thus if a child was exposed to domestic violence, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, that would create an ACE score of 4. If one of the parents also had a substance abuse problem or these events led to the removal of one of the parents from the child’s life the ACE score would be 6. At this level a child has a life expectancy twenty years less than a child with none of these traumas.

On first consideration these findings are depressing, but they also offer an incredible opportunity. If society can protect children from domestic violence and child abuse, we would enjoy a dramatic improvement in the health of children and adults with huge financial savings. The initial reports and articles have been directed at the medical community. This is useful because doctors can use this information to diagnose and treat adult patients suffering from a variety of illnesses that were caused by trauma experienced decades earlier. I am now working with Dr. Felitti to use this research for purposes of prevention.

In 1964 the Surgeon General’s report linking smoking and cancer was released. The tobacco industry initially attacked the report and denied the findings. Today the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association would not consider doing their work without a component to discourage smoking. This has led to a significant reduction in smoking and therefore less cancer, heart disease and deaths.

The ACE research has linked the childhood traumas studied to the ten leading causes of death in the United States. We believe that charitable organizations working to prevent many common diseases and societal problems should include a component to prevent domestic violence and child abuse in their work. This would include organizations working to prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, auto-immune diseases, Aids, substance abuse, depression, suicide, eating disorders, PTSD, rape and many other scourges of society.

Understanding the pathways from abuse to illness will help professionals develop appropriate responses to domestic violence and child abuse. Domestic violence involve tactics abusers use to coerce and control their partners. The purpose of the tactics is to frighten and intimidate the victim so she does what the abuser demands even if she does not agree. Even more than the immediate harm from any physical abuse, it is this stress and fear that impacts victims and their children to produce the long-term medical risks. Many common diseases are caused or exacerbated by stress. The stress also causes inflammation which is associated with many health risks. The abuse and stress also lead to eating and sleeping disorders which in turn cause still more medical problems. Domestic violence and child abuse are also linked to depression and PTSD. The laws that require courts to consider domestic violence when making decisions about custody and visitation were based on research that children exposed to domestic violence were more likely to make a variety of poor choices. This leads to problems like substance abuse, crime, prostitution, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, self-mutilation, suicide and depression. Significantly, these health problems and poor decisions interact with each other to increase risks exponentially.

How domestic violence and child abuse harm children is critical to understanding the most effective responses. Some professionals look to individual incidents and tend to focus on physical abuse. In a situation where a man and woman hit each other the professional might make the mistake of assuming the behaviors are equivalent. Aside from whether one assault was more severe, an important question is who is afraid of their partner. In many cases the woman is smaller and physically weaker and so the man is not afraid the way the woman is. Furthermore the physical incident is part of a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior that creates the stress and fear associated with health risks. This is why context is so important to understanding domestic violence. Approaches that look only at physical abuse, minimize the significance of domestic violence, miss the underlying pattern and the impact on the victim or focus on less important issues will fail to protect children from the catastrophic risks described in the ACE research.

The Saunders’ Study: Recognizing True Abuse Complaints

The disastrous impact on children of exposure to domestic violence and child abuse should require that psychologists and judges err on the side of sarety and make sure they can recognize true allegations of abuse. The study by Dr. Daniel Saunders of the University of Michigan was released by the U. S. Department of Justice in April of 2012. Dr. Saunders recommended that evaluators and other professionals receive training about the impact of domestic violence on children. The ACE research confirms the importance of this information.

The purpose of the Saunders’ study was to consider the training of evaluators and other court professionals regarding domestic violence. He recommended that they have training in screening for domestic violence, risk assessment, post-separation violence and the impact of domestic violence on children. Many of the findings from this research raise concerns that court professionals do not have the training they need and this frequently leads to the failure to protect children.

Dr. Saunders emphasized that the selection of evaluators and other professionals to participate was not done on a random basis. He relied on volunteers and it is reasonable to believe the sample was weighted towards the best professionals who agreed to participate because they had greater training and interest in domestic violence issues than their colleagues. Despite this, however, approximately 30% of the evaluators said they did not have all of the necessary training. Even this understates the problem as other questions demonstrated the lack adequate training is far more widespread. Although most evaluators claimed they screened for domestic violence, when asked what tools they used most relied on standard psychological tests. These provide no information about domestic violence which means the evaluators were not conducting any effective screening. Their answers to vignettes further demonstrated inadequate understanding of domestic violence. This is the worst possible situation because these professionals did not have the necessary training but believe they do so they would be unlikely to consult with genuine experts.

Dr. Saunders found that evaluators and other professionals without the needed training tended to focus on the myth that women frequently make false allegations, unscientific alienation theories and the assumption that mothers seeking to protect children from frightening fathers were actually harming the children. Many domestic violence custody cases focus on these issues which means the courts are frequently relying on unqualified professionals. The Saunders’ study found that professionals using these methods create outcomes that hurt children.

The study also looked at what Dr. Saunders referred to as “harmful outcome” cases. These are extreme outcomes in which the alleged abuser wins custody and the safe, protective mother who is the primary attachment figure is limited to supervised or no visitation. These are typically cases in which the mother raised concerns about abuse, but the court disbelieved her. Saunders found these outcomes are always wrong because the harm of separating the children from their primary attachment figure, damage that includes increased risk of depression, low self-esteem and suicide when older is greater than any benefit the court thought it was creating. In most of these cases the extreme outcome was caused by a very flawed process so frequently the opposite outcome would have benefited the children. The frequency of these harmful outcomes confirms the courts routinely rely on unqualified professionals.

Quincy Model 2.0:

Would Anyone Like to Share $500 Billion Every Year?

The ACE research demonstrates the enormous harm caused by tolerating domestic violence and child abuse. It not only reduces the quality and length of millions of lives, but creates enormous economic harm that impacts all of society. Research about the original Quincy Model proves that domestic violence and child abuse are not inevitable and that they can be dramatically reduced by using a group of best practices that are easily implemented. The Saunders’ study provides information on how to reform the custody court system which must be included in order to enjoy the enormous benefits from the Quincy Model with its reduction in domestic violence crimes and child abuse.

A group of leaders in Quincy, Massachusetts first individually and later working together developed a series of best practices to prevent domestic violence crime that became known as the Quincy Model. The people in Norfolk County benefited from this program from the late 1970s until the mid-1990s. District Attorney, Bill Delahunt reviewed the personal records of inmates at a nearby high security prison and noticed that virtually everyone had a childhood history that included domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. He realized that if they could prevent domestic violence crime, all crime would be reduced and that is exactly what happened. A county that had averaged 5 or 6 domestic violence homicides every year had none for several years, then one and back to none.

Some other communities like Nashville, San Diego and Duluth had similar good results with similar best practices. When some of the best practices were abandoned the murder and crime rates went back up. Since Quincy new research and technologies have become available and can be used to strengthen the model. During the Quincy Model some complaining witnesses stopped cooperating after their abusers sought custody in the Probate Court. This undermined but did not derail the Quincy Model because this abuser tactic was less common. Today it is standard practice for the worst abusive fathers to seek custody as a way to regain control over their victims. Most custody cases are settled more or less amicably. Even in cases with abusive fathers the litigation is settled because the fathers love their children and are unwilling to deliberately hurt them by separating the children from their mothers. This often results in a settlement in which the mother gives up resources and financial support in return for custody. The biggest problem in custody courts are the 3.8% of cases which cannot be settled and go to trial and often far beyond. These are overwhelmingly domestic violence cases that cannot be settled because the abuser is willing to hurt the child in order to control and punish the mother. At the same time the abusers are very manipulative and as the Saunders’ study demonstrated the court professionals do not have the training to recognize domestic violence. The problem is compounded by the development of a cottage industry of lawyers and evaluators that earn large incomes by supporting practices that help abusers. Domestic violence is about control and includes control of the family financial resources. Accordingly the best way for professionals to make a good living is to support the side with the money.

Many court professionals are taught to misunderstand these disputes as “high conflict” cases. That assumes the victim and the abuser are equally responsible for the conflict. The courts often pressure victims to cooperate with their abusers instead of forcing the father to stop his abuse if he wants a relationship with the children. The Saunders’ study found that courts frequently place too much emphasis on the emotions and anger of the mother out of proportion of what it says about her parenting. Many court-sponsored committees have found widespread gender bias against women. One common example is blaming mothers for their normal reactions to the fathers’ abuse. Dr. Saunders found that courts are not requiring supervised visitation for alleged abusers as often as they should. Every year in the United States, 58,000 children are sent for custody or visitation with dangerous abusers.

Bill Delahunt created a section in his office to prosecute incest and child sexual abuse crimes. He believed that most allegations are true despite assumptions at the time that children frequently made false complaints. The original ACE study included a confidential questionnaire of over 17,000 middle age patients. 22% stated they were sexually abused as children. They had no reason to lie about this and in fact some patients probably denied abuse because of embarrassment or defense mechanisms caused them to forget. Accordingly we know sexual abuse of children is far more common than we would like to believe. Nevertheless, although research confirms mothers make deliberately false allegations of sexual abuse less than 2% of the time, custody courts are giving the alleged sexual predators custody in 85% of these cases. This means courts are sending a lot of children to live with their rapists. In this context Saunders’ finding that inadequately trained professionals tend to focus on the myth that women frequently make false allegations is especially important.

The same pathways described in the ACE research that cause health problems to children from domestic violence and child abuse also impact direct victims of domestic violence. The Academy on Violence and Abuse studied the medical costs and estimated the United States spends $333-750 billion per year on health costs related to domestic violence. I believe the higher amount is more likely because even in medical settings victims often deny or minimize their partner’s abuse. We spend over one trillion dollars per year on crime costs and at least $200 billion is caused by domestic violence. Many victims, children, third parties and abusers never reach their financial potential substantially undermining the economy. This means in the United States, domestic violence costs us over one trillion dollars annually and should be thought of as a subsidy for abusers. Even the best practices won’t end all domestic violence or related child abuse, but based on past successes, Quincy Model 2.0 can prevent 80% of domestic violence crime and save at least $500 billion annually.

Quincy Model 2.0 is not magic, but just the use of a group of best practices we know can prevent domestic violence. This includes strict enforcement of criminal laws, orders of protection and probation conditions; practices that make it easier for victims to leave; coordinated community response; multi-disciplinary approaches, use of current scientific research and technology like GPS; and reform of the custody courts so abusers can no longer manipulate the courts to gain custody or pressure their victim to return.

Most women will no longer have to cope with domestic violence. Children will live in safer homes and grow up happier and healthier. We will all benefit from a stronger economy, less crime and dramatically reduced health insurance costs. Of course in order to gain these life changing benefits, abusive men will no longer be able to terrorize and control their families. Sounds like the best deal we could ever make.

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and expert. Barry is the co-editor with Dr. Mo Therese Hannah of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE AND CHILD CUSTODY and co-author with Elizabeth Liu of REPRESENTING THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR. He is currently working on a book for the general public that is likely to change how society responds to domestic violence. NOT A PRIVATE MATTER: ENDING THE $500 BILLION ABUSER SUBSIDY provides a realistic plan to drastically reduce domestic violence crimes and 500 billion reasons to do so. To learn more about Barry's work, check out and Barry can be reached at

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What a Sociopath Looks Like!

By Heidi Hiatt

Mr. Baffleberg? My cousin’s longtime piano teacher?!

Yellow teeth bared, he raised the knife in a jerky automaton-like flourish as putrid sweat dripped from his stringy reddish black hair…

Is this what you think of when you picture a sociopath? If so, you’re not alone. This is how pop culture often portrays dangerous and dishonest people– in hockey masks, dragging one leg heavily behind them, brandishing weapons, unkempt, socially inept loners who drive noisy ’70s vehicles with human bones dangling from the rear view mirror– and the list goes on.

Unfortunately these stereotypes have numbed our senses and narrowed our vision. Oftentimes, when we hear that someone has been arrested for embezzlement, murder, or other crimes, we see a particular phrase pop up on the evening news: “he always seemed like such a nice guy.” A clean-shaven athletic man in a citrus-hued polo shirt and neat slacks doesn’t really fit the image of a sociopath that we’ve been conditioned to accept.

There are many arguments about how to distinguish between psychopaths, sociopaths, and those with antisocial personality disorder. Sometimes this is explained on a continuum of violence or in the context of just how far someone is willing to go to cover their wrongdoings.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the term sociopath loosely to describe self-serving human beings who can use and harm others without much, if any, conscience flickering behind their greedy eyes. These are people in serious need of the grace of God.

Only someone who looks like me would dare mislead you, dear.

Readers of my blog–some of whom have stood with me in my struggles against sociopaths– know that in my personal experience, a particular type of sociopath stands out. Whether male or female, these people are usually in positions of power and have a habit of ingratiating themselves to their organizations and endearing themselves to the upper echelons.

When someone finally finds the courage to report their wrongdoing, they are so embedded in the organization that the complainant is rebuffed as if they have a personal beef or are overreacting. It is often the whistleblower scrambling to find a new job or legal representation rather than the suspect.

That kind of thinking is exactly what I want American society to overcome. Sociopaths are often not the obvious suspects. They instinctively know how to bury their misdeeds and burn the people who stand up to them. They have a justification for every accusation. There is a rationalization for every questionable circumstance. They are quick to shift the blame and make any victims or witnesses appear needy, crazy, vindictive, or unbalanced.

These behaviors are disgustingly obvious to those trained to see them, or to those who’ve dealt with criminal behavior in their personal lives. It doesn’t take magical powers to realize when one of these people is operating within your family, church, or profession, but it does require an open mind. We must acknowledge that sociopaths don’t live in a colony of caves they all return to at sunrise, but they are among us each and every day.

Even the police have various stereotypes that they employ while analyzing suspects, like, “if they’re not making eye contact, they’re lying to me,” or “they’re not telling me the truth because they’re nervous.” There can be various legitimate reasons for that behavior and that kind of old school boilerplate thinking can lead to extremely wrong conclusions. Many sociopaths are smooth talkers and some can remain cool as cucumbers when questioned about their actions.

Remember this scene from Men in Black?

To my horror I’ve seen some of these people ingratiate themselves to the police and it’s the police who stand up for them when their sins begin to leak out. We do the same thing in our families– “oh, he wouldn’t do that,” or “there’s no way one of our own could do such a thing.”

How do you know? Did you investigate? Did you involve an objective third party who could offer their take on the situation? Did you ask an expert on the suspected behavior? Why would the alleged victim risk so much or pay so heavy a price for turning them in?

Sociopath, to some, is synonymous with serial killer. We need to get over that. Yes, serial killers usually display some degree of psychopathy, but their profiles and motivations can be very different. The same is true of the people I’m speaking of. While sociopaths share common traits, they don’t all work in one field or eat at the same restaurant or look alike. One reason these men and women are so successful at their game of using others for their own pleasure is because they blend in.

Sociopaths can have families. They can be parents. They might be great parents. They can be attractive. They can be popular. They might be highly intelligent or they might be of average intelligence or below and just know how to talk the talk. Some like to keep their names in lights and their good deeds in people’s hearts; they’re the ones who are always volunteering or putting supposed sacrificial kindnesses on display for others to see.

These folks might practice a false modesty but they are careful to cultivate a public persona that just “can’t be the sweet old lady who embezzled $30,000 from the nonprofit’s operating fund.” Yet every day in the news, there’s someone else… and someone else… and someone else whose family or coworkers or organization finally dared to investigate those curious little question marks that started to gather, resulting in an arrest.

He has your best interests in mind. He really does.

Earlier this year, I saw a list that claimed to identify the top ten professions in which psychopaths work,

1. CEO

2. Lawyer

3. Media (Television/Radio)

4. Salesperson

5. Surgeon

6. Journalist

7. Police Officer

8. Clergy person

9. Chef

10. Civil Servant

The list, evidently, comes from a book by Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton called The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success. I’ve seen similar lists published from time to time. While I see the truth in them, I usually wonder how they came to these conclusions. This list looks pretty logical to me, though, so I’m going to run with it.

What do sociopathic people usually want? Power and control. Money. Influence. Access to victims. Easy pickings. Notice how some of those positions can make great money and some have a profound influence over our culture. Some of these job titles command automatic respect and admiration. Many people can be fearful of questioning the integrity of a journalist, civil servant, or police officer.

But also note that people in these positions can hide behind their job titles and therefore appear as someone they’re not. Priests are expected to be sacrificial and saintly, are they not? Their office in the church allows them to reach many people and do countless good deeds for the sake of Christ. It’s the perfect cover. What a great deal for a dark soul.

The same can be true of police officers. Becoming a cop makes you an automatic hero to some because you’re risking your life for public safety. Many cops are involved in charitable activities and known for their outreach to the community. Some of the same cops might abuse their spouses or sleep with underage girls and boys. Accuse them of wrongdoing, though, and there are those who are quick to hide behind their badges.

How many of us have dated this guy?

Do you see what I’m driving at? Sociopaths frequently place themselves in jobs where they have so much power, such strong union protection, or are so difficult to fire that it’s very hard to successfully prosecute them. They can gravitate towards professions that receive automatic respect. The very job, title, or circumstances that make them seem so admirable can also be the job, title, or circumstances that provide the ideal camouflage for their deviant behaviors. We can and should be willing to look beyond someone’s veneer to find out what they’re really about.

We don’t need to be running about paranoid or quick to label others as sociopaths. But what I want you to take away from this article is that a sociopath might not look or act like what you think they do. We want sociopaths to be obvious and openly devious, but we need to be more in tune with good and evil than that. Christians need to be sensitive to promptings from the Holy Spirit even when they don’t, at the time, seem logical.

Again and again on this blog I hammer on the verse from the Manufacturer’s Handbook that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. I want readers to be TIRED of me saying that. The best sociopaths can be the ones who have you feeling guilty for questioning their motives or behavior at all. They’re the ones people in their circles rush to defend or are afraid to take on. Their crimes might even be blatant but they know that others are unlikely to stop them because of their position of authority, the cost of an investigation, or others’ fear.

The bottom line is that we need to stop stereotyping, stop assuming, stop blindly defending those “great guys,” stop protecting people just because we live with them, work with them, or pay the huge bills they send us, and start acknowledging that well-disguised evil can be very close to us.

There is no island of evil and continent of good. There is evil at our elbows and unless we are willing to call it out for what it is, we are enabling it, lazily letting it thrive and breed.

The wacky thing about those bad guys is that you can’t count on them to be obvious. They forget to wax their mustaches and goatees, leave their horns at home, send their black hats to the dry cleaners. They’re funny like that. -Jim Butcher

Drat! Foiled again!

Heidi Hiatt, MA recently graduated as a Forensic Psychologist.  You can read more of her posts at her personal blog, Truth, Justice, and All-American Allergen-Free Apple Pie Straight Talk in a Crooked World

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Victim Impact Statements: A Piece of Justice

by Donna R. Gore, M.A.

Crime: The Domino Effect

The domino effect causes a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small.

And so it goes… when crime occurs… the dominoes fall…

The Victim Impact Statement
One of the remaining avenues for crime victims to have a voice within the courts is through victim impact statements. Victim impact statements are usually read after trial as a way to get into the record the impact of the crime on the victims along with their friends and families.

Creating the appropriate victim impact statement can be a daunting task for families during one of the most traumatic times in their lives. After the initial loss, the journey through the judicial system can be equally frustrating, time-consuming and emotionally draining, re-traumatizing and bringing grief back to the surface. To best utilize the victims’ right to present a victim impact statement at trial, you must be clear-headed and as objective as possible, which for the crime victim is next to impossible.

Explaining the Overall Impact -
You want to convey the journey and the overall toll it has taken from many perspectives-emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, your outlook on life currently and projecting into the future, your wishes regarding the disposition of the perpetrator, and changes to the system which negatively impacted and/or re-victimized you or alternately, your satisfaction with how you were treated.

Familiarizing the deciding body with the victim… beyond victimization … It is imperative that you provide a complete portrayal of your loved one both visually and narratively, as this may be your sole opportunity for several years (several years up until the point of your initial court or parole appearance or several years until you obtain another opportunity!) Talk about who your loved one was beyond the crime…. Their assets, talents, what they contributed to the family and to others and their aspirations for the future that were taken away…

Expressing Fear for Your Personal Safety- This is one of your Constitutional rights…(Currently in 33 states and under the Federal Statute - Crime Victim’s Right’s Act enacted in October 2004:***The right to be reasonably protected.

Seeking Restitution- Restitution is payment by the offender to the victim to cover some or all of the costs associated with a crime. It is ordered by a judge and usually paid through the Court Support Services Division, or other entity within your state…To request restitution in a criminal court case, contact the State’s Attorney Office or the OVS victim services advocate, located in the court where the criminal case will be prosecuted.

Social Security Administration
Victims or their family members may be eligible for survivor benefits, Medicare, and other social security benefits. For more information, please call the Social Security Administration (SSA) toll-free at 800-772-1213, TTD: 800-325-0778, or visit the Social Security Administration website.

Workers’ Compensation Commission
Available to employees through their employers, workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits and medical treatment for injuries that occurred in the workplace or on company property. For more information, call the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) toll-free, in Connecticut only, 800-223-9675 or visit the Worker's Compensation Commission website.

“Revenge” -Emotional Release Whether you call it “revenge” or “emotional release” or “venting,” there is some latitude given here…as opposed to the criminal court process in which a poker face must be maintained with no emotion allowed whatsoever or you will be banished from the court… It is normal to have emotion and to show your sorrow and anger….

Adding Information to the Criminal Proceeding -  Parole/Pardons Board You may have relevant information pertaining to the defendant for the court or parole/pardons board which can influence the ultimate length or provisions of sentencing. It is important that this information be shared and part of the record. [Ladyjustice- As per Atty. M. Cruz, crime victims are not given the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement during civil trials because the attorney represents the interests of the victim directly in civil proceedings (and could argue for damages on their behalf )… WHEREAS in a criminal trial, prosecutors represent the interests of the State and not the victims directly].

Altering Sentencing Your information could be the determining factor in whether the defendant stays in prison or not. Ladyjustice attended a parole hearing several years ago on behalf of a victim’s family in New Haven, in which following the presentation of the parent’s victim impact statements, the perpetrator was given an additional 10 year sentence!! This also occurred with a friend’s case whose brother was murdered California! You may think that the outcome is always pre-determined… BUT there are those instances in which you CAN effect significant change…

Educating Judicial Officials Regarding Victim’s Constitutional Rights: It is more the exception than the rule that the victim’s rights are known, acknowledged and enforced in whichever arena …. You have to be your own advocate and educate others, obtain an attorney who has expertise in crime victim rights. Even when you “have your ducks in arrow” you probably will have to fight for those rights as you encounter resistance. NEVER ASSUME THEY KNOW AND WILL ENFORCE! …. This writer’s experience is a prime example…

A Forum to Express Forgiveness (In a small percentage of cases) Whether we collectively or individually agree, regardless of the heinous acts of violence resulting in maiming or taking of a life(s), there are those victims who have the capacity to forgive …even murderers because of their strong religious beliefs… [LJ- I say you may have a straight shot to heaven for this more than generous act. Ladyjustice prides herself on being a good person to all those who are deserving…. BUT, she is not THAT generous!]

Related Issues:

In the Intervening Years…..Hypothetically, a perpetrator is sentenced to 25 to 50 years…. Are they actually going to serve all of that time? The answer is “No.” In very general terms, it’s usually the mandatory minimum …perhaps 80% of the sentence in combination with other factors such as” earned good time,” depending on the state and whether determinant sentencing or indeterminate sentencing was ”the yardstick” at the time; whether there were mistakes made in the prosecution and potential issues for appeal and the fact that now…. the rules have changed…. So… law enforcement should never make promises to families about the perp “never getting out.”

What should the family do to prepare in those intervening years? What they should do and what they are able to do are two different matters….

Large proportions of victims put “it“ away in the corner of their minds and don’t want to think about it until and unless they have to... Those of us who are in "the business" of victim advocacy are different, as we have a different personal investment and reasons for staying involved. Those victims who chose not to stay engaged and seemingly “move on with their lives” until the boom drops…they get the call or letter and the dominoes begin to fall ….

A likely scenario is that they suddenly panic…or are steadfast in their anger and resentment…. "Why should I change anything in my life when he is the criminal, not me?"

This is a normal “self preservation type reaction…. They are fearful and angry of the impact for which they have no control They feel that they are not responsible to do anything…for they never asked for this to occur… Thisisalltrue… However, it is cliché… But is what happens when we are busy making other plans. In fact, “someone “must deal with it….

Therefore, a few suggestions:
If you cannot or chose not to be involved with what will occur in the intervening years, you must not live “in a dream world” thinking it’s over for good ….. In fact, that chapter may be over… You must:
Accept the possibility that you may have won the battle, but not the war….
Be vigilant…. You do not have to immerse yourself in crime victim issued daily…. But you must have a working knowledge of the process, your case and the potential for it to “rise up out of the ashes” again
Hire an attorney who is skilled regarding crime victim issues or seek out pro bono legal

Services in your state:

Should I or Should I Not Attend a Sentencing or Hearing?

According to Michelle S. Cruz, Attorney and Crime Victim Advocate, time has not been a true friend to victims when it comes to misinformation by prosecutors and other judicial persons providing advice. Even in November 2013, their attitude is cavalier on this matter, frequently telling victims,(regardless of the type of case,) ”Oh, you don’t have to bother…It’s no big deal…)

How many times have we heard that one and then…. It turned out to be a significant event. Whether for expediency or laziness, victims need to decide if they should be there as part of their rights…and never be told “It’s not as big deal.” Information is power…. Your option is always to have your assigned victim advocate or your private attorney appear on your behalf and report directly what transpired.

How Did It All Begin?

We could not conclude this discussion on crime and victim impact statements without paying homage to the person credited with giving the first official victim impact statement….

Doris Gwendolyn Tate (January 16, 1924 – July 10, 1992) was an advocate for the rights of crime victims. following the murder of her daughter, actress Sharon Tate. She worked to raise public awareness about the United States corrections system and was influential in the amendment of California laws relating to the victims of violent crime.

Doris was born in Houston Texas, and mother of three daughters. In 1969, Sharon, was at the beginning of a film career, and married to film director Roman Polanski Eight months pregnant with their first child, Tate and four others were murdered at the Polanski’s' rented Beverly Hills home in a case that was sensationalized throughout the world.

The killers were eventually identified as Charles “Tex “Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, acting on behalf of the leader of their group, Charles Manson.

All four were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death, along with Lesley Van Houten, who had not participated in the murder of the Tate victims, but had participated in the murder of a Los Angeles couple the following night.

The death sentences were overturned before they could be applied. when the State of California temporarily abolished the death penalty.

For more than a decade after the murders, Doris Tate battled depression and unable to discuss her daughter's death.

The Turning Point: In 1982, Doris was told that Leslie Van Houten had obtained 900 signatures supporting her quest to achieve parole. Tate mounted a public campaign against Van Houten, winning the support of the National Enquirer, which printed coupons for people to sign and send to Doris With more than 350,000 signatures, Tate demonstrated that a considerable number of people opposed Van Houten's parole, which was denied.

She later became an active member of the Victim Offender Reconciliation and Justice for Homicide Victims groups. She founded COVER, the Coalition on Victim's Equal Rights, and served on the California State Advisory Committee on Correctional Services as a victims' representative.

She was part of a group that worked toward the passage of Proposition 8, the Victim's Rights Bill, which was passed in 1982. It allowed the presentation of victim impact statements during the sentencing of violent attackers.

Tate became the first Californian to make such a statement after the law was passed, when she spoke at the parole hearing of one of her daughter's killers.

In 1984 she ran for the California State Assembly as an advocate for victim's rights. Though unsuccessful,, she continued to campaign for changes to existing laws, and was involved in the passage of Proposition 89, which allowed the governor of the state to overturn decisions made by the Board of Prison Terms.

Tate's assessment of Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten concluded that their crimes were so vicious as to warrant execution. While addressing Charles Watson at his 1984 parole hearing, she said,

"What mercy, sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? What mercy did you show my daughter when she said, “Give me two weeks to have my baby and then you can kill me?

When will Sharon come up for parole? Will these seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get paroled? You cannot be trusted”. She confronted Watson again at his 1990 parole hearing.

The Doris Tate Crime Victim’s Bureau

How Far We’ve Come:

Judges and juries care about what you have been through. It hasn’t always been that way.

Victim advocate Jo Kolanda describes a sentencing hearing she attended in the 1970’s:

“I went to court for the sentencing of a defendant who had been convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. With me were the mom and dad of the young woman he killed.

The offender’s parents, friends, and pastor told the court what a wonderful guy he was. The victim’s parents asked the assistant district attorney to ask the judge if they could tell the court about their daughter. The judge said they could not because . “It would be inflammatory.” Then he added that….. “He couldn’t understand why this simple traffic case was cluttering up his court calendar in the first place.”

[Reference: Janice Harris Lord, ACSW-LMSW/LPC For Mothers Against Drunk Driving Copyright © 2003 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, James Rowland, founder of the Victim Impact Statement; Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C]

Other References

Donna2Donna Gore created a service program for crime victims and offers her assistance in creating a cohesive victim impact statement tailored to the individuals and their cases. She recognizes that this could be of great value to not only the crime victim, but to the court system as well.

By using Gore’s services a crime victim can be coached on how to best present their victim impact statement. From her vast experience volunteering in the courtroom, she is able to act as a liaison with advocates who may not have the same experiences. Working with the court advocates, attorneys, and prosecutors, not only will the crime victims’ voices be heard, they will be presented professionally, courteously, and effectively.

Donna R. Gore is a consultant and trainer with the Office of Victim Services within the US Department of Justice. She is the host of the internet radio show, Shattered Lives which broadcasts every Saturday at 5pm Eastern time on the Inside Lenz Network.

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