Legislating a special category of domestic violence is very much like legislating a special category of hate crimes. Both create a new level of crimes for which punishment is based on who you are rather than what acts you commit, and the "who" in the view of VAWA and the domestic-violence lobby is the husband and father.
A Justice Department-funded document published by the National Victim Assistance Academy established a widely accepted definition of "violence" that includes such non-criminal acts as "degradation and humiliation" and "name-calling and constant criticizing." The acts need not be illegal, physical, violent or threatening; "domestic violence" becomes whatever the woman says it is.
The Final Report of the Child Custody and Visitation Focus Group of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges admitted that "usually judges are not required to make a finding of domestic violence in civil protection order cases." In other words, judges saddle fathers with restraining orders on the wife's say-so without any investigation as to whether it is true or false.
The late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., a big advocate of VAWA, admitted, "Up to 75 percent of all domestic assaults reported to law enforcement agencies were inflicted after the separation of the couple." Most allegations of domestic violence are made for the purpose of taking the custody of children away from their fathers.
The June issue of the Illinois Bar Journal explains how women use court-issued restraining orders, which Illinois calls Orders of Protection, as a tool for the mother to get sole child custody and even bar the father from visitation. In big type, the magazine proclaims: "Orders of Protection are designed to prevent domestic violence, but they can also become part of the gamesmanship of divorce."
The "game" is that mothers can assert falsehoods or trivial marital complaints and thereby get sole custody orders that deprive children of their fathers. This "game" is based on the presumption, popularized by VAWA and the domestic-violence lobby, that fathers are inherently guilty and dangerous.
Congress should not be spending taxpayers' money to deal with marital disputes, and courts should not deprive children of their fathers on a presumption that fathers are dangerous. Congress can help us celebrate Father's Day this year by refusing to reauthorize the costly VAWA boondoggle.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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