On October 28, 2005, near the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, attorney Marc E. Angelucci filed a class-action lawsuit in Sacramento against the State of California and two state-funded domestic violence programs (WEAVE in Sacramento, and DVSAC in Grass Valley), seeking to end the denial of services to men and their children. Angelucci is representing four men, including David Woods, and Woods’ 21-year-old daughter Maegan Black.
The men were denied state-funded services based solely on their gender. Maegen Black says she was harmed by WEAVE’s denial of services to her father, having to witness years of violence by her mother against her father, violence that could have been avoided if her father received the services he needed. Her mother, Ruth, has undergone counseling and now freely admits she physically abused David in front of Maegan for years, even at knifepoint. Ruth supports the lawsuit, stating that her violence could recur anytime and that David will have no place to turn. See the KOVR TV (13) News report video.
Children like Maegen are often the greatest victims in these cases, according to Angelucci. “When victims don’t receive the help they need, the violence often escalates, and children who witness it can be emotionally damaged,” he stated. Studies show the likelihood a woman will abuse her child increase every time she sees her mother assault her father. (See, Heyman & Slep, Do Child Abuse and Interparental Violence Lead to Adulthood Fam. Violence? [November 2003] J. of Marriage & Fam., v. 64, issue 4, pp 864-70.)
More than 835,000 men are victims of domestic violence annually in the U.S., making at least 36% of the victims, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, sponsored by the Department of Justice. Most other studies show that women initiate domestic violence as often as men do. Further, according to the California Research Bureau*, more than 4,000 men seek domestic violence shelter based services every year in California. (*See page 12 & 14 of this pdf)
But, alas, California Health & Safety Code § 124250 denies men the right to receive state-funded services, including shelter, hotel vouchers, counseling and court advocacy. Consequently, male victims are shut out of vital state-funded services state-wide. The only exception is the Valley Oasis shelter in Lancaster, which has defiantly sheltered both male and female victims for over 10 years with no problems.
Oasis’ former director Patricia Overberg, says she has seen men travel hundreds of miles for services because nobody would help them. She states in this declaration (pdf) that she was subjected to “continuous abuse” by other shelter directors for helping men .
Angelucci believes hundreds of other California fathers and children could join the class-action lawsuit. The current plaintiffs are from Los Angeles, Sacramento, Grass Valley and Sherman Oaks.
- STATISTICS ON MALE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
“[A]pproximately 1.5 million women and 834,732 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States” (which means at least 36% of the victims are men), according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, co-sponsored by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control.
The Sheriff’s Department of San Bernardino County, California confirms the above figure on its website and also documents how female DV is serious and is usually not in self-defense.
As for men seeking shelter services in California, this official California government (pdf) report from the California Research Bureau shows, on pages 12 and 14, that at least 4,649 men sought shelter-based domestic violence services in 2003, and one shelter in Los Angeles reported even more male victims than female victims seeking services.
California State University maintains an online bibliography summarizing over 100 studies/analyses which found: “women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.” One of them is the most comprehensive analysis of existing research on DV ever done, which confirmed that women initiate DV as often as men, and also found that 38 percent of physically injured victims are men and that self-defense does not explain the female violence. (Prof. John Archer, “Sex Differences in Aggression Between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review, Psychological Bulletin,” November 2000. v. 126, n. 5, p. 651, 664.
In a University of Pennsylvania emergency room survey, 12 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a female partner within the previous 12 months, often with weapons or hard objects, and the male victims were disproportionately black males with no health insurance.
For a scholarly analysis of the data on male victims, the historical suppression of the data, and a solid refutation of the arguments made by feminists who want to minimize and downplay male victims, see Professor Linda Kelly’s excellent law review article, “Disabusing the Definition of Domestic Abuse; How Women Batter Men and the Role of the Feminist State,” 30 Florida State Law Review 791 (2003) (pdf).
A Canadian government (pdf) report highlights some of the key data showing women initiate domestic violence at least as often as men do.
Patricia Overberg, former director of Valley Oasis, has a sworn (pdf) declaration about what happened when her DV shelter began helping male victims as well as female victims.
Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D., author of “The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence: Male Victims”, originally published in The Women’s Quarterly, 1999, states, “[C]ontrary to the claim that women only hit in self-defense, we found that women were as likely to initiate the violence as were men. In order to correct for a possible bias in reporting, we reexamined our data looking only at the self-reports of women. The women reported similar rates of female-to-male violence compared to male-to-female, and women also reported they were as likely to initiate the violence as were men.”
Even crime surveys, which are conducted by asking participants about “crime” (and thus limit the figures only to DV that is seen as “crime”), now show that at least 25% of DV is against men and that 25% of perpetrators are women.
California men interested in joining this lawsuit should contact Marc E. Angelucci, Esq.
For more information about California fathers’ rights visit these websites:
National Coalition of Free Men Los Angeles Chapter
California Aliance for Families and Children