DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MISUSE OFTEN ABUSES MEN
More and more men are coming to Atlanta Anger Management with similar stories as below. Worth the read and reflection for those now involved in Couple Conflicts or involved with an unstable emotionally charged partner.
Please POST your comments and own experience as it will add greatly to this very needed discussion. Change in attitudes, laws, support groups, needs to happen so men have rights and justice too. Tell your story truthfully please. Thank you. – Director Richard Taylor of Atlanta Anger Management
False Allegations To Gain Advantage In Divorce
by Steve Cloer
At first I didn’t believe the stories were true. It wasn’t that I thought the stories I heard were lies or the people telling them were not being truthful, but the rational and logical areas of my mind wouldn’t let me believe them.
After all, this is America, synonymous with freedom, civil rights and justice. I discounted the stories as unusual situations or atypical. Then, I began to meet more people who told similar stories. I still could not rationally believe them. Their stories didn’t seem real. How could they be factual? Certainly something would have been done about it if any of these stories were true.
Because of the erratic behavior and problem drinking by my wife, I was warned many times to expect to become an actor, a victim in one of these stories. Still it was too unreasonable for me to imagine. Too farfetched to believe. I did not disbelieve the people who told me of their parts in these stories. However, reason would not allow me to believe the stories could be true.
It was a shock my beliefs could not recognize. “This is America,” I thought, “Millions of American men and women have sacrificed, some giving their lives to guarantee my freedom, rights and justice.” “You are innocent until proven guilty.” “Due process!” my beliefs echoed. The phrases of our freedom stuck in my mind, implanted continuously since childhood. I recalled the phrase “with liberty and justice for all.” I remembered saying that phrase thousands of time growing up, as all school children in America had each morning in their classrooms and many other places. As my son does now at each of his Boy Scout meetings. Certainly there is “liberty and justice for all” in America?
But my time had come.
I was coaching my son’s soccer team one Saturday when his mother came by the field and convinced him to leave with her after practice. While she was there waiting for the practice to end she was talking on her cell phone with a very serious, business like demeanor. I went on home alone, instead of going to eat at one of my son’s favorite places with him, as we usually did after soccer practice.
Shortly after I got home there was a knock at my door. I peered out the window and could see two sheriff’s deputies. My first thoughts were that someone had been hurt. Naively, with curiosity, I answered the door.
Their first words set my mind numb. After I heard the initial words “ Domestic Violence Complaint” I could only hear a few of the words they said, and they were mixed in the racing of my numb mind. They told me they were here to serve me.
It must be a mistake!
My thoughts raced, searching for the reasons, the source, the cause. There were none I could attribute to this ridiculous charge.
The deputy read on. I could still not hear his words. Life had immediately become a slow motion fog, the warnings of the stories I had heard rang in my head as the deputy read.
Some neighbors, seeing the sheriff’s car, had gathered across the street, watching and listening as the deputy talked loudly. When he finished he asked: “Do you understand this?” I had no idea what he had just said. I answered, “No. I hardly heard a word you said.” The deputy very loudly repeated:
- “If you come near your residence you will be arrested.”
- “You can have no contact with any of the members of your family, no phone calls, no letters, no emails, no notes sent through a third party, you can’t go to your children’s school to see them.”
- “Violate any of this and you will be charged with a felony.”
- “You have twenty minutes to pack some clothes.”
The sheriff went on, my mind went numb again, not hearing his words. I interrupted, “What is this about?” He answered, “Your wife has filed a family violence complaint against you.”
“For what?”, I asked. “You can read it in the complaint we’ll give you when you leave here,” was his answer.
The two sheriff deputies followed me throughout my house, inspecting my every move and examining each item I chose to take with me. After a short while one deputy hurried me along saying, “Finish up, we have several more places to go.” After I packed a few items they escorted me to my vehicle, took the keys to my house, workshop, and other vehicle, and, with the threat of arresting me if I returned, watched while I drove away.
For a moment I felt that I knew what it was like in 1940’s Europe, the authorities had come to my house with no evidence or proof of any wrong doing and forced me from my home and family without any pretense of a hearing or trial.
I drove to an all night restaurant and stopped in the parking lot, shaking, feeling like I was in a dream. My mind was engulfed in a mental fog, working in slow motion, churning with a thousand images running through it. I tried to read the complaint, but I had to read each word or sentence several times before my mind would concentrate enough to grasp the meaning.
The complaint was signed by Judge Gene Reeves, who I had never seen nor heard of before.
I sat in my car all night, staring out the window, unable to sleep, unable to stop the tears. I felt like a man without a country. I was instantly transformed into a homeless person with no access to my child, my belongings or my means of supporting myself. This was the first of many similar nights to follow.
As soon as I was able to concentrate on the complaint, I began to piece things together.
I remembered that ten days before my wife had pulled up into the driveway and came out to my shop where I was working. It was apparent to me that she had been drinking and she had our 7-year-old son with her as she commonly took the boy out with her driving while she was drinking! She was angry, as she frequently was when she indulged in her frequent drinking bouts.
I noticed her angry behavior and was expecting her to become physically violent, as she had many times before when she was drinking and angry. To protect myself, and save my son from observing more family conflict, I closed and locked the workshop door to prevent her entry. I was trying to avoid another one of her drunken verbal and physical attacks. Her primary statement in the complaint was that I pushed her during this incident.
Prudence and the law allow self-defense when assaulted, and leaving the conflict is strongly recommended. The law considers it child abuse when children are exposed to family violence.
Previous to this incident I had repeatedly endured verbal abuse from her when she was drinking, demands that I not associate with my friends, accusations when I wanted to leave the house, and she consistently tried to alienate our son from me.
She frequently became belligerent as a result of the alcoholic binges. That led to numerous incidents of her pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, and throwing things at me.
Despite her repeated abusive behavior I had never reported her. I found the idea of my son’s mother enduring the humiliation of being taken to jail repugnant. How could I allow my son to bear the effects of his mother being taken by the police?
From the stories I had heard from other men I felt no one would listen to me, a man, even if I made a report. If I did report her, and she was arrested, I knew she would likely seek revenge by telling my son how I had sent Mommy to jail. Her intentions were consistently to punish me by attempting to further alienate my son from me as she had already been actively doing. She had already successfully alienated my stepdaughter.
At home I had emails written by my wife to her friends describing how she had hit or kicked me, video tapes of her aggressive (a suggestion from the police), abusive, threatening physical behavior toward me. I had also kept phone contact information of people who had witnessed her abusing me, a police report filed when her mother called me on the phone and threatened to “blow me away.” But, conveniently for her, after she reported me I was not allowed into my house to retrieve these things before the court date. Even my being near my own house would result in an arrest and a felony conviction.
In the papers I was served there were several complaints other than the workshop incident, all fabrications. One such complaint was that “I held her arms,” neglecting to mention that the reason I “held her arms” was to keep her from continuing to hit me during several incidents where she had been drinking.
In my wife’s deposition, taken after the time these alleged incidents took place, there was naturally no mention of any of these drunken affrays. In fact, in the deposition my wife referred to me as “pretty perfect” when questioned about my behavior.
The compliant the sheriff served me with required that I be evaluated by a court-approved psychologist. I made an appointment, paid the fee, and attended the evaluation. I took written tests and underwent a verbal interview. The evaluation stated that there was no indication of a violent potential and that any further treatment or evaluation was not prescribed.
I went to court the first time in my life expecting serious consideration of the allegations to be examined by the judge. After all there is “justice for all” in America. A judge who cared about his duty and who stood for justice would expose the truth. The judge would have fairness, justice and the best interest of my son in mind. My thinking was that no responsible person would advocate a drunken woman becoming violent toward a father in front of the child, especially a person in such an esteemed position as a judge.
My wife had no proof or evidence of any kind to indicate that any violence took place. She had no police reports, no medical reports, no witnesses, no pictures of bruises or scrapes, nothing!
I attended the court hearing at Gwinnett Justice Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, telephone: (770) 822-8000, Case Number 00-A-08605-0, in front of Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchum. My lawyer advised me to play down anything that happened that would be considered violence because, no matter who was guilty, the man would be the one put out of the house.
I made a mistake. I told the truth instead.
During the hearing I was rushed through a busy court system. The judge commented “We have a lot of people here and I want to finish and get home in time for dinner.” The judge looked at me and told me, “Give me your Readers Digest condensed version of what happened.” The judge read my wife’s list of complaints. He didn’t ask me, “ Did you do this?” What is your side of the story?” “Do you dispute these allegations?” I started telling my side of the workshop incident. The judge started writing up the order before I had hardly begun my story. The Judge appeared to listen to everything my wife said and ignore anything I presented. The psychological evaluation was never brought up.
The judge told me, as he had told others that day, “It’s only for six months,” seemingly justifying his decision, as if getting thrown out of your house and work for six months was a minor inconvenience.
The judge took the usual course of “When in doubt, throw him out.” It appeared he never even considered that the woman might have been the aggressor. I was removed from my home where I made my living in my workshop and home office. I was forced to pay my abuser $500 a month and to make the $950 house payment. I was ordered to pay her credit card bill. I was not allowed near my house under threat of a felony conviction.
The 5 th and 14 th Amendments of the United States Constitution, which requires that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law,” was cast aside and ignored for both my son and myself.
My wife had lived in the same house with me for ten days after my “violent act” before she filed her complaint. She had several friends and relatives in the area but apparently didn’t feel terrified enough of me to flee to one of those places in that ten days.
Later, my son’s guardian ad litem (a court appointed person to investigate the children’s situation and recommend custody, typically a crony of the judge) stated in court and in a report that she found it strange that the complaint was filed ten days after the supposed incident. It was clear the guardian ad litem was very suspicious about the allegations. My wife’s lawyer invented the excuse that: “She couldn’t get a hold of me to find out what to do for those ten days.”
Days later I went to the court clerk’s office and looked through the case file. The judge had a paper in the file he was apparently using to take notes as my hearing took place. The notes were incorrect on several subjects; such as I prevented her from coming in the house (not the workshop). The paper was covered with doodles, indicative of the disinterest to find the facts the judge showed in my case and reflects the boredom and disinterest the judge had with the whole procedure.
Because I worked out of the workshop at my house I suffered a loss from several projects I was working on that I could not finish. That cost me thousands and damaged my company’s reputation. To pay everything the court ordered I would still have been $33 a month short after I paid my entire average monthly income. But I was barred from the shop where I derived that income.
Most importantly, my son was deprived of a very good and active father with whom he had a strong, close relationship. All this with no evidence whatsoever! I was able to see my son only because the guardian ad litem recommended 50/50 shared custody, one week with me and one week with the mother. This didn’t seem to indicate that I was a violent threat from the guardian ad litem’s perspective. However, for this to be allowed I had to secure an appropriate residence.
The cost of this residence was $1,400 a month, a one-room motel, for eight months on top of the $950 house payment and $500 support I was forced to make.
While I was out of the house, my wife pillaged my belongings, financial documents, business papers, and computer data. She took what she wanted including $7,200 from the company account. She removed my property from the house, slandered me to the neighbors and friends, and continued actively attempting to alienate my son from me.
The effect on my son was immediate. He had been on a soccer team for five seasons but quit playing because, according to comments his mother made to him: “It is too much trouble and it is too expensive.” In his second year with Boy Scouts he showed no progress with activities involving parents. He stopped doing the things he and I had enjoyed together that provided exercise; walking to school, riding bikes, hiking, soccer, and more. These physical activities were replaced by his mother with watching cartoons and playing Nintendo. My son immediately gained weight, which his young peers teased him about.
The year before, when he was in first grade and I was in the house, he was recommended for the gifted program. In the second grade, with me out of the house and unable to see him regularly, he was recommended for summer school for failing several subjects.
This situation didn’t have anything to do with the family violence associated with my wife’s drinking binges. It had to do with control. It had to do with the impending property settlement. It had to do with a future court hearing and judgment. It was the only way to get me out of the house that my wife hoped would become hers. The charge of domestic violence against me was nothing more than a way to place a face card in a hand that was yet to be played. This was a calculated move by a woman that was experiencing her third divorce, as well as being coached by her mother who had involved herself and assisted her three daughters in a total of seven divorces.
The divorce that followed effectively used the “Domestic Violence Conviction” to maximum advantage. The divorce and the results of it were even more devastating than the domestic violence case. In the divorce I was permanently forced from my home, prevented from seeing my son, and forced to pay my accuser, all with no evidence.
If someone came to anyone’s house with a gun and forced them from it, prevented them from seeing their children, and forced the occupants to pay the intruders money, this would be considered a crime of great brutality and abuse, exploitation, greed, vengeance, and a miscarriage of justice.
Since this happened to me I have met many men falsely accused of domestic violence. The number is surprising. The motivations for the accusations are the same; for the wife to gain control over the property and finances and to degrade the living standards and the emotional strength of the man to the point where he is at the mercy of the wife, her lawyer and the court.
I have seen men who were forced out of their house because of false accusations living in their cars, homeless, or accepting the favor of friends or of a church for a place to stay. These men have no money and are unable to see their children. Some of these men have committed suicide. Some have done worse.
I’ve learned that domestic violence accusations are widespread. I spent the better part of a day recently in the clerk’s office at the courthouse. There was a steady stream of women coming into the clerk’s office for domestic violence complaints. All were women. Not one man came in even though statistics show women initiate or participate in the violence in 50% of these incidents. The women were told to wait until 1:30 PM that day and then they could go to the magistrate judge’s court and he would look at their complaint. At 1:30 there were about eight women in the court waiting to have the magistrate look at their complaint. The judge came in and asked each what her problem was and filled out the complaint as the women told him their story.
He signed all of the complaints without further question or any proof whatsoever, like he was handing out Halloween candy.
I went back to the clerk’s office again and looked at the calendar for domestic violence hearings. I noticed hearings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
When I’d had my hearing, about a year and a half before, they were only having them on Tuesdays. I asked why the extra days and she informed me that the cases have grown from about 20 per week to anywhere from 50 to 80 per week at present.
In my experience, domestic violence laws produce a misuse and abuse of the system by lawyers and unhappy spouses to gain power, increase financial gains, and attain vengeance.
Although men are commonly victims of domestic violence, the laws, attitudes, resources and actions dealing with family violence greatly favor women in a way detrimental to men.
Domestic violence laws are weapons of mass destruction in the divorce and custody wars. A woman can be assured of an ally in the judicial system to assist her in abusing a man. The judiciary has hardened their hearts against men, and fathers in particular.
The imbalance and injustice of the family violence laws and attitudes result in the continued degradation of the foundation of the American society, our families.
The day has come when the multitudinous cries of “wolf” dilutes the pleas of those few who are truly abused. Our society is already undermined by internal strife such as this between families and government. The misuse of family violence laws isn’t just an issue of one person, men in general, or noncustodial parents, this is an issue of the survival of our society.
Atlanta Anger Management do not offer services in Domestic Violence or Family Violence.
Atlanta Anger Management does offer Individual Sessions and Classes for Anger Management, Anger and Rage Issues, Custody Battles Issues, Divorce/Conflict In Couples, Improved Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Stress Management and Coaching For High Conflict Interpersonal Problems.
Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers
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