Historic Domestic Violence Conference Includes Male Victimsby: Ray Blumhorst February 18, 2008
"From Ideology to Inclusion: Evidence-Based Policy and Intervention in Domestic Violence," a conference addressing issues pertaining to domestic violence, was held in Sacramento, California or Friday, February 15, 2008 and Saturday, February 16, 2008. The workshop was well attended, apparently beyond the expectations of even the folks who worked to put it together.
Shortly before 7:30 A.M. on Friday, the "Terrace Room" began to fill and shortly thereafter, the room was full, but people were still standing in the lobby and standing on the "terrace," waiting to register. So many people attended this event that an overflow room was opened to handle the crowd.
The audience was comprised of many people from professional backgrounds in government, the domestic violence movement, various social services, law enforcement, probation, and education. There were also people in attendance who were advocates for fairness in domestic violence laws, including gender equal, domestic violence shelter services. Suffice it to say, many people who attended this conference were concerned about domestic violence reporting, and using accuracy and fairness in assessing (and addressing) domestic violence situations.
Linda Mills, PhD, LCSW, JD, was the first keynote speaker and explained, "The Dynamics of Intimate Partner Abuse." As in her scholarly book, Insult to Injury, Dr. Mills addressed the ways domestic violence occurs in interpersonal relationships between men and women. The nuances of interpersonal relationships are many and varied so the dynamics of domestic violence in those relationships are complex, but Dr. Mills carefully guided the audience through her findings. She revealed that there is much more to the dynamics of domestic violence than looking at men merely as Patriarchal oppressors of women, and women merely as hapless, (always nonviolent) victims of conspiratorial, Patriarchal oppression. How could all of those other gender feminist, ideologically based, domestic violence conferences have been so incorrect for so long, I wondered?
The two-day event was much more than just a scholarly research and statistics presentation. Retired Police Lt. Richard Davis was the featured speaker who spoke during the "Mandatory Arrest" segment and offered key insights into domestic violence from his many years in domestic violence work inside law enforcement. In question was the implementation, and effectiveness, of mandatory arrest policies that are designed with a gender feminist bias to target men. This pervasively institutionalized, gender feminist bias, apparently points to a strong need to address domestic violence situational assessment in a revised, gender unbiased manner.
After a short introduction by John Hamel, LCSW, Phil Cook presented the next keynote speaker, Dr. Murray Straus, with an achievement award for his dedicated and highly professional work in the area of domestic violence research.
Dr. Straus then addressed the assembled audience during the second plenary session of the conference. Dr. Straus explained what his research found, when he studied the dynamics of domestic violence. In my assessment, his conclusions differed markedly from the perceptions I had heard espoused in previous domestic violence meetings and conference. It seems, according to Dr. Straus's research, that women too commit domestic violence and it is significantly more than I'd heard reported in those other conferences, infused with distinct, gender feminist, ideological perspectives. I could try to go into more detail on Dr. Straus's research, but will wait until I've finished reading the book he coauthored, that I acquired at this past weekend's conference, Physical Violence in American Families (Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families, by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles.
The entire two-day conference was filled with scholars and researchers of the caliber of Dr. Straus, although not all could claim as many years of work spent in their professions.
The highlight of the conference, in my opinion, came on the second day, when Erin Pizzey spoke. Pizzey was the founder of the first battered women's shelter in the world. Preceding her speech, Pizzey was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Phil Cook, for all of the work she'd done to care for victims of domestic violence. Pizzey remarked. "This is a first." Pizzey humbly and graciously received the awards while seated. Her many years of dedicated service could not diminish the stature of this woman, or her gracious love for people, which became apparent on meeting her.
Pizzey's words were not only eloquent and powerful in describing her experiences, they were prosaic in the beautiful way they conveyed the spirit of a pioneering woman who dared to care about (and help) "all" neglected victims of domestic violence. Pizzey was much more than a pioneer in this area of work, she was also a humanitarian who cared about the interpersonal struggles of "all" those who came across her doorstep. Pizzey did not refuse to help male victims of domestic violence as so many in America's domestic violence industry do. Decades ago, Pizzey encountered many people who were in violent interpersonal relationships, just like those discussed at this Sacramento conference in 2008 ...so why has it taken all these years to bring strong attention to the true interpersonal dynamics of domestic violence situations? What happened to Pizzy's pioneering domestic violence work in the interim?
In Pizzey's own words, her pioneering efforts were "hijacked by feminists" who wanted to further their own Marxist/Communist ideological goals, portraying all men as only oppressors (or potential oppressors) of all women. Erin Pizzey appeared to me to be a woman who has witnessed not only the tragedies of domestic violence, but also disconcertion, whilst seeing her caring work corrupted and "high jacked" by manipulative, uncaring, gender feminists ideologues. The human tragedy she has endeavored to abate appears to have been tragically compounded by those, who according to Pizzey, where in it for their own self-aggrandizement, "the money." Tragically, that "(gender) feminist evil empire," ideological force as Pizzey described it, appears to be the main force running the western world's domestic violence industry in 2008. At the conclusion of Pizzey's presentation, the entire assembly was so moved by Pizzey's words that they rose to their feet and applauded at length. As Pizzey had said in her words to the audience (paraphrasing), "It's a historic day today. We are at a tipping point (in the domestic violence movement) where things will change to note, to include, what we are saying here today." "In the end," Pizzey said (paraphrasing), "It's all about love. Movements that are dedicated to the furtherance of hate can never succeed in the betterment of humans."
A couple of subsequent speakers differed with Pizzey's perceptions on a couple of points she made. Most notably Dr. Langhinrichsen-Rohling (who self-described herself a "feminist"), commented that there are many in the domestic violence movement today who are not, "in it for the money," and do care very much about all victims of domestic violence. I attended her breakout session and found the content of her presentation to be unbiased, in my opinion. I suspect both of these women have valid perceptions, and most likely, differing experiences. It was actually refreshing to see the tolerant way this conference respectfully permitted "difference of opinion." It appeared this conference had higher goals to find: truth, common ground, and solutions to domestic violence that include "all" people.
This short article far from covers the information that was presented at this two-day conference, or the professional people presenting it. Indeed, I saw a few notable people in the audience who could also (easily) have been presenters. I doubt that I could set down in writing in two weeks all the valuable, factual, insightful, information I acquired in this brilliantly put together and presented conference.
The presenters of this conference have done a valuable service to humanity in presenting the issue of domestic violence from such an unbiased, non-ideological view point.
So that I do not do greater slight than I do by not witting a voluminous report, extolling all the scholarly presenters, and participators, I will list the names of those in attendance (that I recall) who helped make this a great, wonderful, historic event.
Presenters pictured from left to right, bottom row:
John Hamel, LCSW, Christina Dalpiaz, MS, Pat Overberg, MSW, Erin Pizzey, Dr. Murray Straus,
Presenters, picutured from left to right, top row:
Dr. Jennifer Langhinsen-Rohling, Dr. Jon Aaronson, Philip Cook, Journalist, Claudia Dias, MSC, JD, Stanley Green, Dr. Donald Dutton, Michael Carolla, MFT, Dr. Nicola Graham-Kevan
Presenters not pictured above:
Martin Fiebert, PhD, Greg Merrill, PhD, Laura P., Tonia Nicholls, PhD, Sarah Desmarais, PhD (candidate), R.L. McNeely, PhD, JD, Moises Prospero, PhD, Myrna Murdoch, Rick Muller, Amy Slep, PhD, Lee Newman, Jan Brown (unable to attend due to emergency), Janet Johnston, PhD, PhD, Marlene Moretti, PhD, LCSW, Jodi-Klugman Rabb MFT, Karen Cohen, LCSW,
...some participating audience members I recognized, or met:
Marc Angelucci, Attorney, Edward Bartlett, PhD, RADAR, Charles Correy, PhD, Equal Justice Foundation, Harry Crouch, California Men's Center, Glenn Sacks, Sacks Media Group, LLC, Don Ray, Don Ray Media, Earl Silverman, Calgary - Family of Men Support Society, Fred Hayward, Men's Rights Incorporated
Lastly, but very importantly, Michael Robinson, John Hamel, Adryenn Ashley (and video crew), and Paul Stroub were all instrumental in the success of this important conference. The importance of their hard work, as well as others behind the scenes, cannot be understated.
I'm sure I will be mulling over much of the material presented at this conference for weeks, months, and yes, years to come. I'm sure that's the case, inasmuch as a complete DVD of the conference is in the works and "hopefully" will be completed and available in about a month. I can't wait to attend this conference again. Like a dry sponge tossed into a swimming pool, there's just a lot more there than can be taken in on first contact.