I have been debating and debating whether to post this Blog and I realized my only legitimate reason to not was because of pure fear—fear of backlash against our law firm—not because of fear of facts. We chose the law to fight for the underdog, to fight for justice and to fight for fairness. Years ago, when it came to rights for women, there was a lack of justice and a lack of fairness. Women were abused both physically and sexually and the popular narrative was that she must have asked for it or she must have done something wrong, or some argument along the lines that she was married and almost the property of her husband.
To right this injustice, laws changed, evidence codes changed, the Violence Against Women Act was signed in 1994, rape shield statutes were passed as rules of evidence in states preventing those accused of sexual assault from bringing up a woman’s prior sexual history in court, so now the accused could not show that because a woman was promiscuous, that she obviously wanted sex on this occasion with this man. All of those laws were meant to right past wrongs. There was a valid purpose and good intentions.
However, the pendulum then swung too far. Good intentions meant the State interfering with private relationships whether wanted or not. Safe houses popped up in cities around the country in the form of domestic violence shelters. Politicians and Judges courted votes from these advocacy groups and all was well if you did not look more closely at the allegations. A woman would call 911, cops would respond, the woman would say she felt pain and cops would arrest the man. And if the cases were that straightforward, the justice system and the strides made in this area to right past wrongs would seem like they are working.
But oddly enough, this did not seem to be the experience we or our colleagues had. The typical domestic violence case seemed to be something that more closely resembled a strained relationship where the couple either could not afford necessary counseling or was afraid of getting counseling for the relationship due to older societal stigmas. This all seems to fall in line with the way many people experience relationships. Psychotherapist Esther Perel in her Podcast Episode #256, “Relationships and How They Shape Us,” notes that, “We talk about the idea that we are not one person but different with each person – and rather than being one-way, all interactions are reciprocal. We discuss the value of couples’ counseling and whether it’s something all relationships, healthy or otherwise, need. Reassuringly, we learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, they all follow a rhythm of harmony, disharmony and repair.”
The tension in the relationship in crisis would then reach its peak and despite all past escalating violence in the relationship from both sides, usually the woman calls 911 to just get her male partner out of the house or out of the relationship for maybe a night or two. The man gets arrested and then the woman tries to bail him out not wanting the relationship to end. The man will often get bond conditions placed against him if he gets released, preventing him sometimes from even speaking with the woman, thus not able to heal the relationship they have and often want to mend.
Next, the craziest thing will happen…The woman will sign an affidavit of non-prosecution asking the State to drop the charges and dismiss or not file the case. And this is where the hypocrisy of government and this whole area of law comes into play. The advocacy groups and the State who say that women are empowered and have the ability to make their own decisions because of their strength, will then turn to these women who want to drop charges and tell them that they do not know what they are doing. They are deemed weak and are told that this is part of the Cycle of Violence and this is part of the Duluth Power and Control Wheel and that their partner will never really change and the violence will only escalate.
It was these real world experiences not matching the Government and advocacy group narratives that caused us to do an in-depth look at the data. This is what we found:
I credit Jeremy Rosenthal, a criminal defense attorney in McKinney, Texas who published an article in Voice for the Defense Magazine which got me started on this extensive research.
The Myth is that men are responsible for the vast majority of assaults involving family violence against women. That is the hypothesis we wanted to test, combined with a statistic from the Texas Attorney General that as of 2015 28% of men were victims of family violence and 72% of women were victims of family violence.
We have read about the “Cycle of Violence” and the Duluth Power and Control Wheel showing how most people believe that generally men act in these particular ways in abusive relationships.
The problem with these models is that they:
- Presume guilt;
- Do not take substance abuse issues into account and
- Do not take mental health issues into account.
It must be noted that according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, despite
the large amount of arrests of men for family violence issues, the large amount of daily Emergency Protective Orders issued and the large amount of bond conditions preventing couples from seeing each other for months, with regard to these family violence cases, 43% had no injury and 53.2% had minor injuries. So for all the attention paid to this topic and all the harsh measures taken against men in these cases, the percentage of these cases with major injuries by DPS’s own statistics amounts to 3.8%.
The theory that men perpetrate the violence was best exposed in 2007 in an Article in American Journal of Public Health. The article, “Differences in Frequency of Violence and Reported Injury Between Relationships with Reciprocal and Nonreciprocal Intimate Partner Violence,” by Daniel Whitaker, Monica Swahn and Tadesse Halleyesus, tracked thousands of participants (11,370 in one portion of the study), over years who had thousands of relationships (18,761) during this six-year study and what the researchers found even surprised them.
Intimate Partner Violence was reported in 23.9% of relationships. Among the violent relationships, nearly half (49.7%) were characterized as reciprocally violent (both spouses being violent with one another). And here was the big surprise—among relationships with nonreciprocal violence, women were reported to be the perpetrator in a majority of cases (70.7%) as reported by both women and men. Injury was more likely when violence was perpetrated by men than by women, which probably makes sense to the reader.
It is research like this, to include literature like, “Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence” by Phillip Cook (2009) who on page 13, Table 1.3, references 10 other examples of the approximately 200 studies showing gender symmetry in assault, that should go to show anyone reading this blog post that our system has failed by allowing the pendulum to swing way too far to where the police by statistics are more than likely arresting thousands of men who are not guilty of Assault Family Violence.
We are here to represent that population when arrested. We will fight the justice system armed with facts and logic. It is not about fighting for men, but it is about fighting for truth and fairness in a system that has now unfairly demonized men. In a system preaching that most men in these circumstances are seeking power and control, the police, prosecutors, and lawmakers should look themselves in the mirror. We are here to fight that system.
From your first meeting in our firm, we know you will recognize this is more than what you expected out of a law firm. We pride ourselves on professionalism in and out of court, our accessibility (our clients know they can set up an appointment and speak with us when they would like and will often email us directly about any questions or concerns), and our passion for the law. Contact our criminal defense team today by calling (512) 494-4070 or requesting a free consultation online now.
Steven Brand is a Board Certified criminal defense lawyer who graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, achieving distinction there as a member of the Order of the Coif. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. During law school, Mr. Brand studied under attorney Barry Scheck, a nationally renowned death penalty lawyer and founder of the first innocence project. Mr. Brand is admitted to practice law in the states of Texas and New York and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York (New York City), U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, Navy/Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.