We are really disappointed with the inaccurate coverage of domestic violence and family court in this Seattle Weekly article. We submitted the following letter to their editor.
We have deep concerns about Nina Shapiro’s January 18th article “Ripped Apart.”
Ms. Shapiro makes the important point that family court is significantly under-resourced, and decisions are being made about “the most precious relationships in people’s lives” with hearings that are far from comprehensive. Yes. This is a real problem in King County and across our state.
But Ms. Shapiro goes on at great length about how domestic violence allegations are used to manipulate the courts against dads and draws conclusions by presenting one side of the story. The Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review has studied domestic violence homicides over the course of twelve years in fifteen Washington counties. Inter-disciplinary groups reviewing these homicides found time and again that―even with the most violent abusers―courts failed to adequately address victim’s safety concerns and failed to understand how abusers’ controlling and violent behavior threatened the safety and well-being of their children. These findings are completely ignored by Ms. Shapiro.
We routinely hear about attorneys advising victims NOT to talk about the abuse they have experienced because it will bias the court against them. They remain silent out of fear that the court will think they are lying or trying to manipulate the system. This silence hurts children.
We agree that family court needs to be improved. But, whenever allegations of domestic violence are present, the focus should be on safety and the best interest of the children. We encourage The Weekly to exercise better judgment and present balanced material on matters such as this.
I just got back from a two week vacation, turned hurricane tour to the East Coast. My parents have a house near the beach in Rhode Island where I grew up. Before now, I’ve never had to sandbag and board it up. It was frightening to evacuate inland and wait two very long days for the storm to pass.
Irene was a storm with a broad reach―requiring a hefty response. In my corner of the smallest state (.00000002% of the area this storm impacted*) I witnessed police going door to door issuing orders to leave, check points to protect evacuated towns, all hands on deck fire departments, every truck and crew preparing for the storm, and then undertaking the enormous clean up. Most roads were passable and power back on within the week. Impressive wouldn’t you say?
This, my friends, is infrastructure.
As noisy as the storm was, Washington, D.C. fell silent. For once, nobody was arguing about the need for big government because it was clear we needed it to prepare for and respond to this big problem.
Some of the deadliest hurricanes in America occurred before the convention of naming them. Sadly, like these storms, the disastrous number of victims of violence against women and children remain largely unnamed and unknown. The enormity of this problem requires an infrastructure that is up to the task. There is absolutely no reason we can’t have it.
Meanwhile back at the coast, I felt palpable relief when I arrived home after the storm to find everything and everyone safe. I am so grateful to our government and to all the people who are loyal employees. God bless this mess.
* I made that up―but feel confident that it’s close.
It’s ironic with Mother’s Day just around the corner, the topic of our blog for last week and this is dads.
Our fathers were the subject of lunch conversation yesterday as three of us regaled one another with tales of our bad dads.
To put it bluntly, they were all jerks. All three drug or alcohol addicts. All verbally or physically abusive to our mothers, and to us. Two of the three died young. Evidently stumbling through life inflicting and suffering pain is bad for your health.
Years after she was grown and gone from the house, one of my co-workers was arguing with her dad about how messed up he was when she was growing up. At one point he defended himself with “well, I never sexually abused you.”
The three of us erupted in shrieks of laughter. That’s setting the bar a little on the low side wouldn’t you say?
Still, as much as our dads were big jerks, they were also smart, funny, hard-working, resourceful. Each of our dads encouraged us, in ways no other man ever would, to try scary things and be successful. Yes, father/daughter land is a maze.
Back at my desk I was left wondering, have we gone down the wrong road to end violence against women and children by thinking we could somehow shove out or wall off all the bad dads? The truth is, even after they die, they still exert an influence. How do we help one another sort this out?