Carey Roberts
Abuse bill betrays victims, subsidizes a radical agenda
By Carey Roberts
December 15, 2009

Two years ago Millie Almore was admitted to the SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Florida. Ten days later the 26-year-old woman lay dead, stabbed in the neck by Marilyn Hooks, another resident at the facility. An investigation into the incident found the homicide reflected an "egregious failure of the entire agency to satisfactorily assure the health, safety, and welfare of both its clientele and staff."

Millie Almore's tragic death spotlights the woes that vex our nation's 1,800 domestic violence shelters. These problems stem from non-existent accountability, poorly-trained staff, and most of all, a deeply-ingrained ideological agenda.

One former resident at the Hope House shelter in West Virginia attested, "I often felt unsafe. There were several physical and verbal altercations between the shelter residents." No wonder that so many opt to return to their batterer rather than continue to submit to harassment and threats by shelter residents.

A bill was recently introduced in the Congress to re-up shelter funding for five more years. Known as the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the bill carries a nearly $300 million price tag to pay for a program the federal Office of Management and Budget has judged to be "Not Performing — Results Not Demonstrated."

Regrettably, the bill not only fails to address the systemic flaws of abuse shelters, in some ways it will make things worse.

So why are shelters floundering? The crux of the problem is shelter directors stoutly insist domestic violence is caused by patriarchal sexism — and has nothing to do with dysfunctional partner relationships, alcohol abuse, or economic disadvantage.

If the cause is unfettered patriarchy, the cure is evident: ever-increasing social activism. Researcher Sara Epstein once reported the eye-opening findings of her survey of 111 shelters. While only 25% of the programs declared their principal goal was the "treatment and support of battered women," nearly half endorsed the radical feminist crusade to "change societal patterns of violence against women."

This is how the ideological Merry-Go-Round plays out in practice:

1. When victims of violence come to the shelter for help, they are plied with empowerment propaganda and coached to make false abuse claims. (A former volunteer at the Bethany House shelter in Virginia once complained the facility served as "a free hostel for women with emotional problems if they are willing to hate their husbands enough and are willing to take out protective orders against their husbands.")

2. But victims need counseling, job training, and alcohol treatment, not an ideological rant. So eventually they go elsewhere for help.

3. Shelter managers begin to panic. After all, it's pretty hard to tell heart-rending tales about the multitudes of unserved victims when your beds are sitting empty. So shelters start to advertise, "No proof of abuse necessary." No surprise, homeless drug-abusing women begin to wander in.

4. Now that the shelter is full, the domestic violence lobby can claim the shelter had to turn away a gazillion persons who knocked on its doors for help. So of course we're obligated to cough up more taxpayer money to curb the bogus epidemic of domestic violence.

A side-benefit to this scheme is shelters can continue to turn-away men abused by their wives and girlfriends, disingenuously claiming their programs are already filled to capacity.

The cure for the Sisterhood's shenanigans can be summed up in a single word: accountability. Shelters need to require proof of abuse before admission, evaluate program effectiveness, and make results of these assessments widely available.

But the Family Violence Act continues to throw millions of taxpayer money into a funding-stream black-hole.

On top of that, it eliminates funding from the one area where abuse shelters are actually doing some good: provision of transitional housing. That's right, the new bill axes $25 million for short-term housing and channels it to dating-violence prevention programs designed to get 13-year-old boys into believing they are proto-abusers (ignoring the fact that the Centers for Disease Control reports teenage girls are more likely to initiate the aggression).

Our nation needs abuse shelters to help break the cycle of intimate partner violence. But by applying a $300 million Band-aid to a festering sore, the Family Violence Act turns its back on the true victims of abuse.

© Carey Roberts


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Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

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