Monday, November 19, 2007

Grants for me but not for thee

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) serves few male victims even though it was reauthorized in 2005 to include male victims of violence; in fact, a recent report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) shows that only 3.9% of legal aid money goes to males for legal assistance. Do men not ask for legal help or is it refused when they do? If the latter, it is no wonder men without funds cannot get custody of their kids or do so poorly in divorce settlements. Thanks to Jon for pointing out this report.



Blogger Cham said...

I will take a crack at answering this question, if anyone thinks I am wrong please correct me. Most divorces are initiated by the wife, which means she is the one that consults a lawyer and makes the necessary arrangements to file paperwork first. This also means the wife has her cards in order long before the husband gets an inkling he should be seeking legal advice. Hence, things go better in court for the one who has prepared better. When in a failing marriage, husbands tend to spend more time thinking things will get better or avoiding the inevitable than wives.

8:26 AM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I will add that men tend not to fight back in divorce cases and go along with what the wife wants or they just walk away and let the wife take everything. The problem is, later on they regret it immensely.

8:27 AM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I wonder if there are just a lot of men who don't know this program applies to them.

2:12 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger BobH said...

Seems a bit like learned helplessness/hopelessness.

2:42 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


It could be but isn't that a program failure? If the program applies to men and they don't know about it, shouldn't more be done to let them know?

2:42 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is exactly the reason why I refuse to get married if the laws don't change.

It sucks that men aren't getting the funding they deserve from a program that that's supposed to help men and women. But how much is a little funding from VAWA really going to help men in divorce court? Even if a man hires a great lawyer and tries his best to fight back his chances of getting a fair divorce are slim, especially when children are involved. The laws are stacked in every conceivable way in favor of women.

I remember when my parents got divorced, one of the first things I remember my father's lawyer, a woman, saying to him was family court is essentially a court system built to give preference to women.

Where is a man's right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness when he can have his children taken away from him and be forced to pay alimony with no guarantee of visitation rights (almost nothing is spent of enforcing visitation right) or face imprisonment?

In any society people's status can be measured socially, politically, and economically. Divorce and family law gives women greater status over men under all three criteria. The only way for men to protect themselves is to not get married at all. There's nothing wrong with cohabitation, you don't need a government seal of approval that will just end up gouging you more on taxes anyway.

3:22 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Also, don't you think the last place men would look for assistance in these matters would be the Violence Against WOMEN Act? Last time I checked, it's not called the Violence Against People Act. The name implies the exclusion of men, no wonder men aren't trying to get any assistance from it.

3:25 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger TullimoreDu said...

On Serket's comment: "I wonder if there are just a lot of men who don't know this program applies to them." and in response to Helen's follow-up:

There's a DV shelter near me called Womanspace. I called them once to see if they provided shelter services for men. In fact, they do. But nowhere, anywhere, at any time, have I ever seen such services either advertised along with their ads for services to women, nor have I ever seen services to men mentioned in any article on Womanspace. The bottom line is this: they do provide them, only because they're required to provide them. But as long as they're not required to, they're never gonna tell anyone about them. I suspect that this is a universal approach undertaken by all women's DV shelters.

Apparently, it's a strategy that's working very well.

Someday, maybe one of the VAWA's male sponsors, like maybe my own Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) [cough!! not likely] will grow a set of testicles and demand that accountability measures be added to the VAWA a funding authorization. That way, they would at least be required to 'fess up to their discrimination.

3:31 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


It seems to me that there should be some state funded men's centers that could provide these services. A man probably would not feel comfortable being taken in by a place called Womanspace anymore than a woman would want to go to a shelter called Manspace. Funding should go to these shelters for men with services that are geared towards men. Men will attend such things as a Veteran's center to get help, counseling and services, and I think if they had a place that was hospitable to men and their issues, it would be helpful.

4:22 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I essentially agree with Tullimoredu. I doubt that the people giving out this money want to give it to men and make it as little known as possible. I wouldn't be surprised if they were hostile to men.

5:55 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I agree but there must be some way under the law to require them to do so. They could be sued for discrimination under the law.

6:46 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

In the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith, I recall a scene where he approaches a shelter with his son. He is told by the woman attending the entrance that his son could stay overnight, but he himself could not. I assume it must have been a women's shelter.

Whether or not the producer intended to make a political statement, I don't know. But, it strikes me as a real shame that whether or not a person receives the help they need or not is dependent to such a great degree on their gender that even if they have a child accompanying them who is also in need, that they both might be turned away to prevent the adult of the male sex from entering the shelter.

That's a real whacko way of making good.

11:08 PM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, here in Canada 'assistance' for battered men is often (usually?) a referral to an offender's agency. I'm wondering how much of that 3 point something percent is referrals to offender's and other agencies. A LOT I would think, which goes to the point of HOW the assistance agencies think of men.

The above is likely why the rate of 'help' is so low. The help-agencies see men as scum and treat men as scum if they can get away with it, which they very much can in Canada.

4:17 AM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Rather than make assumptions about how men are treated when they ask for financial and legal assistance at an agency, perhaps someone should find out what actually happens. Anyone know of any men who has gone through this so we would know one way or another whether men are treated poorly or with compassion?

As for the Will Smith movie, some shelters are set up so they only handle one gender or another. Trying to assist both genders with shelter services, as well as clients with drug, alcohol and mental issues would render a challenge.

8:26 AM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I did a post on my blog about The Pursuit of Happyness. The post is seven paragraphs and is mostly on trivia, but I also commented on the theme of the movie. I didn't mention anything about that part, but I do remember it. I made a comment to my mom during the movie and I don't remember the exact comment, but I think I asked "Why didn't they let him in?" And I believe her response was "They probably have other shelters that allow men." He did stay in one place, but I don't remember the details on it.

1:03 PM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Elusive Wapiti said...

"I will add that men tend not to fight back in divorce cases and go along with what the wife wants or they just walk away and let the wife take everything"

Hi Dr. Helen. I was advised by my divorce attorney that it wasn't much use in fighting since I would likely lose (it was NW Florida, and Mom rules in the South) and be out $25,000 more.

I fought her every step of the way. And lost big. And ended up about $33,000 poorer for it.

This may also be why many men don't fight. Because the deck is so stacked against us, and our attorneys know it.

At least I can take some comfort in the Spears-Federline debacle. It pretty much showed me what a woman has to do to be denied custody; at least there is a limit to her misbehavior beyond which the Courts aren't able to excuse with a straight face.

Anything less than that, good luck fellas.

5:13 PM, November 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For over ten years I have been hollering from the tree tops - don't marry. They can't take it away from you if you don't give any of it to them in the first place. They will be forced to make it on their own, just like men. No one to accuse, to blame, to punish. No children to use as weapons against heart and pocket book.

But then the laws will be changed. Single men will be taxed. The proceeds will be spread amongst single women. Far fetched? Stay tuned.

6:41 PM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

cham: My statement about Canada is accurate based on my own fairly extensive experience. There will be significant variance, but overall, it stands.

Without doubt in the London ON area the practice (policy?) is to send males to the offender agency and define that as help.

5:08 AM, November 21, 2007  
Blogger Memphis said...

Every time any money from VAWA has gone to anyone wanting to help men, they have had to sue the government first. The government routinely refuses to allow funding to help males, every single time it is asked. It costs more in legal fees than the money gained as a result.

9:38 AM, November 25, 2007  
Blogger Memphis said...

As for the comments about the Will Smith movie involving his attempt to enter a shelter, keep in mind the movie was based on a real man's life. I was once informed by my employer that I HAD to donate money to the United Way. I noticed how the United Way had a big section of 'family shelters and women's shelters' that it supports. I contacted all of them to ask if they provide assistance to men. All of them said that men are not allowed and are viewed as abusers. ALL of them. There are homeless shelters that admit men, but that is all. And there are fewer and fewer of those all the time, as funding is being increasingly diverted to changing shelters to female only.

9:45 AM, November 25, 2007  
Blogger Trudy W Schuett said...

This is a actually a fairly complex issue.

In seven years of advocacy for unserved victims, I’ve discovered that while it’s true male victims, by and large, don’t want to go to programs called Womanspace or Bright Horizons for Women, even when they do, they are most often turned away. Many men who talk to me have reported being arrested for DV when they’ve asked for help.

Most people think there should be equal opportunity for domestic violence victims, regardless of their sex or gender identification in 2007.

Unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

Almost any DV program will swear they give “equal help to everyone,” if you happen to casually ask. This leads to some bizarre conditions in presentations to funding bodies. A couple of years ago, I happened to be a member of a United Way Allocations Panel when a rep of a women’s shelter insisted that 3 = 120.

Yes, she insisted that the voucher for three nights in a motel they provide for unwelcome guests was equal in every way to their 120 day residential program for some women, which includes round-the-clock security, counseling, legal aid, and group activities. She didn’t even seem to realize that the women they exclude on the basis of the gender of their children (no boys over 14) or their employment status (no fulltime working women, and in some cases, no women with college degrees) made a big dent in the population they choose to serve.

I’m no psychologist; in fact, there are no initials after my name. I suspect, however, that the last thing somebody coming off a trauma such as an assault needs is to be isolated in unfamiliar, and unsecured surroundings. But that is exactly what they do for anyone who doesn't fit their narrow qualifications.

Here are some links to the philosophy driving most of today's programs from the AZ Coalition Against Domestic Violence website:

You'll find much of the same at any state's coalition website. The state coalitons are powerful political orgs that provide "education" to law enforcement and court personnel, as well as lobby for even more legislation reflecting their view of the issue.

1:21 AM, November 29, 2007  

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