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Domestic Violence Policy Reform

CAFC has been working for years to reform domestic violence policy to ensure that it is fair and gender neutral.  Too often policy makers, the courts and law enforcement are stuck in the old mindset that only men commit domestic violence.  But this ignores current research and empirical evidence.  CAFC will continue to educate California's law makers and enforcers to ensure that domestic violence policy is gender-neutral, non-discriminatory and evidence-based.

Current doemstic violence statutes do not reflect the growing body of evidence that shows men are also victims of domestic violence.  (See Dept. of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Intimate Partner Violence: Overview, Aug. 2006.)   The California Department of Justice's data similarly shows that women represent a high percentage of domestic violence perpetrators.  (See California Arrests for Domestic Violence of Adults & Juveniles (Penal Code 273.5) by Gender 1980 - 2004.)  Still statutory language continues to reflect the incorrect notion that only men (and perhaps lesbian, bisexual and transgener women) commit domestic violence against their partners.  Finally, in 2005, Congress re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to insert language that made it clear that the legislation was intended to be gender neutral.  But plenty of work still needs to be done at the State level.

Another problem with current domestic violence statutes is that they often deny male victims (and the children of male victims) the same range of services that are offered to female victims. Due to the efforts of CAFC and others, the VAWA was also revised to provide, for the first time, funding for all victims, including male victims.  Congress further incorporated directive language that instructed the General Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct a study of services provided to battered victims and report exactly how many men versus women receive those services. The GAO report was released on November 13, 2006 in a nut shell, the report concludes the VAWA is based on unreliable data because of the analytic methods and underlying sources that it relied upon.

Current California domestic violence policy continues to discriminate against children of male victims because they don't receive the same range of services that children of women victims. This issue has been taken up by CAFC in Megan Black v. California.  Further reform of California domestic violence laws is still needed to stem the use of false allegations and restraining orders as a "divorce tactic" in child custody and property control. Currently VAWA and local enforcement training profiles males as perpetrators and mandates the arrest of the party deemed the "primary aggressor."

CAFC's educational efforts hope to correct this intervention model and establish a more balanced approach to domestic violence issues.  CAFC is co-sponsoring an educational seminar to provide balanced information and policy guidance to law makers, lawyers, law enforcement officials and others on domestic violence issues (see the Pre-Conference Announcement for details).

Much more needs to be done. Please help by donating as much as possible so that CAFC can continue to address these important issues.