Saturday, January 18, 2020

What Is Domestic Violence? The One Year Anniversary of the New Trump DOJ Definition

Yesterday I came across the one-year-old news that Trump's Department of Justice (DOJ) had changed its definition of domestic violence on the DOJ website.  Here are the old and new definitions:

Old definition:

A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. 

New definition:

The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

The explanations for this change appear to be the need to use legal language in that definition.  Perhaps.

But as others have pointed out the change removed any language from that definition which referred to non-physical manipulation, coercion and the general kind of mind-fucking which creates a long-term basis for repeated domestic abuse.

To see what I mean by that, consider what one UK government website gives as legal guidance about understanding the nature and features of controlling and coercive behavior:

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as:
"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional." [Domestic abuse guidelines for prosecutors]
The Government definition also outlines the following:
    •    Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim
    •    Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour
That last quote is not meant to be viewed as the legal equivalent of the DOJ definitions.  What it does, however, is demonstrate how coercion and control are both a form of domestic violence in themselves and how they create the overall framework within which long-term domestic violence can thrive.

The few cases of domestic violence I have witnessed or learned about in the real world all had that coercive and controlling aspect first*.

So why would Trump's DOJ website choose to remove any reference to it?  This could be just inadvertent, but it could also be because fundamentalist patriarchal families might not survive if the male leadership in them could be questioned as control or coercion by outsiders.  Many in Trump's base are members of various fundamentalist churches, and many of those churches preach male leadership and female submission in families.


*  Controlling the victim's daily time-table to a minute, checking the victim's computer and cell phone daily, and gradually isolating the victim from all friends and family:  All these seem to start before (or at the same time as) physical violence. 

I believe that control and coercion is what is always present in the worst type of long-term domestic violence, the kind where the victim is not just physically  but also mentally assaulted and therefore finds it very hard to flee the abuser.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Short Posts On Defining Womanhood And Women's Proper Places

1.  There's going to be a real mansplaining conference

This conference is aimed at us ladies.  The audience is expected to be full of vagina-bearers!   But worry not, the speakers are all men from the misogynistic manosphere sites, and the speeches will tell women how to be great women again!  An important first step is to get rid of feminism, of course.  Then there will be speeches about how not to get fat (1), how to be an obedient wife, and so on.

In short, its a conference about the kinds of docile and well-trained wives alt right misogynists want to have (given that they don't see women as full human beings).   It's a bit as if someone created a conference for domestic dogs where humans explained to dogs why dogs shouldn't be free and why they should obey their masters and eat crappy dog food only and so on, all couched in terms of the "innate biological nature" of dogs.  And of women.

Sigh.  This shit happened when I began blogging, sixteen years ago, and it is still happening.  But fear not, things are in some ways even worse today, as the next piece explains (2).