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Showing posts with label BMCC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BMCC. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MARALEE MCLEAN, BEN ATHERON-ZEMAN & SOLVEIG AMUNDSEN AT BMCCXII!

NAMETAGS FOR BMCCXII!

NURTURED PARENT SUPPORT GROUP AT BMCCXII!

SIENNA COLLEGE STUDENTS VOLUNTEER AT BMCCXII!

BOOKS ON SALE, BMCCXII CONFERENCE!

NOMAS BUMPER STICKERS, T-SHIRTS, ETC!

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MEN AGAINST SEXISM!

SILENT AUCTION AT THE BATTERED MOTHER'S CUSTODY CONFERENCE X11

Sunday, May 17, 2015

ANNE STEVENSON'S PRESENTATION AT THE BATTERED WOMEN'S CUSTODY CONFERENCE 2015!

I first became involved in this issue when a group of parents came to me and wanted their stories heard and asked me to find a journalist who would write them.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone I felt would tell their stories properly.  So I began to take on the task and luckily I have a background in journalism.  For those who are interested, the slides accompanying this presentation are located at the link below:

http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/AnneStevensonPolicy-Solutions-Fraud-Corruption-in-the-Courts_Anne-Stevensonbmccxi.pdf

What I did is I reviewed around 200 cases in CT and I concluded that many judges, many court personnel are not corrupt.  But the question was, what happened when they were?

I asked the question, what happened in your case?  Were there elements of fraud, was violent crime excused, did you lose everything you ever had in your whole life, your children, your jobs, your homes, your entire financial base, and sometimes your freedom.  Some people lost their lives.  Some people walk away with PTSD, depression, severe anxiety--quite simply, their brains don't work like they used to.  Please know, this is not an anomaly.  You are not alone.  

This is the result of my work, the article which appeared in The Washington Times entitled: "CT Court Employees Face Tough Questions Over Conflicts of Interest" For instance, there was the Susan Skipp case where they took her children, knowing she'd fight tooth and nail to get them back, then appointed all sorts of experts to the case who then falsely billed her.  Also about another case where the child had been raped and the child was given to his abusers and mother was denied access.  

What I'd found out was that Judges and attorneys had established a private organization called the AFCC and were operating this organization out of the CT Judicial Branch and were getting federal grants for this organization to run programs and services within the Branch as well as training outside the branch.  So when litigants came to family court, the employees would sift through the cases and find those that would be suitable for their schemes to force parents into business relationships with unvetted, untrained vendors.  

Judges had conflicts of interests and the Court was acting as a collection agency for the GAL's associated with the AFCC.  Judges were calling payments owed to GALs child support, parents were selling their homes and going into bankruptcy to pay these fees.  GALs were accused of double billing, and not meeting with their child clients.  They also charged for hundreds of thousands of dollars for problems they themselves had created.  The result was the loss of parental rights, loss of employment, bankruptcy, bogus criminal charges, jail, and the loss of freedom if litigants didn't pay.  

In Connecticut activists showed that a group of parents stuck with the same professionals and proof that the money doesn't add up can cause a raucous and get an investigation opened.  

What are some of the bases for complaint:

1.  Conflict of Interest:   This is the real or seeming incompatibility between one's private interests and one's fiduciary duty.  N.J. Judge Melanie Appleby conspired with a lawyer to help in her custody matter, then assisted him in his cases.  

2.  Fraud:  This is the intentional perversion of truth in order to induce a person to part with something of value or give up his or her legal rights.   

3.  Racketeering:  This is organized crime which involves extorting money through intimidation, violence, or other illegal methods.  It includes a pattern of illegal activity such as bribery, extortion, fraud, and murder carried out as a larger conspiracy, etc.  Pennsylvania attorney Danielle Ross of Lackawanna County served as a GAL paid to represent the best interests of the child in family and juvenile court cases and make custody recommendations.  She was paid by court and family.  The Court would order her to be appointed and forced parents to pay her hundreds and thousands. Then at the same time, the county paid her a $38,000 salary and if parents couldn't pay earned $50 per hour in those cases.  She was earning $400,000 per year.  However, it turned out she had billed the court and the family for services, double billed and did not report her billing to the IRS; this represented a form of racketeering.

Organized crime operating within the justice system itself is not just unethical or unfair, it's a serious threat to public safety, particular when children are given to their abusers. 

Billing fraud is a threat to public safety  Children are put at risk when GALs don't investigate properly.  

However, putting children in harm's way is more profitable for family court professionals.  Thus, GALs and family court professionals get less money if kids are safe; they get more money if they knowingly leave children in a position where they can get hurt and then earn money investigating the injuries that resulted from their inaction or improper actions.  

Corrupt GALs have no incentive to close cases.  This is fraud, because the services would not be needed if not for the trouble caused by these service providers.  In order to discredit the victims of these scams, the victims are falsely diagnosed with mental illness or deliberately traumatized so they appear irrational and incoherent.  Violent and dangerous offenders are allowed to get away with their crimes, and victims end up being told they are making it all up.

After reading of these outrages in my articles in The Washington Times, parents went to the legislature and complained about the false billing and started a task force.  However, once the task force was put into place, low and behold the majority of people chosen for the task force were members of the AFCC.  Eventually, there was a big hearing before the legislature, which included 100 people who showed up.   These parents showed their representatives copies of their billing invoices, and this hit home with the legislature.  When you saw the financial loss on paper, it was considerable.  

The parents had a state auditors report which I had located through freedom of information act requests showing that significant money and resources were missing from the coffers of the family services.  They also had evidence that the AFCC affiliated vendor CT Resources Group had double billed clients and improperly billed health insurance companies for services.   

In Susan Skipp's case the psychologist billed the insurance company with a coding that indicating that the child had major depression, but in court he said the child was fine.   It was clear that AFCC affiliation resulted in policies that  protected vendors, attorneys, and providers, but not consumers. Judges made decisions based on business interests.  

The problem with the AFCC:  it was inbred, and funded with tax dollars and private donations.  The AFCC is a trade association founded by family court judges, court administrators, and professionals who appear before these judges.  This could be a court vendor hired to run vital services, conduct studies, for example mediation, dv screening, etc.  

CT Resources Group also came up as a problem.  This was a private practice of  mental health evaluators who ran the GAL certification program, and conducted private evaluations of litigants,  Parents provided invoices from this group indicating billing irregularities.  Meanwhile through the FOI there was evidence in emails that providers were having private conversations with judges.  Judges were approving payments for services not provided and there was no push to sanction these guys.  Parents were afraid to come forward.  Still, the end results was that legislation was passed to reel in the GALs.  

What did parents do right?  They focused on the billing not the right and wrong of their cases.  

Currently, there is a federal law enforcement agency investigation into corrupt public officials in CT.

So how do you get the press to listen to your story?

Put together a press list; look for journalists who are the right fit for the type of story you are pitching--do your homework on that.  Make sure of the reputation and honesty of the reporter before you contact them.  Blog for someone else re their story.

Send out an email making initial contact reviewing your story briefly.   Never talk about your own case, focus on the money, don't bash fathers, include fathers, refer to parents, talk about violent crime rates, do not traumatize others with your knowledge.  Keep it simple.  Don't be a  conspiracy theorist.  

Buzz Phrases.  Use sympathetic terms.  For example, instead of domestic abuse talk about violent crime, instead of father's rights groups, talk about male offender advocacy groups, instead of judicial corruption, talk about extortion rings, organized crime, operating within the justice system. Talk about abusers getting custody, and professionals who deliberately place children in dangerous homes for profit.  

When you meet with a journalist, be sure to appear credible, dress appropriately, i.e. dress like Arianna Huffington, clean, simple, no frills.  When it comes to things to bring with you to a meeting, include a cheat sheet, and agenda. Bring your invoices, bills, contracts, vendor names, and evidence of financial fraud to illustrate your point.  

In order to obtain information on the corruption make Public Record Requests to the judicial branch, to the public  defender's office, state controller, etc. seeking copies of communications, invoices, contracts, bids, etc. IRS filings are available via Guidestart, plus there is the Secretary of State's Office Business filings.

Resources: Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press which includes a FOIA Letter Generator, federal or state specific. There is information on how to draft motions, administrative appeals, and complaints, etc.


Afterwards say thank you, email to the reporters, send a hand written thank you card to the editor at the newspaper and include followup with a phone call.

EVAN STARK'S REMARKS REGARDING THE MODEL OF "COERCIVE CONTROL"!

I will go through some of the ideas which led to the model of Coercive Control.  I don't go to these conferences deliberately, because I ordinarily work with custody cases and I understand how much pain is in the room.  

I had a man come to my men's group who had fired his psychiatrist.  The first week of the group he told this story--he said there was a medicine man (he was half Ojibway) who was very ill and was going to die.  So he wanted his son to meet this medicine man before the medicine  man died.  He looked very ill; his hands were palsied.  The fellow asked the medicine man why are you retiring?  The medicine man replied, I've been at this business for 30 years and every time someone comes to me with an illness, I take a little bit of it inside of me.  

What did this story mean?  The fellow had left his old psychiatrist and was coming to me.  The question was he had taken so much pain; could he open up with our group?  

The reason why I haven't come here before and I've been doing this for 50 years, the reason is that we have experienced a lot of this pain.  

I know Sharon Horn who started the domestic violence shelters; last weekend she was killed in a car accident.  She is the reason why I started in this field.  At one point, my wife and I tracked her down to this house.  A woman answered the door and slammed it in my face.  It was around the time I had very young kids, and one of my babies was in the car.  So I took him out of the car, poked him a bit to make him cry, knocked on the door again, and the women opened the door and let me in when they saw this bald fellow with a crying baby.  

Inside there were women all over the place, and this woman came downstairs looking like Katharine Hepburn with long sweeping skirts and told us this was a battered women's shelter--that was Sharon Horn.  Originally, the group found a home, but ran out of money within a week.  However, when the word went out that there was no money, envelopes arrived in the mail from grateful women who wished that there was something like this when they were experiencing DV.  Eventually, the amount of money collected was $30,000 so that the Center stayed open.  

Women battering is not about what men are doing to women.  Women battering is what men keep on doing to prevent women from doing for themselves.  No woman can be free  from oppression unless she is free and equal, and you cannot  be free and equal if you are not that way everywhere.  

Family Court is not a safe place.  It is a place where people allow litigants to be treated in ways they would never allow themselves to be treated. Then they expect litigants to be rational and calm or else they will take your children away from you.  Scenarios of this kind happen all the time in court testimony, "Your honor, he pointed a gun at the woman and pulled the trigger." Judge, "Oh, Doctor, you know the gun wasn't loaded."  

Women who have succeeded in custody want to leave the situation behind and they leave thousands of women behind.  Women need to stay to fight for their sisters, even when they have resolved their own circumstances.

We should not allow men to diminish what we have achieved.  

Originally when we talked about sexual violence, we would advise women to simply talk about violence.  

The U.S. is the only country in the world that defines the abuse as physical abuse not as gender violence.  

We are the only country that does not subscribe to the Istanbul Convention which states as follows:

"Violence against women is...a violation of human rights & a form of discrimination against women and sell mean all acts of gender-based violence that result in...physical, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty." 


The more trivial the rule a man demands we obey, the more degraded we feel.  The only reason we obey is because of fear and domination.    

I ultimately want to talk about politics because this is how we can get positive change, particularly through demonstrations.  Building alliances, and talking about rights and liberties.  

The Ray Rice case threw into relief that 90% of domestic violence doesn't appear as if it is.  If we only think of the deaths, if we only respond to the deaths, then we have only a narrow picture of what is going on.  

The vast majority of women who scored the highest on battered women's scales have never experienced physical violence.  

In 2001-2002 out of the reports to police of domestic violence only 3.6% of them result in convictions.  For every 100 calls to police, only 2 will be convicted.

Last year over a million men were arrested for DV.  In the last ten years, serious violence against women has dropped considerably and so we have been very successful in our work.    

Part of the problem we are going to evaluate tonight is the question of whether we are dealing with stupid venial judges, and stupid venial GALs or are we dealing with systemic bias.  Of course, they are not mutual exclusive.  But it is important to know what we are dealing with.  

Educating people who are systematically prejudiced and biased against women only provides a limited payoff.  

So with the situation we are talking about, are we dealing with bad police?  Way back when if a woman was the victim of DV then DCF would take the children away stating that the couple had engaged in domestic violence.  I then put together a group, we took this to federal court, and won so as to stop this practice.  

I had a major prejudice against DCF, but when I was placed on a board with them I found they were such dedicated people.  

Yes, I agree that women can be as violent as men can be.  I am against the use of violence as an instrument of control.  We need to understand that when we talk about DV, we are talking about a lot more than violence.  We are talking about a liberty crime in which assault is simply one weapon.  

We have reduced homicides dramatically among men, among African American's by 80%, but the drop in homicides against women has not dropped that much.  Part of this has to do with the context in which the violence takes place.  Men tend to kill women around the time that women leave.  Women tend to kill men when they feel themselves and their children at risk.  By establishing the shelters, women had an alternative to killing men.  

How is DV treated?  A man can have 50 to 100 assaults and no convictions.  This is because the assault is treated in traffic court.  Further, our system considers each incident separately; it does not consider the accumulation of incidents.  If the police aren't putting men in jail, it is because they are considering each incident separately.  99% of DV is trivial; it consists of pushes, shoves, kicks, hits.  In the history of abuse in a particular relationship--95% is non-injurious and non-serious.  No one ends up in jail with non-serious incidents.  

In Europe they recognize the accumulation and history of abuse.  But in American, they see a series of separate incidents which have to be proved and which each present evidentiary problems.  Family Court, juvenile court, and criminal court are like separate planets.  For instance, how many people have a restraining order in criminal court and your ex cannot get near you, and then you go to family court and they say you will lose custody if you don't allow access.  

The system is crazy making.  

The guy on Monday is the offender and is treated as a bad person, will come the next day to Bergen family court as a good enough Dad.  If a Dad shows a modest amount of interest in the child, he is a great Dad, but if a Mom shows the same interest she is entrapping, enmeshing, alienating.  

Family Court has no constitutional basis; its very shaky.  This is because there has to be a level of congeniality there, which is not required elsewhere.  

There has a been a considerable improvement in the Family Courts in Colorado because a change in the law.  Now, a woman cannot be prosecuted if what she does arises from her belief that what she is doing is for the safety of the child.   

In terms of abuse experienced, the frequency of being choked is considerably lower that being slapped, pushed, or shoved.  

Physical abuse is incredibly frequent.  

What informs the system is the concept that there are "episodes of violence" and "time between violence"  The vast majority of DV is non-injurious.  There is a pattern of low level but frequent assaults.  It is typical of women to be assaulted up to 100 to 500 times.  What happens in those situations is that it develops into a hostage situation.  

I asked did he ever prevent you from leaving when you wanted to?  

The cumulative effect of those minor incidents was the same as if she'd been beaten.  

However, the fragmentation of the abuse into separate incidents has taken the problem off the map.  

In reality, there is no decline in forms of low level violence.  

Thus, the vast majority of incidents of dv go under the radar.  

The guys are not being convicted.  

Women and children's reality:  DV is ongoing; rape and DV fall on a continuum; there is a cumulative effect; crosses social space; "help" often makes things worse.  

The vast majority of deaths of children are the result of men.  

There are some highly publicized cases of women killing children, but the vast majority of men.  DV  has been associated with high rates of homelessness, suicide rates.  Not every one, but DV is associated with highest levels of substance abuse.  40% of caucasian women attempt suicide with the context of DV and 50% of African American women attempt suicide within the context of DV.  At Yale-New Haven Hospital these battered women were being labeled as victims, but not in the ordinary sense.  

The question was why is this happening?  The answer was trauma.  But trauma is associated with severe violence and the violence we were seeing was non-serious.  

For example, with one wealthy couple, the wife was told she had to give up her job to take care of her husband's 20 something children.  Further, her husband told her that she had to pick up the phone before the 3rd ring.  So he would come home, check out the phone to see that no phones had rang more than three times, get in her face if any had, and eventually locked her in her room at 8:00p.m.  In my office, when I interviewed her if a phone began to ring, she would be covered with hives.  It would be terrible what that phone did to this woman.  

You cannot be a person without rights.  Within this framework of violence we normalize and trivialize abuse in a way you would hardly think possible.  So what we have is for the better part coercive control in up to 60-80 percent of cases, not the major assaults in the 20 - 40 percent of cases.  

Some people fight, hit each other and use a lot of violence.  That's not the issue here with the coercive control I am talking about.  

When violence is linked to inequality and oppression that we want to step in and intervene.  This is what should concern prosecutors.  

There are some cases in which physical violence is the problem, but usually in these cases of low level assault, the woman retains her job, and some of her autonomy.  

Women who manage to mother through domestic violence are amazing.  

Thus, around 60 percent of women we are seeing in family court, criminal court, and child welfare system are they are experiencing this pattern of coercive control.  It is often and frequent.  This involves sexual coercion.  Men get a lot out of abuse--economic privileges, social privileges, status privileges.  This is about men who plan, scheme, strategize.  Being abusive and controlling is hard work.  Such men use  rational, instrumental thinking within their pathology.  Combine manhood along with opportunity for exploitation then you have coercive control.  It is not about conflict; it is about control.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

ATTORNEY ALAN ROSENFELD'S REMARKS AT THE BATTERED WOMEN'S CUSTODY CONFERENCE 2015!

I am a child of parents who escaped the holocaust.  Many of the most horrible things that Nazis did was done lawfully under the color of German law.  German citizens who attempted to save Jewish children were  violating the law--in fact, they faced the execution of their own children.  

I grew up in the 60s and participated in social activism at the time.  I believe deeply that there are times in history when the moral thing to do is to break the law.  I graduated from law school in 1982.  I don't talk about this much, but the first time I took family law I got a D in the class.  I got a D because the professor asked a question, put up a scenario and asked what would you advise a client in this situation; I wrote a lengthy answer which the professor didn't like.  

I've been confronted sometimes regarding what I said at a meeting such as this.  At one point, a person confronted me and asked, "Did you really say that "Our family court system is intended to give abused children over to abusers."  No what I actually said was "If someone were to create a family court system which was intended to guarantee that a large number of children would be handed over to their abusers it would like like our family court system."  

But I don't assign bad motives.  I don't go out of my way to draw the conclusion that people in the system have bad motives.  It is really one of the most frustrating things, angering things, about our family court system.  There are good people in the system who just don't do their jobs and as a consequence of them not doing their jobs, children are hurt.  

I can understand people who have psychological disorders and they do horrible things because they have psychological disorders.  I can understand they can't control themselves.  I can understand running into some evil people in the family court system.  Yet Family Court is full of good people.  

From my perspective in order to make the system work, this means they have to do their best.  Mom's have to do their best at every level when it comes to choosing a good lawyer, doing their best in taking care of themselves and not being self harming. Evaluators have to do their best and also Judges have to do their jobs.  That is the only way it is going to work.  It is bad how many psychologist are doing what they are doing and yet they know better.  

You folks as you go out and become activists, for many of you, something horrible has already happened.  

I use the cancer analogy, it is nobody's fault when a child gets cancer, but it happens.  Mothers losing custody to abusers is a national health epidemic.  You all have been the victims of it.  You've suffered from it.  You caught it.  You stepped in it.  Yet you are still Moms and you still have to do the best with it, and if you have an hour with your child, you have to make the best with that hour, because that will make a big difference with that child when he or she grows up.  You have to commit yourselves to being with your kids and also to being a part of the movement and working consciously to stop this epidemic.  

One of the things that is very depressing, really upsetting, was when Marilee McLean talked about her case last night and I know because I was at the rally at Denver which was 20, 25 years ago that her daughter was failed by the Court, and that story that Marilee told is still going on.  It has't changed.  

I just talked to a person here today who had the exact same story a month ago.  Whatever we are doing we aren't doing enough and we aren't doing it well enough.  

There aren't as many people doing it as long as I've done it, so it's my failure.  You are newer advocates and now the mantel of activism is handed over to you.  

I will acknowledge that some of the experts witnesses in my day were sloppy and incompetent.  In the 1980s there was a psychologist who acted as a validator; people came to her to verify that there was truly sexual abuse.  She turned out to be doing a bad job.  Perhaps we made a mistake of looking for expertise from bad experts.  Now these bad experts are out of business, but the good experts have been silenced at the same time.  

There are bad experts now out there making fortunes selling quack theories and they get away with it in court.  

I remember when I was starting out there was a brilliant psychologist in VT that everyone used.  But she had one quirk; if you asked her six months in advance what her opinion was in summary, she'd give it and produce a report six months later matching that initial summary.  

Finally, an opposing attorney asked her on the stand why she did a particular test, and she responded, in order to corroborate my opinion. That lost the case.

I had another expert who was considered a good evaluator regarding child sexual abuse.  Good judges wanted to find out what was best for the child.  Good lawyers representing Moms would tell them this Dr. V saw no evidence of abuse so you might as well give up.  Dr. V. had done thousands and thousands of cases.  

I then did a depositions of Dr. V and I asked him how many of these cases included ones in which a child was sexually abused, and he said maybe one.  

You see, nobody had ever asked him that question.  

PAS.  PAS exists and judges know it exists.  And when we spend our time screaming that PAS is junk.  PAS is misused, but it exists.  

A lot of Moms who know from direct first hand experience that their father is a dangerous, violent person.  It isn't necessarily a bad thing for  Mom to let their child know that, that there is some danger here.  But it has nothing to do with a situation where a child has been sexual abused and the mother has also experienced rape and violence from the father.  Further, if a child reports sexual abuse and yet there is no evidence this does not mean a child hasn't been sexually abused.  

I have defended mothers who fled to protect their child.  

What makes me crazy are these cases where the mother has already been determined either by court order or stipulation to be the best parent, where the mother is already the primarily custodial parent, and then the child discloses sexual abuse that hasn't been proven. I don't understand how the mere fact of this disclosure leads good mothers to lose their children. I don't understand the concept of how that leads the court to take that child away from the good mother and hand it over to the abuser who may not be an abuser, but maybe he is.  

I hope that helps you to understand why that is crazy.  

Again, on this theme of good people doing bad things this is what is hard for me to get my head around.  There is this phenomenon where a parent comes to court with the accusation, an evaluator gives a report that he just doesn't know.  Then, it comes up again on emergency docket, and another evaluator does testing which also doesn't show anything, but Mom shows stress.  Or Mom says, "Tell the evaluator what you told me" which comes across as coaching. Still, the evaluator finds nothing. Unsupervised visitation resumes, and then a month later Mom comes back.  Good people don't like believing that sexual abuse might have occurred.  If there is a mistake and it turns out the child is being sexually abused, judges don't like to admit their mistake.  So judges blame the mother.  This is what is happening.  

So for those of you undergoing this, you are not alone.  People make mistakes--that's understandable.  There is a tendency under these situations for mothers to fall apart and stop taking care of themselves.  Keep in mind that you need to survive so that you can be there for your child.  

When I was in VT an attorney called me and asked to meet with me.  He told me and said I think I'd be derelict in my duty if I didn't ask you what you meant by a comment you made, "I can't recall how many times I've been arrested."  I responded, "I can only say that each time that happened I was exercising my first amendment rights."  

There are times when it is necessary for people of good conscience to break the law.  I am not talking about mothers who break the law to protect their children.  I am talking about everyone else who is an activist and talking about building a movement.  Those of you who have lost your children, those of you who know someone who lost their children, keep in mind that no great movement has ever succeeded without people committing civil disobedience.  

I did want to share with you a famous NE story which most of you have heard of.  Henry David Thoreau ended up in jail for not paying his taxes and Ralph Waldo Emerson came to visit him and asked, "What are you doing in there?" and Thoreau answered, "What are you doing out there?"  

When people ask why are you so obsessed with this, you need to ask why are you so complicit?  

Rabbi Prince was a young rabbi in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis and he was charismatic and dynamic.  He was giving sermons against the Nazis even before they took power, and when they took over, he gave sermons ever week telling Jews they have to leave.  Finally, the Nazis deported him.  Keep in mind that in the early years of Nazis they first deported people, but as time went on they killed them, only killed them when other countries refused to accept people and gave tacit approval of the death programs.  

Here is what Rabbi Prince had to say at the March on Washington just before Martin Luther King spoke: the most important thing I learned under those tragic circumstances is that bigotry and hatred is not the most urgent problem, the most disgraceful problem is silence.  

One last repetitive request, become active.  There was a time in the South in this country when people grew up thinking racism was inevitable and the brutal system they lived under would never change and it was unimaginable how quickly things changed.  Who would have imagined that when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, this was the beginning of such a great civil rights movement.  At first, protesters against the war in Vietnam were a handful, and then within a few years the movement swelled into thousands and thousands.  When college students began to protest apartheid no one imagined that this system could change.  In Nazi Germany during the darkest moments during WWII people really didn't think they had a chance--the Nazi's were powerful, they were everywhere.  But these people knew that if they didn't do anything, then evil would triumph.  

They didn't know how long it would take, any more than you do.  But don't give up please!

NOMAS PRESENTATION AT THE BATTERED WOMEN'S CUSTODY CONFERENCE OF 2015!

Opening Remarks by Barry Goldstein:

NOMAS has various task forces to cover the variety of issues they are involved in.  One of the reasons why I came to NOMAS is because we are dealing with a plague from the abuser rights groups.  They want to create the illusion that complaints regarding Family Court Reform is about conflict between men and women. In fact, it is a group of both men and women who oppose the abusers who are attempting to undermine DV laws and regain control.  We want to reframe the issue correctly, which is part of what we do.  Look us up on NOMAS.ORG.  NOMAS wants to be on the side of Protective Mothers.  The organization can't do individual cases because we don't have the resources, but will write letters to support Amicus Brief.  NOMAS supports The Quincy Solution.  

Note:

Andrew Willis wanted to announce that The Stop Abuse Campaign wants stories from Protective Mothers to put on the website.  

Moshe Rozdial:  NOMAS was established in 1975 and is the oldest pro-feminist men's group in the Nation.  It coalesced into an organization that includes the men and women you see now on this panel.  National Organization for Men Against Sexism, the Aconym means No Mas, or No More in Spanish.  The four tenets of the organization are pro-feminist, anti-racist, LGBT affirmative and enhancing men's lives.

Today we will hear from different members of NOMAS who represent the different task forces in the organization.  We have homophobia and heterosexism, human trafficking, pornography--all these issues are there to enhance men's lives because we believe that without this intersectionality we will never be able to enhance people's lives including men's lives.  

This conference is the 40th conference re men and masculinity.  These oppressions are all interlinked, ablism, anti-semitism, the oppression of one group is the oppression of all groups.  We are not a one issue group which is a strength and weakness.  We provide training and information on all these issues, because they all intersect.  

Now we want to introduce Gloria from NOW to see how she came to NOMAS.  

Gloria Woods:  Gloria has been an activist in Michigan for NOW. In her words--In 1995 I was the President of NOW and we were totally blindsided when Republicans took over our legislature and the governorship.  We were blindsided by a raft of father's rights legislation from the abuser's lobby that came forward, the main thrust of it being "shared parenting."  The intention was to change the state law to default to joint custody which was again shared parenting.  Legislatures wanted to believe the nonsense mythology that it wasn't fair to good fathers others.  Why do you think that PAS continues?  Because it is out there in our patriarchal system that men should be believed?  

I called a friend to find out what I could do and she said call Jack Straton in California and explain the issue.  He said ok, here is what I can do for you, and he gave us all sorts of reports and research and explained how to speak to our legislators.  We did stop them.  We lost on welfare, we lost on abortion, but that we won regarding custody.  From that time, I was in support of NOMAS and I have worked with them ever since that time. I have successfully gotten Barry and The Quincy Solution coming in a month to Michigan.  

We (NOMAS) have an excellent website.  The resources I received by mail are now available on the website.  It has child custody and so much more, so definitely go on the website.  

David Greene:  I head the task force on Social Class issues, Classism.  I am part of the Men's Studies Association, studying men and masculinity, and coming from a strong feminist perspective.  Many people in the field don't come from this perspective, but we have sought to keep this narrow voice clear.  We used to have a newsletter and journal--the latter became financially unfeasible and then became Men and Masculinity of Sage Publications.  But we lost editorial control of it.  

We try to have a much more feminist based collaborative approach to our work.  We try to use our research to engage with activists, so we go beyond the traditional scholarly approach.  

Phyllis Frank: I have been part of NOMAS for now more than three decades.  I would like to talk about the problem of racism; it is sometimes referred to as racial injustice.  It has more frequently been referred to as white privilege, or white entitlement, or else white supremacy.  We believe this is characteristic of the U.S. from its roots.  I head the Task Group of Racial Injustice of NOMAS.  

I was raised in a liberal NE Brooklyn family, and raised not to be racist.  And because of that, and because I didn't know I was absorbing white privilege and white entitlement subconsciously, when I began my activism as a feminist non racist warrior, black women would often confront us re our own racism.  Yet white sisters and I would often say things like "It's not always about race." or "I don't have a racist bone in my body." or "You must be wrong." or "You don't even know me."  

So as much as I knew about sexism and male supremacy I wasn't making that leap to understanding racial injustice.  Then a friend gave me a copy of the video of "The Color of Fear".  The guy in the video was quite racist, and I noticed that everything that the guy thought I had also thought and said.  So my colleagues and I were talking about eliminating racism while not even understanding what it is.  

Eventually, in 1994 I took a Undoing Racism Workshop and was furious that I was this old and had no idea about what white racism was.  We make sure every person who works on this issue in NOMAS takes this workshop.  

Jacob Jacquez: psychotherapist.  It is an honor to be here and to listen to the stories people have shared.  I grew up in Utah and came out as gay when I was 18 years old and I began to see so much injustice in the world, but I was luckier than most.  So even though my Dad didn't speak to me for a while, I had the support of my mother.  

As a listener, I heard stories from families and friends, also at a DV shelter.  Over and over heard stories of abuse.  I began to wonder what is going on.  Then luckily I met NOMAS and they had a perspective that really helped me to understand and explain it.  I realized with NOMAS that what's going on is a natural manifestation that values men over women and children.  It includes street harassment, coercion and control, rape and sexual assault, and femicide (also a big problem in this country).  You cannot unknow what you already know.  I realized I could continue my life enjoying male privilege, but would that make me a good guy.  NO.  I realized that I had to stand up and fight the oppression, or else I would be complicit in it. I came to learn more about the issue, and understood how sexism and heterosexism is integral to the abuse going on in our culture.  

I want you to know where NOMAS comes from in regard to this group.  We oppose the presumption that heterosexuality is the norm and all other sexualities are deviant.  We oppose the presumption underlying homophobia that the female is bad and less valuable.  We oppose discrimination against LGBTQ folks.  We have so much work to do.  We are gaining in terms of legalizing gay marriage, but there remains evidence that there is still more we need to do.  

Robert Brannan:  The task force I am a part of observes and study sex trafficking, and the use of women and girls in prostitution and also the proliferation of pornography in our culture.  Amazing that there is a feminist branch that opposes pornography.  

The media presumes that this issue no longer exists.  It does.  The anti-pornography movements has largely withered and died; as a culture we are being pornofied.  Many social evils created by pornography have continued up to the present day.  Even men are being affected, such as the problem of internet pornography addiction.  There are many men who have lost their careers and lives because of internet pornography.  

Other harms are of a different nature, such as the idea that sexual coercion is OK and that women like it.  We believe this issue of pornography, which is complex, will continue to emerge and present challenges.  

Is pornography a single phenomenon or a combination of several with several effects.  

Is it solely sexual explicit?  

The argument that pornography is speech has defied legal action and so we have not won there.  

Feminists appear to be having fairly reasonable success in identifying the problems with sex trafficking, and the public is very critical of sex trafficking and legal protections against sex trafficking have been put into place.  Nonetheless, the level of human sex trafficking has gone up, not down, and our laws are largely ineffective in fighting it.  The problem of much legislation is that it requires that victims demonstrate the harms done to them under hostile examination in Court.  It is extremely daunting for any penniless victim very far from home.  The result is very few actual conviction.  

Furthermore, in the first 9 years after passage there has been a minimal amount of convictions.  This resulted in the opponents of legal and social action against human trafficking claiming that human trafficking isn't happening.  

There is an early age of entry into human trafficking--five separate studies in five cities have indicated that 14 is the average age.  Many of these young girls have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.  The term sex workers misleads people that it is a benign phenomenon when it is not.  

Greg White:  I am working in Buffalo with Catholic Charities.  Criminal Justice system asked us to create a batterer program for men which would accept court mandated referrals.  Some of us in NY state worked together to find out what kind of model would be ethical and doable.  What emerged is that these programs didn't work.  30 years ago when they started their goal was to stop intimate violence.  Some batterer programs haven't acknowledged this truth, and they are included children as part of the program which we felt put those children at risk.  

We wanted to put together a model that would work.  We came up with the New York Model of Batterer Programs.  In principle, every thing we do its policies programs and procedures, we seek input from DV programs as well state level programs.  Our goal is to never undermine the battered women's movement in this country.  We try to hold men accountable who are going through the court system.  This model is about holding men accountable and making sure that the men follow up and complete their program.  Men take a weekly, one hour session on DV, info that we would offer anyone, including what you'd hear today from members of this panel.  

Rose Garrity:  NOMAS operates in a more feminist way than many others who do this kind of work.  We are all allied together in doing this work.  I am part of the Ending Men's violence task force group.  We put out position papers on this issue.  Addresses faulty and misleading information that women are more violent than men.  Through this task group NOMAS has been pretty allied with many DV programs and supportive of the New York Model which many feminist groups support.  

As a survivor myself, this meeting has triggered me.  Our systems in this culture serve the patriarchy.  This has been demonstrated at this conference where children have been handed over to the abusers.  We need to keep this broader analysis on our minds regarding why things happen the way they do. We don't hate men; We hate the patriarchy.  Comment from audience:  We need equality before the law and we also need to close the wage gap.

Friday, May 15, 2015

BARRY GOLDSTEIN AND ANDREW WILLIS PROVIDE JOINT PRESENTATION AT BMCC 2015 IN NEW JERSEY!

BARRY GOLDSTEIN AND ANDREW WILLIS SPEAK ABOUT THE STOP ABUSE CAMPAIGN AT THE BMCC 2015!

The mission of the Stop Abuse Campaign is to stop abuse.  First, there is the right of every single victim is not to be a victim at all.  Victims rights for us should start before victims are even made.  

In regard to adverse childhood experiences--you only need two. One being separated from your mother, two your father is an alcoholic, and your chances of being an alcoholic are doubled.  Five incidents improve the chances that a person will be an intravenous drug user.  

Adverse childhood experiences lead to incredible damage for children.  

Stop them before they start.  

Our website produces blogs each day on prevention of abuse.  We advocate for changed public policies.  We have an enduring belief that abuse and neglect can be prevented by changes in public policy.  

Today we do know what to do, the science exists, i.e. The Quincy Solution, The Child Safe Act.  These approaches will stop the nonsense going on in family courts today.  The programs we advocate for, everyone of them is evidenced based.  They are researched.  The problem with abuse and neglect can stop.  All we have to do is change public policy.  

F.Y.I., in two weeks we hope these policies will be introduced in New York.  

Prevention is a local business.  It isn't something for which you can go and knock on the federal government's door.  Each state has to pass this legislation.  We need to go community by community.  

The relationship between domestic violence and child abuse is very close, so when you limit DV, you limit the other.  

So how can you help?  Here is what you can do.  We have put together a basket of public policy, sort of a manifesto, and now what we have to do is sell it.  Because when we enact that, abuse stops, including DV.  

What we need is your help and money.  If you can, go to our website.  If you can make a donation on a recurring monthly basis, we can start budgeting it.  This includes marketing brochures, etc.  A small contribution every month is better than one large one.  

There's different kinds of volunteer work you can do--you can do P.R., mail chimp, word press--or else you can lobby or just spread the faith.  Evangelize the news to as many people as you can, share with them on social media.  The more you share, the less we have to spend on promoting them.  

Recruit your friends--have tupperware type parties but on instead share the Stop Abuse Campaign.  Talk about the sexual abuse problem we have in this campaign.  Talk about how abused mothers who will find it difficult to parent because of the abuse.  Then pass a hat and get ten dollars from each person and we'll take care of it very well.  

Andrew Willis is not a lobbyist, but still the Stop Abuse Campaign needs to find ways to get the program funded.  

We need at least two protective mothers who can act as administrators in groups on Facebook.  

Working together we should be able to stop these problems.  

We are looking for professionals.  

We are working on grants and sponsorships from businesses.  

We are putting together consistent, regular, content online regarding adverse childhood experiences.  More people need to hear about what we are doing.  Up to 20,000 - 30,000 are visiting our website per month, and we need more.  

So we are counting on you!  Every single one of us here at the Conference is capable of making change happen.  And I know that.  All of us.  I know that because we are doing that in New York with a group of activists who have no background in politics.  

So many of us have no experience in changing laws, but we are going to do it now.  Each one of us has a sphere of influence, people in positions of authority, others who have considerable finances available.  Let us know about these folks and we will help you to connect with them so they know how important our work is.  

I have reasonably high hopes that we can succeed in this work.  We have activists in states everywhere, i.e. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, etc. Together, we can make this nonsense stop.  

Barry Goldstein adds:  We need to tell media when violence occurs that The Quincy Solution could have stopped the domestic violence.  

A few years ago we were in Washington, D.C. intending to lobby at the House of Representatives when they decided to shut down government.  We were concerned we couldn't meet with political leaders.  Around that time, we noticed an article indicating there was a problem with poison ivy in the parks around town.  Apparently, goats love to eat poison ivy and were positioned in parks to control the plant.  However, when the government was shut down, then the goats had to be sent home.  

Goats protect their kids, just as we protect our children.  Since that time, we have taken on the symbolism of these goats.  They do what everyone should do which is protecting their kids.  At the conference, we honored the Netherlands for protecting Holly Collins and her children.  The ambassador from the Netherlands said, "It is really very simple.  We must protect the kids.  And this is what we are here for."