Tag Archives: domestic violence

He Worked Very Hard and We Wish Him Well…

I’d really hoped not to hear this kind of phrasing coming from the White House today, but… He did it, the President of the United State said of domestic abuser Rob Porter, “He worked very hard and we wish him well.”  (MSNBC) No, that really doesn’t indicate that this Oval Office takes violence against women all that seriously.  I truly don’t care if he was the best paper pusher in the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  He’s a serial domestic abuser.  I really don’t care if he was the best filter of paper and proposals in the Universe. He’s a serial domestic abuser.   And, the President* didn’t take the opportunity to even mention violence against women.  What he said about a serial domestic abuser was that (a) he was gone and (b) the White House wished him well.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nevada.  The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence issued a report of 2016 statistics (pdf) on the subject, and it’s discouraging to see that there were a total of 64,457 contacts made to authorities/agencies about domestic and sexual violence during that calendar year.  11,197 were repeated contacts.  There were 24,567 “bednights” or overnight shelter provided to adults, and 1,411 provided to children.  There were 13,589 incidents reported to police, resulting in 6,433 arrests.  There were 5,128 cases in which the police were not contacted. There were 23,777 cases in which it is unknown if law enforcement was contacted.  Additionally, there were 18,164 cases in which the referral for possible action is unknown.

It’s not like domestic abuse and sexual violence are issues we can separate from other criminal acts or address with fast/quick solutions. The problem is cyclical:’

“Abuse tends to occur in cycles. It does not just go away and tends to get worse over time. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence typically, but not always, follows a pattern. There is a period of tension building; there is an episode of violence; and there is a time calm, or a “honeymoon” (Hancock, 2012). Research suggests the more severe the violence, the more chronic it is and the more likely it is to worsen over time (Lipsky et al., 2012).”

There is a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings:

“…mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54% of shootings—which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns. Between January 2009 and December 2016, 422 people were killed in domestic violence disputes; more than 40% of these people were children.” [Fortune]

And women are the most likely victims:

 “Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.”  (IPV = Intimate Partner Violence) [CDC]

Yes, to that last point because the 5th leading cause of death for women between the ages of 18-44 is homicide.  So, we should be taking the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously because it’s a leading cause of death among women in the prime of their lives, because it’s part of an escalating cycle of violence, one that too often leads to the kinds of mass shooting which shock the senses.  And, no, I do not wish the perpetrators “well.” I wish for police intervention, legal consequences, the collection of comprehensive statistics, the development and implementation of prevention programs, and the closing of the “boyfriend loophole” for the procurement of firearms.

No more — no more excuses, no more attempts at amelioration, no more minimizing the problem, no more … Time’s Up.

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Silver Bullets and Straw Man Arguments: Gun Legislation in Nevada (Updated)

OK Corral Here we go again.  Another spate of gun violence yields another editorial assault on common sense gun regulation from conservative sources, this time the editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal.  The title says it all, “Expanded gun background checks not a cure all.”  There are at least a couple of things wrong with this argument.  First, it’s a straw man argument. No one is claiming that universal background checks will cure the American violence problem.  The claim is that closing the gun-show loophole and requiring background checks for sales to non-family members will reduce the probability of gun violence.  Secondly, as the editorial itself acknowledges, background checks can prevent gun sales to domestic abusers.

Even this legislation, SB 175, didn’t really go far enough, and in some respects represents a step backward in terms of controlling access to firearms.  Those guilty of domestic violence, who are subject to an extended order of protection, are forbidden from purchasing or otherwise acquiring a firearm during the period the order of protection is in effect. To get this small attempt at controlling firearm access by domestic abusers, meant the NRA won state control of all gun related issues, county concealed carry permits in Clark County went by the wayside, and expanded language was added to liability in instances in which a “reasonable person might be afraid” for his or her life.

The second logical issue with the editorial is good old fashioned circular reasoning.  The authors logic appears to be that (1) effective background checks require efficient offender databases; (2) Nevada has an inefficient offender data base system; therefore (3) Nevada cannot have effective background checks.  This logic works IF one is prepared to skip blithely over the question of how to make the Nevada offender data base more efficient – and is perilously close to the old Undistributed Middle.

And then comes the perfectly predictable: “Regardless, as has been shown countless times, criminals are not going to follow any gun control law.”  So, if we extrapolate this to its obvious, and much referenced conclusion, there is no reason to enact sanctions against bank robbery and bear baiting because criminals are not going to follow the law?

Now back to the Domestic Violence issue.  What was gained by victims of domestic abuse in SB 175? Answer: Precious Little. [DB April 2015]  Under Section 5 of the bill a domestic abuser (the Adverse Party) was forbidden to purchase firearms for the duration of an extended order of protection.  Please recall that Nevada has two types of restraining orders, temporary and extended, and it can take up to 45 days to get an extended order. [NRS 33.031]   Meanwhile, the statistics are available for the period from April to June 2015. (pdf)

Between April and June 2015, there were 16,245 “contacts” made by authorities concerning domestic violence, and 10,637 were “first time,” another 3,537 were “repeats,” and there were 2,071 “follow up contacts.” Of the 10,637 victims 9,938 were women (93.4%), 699 were men (4.27%).  The age of the victim was not reported in 4,316 instances.  There were 1,479 female victims between the ages of 18-29; 2,577 female victims between the ages of 30-44; and, 1,193 female victims between the ages of 45-64.  Arrests were made in 1,490 cases, no arrest was made in 1,648 cases, and 135 cases are pending.  During the period between April and June 2015 there were 3,327 temporary orders of protection prepared.  2,402 temporary orders of protection/restraining orders were provided.

Assuming that law enforcement and the judicial system were functioning effectively, we had 2,402 cases in a three month period in which it was determined that the victim – most likely a woman – was deserving of a temporary order of protection.  However, the “adverse party” would be free to retain possession of firearms during the length of the temporary order, and for 45 days until an extended order of protection could be issued.

These numbers take on some urgency when put in the context of domestic violence in Nevada.  Back in 2012 25 of the 84 homicides within Las Vegas police jurisdiction were related to domestic violence, the numbers were worse in 2013 when 33 of 105 homicides were related to domestic disputes. [LVRJ]

More alarming still, the national report published by USA Today, on mass killings and family problems.  We have a “mass killing” about every two weeks (since 2006);  the FBI counted 172 between 2006 and 2011.  These numbers may be an undercount because of erroneous and excluded cases, leaving the FBI with a 57% accuracy rate.  And here comes the disturbing part:  Of those mass killings, in 53% the victims were family members. (Other 21%, Public 15%, Robbery/Burglary related 11%) A break up of some kind is the tipping point in 1 out of every 4 mass killings that aren’t connected to strangers, gang violence, or a robbery gone wrong. One in four victims were close family members, children, siblings, spouses, etc. In 77% of the mass killings the weapon used was a gun.  One-third of the victims were under the age of 18; and, 75% of the guns involved were handguns.

The USA Today report drilled down further: semi-automatic hand guns were involved in 49.6% of the shootings; handgun/revolver in 22.4%; and automatic pistols in 0.9%.  Single shot rifles were used in 9.5%; semi-automatic rifles in 8.6%; and automatic rifles in 0.4% of the cases. A shotgun was used in 8.6% of the deadly events.  One third of the perpetrators will be dead at the scene.

It’s certainly true, a domestic abuser will resort to whatever weapon may be at hand from guns to kitchen knives to baseball bats and to manual strangulation… however, as these statistics suggest the outcome is more likely to be deadly if a firearm is involved.

So, should the “little woman” be armed, does the gun in the home constitute an “equalizer?” The answer is no.

“A recent meta-analysis concluded what many people already knew: the availability of firearms is a strong risk factor for both homicide and suicide. But the study came to another conclusion that is rarely mentioned in the gun control debate: females are uniquely impacted by the availability of a firearm. Indeed, the study found that women with access to firearms become homicide victims at significantly higher rates than men.

It has long been recognized that higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide. Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population. And within American borders, women die at higher rates from suicide, homicide, and accidental firearm deaths in states where guns are more widely available This is true even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.” [LATimes]

In another study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers interviewed 417 women across 67 battered women’s shelters. Nearly a third of these women had lived in a household with a firearm. In two-thirds of the homes, their intimate partners had used the gun against them, usually threatening to kill (71.4 percent) them. A very small percentage of these women (7 percent) had used a gun successfully in self-defense, and primarily just to scare the attacking male partner away. Indeed, gun threats in the home against women by their intimate partners appear to be more common across the United States than self-defense uses of guns by women. [LATimes]

Another large case-control study compared women who were murdered by their intimate partner with a control group of battered women. Only 16 percent of the women who had been abused, but not murdered, had guns in their homes, whereas 51 percent of the murder victims did. In fact, not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership. Though there are examples of women using a gun to defend themselves, they are few and far between, and not statistically significant. [LATimes]

Thus much for the advocacy of yet more guns, and yet more permits to be able to conceal those guns?  And yet more reason to take note of the statistics on domestic violence, the presence of guns in unstable households, and the need to remove firearms from volatile domestic situations.

Questions Remain

  • When do the NRA talking points asserting there is no magic single solution to gun violence become stale and hackneyed?  When does the public come to understand that this is a straw man argument which does little good for the safety of the state and the families residing in this state?
  • When does the profoundly illogical argument that because something might be difficult, or even require more effort, that the desired outcome (less gun violence) is therefore impossible, become a clear example of circular reasoning and unfounded assertion?
  • When do we act on the statistics which strongly suggest that the presence of a firearm in a home increases the probability of lethal domestic violence and suicide? Not to mention tragic incidents involving children.
  • When do we take into consideration the fact that there are some 45 days under Nevada law during which a domestic abuser is free to retain firearms, indeed, free to obtain more “firepower” during that period?
  • What additional arguments must be made before those who advocate for zero restrictions on firearm ownership/possession understand that in a civilized society the temporary removal of firearms from a volatile domestic situation doesn’t mean there is a violation of a Constitutional right?

Update: The Violence Policy Center released its national report today. Nevada is 5th in the nation in female homicide rate.

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The Ammosexual Assembly: Nevada Legislature and SB 175

NV Legislature wide A much amended SB 175 is still alive in the Nevada Legislature.  [LTN]  This “gun bill” contains several items on the ammosexual wish list, and with copious amendments got out of the Senate on a 14-5 vote.  There’s a subtle, but important revision in Amendment 136 which should given reasonable individuals some hope for sanity in an otherwise irrational session.  In the Kill At Will portion – otherwise known as Stand Your Ground – the language changes from “knew or had reason to believe” that the shooter was imperiled, to “reasonably believed” the victim of the shooting was in the act of perpetrating a violent crime.

This is improved language because merely because I have a reason to think a person is in the act of committing a felony doesn’t necessarily mean I have a good reason, or even a rational explanation.  The improved language now specifies that I must provide a rational explanation, something a reasonable person might believe.  The new language sets a higher and better standard.

The second change of note is that the aforesaid ‘knowledge’ must relate to the act of committing a violent crime, not merely any felony.  If a felonious action is all that is necessary then a person embezzling more than $650 may be said to be in the act of committing a Class C felony in this state – and who gets shot for embezzlement?  Or mortgage fraud? Or even running a chop shop?

The language is still a bit sloppy in the sections dealing with reciprocity of concealed carry permitting.  Existing law requires that the out of state permit be “substantially similar to” or “more stringent than” Nevada statutes. The new language merely says the state will describe any training, class, or program required by the initiating state.  That an issuing agency (sheriff’s department) knows the training level doesn’t necessarily mean it is an appropriate training level, or that the restrictions on an individual seeking  a concealed carry permit can be discerned from a description of training, classes, or programs.

The domestic violence issue is also barely resolved.  Here’s the portion, with the line reference numbers retained:

37 Sec. 5. Chapter 33 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new 38 section to read as follows: 39 1. If a court issues an extended order pursuant to NRS 33.030, the adverse 40 party shall not subsequently purchase or otherwise acquire any firearm during 41 the period that the extended order is in effect. 42 2. A person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a 43 category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a 44 minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 45 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.”

Here’s the problem – notice that in line 39 the confiscation of firearms is associated with an extended order of protection.  The related statute is NRS 33.030 and 33.033.   It’s necessary at this point to look at the provisions of NRS 33.020 – which says there can be two types of protection orders: temporary and extended.  A temporary order of protection would not, under the language of SB 175, allow the authorities to confiscate firearms from the ‘adversarial party.’ AKA the abuser.  There’s a hair-splitting argument to be made that getting an extended order allows the abuser to have his or her day in court, and thus wouldn’t violate the 2nd Amendment.  This argument works if, and almost only if, the absolutist theory of the 2nd Amendment applies.

If the absolutist theory is attached to other elements in the Bill of Rights then perhaps one couldn’t be immediately arrested for yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater? Or, for indulging in the ancient Aztec religious ceremony of removing the ‘still beating heart’ to offer to the Sun God? One would have to have “his or her day in court” before any preventative measures could be taken to mitigate further damage? Yes, this is a silly argument, but nonetheless it illustrates the limitations of any absolutist theoretical framework. And there is evidence of ‘immediate damage.’

Nevada, Louisiana, Alaska, and South Carolina have the highest rates of homicide for women who are victims of domestic violence, all with a rate in the range of 2.00 to 2.50. [HuffPo] This is not the Top Four in the Nation category of which we should be proud.

We might be able to get out of this unfortunate ranking by inserting language which allows the removal of firearms from a premise if any order of protection is granted, until the expiration of that order.  The firearms have not been permanently taken from the rightful owner, they’ve just been removed temporarily from a volatile environment in which the two ‘adults’ may not be the only potential victims – bullets have been known for going through apartment walls.

If the ammosexual contingent in the Nevada Legislature can contain its enthusiasm for shootin’ up the state, we might want to have a serious discussion about whether we want the least restrictive statutes for firearm possession and ownership, or those which have the greatest potential for removing obvious threats to public safety.

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Violence Leaves Home: Active Shooting Incidents and Domestic Violence

The report (pdf) from a joint FBI/Texas State University doesn’t have much good news for the absolutists of the National Rifle Association.  The study analyzed shooting incidents in the United States over the past 13 years and reported the following resolutions to the incidents.

The Violence

In 37 (23.1%) of the 160 active shooting incidents the shooter committed suicide at the scene before police arrived.  In 21 (13.1%) of the incidents an unarmed citizen successfully restrained the shooter.  In 2 of the incidents (1.3%) armed off-duty law enforcement personnel ended the threat.  In 5 of the incidents armed non-law enforcement citizens ended the shootings in which 3 shooters were killed, 1 committed suicide, and 1 was wounded.  For all the noise about arming everyone to the gunwales, only 5 of the 160 incidents ended because of armed citizen intervention.  No doubt the NRA ammosexuals would argue that if More Citizens were Armed, then More Incidents would have been resolved at the scene by a Citizen Shooter.  This conclusion is actually counter-intuitive.

More people firing more rounds in an active shooter situation doesn’t make anyone safer.  The NRA logic requires that we ignore a crucial part of the equation – the bystanders.  The fantasy that our Citizen Shooter will “take out the bad guy” requires that the scene be something out of the OK Corral mythology during which bystanders fled to safety, or possibly that the Citizen Shooter is so marvelously competent that no bystander or witness will be in peril of flying rounds of ammo.  Nor does the Citizen Shooter image crack through the actual numbers – in 13.1% of the incidents an unarmed citizen was successful and in only 3.1% was an armed citizen successful.

The Domestic Violence

However, there’s more to this analysis than the augmentation of what we already know – more guns doesn’t solve the problems – there’s a link between active shooting incidents and domestic violence. From the report:

“Of note, male shooters also acted violently against women with whom they had or once had a romantic relationship. In 16 (10.0%) of the 160 incidents, the shooters targeted current, estranged, or former wives as well as current or former girlfriends. In 12 incidents, the women were killed; in 3 incidents, the women sustained significant injuries but survived; and in 1 incident, the shooter could not find the woman.  While perpetrating this violence, an additional 42 people were killed and another 28 were wounded.”

Not to put too fine a point to it, but 42 people died and 28 suffered gunshot wounds because the ‘domestic violence’ got out of the house.

Here’s the point at which NRS 33 (Injunctions) kicks in.  Nevada statutes allow for an emergency restraining order or a  temporary restraining order, with courts available 24/7 to issue emergency orders barring the ‘adverse party’ from threatening the victim or victims, being in the victim’s residence, and doing any harm to pets.  [NRS 33.020]  But, the TRO doesn’t get the guns out of the house. The TRO doesn’t take the guns away from the ‘adverse party,’ and if the aforementioned ‘adverse party’ is of a mind to participate in something like the 16 incidents in the FBI report, then there is nothing in the law to stop him.

It is only when an extended order of protection is sought that anyone starts paying attention to the firearms.  NRS 33.031-033 offers the ‘adverse party’ potential shooter some protection for his firearms.  Here’s the catch:

“ A temporary order can last up to 30 days.  However, if you file for an extended order at the same time that you file for the temporary order (or at any time while the temporary order is in effect), the temporary order will last until the date of your hearing for an extended order (which could be up to 45 days from the date you file for the extended order).*1 [WLOrg]

That’s up to 45 days for our hypothetical ‘adverse party’ to retain the firearms, and perhaps decide to use them.  This gives the ‘adverse party’ his day in court to protect his ‘gun rights,’ but on the other hand it gives him possession of lethal weapons for up to 45 days.  In a much safer world the firearms would leave his hands during the imposition of the emergency restraining period.  The ammosexuals would no doubt start sputtering.

But, but, but “I have a Constitutional Right to my Gun?”  “You can’t take it away from me before I have my day in court!”  The Day In Court Argument is logically fragile.  I have a Constitutional Right to my own religious practices, however if I decide to become a practicing Aztec and select victims for sacrifice to the Sun – there’s little doubt the state would make every effort to stop me well before my court date.

In a safer world the guns would be gone during the period  specified by the temporary restraining order.   There’s no requirement that the ‘adverse party’ show up at the TRO hearing, but there’s nothing to prevent it either?  In our not-quite-so-safe world those guns can be in ‘adverse party’ hands for up to 45 days.  There are at least 70 casualties mentioned in the FBI report which might have been prevented by tougher injunctions, and more vigorous enforcement of those orders?

There is a compromise position which the Legislature might consider.  How might domestic violence in Nevada be mitigated if we agreed that if the domestic violence incident included shooting or threats of shooting, then the emergency protection order could include the dispossession of firearms? Or, if the ‘adverse party’ was the perpetrator of previous acts of violence then the firearms would be handed over to law enforcement for storage pending further actions by the court?   It would seem logical to take the escalation factor into account when dealing with those who tend toward assault and battery.

Nevada’s laws aren’t the worst in the nation, but they could be better, and more focused on preventing active shooter violence – something for the next session of the Legislature to consider?

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Rant: The Junior High Boys Club and Domestic Abuse and Violence

Rant in Progress Every misogynistic rant from Rush Limbaugh gives them permission to slap the little woman around.  Every hyperventilating right winger who spouts off on the wussification of America gives them permission to use a belt on the kids. 

Every time the buddies excuse his behavior with anything from “Boys will be boys,” to “she had it coming,” he feels more entitled to demonstrate his God-given authority over women.  “I’m a real guy! And, if she doesn’t want it she must be frigid or a lesbian.”  In other words, some fellows never really got out of junior high.

The Junior High Boy Boors Band

So it’s no surprise to find we have a  hedge fund employee at Swiss Performance Management & Fiduciary AG who thought it amusing to grab the posterior of a female bartender, and then rage when she publicized his behavior.

“That f–king c–t, for her to do something like that is pretty ridiculous, I will make sure she doesn’t get another job in New York City. I know everybody. The bar owners, the club owners – that’s a terrible thing to write about somebody.” [C&L]

His Twitter buddies found his comments acceptable, and worthy of encouragement.  Do we suppose it would curb his performances if the firm were to sit him down for a one hour sensitivity training session?  Two hours?  This appears to be the answer the National Football League is giving to the question of domestic violence, to wit:

“The memo he issued Thursday says: “These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault. We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way.” [ESPN]

Thus, in the next 30 days the League personnel and its staff will “undergo training in on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault.” [ESPN]   Let’s indulge in some speculation.  First, most of the people undergoing the training don’t need it.  Most of them understand what outrageous and disrespectful behavior is when they see it.  Most don’t condone it, and most will sit politely through whatever sessions are provided because they already know that domestic violence and the degradation of women is unwarranted; and, they already have the information necessary  to “understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Secondly, the Junior High Crowd won’t get it.  They already know what domestic violence is, and they are perfectly aware of what constitutes sexual assault.   They, like the Entitled Hedge Fund employee, simply don’t think the rules apply to them.   When she says, “NO,” it means “YES,” because having no self restraint, little self control, and still less self esteem they have to have what they want when they want it.   If they can’t dominate the ‘weaker sex’ who can they dominate? – and they have to dominate someone.

If she rejects them then she’s a C—, or a B—, or a D—because surely no right minded woman would fail to be impressed by their righteous hyper-masculinity?  If she fights back physically, then “of course, she’s asking for it” if she doesn’t accept her beat down, by their dim lights.  Surely, the Junior High Boys reason, if she’s fighting back then that means she’s participating in domestic violence too!  Their imaginations don’t take them much further than, “I have money,” or “I have power,” or “I have the world’s coolest job.” How could anyone not do exactly what I want, when I want?

One ESPN analyst, former coach Herman Edwards, nailed it this afternoon  when he opined that some players came to the NFL having never been held accountable for their actions or their attitudes, and he’s right. However, others offered excuses such as the horrible home lives some NFL players have endured as a possible reason for their criminal conduct.  Slow down here a moment.  Do we suspect that the obnoxious hedge fund manager comes from a dysfunctional home?  Do we automatically assume the posterior grabbing boor in the bar comes from a poverty stricken, violent home? Probably not. 

If poverty and broken families were the drivers of domestic violence and sexual assault then why do the statistics demonstrate conclusively that this behavior cuts across ethnic and  economic lines?  Women aren’t necessarily at greater risk from a Black, White, Rich, Poor, man.  They are at risk when they are in the company of a Boor/Goon, and Boors/Goons come in all types imaginable.

Changing the Cheers

Assuming we want the Boors/Goons to change their behaviors: What factors drive changes in behavior? We know from research since the 1950s that there are some basics: 

“Behavioral change theorists now agree on eight factors known to influence behavior: (1) intention, (2) environmental constraints, (3) skills, (4) attitudes, (5) norms, (6) self-standards, (7) emotion, and (8) self-efficacy.” [HarvardFRP]

So, we know that a well intentioned individual, who is not stressed by environmental factors, who has developed some coping and interpersonal skills, and who has positive attitudes is not going to be a member of the Junior High Boys Band of Boors.  Nor will a person who has internalized the norms of acceptable social behavior, has high expectations he can meet his own personal standards, and who feels empowered to reach those goals.

Yet here’s the problem for the Wall Street Hedge Firm, the National Football League, and perhaps even Bill’s Garage on South Elm Street.  How do you hire people who aren’t going to drive customers away, who aren’t going to tarnish your brand, your reputation, by being Boors?  Here’s where ‘corporate culture’ comes into play.

“Sometimes people change their behavior depending on whom they are with.  They might want to behave in a certain way to fit in with their friends and then start taking those behaviors as habits of their own.  They may learn by watching others and decide that they want to do those behaviors as well.” [Sci360]

If the behaviors are ‘good’ and socially acceptable, not to mention legal, then all’s well. However, if the negative, unacceptable, behavior is being rewarded by peers and co-workers,  and  even some elements of the media, eventually the firm, the league, or the garage owner is going to be faced with public humiliation.  He might have been one of the best money men, transmission specialists, or interior lineman – but once he humiliates the boss all bets are off. Or are they?

When the NFL initially handed down a two game suspension to Ray Rice the reaction was swift and vehement.  [USAT]  Unfortunately, there were those who pontificated that the actions were part of the “feminizing” and “chickifying” of football.

“We’re feminizing this game. It’s a man’s game and if we keep feminizing this game we’re gonna ruin it. If we keep chickifying this game we’re gonna ruin it. It’s gonna become something it was never intended to be, and so many men now, executives in the league and sports Drive-Bys are in a race to see who can be the most politically correct feminized guy. It’s comical to watch this.” [Limbaugh, WaPo]

No, there’s nothing comical at all about reinforcing socially unacceptable, or downright criminal, behavior. There’s actually little to differentiate Mr. Limbaugh’s comments from those made by the friends of the odious bar patron from the hedge fund.  What the hedge fund, the National Football League (and perhaps our hypothetical garage) needs to decide is whether the opinions expressed by the associates of the repellant bar patron, like those expressed by Mr. Limbaugh, are representative of the corporate culture.

Changing the Culture

On the bright side, the NFL Commissioner announced the hiring of staff whose task it will be to advise the league on domestic violence and abuse issues – a former prosecutor with the Manhattan DA’s sex crimes unit, a former Liz Claiborne executive who founded an organization to alleviate domestic violence, and a former head of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  All women. Additionally, Anna Isaacson will move from “neighborhood affairs” into a role as VP of Social Responsibility. [DailyNewsSen]  The Commissioner also suggested the formation of a committee which will deal with domestic violence and abuse (and other) personal conduct considerations, on par with the Competition Committee.

The not-so-bright side of the NFL seems to be that it takes something like an off the Richter Scale earth moving event to get its corporate attention – former players  had to commit suicide or delve into the depths of dementia before the Health Committees decided to get serious about the dangers of concussions.  The national audience had to be witness to the miserable treatment and abuse dished out by locker room bullies in Miami before the League investigated.  Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Campbell Soup, and Radisson had to firmly and publicly disavow the lenient policy on domestic abuse of any kind before the League decided it needed a Social Responsibility Office.

This suggests one more lesson for the hypothetical garage, the hedge fund, and the NFL – there’s an inconvenient but useful management style, once popular but now somewhat out of date; it was called Management by Moving Around – literally telling managers to get out from behind the desk and find out what was happening on the shop floor.  Perhaps the individuals in the new Social Responsibility office will move from 280 Park Avenue and into venues in which they are more likely to come into contact with players, coaches, and team owners.   The distance problem isn’t anything the NFL hasn’t dealt with before.

Team owners and coaches were “shocked, Shocked I say” to find out that bullying, harassment, and intimidation were happening in the Miami Dolphins organization.  National media attention, a nasty scandal, and some personnel changes later and  the League office got at least a tenuous grip on the issue.  More “management by moving around” might have prevented that issue  from becoming an embarrassment, as it might alleviate some of the problems associated with boorish and violent players.

It shouldn’t take national mortification before corporations, companies, and professional athletic leagues understand the dangers of negative behavior on the part of their employees.   However, once in the limelight we can only hope the chorus from the righteous makes the lamentations from the Boors imperceptible.

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Nevada Legislature Needs to Talk About Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Ribbon Sadly, sometimes it takes a dramatic event to capture attention indicating a serious problem – the Ray Rice Case is a notable example.  In the immortal words of the late great Joan Rivers, “Can We Talk?”

Instead of taking action when alarms sound, Nevada’s been hitting the Snooze Alarm on domestic violence. 

Alarm:  On February 7, 2012 the Las Vegas Sun reported findings that nearly half of all women surveyed by the CDC living in Nevada reported having experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes.  Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto established a domestic violence fatality review board to review the issue and look at a  “sample of cases to determine where the chain of assistance and services could be strengthened to prevent future domestic violence homicides.”

Alarm:  April 24, 2013 The report from the domestic violence fatality review was published. [pdf]  Recommendations included suggestions for improving the collection and analysis of data – not surprising because the review board found local governments should (but not necessarily do) have processes in place to gather accurate and complete information for state wide analysis.

Another recommendation centered on the creation and implementation of a process by which there could be an immediate temporary restraining order at the time of an arrest, amending NRS 33.017.

The fifth recommendation suggested that local judges and attorneys discontinue the practice of pleading down domestic violence cases.  Pleading down a case such that the perpetrator is assigned to “impulse control classes” too often means that the second offense is treated as a “first offense,” and the cumulative process of domestic violence sentencing in ineffective.  We’ll come back to this recommendation in a moment.

Alarm:  January 26, 2014 the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that domestic violence cases are on the rise in Clark County. In 2012 the police responded to some 60,000 reports of domestic violence, and in 22,000 of those there was some form of criminal behavior.   While Nevada was no longer Number One in domestic violence statistics, having dropped to Number 16 in the nation, there are still entirely too many cases.

The Legal Environment

These alarms are going off in an environment in which domestic violence may not be considered a felony unless there is a weapon involved or the victim is permanently injured.  [LVGov]  Further,  section 228 of the Nevada statutes dealing with domestic violence is mostly concerned with the certification and administration of treatment programs.  This is not to say that Nevada laws are necessarily weak in term of domestic abuse, but they do have elements which could be improved.  One such area concerns “battery.”

While Las Vegas advises victims that there must be permanent injury or the use of a potentially lethal weapon for the perpetrator to face a felony charge, the statute on battery is not necessarily as lenient.  NRS 200.400 defines a battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

If the person intended to commit “mayhem” (permanent bodily injury) or robbery or grand larceny, then this would be considered a category B felony punishable by a state prison term of not less than 2 years nor more than 10, and a fine of not more than $10,000.  Battery with intent to kill will also be considered a category B felony with a term of at least 2 years incarceration and not more than 20.  If there is substantial bodily harm and the victim is over the age of 16, then the offense is a category A felony, with a minimum sentence of 2 years and a maximum of life. 

Again, the “substantial bodily harm” is defined as “Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or Prolonged physical pain.”  In short, while the general definition of a battery seems like the obvious charge in a domestic violence situation, the definitions of “mayhem,” and “substantial bodily harm” raise the standard such that the advisory from Las Vegas is essentially correct.

The Personal Environment

Unfortunately not all forms of domestic abuse/violence take the obvious form of a battery, nor of an assault in a traditional legal sense.  Pushing, kicking, slapping, punching, strangulation, biting, throwing objects at or near the victim, subjecting the person to reckless driving, using household objects as weapons, threatening the partner with weapons of various sorts, are all common forms of domestic violence that don’t achieve the levels of abuse in the form of lacerations, fractures, internal injuries; or of abuse that leads to disabilities or death. [DWVA.org]  The academic definition of domestic abuse (intimidation, humiliation, physical injury) [AAETS] meets the legal definitions only when the abuse becomes readily apparent, and intense enough to meet the standards for mayhem or substantial bodily harm.

Modern society places a premium on being in control, and there is a temptation when discussing the behaviors listed above to describe them as being “out of control,” or the result of immediate anger or frustration.  In fact, the domestic abuser is all about control, “Domestic abuse is not a result of losing control; domestic abuse is intentionally trying to control another person. The abuser is purposefully using verbal, nonverbal, or physical means to gain control over the other person.”  [AAETS]

We punish those who go beyond the bounds of acceptable human behavior if they do things which cause substantial bodily harm or result in mayhem. However, we’re not as efficient in creating a legal environment in which it’s recognized that there are abusive individuals, who are not out of control, and whose actions cause severe emotional damage and psychological harm, which may or may not result in permanent injury.

It’s time now to reconsider the recommendation from the state review panel on sentencing guidelines, with a special focus on their commentary:

“When these cases are pleaded down to lower level offenses, sentencing is ineffective or even dangerous. For example, impulse control classes are not effective in domestic violence cases. In addition, this creates a system where future domestic violence incidents are treated as a first offense, and therefore the cumulative nature of domestic violence sentencing is ineffective.”  (emphasis added)

Admitting the Almost Obvious

Publicly stating that impulse control classes aren’t the answer should have raised some controversy when the Attorney General’s panel first issued the report on domestic violence cases in Nevada.  However, the conclusion is substantiated by other, and earlier, research.  In a 2002 meta-study of treatment programs (Babcock, Green, Robie) found: “Overall, effects due to treatment were in the small range, meaning that the current interventions have a minimal impact on reducing recidivism beyond the effect of being arrested.”

A study of offenders in Broward County, Florida in 2004 was no more heartening:  “The results presented here show no clear and demonstrable effects of counseling on offenders’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Analysis of  self-reported and victim-reported psychological and physical abuse using the revised Conflict Tactics Scales suggests that the behavior of batterers in  the treatment programs did not change over time.” (pdf) 

A 2008 publication of meta-analysis concerning studies of batterer treatment programs also confirms the Nevada panel’s conclusion. “The Preponderance of evidence now accumulated in the field calls into question the efficacy of “batterer” programs based on the most prevalent national models. Indeed, the main findings from our randomized trial are consistent with other recent trials, of which none found that mandating offenders to a batterer program for groups of men produced lower rates of re-abuse.” (pdf)

Not to paint a very pretty face on the matter, but Nevada has an entire section of code (NRS 228) given to certifying treatment programs for domestic abusers, one segment concerning how certification may be withdrawn, and a sentence requiring the program to measure the success of the individual’s progress – but doesn’t seem to have a complete grip on what to do when treatment doesn’t work.

The Legislative Environment

It would seem obvious that one of the tasks to which the next session of the State Legislature should set for itself is the oversight of sentencing and adjudication of domestic violence crimes.  There are some pertinent questions which ought to be raised:

#1.  What is the “success rate,” if any, of the mandatory treatment programs for domestic abusers in Nevada?  What is an “acceptable” recidivism rate?  How is recidivism measured? Re-arrest rates?  Self reporting? After treatment interviews and investigations?

#2. If, as suggested by the research, the fear of arrest is more conducive to a reduction in domestic violence among its perpetrators than court mandated treatment programs, then are community standards for police training, and judicial education commensurate with the need to effect more efficacious interaction between the batterers and the courts?  *This is a polite way to say, “Do we junk the bulk of NRS 228 and improve the way the legal code addresses that domestic battering which doesn’t meet the standards required for mayhem and substantial bodily injury?”

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Domestic Violence and Corporate America

Domestic Violence 2 Between the years 2003 and 2012 domestic violence accounted for 21% of all violent crime reported in the United States. [BJS]  So, why does it take the dismissal of a star athlete in a nationally adored sport to get our attention?  Yes, Ray Rice has been dismissed from the Baltimore Ravens NFL team, an action which has drawn universal praise for the Ravens front office – however, as the statistic should illustrate, Mr. Rice is certainly not alone.

76% of domestic violence victims are men, 24% are women. [BJS] The definition of domestic violence appears to predict these numbers, as the Department of Justice describes it”:

“…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.”

The Department of Justice goes further, identifying elements which are components of domestic violence:  The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and/or psychological. [DoJ]  In the instance of Mr. Rice, the behavior was clearly physical.  However, when an organization such as the NFL, or any other corporation for that matter, announces a Zero Tolerance policy for domestic violence what is it talking about?

Mr. Rice’s behavior in the elevator was obviously physical, and just as obviously abusive.  The incident was also highly visible.  Perhaps at this point it’s important to ask what if the abuse in question isn’t obviously physical, and isn’t documented on video for all the world to eventually see?

What if the abuse is within the confines of the household, and is primarily sexual?  What if the abuse constituted marital rape?  Here we find the radical conservatives hawking the notion that there is no such thing as spousal rape.  Consider Richard Black, Virginia state senator now running for Congress:

The rabidly conservative Republican was one of the state delegates who argued against criminalizing spousal rape in 2002, asking his fellow assemblymen, “How on earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there’s no injury, there’s no separation or anything.” [TDB]

She’s in a nightie, and so forth…?”  Mr. Black’s line of argument appears to be if it’s difficult to prove then it ought not be prosecuted?  If she’s in her night clothes that’s an invitation to rape?  Is this comparable to “if her skirt is too short?”  Black is, unfortunately, not an outlier.  Remember Senate candidate Todd Akin’s reference to “legitimate rape?” Or, Richard Mourdock’s commentary on a rape caused pregnancy being what God intended? [TDB]

And then the unreconstructed harridan of the Right, Phyllis  Schlafly chimed in:

I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That’s what marriage is all about, I don’t know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn’t mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn’t rape, it’s a he said-she said where it’s just too easy to lie about it. [RWW]

In other words, once you’ve said “I do” it’s I will  and I will and I will?  In order for a rape to be a rape there has to be such physical violence as to be the visible result of a battery?  If there is ‘mistreatment’ there are laws which might be applied? What laws? According to her lights, not the laws against sexual assault.  She can divorce him, but do so in the knowledge that what he did to her he may now do to others?  And, it’s “just too easy to lie about it?”  Mrs. Schlafly is now dredging down into “Beware little boys, she’s probably going to cry rape or pregnancy if you have sex with her” territory.

What the Right wants to ignore is the fundamental definition of domestic violence.  It’s not a matter of who meant what when they said, “I do,” it’s “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.”  Physical or sexual violence in this instance isn’t a matter of merely forcing an unwilling partner to engage in sex for the pleasure of the partner – It’s sex used as a weapon to gain or maintain power and control.

Would the NFL, or any other corporate entity take a Zero Tolerance stance against economic abusive behavior – in which the victim is controlled by the purse strings?  Would they be intolerant of a person who took complete control of the family finances, excluding the partner from any control over any spending money?  Would they be intolerant of an abuser who refused to allow a spouse to continue her education? To take on a paying job? These kinds of power games aren’t going to show up on casino video screens, but they are all too common as forms of spousal abuse.  In this instance, it’s money used as a weapon to gain or maintain power and control.

How about emotional abuse – continuous and continual denigration, constant assaults on the spouse’s self esteem – the message is relatively clear: “You are incapable of functioning without me, and therefore I will be incomplete control”  Or, what of psychological abuse – creating an atmosphere of fear by intimidation, threats to the victim and the children, the destruction of personal property or pets, or forcing isolation from family and friends?  Now we have words, and force, used as weapons to gain or maintain power and control.

Verizon has taken a corporate stand against domestic violence, framing it correctly as a public health problem – women who have been abused are more likely to experience more chronic health problem.   A number of corporations have partnered with Domestic Violence Solutions in Santa Barbara, California,  which offers a 40 hour training program on domestic violence and its ramifications targeted for therapists, medical personnel, social service professionals,  law enforcement personnel, volunteers, and friends and family. General Electric requires a criminal background check, including any references to domestic violence, for employment in its aviation division. [DL GE] The corporation is quite clear about not tolerating sexual harassment in the workplace, but its manual doesn’t directly address domestic violence away from work.

Other corporations are involved with the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.  This organization has been functioning since the mid 1990’s toward a more general vision: “We envision enhanced corporate profitability through reduction of rising expenses related to partner violence, such as health care costs and expenses due to low productivity, high turnover, and absenteeism.”  

While corporate efforts to prevent domestic violence are laudable, it’s difficult for an employer to discern which employees might be perpetrators of domestic violence.  Some of the strategies used to hide the abuse are associated with being a ‘good guy’ on the shop floor or in the cubicles. Among the prevalent behavior strategies used by abusers are:  (1) Having a very different public and private persona. (2) Projecting blame.  (3) Claiming loss of control or anger management issues, (4) Minimizing or denying the abusive behavior. [CW.gov]  Likewise, it can often be difficult to determine who’s the victim when the physical injuries are hidden, or explained away, or the victim conceals problems out of shame, apprehension, or fear.  [CW.gov]

So, here’s to the National Football League and the Baltimore Ravens for sending a strong message: We don’t condone domestic violence.  And, here’s hoping for several improvements in the way we address the issue of domestic violence in America.

(1) Every corporation in America should have a written policy on domestic violence.  The policy should provide guidelines for handling abusers, and for providing help for victims.  Direct policy statements aren’t just the right thing to do, but as the CAEPV points out there are direct economic benefits for corporations which implement zero tolerance policies.

(2) Every major employer, public and private, should acknowledge in its policy statements that domestic violence also includes the less visible elements of economic, emotional, and psychological abuse.

(3) Every major employer, public and private, should have personnel available as part of its human relations divisions who are trained to deal with cases of domestic violence – of all kinds not only physical and sexual — and there should be clear directives about immediately assisting employees in need.  In other words, the Shelter should be on speed-dial.

(4) Every major employer, public and private, should have the same concern for its brand (or “Shield”) as evidenced by the Ravens, i.e. domestic violence is never acceptable in any form, and those guilty of it (in any form) will face immediate dismissal.

It doesn’t matter if she’s the ‘little woman’ at home, it doesn’t matter if she said “I do,” it doesn’t matter if she’s in a nightie, it doesn’t matter if she’s not in a casino elevator on camera – it only matters that there is a victim and an abuser, and the abusers aren’t so valuable to any organization or institution that they can’t be replaced.

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Filed under Women's Issues, Womens' Rights