Role Reversal: Using Restraining Orders to Conceal Misconduct and Displace Blame

Posted on January 7, 2014


“My brother was [the] victim of [domestic violence], but he was the one [who] got arrested, because he didn’t report it, and she called the police saying that she was the victim.”

“I have been accused of domestic violence. When my wife was arrested for credit fraud, I told her I wanted a divorce. She said she wasn’t letting me go. So she called the police and said I hit her so I was arrested. I’m so confused.”

—E-petition respondents

I’ve been monitoring the online petition, “Stop False Allegations of Domestic Violence,” since I came across it almost three years ago. The comments above were topmost when I looked at it Sunday evening.

The motives of the frauds they describe are essentially the same: cover-up. Plaintiffs’ blaming their victims for their own misconduct is a common motive for frauds on the police and courts, which typically stem from or involve restraining order abuse.

Dr. Tara Palmatier, on her website, has written extensively about domestic violence committed by women, as well as about female abusers’ filing false allegations against their victims to compound the injury and garner attention. It’s neither my intention nor my interest to alienate female victims of restraining order abuse or to discount the horrors of their own ordeals with this observation, but women like attention (and, sure, men are hardly indifferent to it). This observation isn’t made gratuitously, either. Attention-seeking is a basic motive for the fraudulent abuse of restraining orders, which may derail or destroy defendants’ lives and which may be awarded based on nothing more substantial that hysterical hot air.

Playing the victim is a very potent form of passive aggression when the audience includes authorities and judges. Validation from these audience members is particularly gratifying to the egos of frauds, and both the police and judges have been trained to respond gallantly to the appeals of “damsels in distress.”

Besides attracting attention, bad faith abuses of civil process gratify abusers’ will to dominate and own their victims. Here you see the correspondence between the two scenarios in the epigraph. Potential threats in both cases have been defanged and subjugated to the control of the false accusers.

With their false allegations now in place, any threat to them that their victims may have posed has effectively been neutralized. Should the victim in the former case report that his wife is in fact the batterer, his allegation will be profoundly controverted by her beating him to the punch. She’s killed his credibility. If the victim in the latter case seeks a divorce, what should have been a clean break will have been made very messy by the domestic violence charge.

The most unacknowledged horror of the restraining order process is its convenient use to victimize men and women a second time even as they’re reeling from grievous or humiliating betrayals committed by their false accusers.

The reason this horror is unacknowledged is that the courts are very good at covering up, too.

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