Even when They’re Right, They’re Wrong: A Female Author Agrees Domestic Violence Laws Are Exploited to “Set Up” Partners but Puts the Blame Squarely on Men

Posted on March 4, 2015


“Victims of these increasingly common set-ups face criminal charges alongside their emotionally depleting divorce and custody cases, which are, of course, by now stacked against them.”

—Former crime reporter Janie McQueen

The quotation above comes from the author of the book, Hanging on by My Fingernails: Surviving the New Divorce Gamesmanship, and How a Scratch Can Land You in Jail.

Perhaps you’re thinking: I can so identify with that—and perhaps you can identify with it. If you’re not a woman, though, you’re not supposed to. So stop it.

Yep, a female author (and journalist) acknowledges that lying to the court to gain the upper hand in divorce and custody cases occurs. In fact, she says it’s “increasingly common.” According to her, though, the culprits are violent men.

Ms. McQueen apparently aspires to upset the dogma while still keeping the faith: The system is abused, she emphasizes, but women are the victims, and men are the victimizers.

Evident without benefit of having read her book is that because Ms. McQueen alleges she was framed (and probably quotes other women who allege they were framed), “set-ups” of this sort are asserted to be “increasingly common.” They probably are—they’re reported here routinely—but never mind, apparently, that Ms. McQueen’s contention is exactly what men have been saying for, um, decades. Whether frame-ups are “increasingly” common or not, they are common, and they have been for a long time (and thanks to rhetoric that insists women are incapable of lying maliciously, the likelihood of their becoming increasingly “increasingly common” is strong).

Since I haven’t read Ms. McQueen’s book, fairness requires that I acknowledge her position may not be as chauvinistic as it sounds. Also, the book has apparently been in print for three years, and I just heard about it Monday, so I’d venture to guess that it hasn’t exerted a great deal of populist influence. For an audience sympathetic to feminism to concede that false allegations from men are rampant would be to invite speculation on how rampant false allegations from women are.

That, as they say, ain’t gonna happen.

I learned of Ms. McQueen’s book in an online column in Forbes by Jeff Landers, a “certified divorce financial analyst” and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, a “divorce financial advisory firm that works exclusively with women.” Mr. Landers is also the author of multiple books directed to a strictly female audience.

His representation of Ms. McQueen’s book, then, may be skewed to his marketing demographic. I can’t say. This, however, is a passage from Ms. McQueen’s book quoted in Mr. Landers’s column “How Some Men Are Upending Domestic Violence Laws to Scam an Advantage in Divorce” (the passage is from the book’s forward, which is penned by Chicago criminal defense attorney Tamara N. Holder):

Unfortunately, many abusive men have learned to reshape domestic violence laws into another weapon of abuse. They are turning police and court protections upside down: The abusers themselves call 9-1-1; they have the women arrested for domestic violence; and then they do everything they can to try to have the women prosecuted and sentenced. In this way, the true victim is painted as the abuser.

There is a deeper motivation in using this ploy; to show a pattern of “violent conduct” on the woman’s part so that the abuser can use it as evidence against her in a divorce or child custody battle. And this form of abuse is permanent. A bruise heals after a few days, but a conviction for a violent crime mars her record forever.

The set-up: A couple has a fight. Either the wife calls 9-1-1 in a desperate plea for police intervention, or the husband makes the call first in a preemptive attack. When the police arrive, the woman is visibly upset. The man, on the other hand, is extremely calm as he switches off his anger. The husband tells the police that his wife is delusional, crazy, and violent. Depending on how convincing the man’s story is to the police officer, and the state’s law on domestic violence, either both people are arrested or the woman is arrested.

In the case of a dual arrest, which some states discourage, the woman often tells prosecutors she doesn’t want to testify against her husband, so the case is dismissed. Meanwhile, the husband is determined that she be prosecuted. Instead of the prosecutors looking into the history of the relationship before proceeding with the criminal case, they move full speed ahead. The wife is usually cut off from her husband’s financial support so she cannot pay for defense against him. As a result, she is forced to take a plea to the charges because she cannot afford to defend herself. She fears taking the case to trial, losing, and going to jail.

Conclusory remarks will be brief. First, bravo to Ms. Holder (and Ms. McQueen) for a detailed articulation of a serious problem, one that founders lives. What’s described above certainly happens; don’t doubt it for a moment. Second, though, what impassioned subdual of the imagination is required for an intelligent person to believe this only happens to women? C’mon. (Not only does the same thing happen to men, but the presence of children in the relationship isn’t a necessary motivation.) Finally, mark this statement well: “And this form of abuse is permanent. A bruise heals after a few days, but a conviction for a violent crime mars [a] record forever.”

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