Mixed Loyalties: Why the Only One Looking Out for the Victim of Restraining Order Abuse is the Victim of Restraining Order Abuse, or, Why You’re on Your Own

Posted on October 1, 2015


A recent commenter observed that the “abuse industry” is a goldmine that no one who benefits from it has any motive to oppose, including judges and lawyers.

There are exceptions—attorneys Gregory Hession and David Heleniak are examples—but in general the commenter is right. Civil rights groups like the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center have a defining investment in women’s rights, and restraining orders are “women’s law.” So their sensitivity to procedural abuse is profoundly limited, also.

The Academy is feminist-dominated. You’ll find no open sympathy there. Feminists hold political sway, whatever their numbers actually are and regardless of whether theirs are majority positions or minority ones. Higher education is a political milieu. Professors who publicly voice qualms with feminist doctrine are few. (Not that long ago, a Harvard president was driven out of office for candidly proposing that men and women were different.) Mainstream media are pressured into conformity with the favored views of the “intelligentsia” (or what’s sometimes called the “East Coast establishment”), and these favored views are feminist views.

Outspoken female critics who represent your side—and there are several stellar ones—may have personal motives, like affiliation with a set of political/family values, cornering a market demographic to enhance sales of books they’ve authored or services they offer,  or carving out a literary niche for themselves in the popular press. Alternatively, they may be intellectually offended by the direction feminism has taken; they may feel betrayed by a cause they formerly championed. They oppose the source of your injury, and they’re to be esteemed for that, but they can’t afford to make an investment in you.

Finally, even forums on the Internet that address restraining order and other types of prosecutorial abuses may be jealous of “competing” voices; they have a brand that they’ve invested in and a particular ideology they espouse.

These are among the reasons why there is no common front.

None of this means that any or all of the aforementioned couldn’t be moved to take up your cause, but to attract their interest, you would need to make a splash. This requires loud action that attains a measure of legitimacy, and this is probably only possible if individuals unify—in a campaign, for example, or a class action.

The solitary complainant who can’t brandish a court judgment that exonerates him or her of foul accusations is an iffy investment. Nobody knows you. Too, the person who understands where you’re coming from but is mired in his or her own hell will only have a modicum of attention to spare you. Alliance toward a common goal that raises the hopes of all those involved could reward the individual, but to realize such an alliance requires action, and it requires action that aims to attract power to itself.

There is value in registering your complaint, anywhere and in any way, because more stories translate to greater awareness (which also encourages others to step forward and share their travails). To break the chokehold of ambivalence and resignation, though, requires the kind of action that grabs headlines, and that requires community and a concerted effort.

Only success attracts popular support.

Copyright © 2015 RestrainingOrderAbuse.com

*Here is an example of a campaign that resonated.