Naked Wrestling for a Cassette Recorder: What Does a Protection Order Affidavit Look Like?

Posted on October 17, 2015


“Finally, we asked the men about other behaviors that their women partners might have used that could be considered psychologically aggressive. Specifically, 67.2% reported that their partner falsely accused them of hitting or beating her; 38.7% reported that she filed a restraining order against him under false pretenses; 48.9% of the men with children reported that their partners falsely accused them of physically abusing the children, and 15.4% reported that they were falsely accused by their partners of sexually abusing the children.”

—“A Closer Look at Men Who Sustain Intimate Terrorism by Women” (2010)

Incident rates of false allegations of family violence, it’s often casually reported, are no higher than incident rates of false allegations of other types of crimes. Figures are put somewhere between 2 and 8%. These figures are promulgated by parties who deny that lying about violence in civil and family court is significant.

The claimed correspondence between the frequency of false allegations of family violence and the frequency of false allegations of other crimes isn’t just wrong; it’s make-believe. False allegations of other types of crimes are litigated in criminal court. Often accusations of family violence (besides harassment, stalking, sexual harassment, and violent threat, among others) are not, and there are no “false allegations” in civil court. Rulings aren’t based on the truth or non-truth of allegations. They’re based on what the judges believe is probable. Allegations may be determined “baseless,” but they’re not called “false.”

Whoever says the rate of false allegations in civil court is X has just invented a convenient statistic that can’t be confirmed or confuted. Accusers aren’t going to admit it if they’d lied, so they’re not a reliable source of data, and court rulings are never stamped FALSELY ACCUSED.

The only way to estimate how much lying goes on is to ask people who’ve been accused if they’ve were lied about.

That’s what the researchers in the cited National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, Denise A. Hines and Emily M. Douglas did: They asked, and the answers they received place the figure at 67.2%, dramatically higher than 2 to 8%.

Those interviewed for the study were men in heterosexual relationships who reported being battered (i.e., men whose female partners were reportedly violent), and science forbids application of this statistic to other contexts. But it’s certainly suggestive. It could be that women who are violent lie more readily than women who abuse in other ways, but to contend that only violent women lie about fear and violence would be to beggar (or bugger) credibility.

(Men also lie about fear and violence, of course, but among complainants to the court, women outnumber men by a factor of four—80% to 20%, roughly. Also, domestic violence acts—from which restraining order laws originate—are “women’s law,” not men’s, and women’s advocates and feminist sympathizers are the political force behind it.)

We’re told that protection orders rescue women and children from environments of chronic violence. We hear that allegations of chronic violence may be false. What do allegations actually look like, and how does the process for litigating them work?

A commenter, Mark Shumate, recently reported that he was removed from his home based on this affidavit (i.e., narrative to the court), which he says was “perjured”:

protection order affidavit

According to this bizarre story, the man had “one of his cassette recorders” with him in the bathroom (maybe he was a collector of vintage tech and never went anywhere without it). His wife “found” the recorder—apparently by entering the bathroom while the man was showering. She then “picked up” the recorder her husband had in the bathroom with him. This inspired the husband to “jump” from the shower and wrestle her for it (rather than just pull it from her grasp), and the alleged tussle resulted in the wife’s sustaining “severe contusions” to both arms, her knee, and her cheek. In lay terms, that’s four bruises (contusions are bruises). What made them “severe” bruises isn’t clarified, nor is there an indication that the bruises were documented.

This is the wife’s account of something that may or may not have actually occurred.

The language is important: The wife is said to passively intrude on a private bathroom moment, while the actions of the man (who, according to the story, is presumably naked with shampoo in his eyes) are described in maximally inflammatory terms: “jumped,” “forcefully grabbed,” “struggled,” “forcefully restrained,” “forced,” “refused,” and finally “physically overcame.”

Naturally, none of what’s described was witnessed. The details are asserted; they’re not facts. The words are sufficiently gripping, however, to distract attention from the implausibility of the story they’re purported to recall (namely, that of a wrestling match in the john between a naked man and his wife over a tape recorder).

Based on this squidgy tale of an uncorroborated bathroom incident recounted in an ex parte petition for a family violence protection order prepared by a law firm, the wife was able to:

  1. have her husband removed from his home and ordered to not to come with 500 yards of it, his children, or his wife;
  2. gain “temporary and permanent” custody of the children;
  3. be granted “exclusive use and control of the marital residence”;
  4. be “awarded temporary sole possession” of the family car;
  5. request to have her husband ordered to pay alimony and child support; and
  6. request to have her husband ordered to pay her attorney fees (for having the protection order petition drafted).

On the basis of the same sketchy story, the wife was able to plausibly allege fear of “further violence,” as well as allege a “prior history” of physical restraint, withholding of car keys, and verbal abuse that caused her “mental and emotional” pain.

The number of people who know whether any of this is true are two: the woman with the house, the kids, the car, and the cash…and the man without them.

Copyright © 2015