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The hidden half of domestic violence

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Inside A ‘Batterers Program’ for ‘Abused’ Women  Part 2

More Families In DSS . . . More $$ For Everyone Unhealthy relationship between DSS and domestic violence Industry

By Nev Moore

Two thirds of the funding to Independence House in Hyannis comes from DSS, channeled through the state Department of Public Health, while the other comes from private and corporate donations.

Therefore, Independence House is dependent on DSS for survival, and, therefore, beholden to DSS as the hand that feeds them. They quickly learned from their mentors, who are pros at it, that if you pad your client roster by coercing unwilling clients, you fight your way to a better position on the "funders" food chain.

Last year the Dept. of Public Health cut $350,000 of funding to Independence House due to complaints by women. Senator Henri Rauschenbach got it reinstated. The relationship between DSS and Independence House (and its sister organizations around the state) is unhealthy and symbiotic.

Because DSS has allowed the battered women’s "advocates" to trade in their rusty VW buses for new Lexuses (that is literally true for some women who work at Independence House), greed has replaced integrity and an honest desire to help other women. They work together to dramatically increase their client statistics. When the support groups report women’s conversations back to DSS, this information is used to charge the mothers with neglect, for "allowing" their children to be exposed to "domestic violence."

In court, DSS claims the women have "poor judgment" when it goes to court to terminate their parental rights. The proof? The fact that the women attended the battered women’s center for services – even though they were ordered to go by DSS. As further "proof" DSS will use the restraining orders that they forced the women to get.

Although I was coerced to attend by DSS, some of the women come voluntarily for help. The battered women’s groups basically pimp clients for DSS in return for money. They are patronizing and condescending to their clients (not to mention deceptive). Women are coerced into accepting their cultish indoctrination via the use of threats, intimidation and fear of losing their children. In fact, they employ all the methods and behaviors that are considered abuse and control if committed by the women’s husbands or boyfriends.

Independence House and its sister organizations provide DSS with additional clients. The women’s groups get more money, and DSS gets more state and federal money. They both are artificially inflating their numbers. They inflate the domestic violence statistics this way and through the use of coerced restraining orders. By artificially inflating the domestic violence statistics they are able to create political hysteria – leading to more funding.

Women are ordered to leave their husbands, even in the complete absence of real domestic violence or abuse. They are ordered to never let the fathers see their children, or DSS will charge the woman with neglect, again. Women are ordered to leave their homes and to sever contact with their mates. They then discover that, in order to get shelter, housing, food stamps, Medicaid, or cash benefits, they must claim to be victims of domestic violence to get a priority. Women are told they must do this to keep their children or to get them back if DSS already has them.
 The "Freedom to make your own choices" means the choices they want you to make. The choices that will benefit them financially.

How Did We End Up In DSS?

Government intervention turns to harassment By Nev Moore

Thirteen months after my husband drank too much one night and with no problems of any kind after that incident, the social worker, Kathy Marciante, and Sue Ash, the domestic violence "expert," showed up while I was working in my garden in May 1997.

I was very surprised to see them as I had not seen or heard from any DSS social worker in a couple of months, so I didn’t even think that we were still involved with DSS. The two women, in deadly serious tones, told me that I had to pack a few things in a bag, and that I and my children would have to go with them to an "undisclosed location."

After the shock wore off, I believe I burst out laughing. I felt as if I had just slipped into a "B" spy movie. The two women would not elaborate on their request, but kept adamantly insisting that I leave my home with them. They informed me that I would not be able to contact anybody or allow anyone to know where I was. I kept asking them why they were here, but I didn’t get an answer. They said that if I didn’t go with them, they would have to consult with their legal department about removing the children. My 16-year old son told them that they were ludicrous and there was absolutely no reason for them to be there. He also told them that our daughter was very close to us and clingy, and that it would deeply traumatize her to take her away from us and her home.

By this time the little one was home from school. She was very frightened and hid behind me. Eventually, I became angry and ordered them off my property, suggesting that they go down to a well-known crack neighborhood where they were needed.

Our daughter was too frightened to go to school the next day. We sat her down and told her that we loved her and would never, ever allow anyone to take her away. The following day they snatched her from her classroom. It was weeks before we saw her again.

It was four months before we were able to get a hearing before a judge in Barnstable Juvenile Court. We had 29 continuances before our case was heard. It was 13 months before our daughter returned to her home.

A Year of Snooping It had all started the previous spring after my husband spent a night of drinking with a buddy and assaulted me outside of our home. A passerby called 911 on their car phone. Our children weren’t present or involved, one being away on a trip; and the youngest, our seven-year-old daughter, was asleep in her bedroom at the upstairs back of our large, old captain’s house. It is the practice of the police now to call DSS whenever they are called to a house where underage children reside.

Neither of us minimized or denied the seriousness of the incident, and we immediately took steps to ensure that this would never happen again. I made it clear to my husband that I would not accept a chaotic lifestyle, and he could not remain in the home if he chose to continue drinking. Of his own accord, he entered counseling and became active in AA. He stopped consorting with drinking friends and has not set foot in a bar since that night. I was clear about what I wanted for myself and quite in charge of my own life.

When the young, ditsy (there truly is no other adjective I can use) social worker from DSS showed up, we allowed her in and were civil. I explained clearly that as two intelligent, mature adults we were quite capable of managing our own lives, marriage, and problems. If I needed help, I knew how to dial 911. For several months she kept pushing me to attend "Independence House." Over and over, I explained in simple language that I did not feel myself to be a battered woman, and I adamantly did not want to go to Independence House.

I am not weak, dependent, nor in need of their services. I was hardly the profile of a dependent, beaten-down, battered woman being controlled by her domineering husband. I explained that my husband didn’t control me, didn’t control my money, and I was free to come and go as I pleased, have whatever friends I chose, and could say or do what I wished. [She wrote down that I was a textbook case of a battered woman "in denial."]

"Protecting My Abuser" I explained to her that I had the life of my dreams, was happy and fulfilled, and that, outside of that isolated incident, my husband treated me like a princess. I told her, not that it was any of her business, my husband and I loved each other and were committed to our marriage. [She wrote that I was "protecting my abuser."] She would complain about her ex-husband (not that I had any interest in hearing) and condescendingly say to me, "I know how you feel. My husband was abusive, too." I would look at her like she had two heads and tell her that I never said any such thing. I do not feel that way. When I told her that my husband was very sweet to me and we had a great time together, she gave me a "service plan" on which one of the tasks was to go to Independence House for treatment to help me "lower my denial." [When I told her I was happy and fulfilled in life, she wrote down that I needed treatment to raise my self-esteem. Anyone who knows me will get a good guffaw from that one!]

If I said I didn’t want to go to Independence House, she reported that as a sign that my husband was controlling and isolating me. She would tell me that we could meet away from my house where I could speak freely, if I could get away without fear of repercussions. I looked at her like she had three heads. No matter how many times I, or the children, would tell her that we were fine, there was no violence or abuse, we weren’t afraid of my husband, and there was no cause for her to be involved with us, it made no difference. She would continue to write down that the whole family was "in denial," and we were protecting my husband out of fear.

I attempted to use logic by pointing out to her that our house is on the main street of a quaint, little historical village, across the street from the court house, the fire station, the sheriff’s office, a few doors down from a Senator’s office, and surrounded by antique shops and lawyers’ offices. There is a thrift shop attached to our house and a realty office. We are highly visible in the community and well liked. No one had ever seen or heard anything amiss. There were no police calls to the house, not so much as a noise complaint. I pointed out that this was not a location where disruption would go unnoticed. It would be impossible to hide. [So she wrote down that there was "ongoing domestic violence."] It was about this time that I began to feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

At that time I was unaware that all the considerable funding to "combat domestic violence" was channeled through DSS. To the tune of $13 million a year. The DSS worker brought a "domestic violence expert," Sue Ash, to my home a couple of times. (What are the qualifications to be a "domestic violence expert"?) I reiterated my story, over and over. I felt like I was being subjected to an inquisition, and was down to reciting name, rank, and serial number. They insisted that I meet them for coffee at a diner. [Maybe I’d crack.] The expert also met Tommy and me together.
 The social worker dropped me and my daughter off at our house. I believed at this point that I had done everything I could possibly do to make DSS happy, without knowing why I should have to do so. My children had never been abused or neglected by any stretch of the imagination, so why was my life being micro-managed by strangers?

Harassment Starts Again After a few weeks the social worker and supervisor started harassing me again, this time claiming that they had lost their copy of the restraining order and the court couldn’t find it in their files either. I had lost all patience at this point and told them that it wasn’t my problem and to stop harassing me. They continued to threaten to take the children unless I got another restraining order. Later on, in court hearings and in the DSS case file, they claimed that I had gone into the court building and just pretended to get the restraining order. My husband and I went over to court together to get another one. The judge this time was a village resident, Judge Gerald O’Neil. When we told the judge that we wanted a restraining order against my husband, he quipped that he’d never had a husband and wife come together to get a restraining order.

We said that we were being forced to get it by DSS even though there was no violence in our home, and that neither the children nor I were in fear. Judge O’Neil said that he didn’t like DSS dictating to him in his court room, but if not getting the order would put our family at risk with DSS, then he would issue it. We got a restraining order for one year.

But it didn’t stop them from taking our children. The fact that I had applied for a restraining order helped them. That’s why they wanted it.

Nev Moore is President of Justice for Families, a group she founded to help parents who have problems with the DSS. They can be reached at (508) 362-6921 or P.O. Box 141, Barnstable, MA 02630.
 

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