Back in 2007, Glenn and Mike McCormick wrote this piece about the problems for men posed by the State of Maine’s adoption of a policy to arrest “predominant aggressors” in domestic violence incidents. They warned that,
the predominant aggressor doctrine functions as a method of directing police officers to arrest men, not women, when responding to domestic disturbance calls.
How prophetic they were. Now this document, entitled “Identifying Predominant Aggressors in Domestic Violence Cases,” shows exactly how a term that’s gender-neutral on its face is in fact used to “arrest men, not women.” The document is a training program for peace officers in Maine.
To place it in a brief historical perspective, back in the 1970s, the problem of domestic violence was first thrust into the national consciousness by gender feminists. They claimed that DV was simply one of many methods of patriarchal social control of women by men. Those, like Erin Pizzey, the feminist who opened Britain’s first DV shelter in 1971, who said that women as well as men were violent, were marginalized in the DV movement.
But a problem immediately arose – scientific studies showed that Pizzey was right. DV was in no way confined to the “male perpetrator/female victim” narrative preferred by the growing DV industry. So they beat a strategic retreat. That consisted of redefining violence to include almost any form of conflict that might occur between intimates. That agreed nicely with their political view that DV is all about control of women by men.
So things like “angry stares,” attempts by a husband to get his wife to spend less or stop seeing untrustworthy friends all qualified as “violence” because they were “controlling.” Many people recall the instructions provided by one DV shelter in New York that risibly informed women that a man’s ”failure to give gifts or compliments” constituted DV. Silly as that was, though, at present not a single state requires an act of physical violence for a violation of its DV laws to occur.
The idea that domestic violence didn’t have to be actually – you know – violent, satisfied certain ideological precepts, but it too had a downside. Given that definition, police began arresting women for DV. Numerous states and municipalities reported DV arrests of women increasing far faster than those of men.
So DV advocates devised a new doctrine that would maintain the absurdly broad definition of violence but still not arrest too many women – the “predominant aggressor” doctrine. That allowed police to analyze an alleged scene of DV and arrest only the aggressor they considered to be the “predominant” one. As DV researcher and former police lieutenant, Richard Davis has written,
Mandatory arrest and “dominant aggressor” policies were implemented only after interveners believed that far too many females were being arrested for domestic violence incidents after violence was legally redefined as a push or shove.
The document linked to is the State of Maine’s effort to “educate” police about how to decide which is the “predominant” aggressor.”
I won’t dwell on the obvious falsehoods and misrepresentations, which are only to be expected. But suffice it to say that the entire piece is an unquestioning rehash of Duluth Model nonsense that ignores decades of sound social science in favor of the preferred narrative of the DV industry. That narrative holds as follows: only men are perps and only women are victims; “battering” of women by men is an epidemic that crosses all socio-economic groups; only criminalization of perps addresses the problem of male “power and control;” the Duluth Model and shelter system help to solve the problem. None of that is true and indeed it’s well-established to be untrue, but it’s all there in the Maine training document.
Focusing on the predominent aggressor begins on page eight of the piece with the definition of the term. After that, the training materials provide eight mock exercises to illustrate how to identify the “predominant aggressor” in various situations. In other words, the people who put together the training materials were presenting scenarios they had imagined in order to train the officers.
Not a single one of the eight presents a situation in which the woman would be the person arrested. In every case, the conclusion is to arrest the man. Whoever created the materials couldn’t even imagine a situation in which it would be appropriate to arrest a woman. And that includes this one:
6. Self-defense #1 (Man Hit in Head with Ashtray)
• They were arguing over money/dress.
• She started going off and hit him in the head.
• She was not injured.
• They were arguing and “I hit him with an ashtray.”
• He did not hit her.
So the hypothetical case consists of “they were arguing; she hit him with an ashtray; he did not hit her; she’s not injured.”
At first, the training manual doesn’t draw a conclusion about this one. Why not? Because what’s important is not that she committed an act of physical violence against him but that he may be exercising “power and control.” It continues:
What about Power and Control tactics that you observed?
• Man came to door.
• Woman was hiding until man called her out.
• Officer had to call her out of the room.
• She seemed very frightened and scarred (sic). Why?
Possible Crimes: Assault, Criminal Threatening, Criminal Threatening
with a Dangerous Weapon. Remember who is predominant
See how it works? When a man uses physical violence, he’s the “predominant aggressor,” even though the woman did too. But even when he doesn’t use physical violence and she does, he’s injured and she’s not, he’s still the “predominant aggressor.”
(As a sidelight, notice that one of the acts of “power and control” that the materials teach officers to look for is “man came to door.” Did you know that? Did you know that if your wife calls the cops and you meet them at the door they’ll interpret that as an exercise of ”power and control” over your wife? I didn’t.)
Notice too that the trainee is instructed to imagine what crimes the man might possibly have committed while overlooking the crime (battery) that the woman committed and to which she admits.
One of the main sets of data the DV industry invariably points to is the one that shows the vast majority of DV arrestees being male. How, they ask, could that be true if the vast majority of DV weren’t committed by men?
Well, here’s their answer.