Violence Against WHO Act?
My name is Diana L. Buffington. I am the State Coordinator for the Children's Rights Council of Texas. Our chapter is affiliated with CRC, Inc. based in Washington DC. We have 852 members in our chapter. I have been affiliated with CRC for 12 years. I am CRC's longest serving State Coordinator. I have served CRC as State Coordinator for Alaska, Iowa, and Texas.
It is about time that Family Violence is put to a stop. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) only addresses one side of DV. However, DOJ statistics, and from the weekly calls I get from parents with children around the state of Texas, who spouse or significant other has committed domestic violence, clearly shows me there is a rise of DV against men. I have also seen a rise of children assaulting their parents, primarily single-head of household mothers. Moreover, single mothers are the largest group of child murderers in the US.
Just to name a few cases in Texas that CRCTX has been involved with --
We had the "infamous" Mercedes Murderer, who allegedly "accidentally" ran over her husband with her car 4 times while circling the parking lot to do so, while her step-daughter was in the front seat of the car during the murder. The wife was found guilty of murder, and is serving 25 to life for her deed. Unfortunately, the Houston courts still gave the mother JOINT custody of her two twin sons, because she wasn't serving LIFE.
There was the 9-year old son whose mother brainwashed the child into thinking his father had committed sexual molestation on him and his brother. The mother's allegations were unsubstantiated by 3 Texas police departments, and 3 CPS divisions. She provided the child HER revolver and convinced him to kill his father. The son shot his dad, a prominent Houston Trauma Center physician, from the back seat, through the driver's seat 5 times, when the son was picked up for a visitation. The son's case is pending in criminal court. Mother's accessory to murder case is also pending.
There was the Dallas mother who had a restraining order against her ex-husband, who had supervised visits, due to DV. Mom arbitrarily and against all court orders, decided to allow the 2 daughters to visit him one weekend unsupervised. Then dad called mom and shot the two girls with a shotgun, while mom was on the phone. Mom was never charged, because the Dallas DA felt mom had suffered enough.
Then we have the Andrea Yates case where the father knowingly left his 5 sons with the mother, and she drowned them all. The father knew the mother was a paranoid schizophrenic and suffered from severe post-partum depression. Andrea is now serving life without parole. Father was never charged. Harris County DA said dad too suffered enough.
Then we have the mother who calmly called 911 to report her daughter was dying. When EMTs arrived the child had surely died. She bled to death after having both her arms cut off. Again the mother showed similar signs to that of the Yates mother. The mother's case is pending...the father not charged, because he's suffering.
I had a father picking up his son for the weekend, when the mother physically attacked dad in front of the son, AND an off-duty police officer. The officer was there to act as a non-official witness to the exchange, due to previous DV encounters and custodial interference. But mom did plead not guilty...claiming entrapment by the police officer. Fortunately, the mother was convicted of assault.
I have a husband who is consistently beaten by his wife with a cast iron skillet in front of his 5 children, when she gets angry. His injuries regularly result in short a hospital stay and many stitches to close his wounds. She has never been brought to trial by the Texas Montgomery County DA, simply because she is a "mother", even though all 5 children have been willing to testify. The father and children have nowhere to go, and no family to help them. The family lives below the poverty level. Dad can't get afford a divorce nor can he get a restraining order against the "mother". So the "mother" remains in the home.
I have a father who has primary conservatorship of his daughter. His ex-girlfriend falsely accused him of sexual molestation and DV. Her allegations were presented a falsified affidavit to the DA and in three other civil court appearances. Her affidavit alleged hospital visits that did not occur, police reports that did not occur, an alleged a marriage that never occurred, DV & molestation/abuse whose dates occurred when she had the visitation with child and the father was over 200 miles away. To top it off...she falsely reported the child's primary residence as being with her. She made no mention that the father had primary conservatorship. The mother also failed to return the child after her Thanksgiving access period. Her affidavit was prepared by a Diebold County battered women's shelter, while mom lived at her home. The father resides 200 miles from the mom. The shelter attorney who drafted the prejurious affidavit, advised mom to not return the child due to the attorney's falsified affidavit. The attorney assisted and encouraged the mother in her custodial interference & kidnapping. The DA dropped the DV charges, when the affidavit was proven false. The DA refuses to file perjury charges against the mother in Diebold, because the mother states she just signed the document, and didn't read it before filing it with the DA. Perjury charges in Dallas County are pending against the mother, after she knowingly produced the same affidavit in two different Dallas courts in three different hearings, after losing the criminal case in Diebold. The father is pressing for criminal custodial interference, kidnapping and perjury charges against the attorney and the women's shelter. To date no charges have been filed against the attorney or the shelter. A civil suit for malicious persecution & misconduct is pending in Diebold County is soon to be filed by the father.
I could state numerous other statistics and cases I been involved with just within the last 3 years. Over the last 12 years as a State Coordinator for CRC in 3 different states, I could testify to 100s of these types of family DV cases.
The VAWA Act should also be amended to include that states to begin to better define & isolate the DV cases in more diversified categories. This will gather better statistics so federal, state and local communities can better allocate their resources. For example -- DV statistics should include if the violence occurred, adult on adult; adult on child; child on adult; child on child. The stats should also show the relationship of the parties (i.e. married, separated, divorced, living together, parent, sibling...etc.). Many families and relationships are no longer the traditional dads & moms. DV in the gay and lesbian communities are also on the rise. So there should be indications in the police and medical reports if the DV was male v. female; female v. male; female v. female; male v. male.
When I was State Coordinator in Alaska, we did a non-binding, 6-month study just like this in Kodiak. We were amazed that the majority of the DV calls in this time frame were teenage males & females (involved with local gangs) attacking their single parent mothers and siblings. Domestic violence against men by women clearly proved that more men were DV victims in this same time period.
Most men have difficulty claiming women in their lives have assaulted them. Parents fear if they report DV by their children that CPS will get involved. We need to change these perceptions. VAWA clearly prevents this from occurring because the Act itself provides neither encouragement nor assistance to men with or without children or families with abusive children. Amended this Act would greatly remove the imbalance in DV for men and families.
Due to the rise of single parent homes, and children raised in homes due to out-of-wed-lock births, divorces, separations, and remarriages, plus the violence our children are subjected to in TV, movies, videos games I believe that we are only going to see a rise in children and women committing DV. Gang activity is also a major factor in the rise of children and women becoming the aggressors in their familial relationships.
We recently celebrated our country’s 229th anniversary. The founding fathers based our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights on EQUALITY for all it citizens. All of our nation and state’s laws are based on one simple premise – justice and equality.
VAWA does not offer justice or equality to ALL American citizens. VAWA should be amended and renamed Violence Against Family Act (VAFA) to cover violence against men committed by the women they have a relationship with and DV violence by children. Funding should also be made available to organizations that will provide shelters and assistance to men & their children who need to leave a violent home. Funding for shelters where parents can place their children without CPS intervention & counseling programs should also be diverted to families whose children commit DV within their families.
Thank you for taking my written testimony. If you need me to verbally testify, and can do so, but by telephonic means.
Thank you for you consideration and cooperation in this matter.
Diana L. Buffington, State Coordinator
Children's Rights Council of Texas
Diana L. Buffington, State Coordinator
Children's Rights Council of Texas
http://www.info4parents.com or http://www.info4padres.com