Huffington Post Divorce columnist Vicki Larson contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I would do an interview.
Larson had recently injured herself, sustained a black eye and found her clumsiness funny. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, did not find her shiner quite so humorous. He was quite understandably worried that people would automatically assume he’d hit her.
This incident gave Larson the idea for an article regarding how men are often suspected of abuse and how that works to women’s advantage in divorce cases, which led Larson via Google to Shrink4Men.
I replied and told Ms Larson that I understood her boyfriend’s concern because men, in many ways, are automatic suspects. Ms Larson wrote back and asked what I meant by “automatic suspects.” I replied:
I think men are often default scapegoats. A wife hits her husband — he must’ve been cheating and deserved it. In reality, the wife was cheating and knew she’d get the lion’s share of the assets if she portrayed herself as the victim. A father doesn’t see his kids — he must be a deadbeat dad. In reality, the mother alienated the kids, ignores custody court orders and denies the father access.
Neighbors hear the woman next door yelling and cursing,they call the cops, the cops arrive and arrest the husband. In reality, it was the wife who verbally and physically assaulted the husband.
I thought my response might deter Ms Larson from proceeding with the interview as this is an unpopular topic in our society. To my pleasant surprise, Ms Larson still wanted to do the interview.
A few days later, Ms Larson emailed 8 interview questions. Initially, I was a little hesitant about answering her questions. For those of you who haven’t explored the HuffPo’s Divorce section, well, let’s just say there’s quite a bit of male bashing and scapegoating that takes place there.
In an effort not to be quoted out of context, I sent Ms Larson nearly 9 pages of text (my apologies to Ms Larson!) She used material from both the interview questions and our email correspondence and published the article today:
It’s a very thoughtful piece and I’m honored she included Shrink4Men and me in it. Thus far, it seems to be getting a good reception by the majority of HuffPo readers who have posted comments, which is wonderful. There are a handful of “women are always victims” naysayers, but they’re in the minority.
Maybe western society is ready to start tackling the issue of male abuse.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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I read and reposted the article. I thought it was very well done and refreshing. I’m glad to see you’re getting a wider audience. I have found that a lot of people, especially women, hate it when someone points out the double standard. Some of the comments on that article prove that point all too well.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, knotheadusc.
Like one of my clients’ wives says, “The truth is MEAN.”
Most of the comments on the HP article are surprisingly supportive. There are only 2 or 3 commenters whose ignorance shines like a Klieg light.
It is encouraging that what was once taboo (that women can be the aggressors) is now being addressed, but I wouldn’t want to let feminism get off so lightly.
Even though feminists can claim some victories in addressing social imbalances, their intrusion into the family, academic inquiry etc etc etc requires them to be humble and apologetic.
Regardless, congrats for taking a swipe at corrupt family courts and anti-male bias.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, Lovekraft.
Third wave feminism is a perversion of the original movement. They are the “30%.”
When my exgf and I had only been dating a few months, she had her wisdom teeth removed. She went to a dentist vice an oral surgeon. She had two black eyes, multiple bruises and severe swelling. It looked like someone had worked her over pretty good. About a week or so later, the swelling was mostly gone and the bruises were turining yellow and purple. Even with makeup, they were very visible.
We went to dinner at one of the better restaurants in Seattle. I began to notice people were looking at her, looking at me, and so on. She picked up on it. Every time the waiter came by, she’d switch in mid-sentence to “Your attorney said if you agreed to anger management classes and plead down, you’ll avoid jail.” or “I’ve talked to my attorney about lifting the restraining order.” I asked her if she was trying to get me killed in the parking lot and exepected to be detained by the cops when I left. Neither happened but she found no small source of amusement in the whole thing.
never again says
It doesn’t even have to be seen. I remember visiting another board while trying to find out what was wrong with my relationship. I related many of the problems we were having, and at one point mentioned my wife having an on-going issue with her jaw and teeth. One poster not so subtly suggested that her dental problems were likely a result of me hitting her.
In fact, it was a lifelong issue she suffered, exacerbated by a botched dental surgery. But, the default assumption was abuse on my part.
Wow… what a creep that woman was, making a joke out of relationship violence. I tell you what, if I had been in that restaurant, I would have wondered why she was having dinner with you if you had actually hit her. Way to make herself look like a fool. For your sake, I’m glad she’s your ex.
Marshall Stack says
Wow! Your story reminds me of something I had completely forgotten about! When I was maybe 10 years old, my mother fell on her front walk and injured her arm. A few weeks later, she and my father were attending a church presentation about marriage where she gestured to the sling she was wearing and made a joke to the group about how it wasn’t inflicted by my father.
My mother for YEARS had us children convinced that our father broke her arm…only in recent years, have I been able, from bits and pieces that they have let slip, that it was an icy day out (in 1960- or 70-something??), and he went to grab her elbow. She either pulled away from him, or he grabbed her without her being ready for him (trying to keep her from falling on the ice)…and she fell on the ice, breaking her arm.
But in our house, it was always father’s fault…many, many times during one of their One Act Plays (the typical argument), have we all hear her pull out her trump card: “He broke my arm!” As though he had been beating her up or something. UGH!!!
I have no idea how he puts up with her crap for 40+ years. He’s no angel, he’s not the lowly piece of crap she has always made him out to be, either.
I made the foolish mistake (for my own benefit) of exposing one of her very very abusive incidents with me…and of course, it was her mother’s fault, her upbringing, my father’s fault, the church’s fault…nor did she remember. She would ‘never’ do anything like that.
Yeah…that’s why my stomach hasn’t worked properly since the age of 10….
Dr Tara Palmatier says
I had a similar thing happen to me twice.
Years ago, when I was working in a group home setting, one of my tasks was to buy groceries/supplies. One afternoon at the market I was getting gallons of milk out of the supermarket cooler.
It had a metal and glass door. Some old lady interrupted me to ask if I could reach something for her on a shelf that was too high for her. When I spun around to ask her what she wanted, the metal edge of the cooler door clocked me on my cheekbone right below my eye.
It wasn’t a serious injury, but my the bruise was bad. The next day, one of my classmates kept asking me if I “needed help” and did I “want to talk to someone.”
The other time I had a black eye was a result of playing with my pug. He had powerful back haunches and while we were play wrestling, he kicked me in the eye (the little sh*t). Sure enough, the next day at my gym, some woman asked if I was okay. When I told her my dog did it, she had this look on her face that said she didn’t believe me.
It may seem silly at first, but it’s not. Any group of people who are immediate suspects is a form of discrimination.
Congrats Dr. Tara 🙂
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, Alek! Good to see you here.
Btw, I love your design work. You are truly an artist.
Congratulations Dr.T. And thank you.
That article was also linked to and commented on in an article at Fathers and Families, including quotes from you from the article. I suspect you’re gonna get a lot of attention from this article.
So Cal Dad says
The article below is evidence of further appalling and abusive ex-wife behavior. How many readers even for a moment thought that maybe this husband deserved it? What if the husband was accused of slicing off his adulterous wife’s clitoris? Would the reaction be the same?
WOMAN ACCUSED OF SLICING OFF HUSBAND’S PENIS
By Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Cynthia Johnston | Reuters – July 13, 2011
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A California woman has been arrested over accusations she drugged her estranged husband, cut off his penis and ground it up in a garbage disposal before alerting police, authorities said on Tuesday.
Catherine Kieu Becker, 48, was taken into custody on Monday night after telling officers who found her husband tied to the bed and bleeding from his groin that he had “deserved it”, Garden Grove Police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said in a written statement.
Becker is accused of drugging her husband’s food to make him sleepy, slicing off his penis with a knife, tossing it into the garbage disposal and turning the unit on, Nightengale said. She then called 911, he added.
Great positive coverage or men’s rights from a liberal outlet. Not the usual twisted spin!
One of the comments by an officer in the ritualistic brutalizing of her soon to be ex husband was she didn’t look like someone who could have done this. The bias many of us men live with every day.
David Casson says
Thank you very much for your work, Dr. Tara. I have to admit: I’ve seen so much of this stuff over the last few years that I am seriously re-considering the prospect of marriage. It is a consolation that there are people like yourself who are on our side and who are helping to shed light on the nonsense that is afflicting Western society. Your being a woman lends credence to our cause in the eyes of this world. So thanks again for your hard work and I wish you the best.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, David. I’m glad you dropped. My very best wishes to you, too.
Great article and I was pleasently surprised by comments section. I hope this is the kick start to bringing more awareness to the courts about these types of issues.