Don’t leave me this way…

So, it’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been busy, doing all the stuff you gotta do in life, even if you are obsessed with reforming family law. Perhaps, especially.  I’ve been keeping my eye on the ball though. The ball being male entitlement.

One of the best places to get information on the ongoing war on women and children is, of-course, the internet, most specifically internet groups set up to highlight aspects of the conflict. They are easy to locate. All you need to do is type a few choice phrases such as ‘domestic violence’ ‘child endangerment’ ‘sexual crimes’ into a group search and you will instantly find hundreds of cyber spaces, filled with victims, eager to share their truth, desperate for reform. I’m a member of several groups. I’m an ex member of several more.

Anyone that moves in these circles will know, as a general rule, they are compromised almost entirely of women. To give you an example, one such group, with the very specific aim of protecting children from violent parents, has over 1,600 members. Of these, 53 have verified male identities. This group, I would consider atypical. In truth, I have never stumbled across a chat room interested in child welfare and violence reduction, where women don’t overwhelmingly outnumber men in members.

Now, me, I never stay in one place for very long. Sometimes I get thrown out. Sometimes I jump, before I’m pushed. Always, it’s the same bone of contention. Here’s how it goes down. I join a group. Things are rocking along just nicely. I’m liking this post. Pinning an angry face on that post. Occasionally posting. It’s all very civil. Then one of two things happen. Either, some bloke posts a ‘I’m not being taken seriously enough as a male victim of domestic abuse’ link or, some woman shoves up a begging letter for her male relative, friend or partner, who is a victim of domestic abuse, and too afraid to post themselves. Either of these eventualities then prompts a storm of reassuring responses, as women fall over themselves trying to accommodate both scenarios.

‘Abuse is abuse.’ One will say. ‘Gender has nothing to do with it.’ Another will echo. Warm invites will be issued to all men everywhere, who may have suffered at the hands of a violent woman. It’s only a matter of time before an admin will get involved ‘This group recognises the gender neutrality of domestic violence. Anyone not promoting this line should perhaps consider finding themselves another group…’ They might write.

And that’s always my cue to enter the conversation. Knowing that this group, like all groups I’ve encountered, will be overwhelmingly populated by women I will ask ‘How is it possible to reasonably argue gender neutrality, if we accept that all of our members are literate and can count?’

‘Course as soon as I pose this question, conflict ensues. Always, a few brave women will acknowledge I’ve got a point, but mostly I’ll be shouted down by people that wish I hadn’t. I get fully why women want to take the gender out of domestic violence. It levels the playing field. It makes us feel safer. If we are not been targeted, just because we are women, then the world is less perilous. And, if it’s not a gender issue, but a human issue, then we can join forces with men who claim domestic abuse and fight the concept, not each other. Everybody knows that men’s opinions have more weight in society than women’s. (For those unsure, check the disproportionate number of men in positions of power across the globe, and the universal truth that men earn more money than women, in almost every field.) It therefore makes sense to pitch our tent next to theirs and focus on this abstract thing called domestic violence, that any of us, are equally as likely to fall prey to, regardless of our sex.

Only it’s simply not true. Men are more violent than women. Don’t believe me? Look at your history books. Turn on your TV.  Log onto to your internet. Head to your local city centre and hang round outside a club at ten to closing. Buy a season ticket for a favoured football club. Do a google search for famous serial killers and see how many were men. Repeat the process for all serial killers. Repeat the process for all murderers. There are an infinite number of ways you can verify this theory. In reality, it’s a lot more difficult to pretend it isn’t so.

What a coup for the patriarchy that we have lost sight of the roots of domestic control? It’s under fifty years since the first women’s refuge opened, and as women’s refuges close, up and down the country, we’re locked in never-ending cyber debates about the rights of abused men.

In some ways, it feels like nothing changes. But things have. Fifty years ago, a bloke didn’t have to do much in the way of defending himself, if he was accused of domestic violence. For a start, it was barely a crime, and one easily explained away with the caveat ‘She deserved it’. Rape didn’t merit an explanation, because it wasn’t a crime, and kiddy fiddling…we all now all little attention was paid to that crime. Now, all the above are clear and recognisable legal and moral aberrations.

When the predator’s landscape changes, then the predator must adapt or die, and ladies, they ain’t dying. Instead, they have created a new defense. ‘I was driven to it,’ has morphed into ‘I was protecting my person, She is the violent one.’ And the perpetrator becomes the victim, because what’s the alternative? That, he holds up his hands and admits he’s the dangerous one. Said no psychopath ever.

To be very clear, I’m not saying all men who claim to be victims of domestic violence are lying. I’m saying some are. As women, we should probably remember, that they denied us our victim hood for most of history. Perhaps, we should exercise some caution, as they now lay claim to a status that did not exist until we’d named it.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lying Game

The first rule of family law club is everybody lies. The second rule of family law club is everybody lies. It will come as a huge surprise to those of you who don’t already know, but professionals lie. Every day. Their reasons for doing this are complex and varied, but there is always a common motivating factor. Because they can.

From the outside, with no apparent gain, it seems suspect.

Take G.P.’ s for example, what about the hippocratic oath? You know that’s just an oath right, as in it’s not legally binding. We ought not to forget G.P’s, at core, are just failed consultants, or surgeons, or specialists. In spite of the private education, and a season skiing’s worth of extra tuition, they were the ones that scraped into medical school and slogged their way through. Only to be turfed out into the every growing crisis that we call the N.H.S., and worked longer for less. Much like the rest of us, except they’re not like the rest of us. Even though they never made it to scrubs, or any place that might have made Daddy proud, they still enjoy an elevated status within the community. ‘Course these days everybody’s a doctor. Half a surgery is spent fielding so called advice, gleaned from online sights with dubious credentials. It’s hard enough being a G.P. without having to deal with an informed client base.

All in all, the G.P’s load is a heavy one. Is it any wonder so many tuck in to their own free samples? Is it any wonder mistakes are made ,as more and more people compete for the same dwindling resources? Is it any wonder concerns are overlooked and babies go unprotected? Is it any wonder they wind up lying, all the time? It’s a rarely discussed, but logical occupational hazard.

Health Visitors lie, and midwifes lie, and mental health practitioners lie, and nurses. Nurses lie as well. Before you go calling me out as a conspiracy theorist, and a real bad loser. Think about it. Busy people, stretched to breaking point, missing t-breaks and lunch breaks, and tax breaks they were promised. If a f**k up goes on record, then they also miss out on promotional opportunities, possible pay rises. And why? ‘Coz the government can’t get it’s s**t together and save the N.H.S. Once you’ve lied once, and established how plausible a course of action it is, if your back is against the wall, then you will lie again. And again.

So, to be clear, I’m not saying everyone attached to the N.H.S. is a pathological liar. That would be absurd. Equally absurd is the suggestion that they’re are not pathological liars in the N.H.S. And the really good ones, they stay there for life.

When I tell you that social workers lie, you won’t even feign surprise ‘coz everybody knows that. It’s a universally accepted truth, like Irish people have red hair, and everything sounds sexier in someone else’s accent. Social workers have to lie, how else could they continue to function as an organisation? We probably don’t realise how much they lie, or maybe we do, but it’s immaterial because it’s always someone else’s kids they are lying about.

The police lie. There’s been very few miscarriages of justice in the U.K. where police corruption, incompetence or malpractice hasn’t featured. The 34,247 complaint cases in 2016 received by The Independent Police Complaints Commission are an indication that a large number of British citizens have concerns about aspects of police work. Like the N.H.S., the police find themselves under intense pressure to produce results, with less material means to do so. Such a culture encourages putting the bulk of resources into cases most likely to have a speedy, tangible outcome. In a nutshell, shoplifters are cheaper and easier to prosecute than paedophile rings.

I don’t want to go on record as calling all lawyers liars, because they could sue and that’s a lot of lawsuits. I want instead to ask those of you, who have used a lawyer, at any point in your life, to recall the experience. How many of you will remember an instinctive lack of trust? That’s caused by the language barrier. They speak law. We don’t. The relationship requires more trust in their professionalism than the trust we place in our baker or electrician. That’s why those of us who can afford to, hire the best lawyers. We trust if we’re paying them enough, they will be on our side. If they are not, they are better placed than any other body mentioned in this blog to cover their tracks.

All of these different professions converge around family law. If we are prepared to accept that based on the law of averages all of these organisations have bad apples, lazy apples and down right incompetent apples among their ranks, then the conspiracy theorists who suggest that the family courts steal women’s babies and give them to violent men and paedophiles don’t sound quite so crazy. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, what sorry state might we see if we pulled back the screen of professional protection that masquerades as child protection? If they have nothing to hide, then why do they go to such extra-ordinary lengths to hide it?

 

 

Life on Mars

I could tell you the personal story behind my own obsession with family law, but then I’d have to kill you. I’m joking. I wouldn’t kill you afterwards but I would cyber stalk you and start sending you private messages on facebook and twitter begging you not to disclose the information I’d given to you to anyone, anywhere, ever. Eventually, unless you’re very on the ball about internet privacy, I’ll track you down, and show up on your front door some night. My appearance will be disheveled and I may present as highly agitated. I’ll grab at the sleeve of your cardigan and reiterate the private nature of the stuff I’ve told you. ‘Under pain of death, you must not tell!’ I’ll be shouting at this point. ‘Tell who?’ you’ll ask, your eyes a mix of fear and curiosity. ‘Them,’ I’ll reply.

You’ll just assume I’m nuts, and get in line sister. But I’m not crazy. I’m cautious. I’m aware that anything I say to anyone at anytime about my story could someday be used against me in a court of law. And that’s not just because I’ve watched too many episodes of ‘Suits’.

Now I’m not here to sell family law to you, because truly I hope you are never in the market.  I would however like to open your eyes to the plight of Mothers who find themselves trapped beneath the weight of its power. Their reasons for being there are as varied as their nationalities, accents and the type of shoes they wear. Because everybody has a story. Their reasons for being there, by in large, are identical. They have no other recourse as mothers wishing to protect their children than to turn to the state and ask the state to put in place legal barriers between them and a perceived threat. It’s feminism 101. And all the things our mothers – though not my own who was Irish and busy doing the work of ten men in her role as rural housewife -fought for and won. In theory.

In actuality, the secretive nature of it means there is no accountability for the actions of the people who work within it. In practicality, what that means is they have no incentive whatsoever to be good at their job. In fact, even scarier, their job which is fundamentally to protect children, becomes secondary to pleasing the only authority they are accountable to, namely the judge on any given day. ‘Course the apologists, comprising mainly of people profiting from working in this and related fields, talk about the appeals system. The appeals system is also secretive so we never get to talk about it for very long.

Judges, as anyone with any imagination knows, are conservative people. In criminal courts we have dragged them kicking and screaming into the twenty first century by explaining to them time and time again the nature of crimes against women. Every few years we still have to spell out the meaning of consent for them. If she was drunk she couldn’t consent. The clothes she wears offer no indication of consent. Her previous sexual history in no way negates her lack of consent this time. The list is ongoing and constantly subject to updates as out of touch law enforcers, often referred to as judges, continue to act like it’s 1973. If it wasn’t for the media jumping on these judgments shaming the establishment into action, then our criminal justice system would never have evolved. The appalling low conviction rate for sex crimes would be even lower. There would be even more rapists on the street.

I appreciate that family law is something of an anomaly in the real world, unlike criminal law, which everybody has some basic understanding of, just by watching TV or scrolling through the headlines. Family Law is like the illegitimate second cousin of real law. You can’t forget about it completely, but you don’t have to ask it to every family gathering, or take too much of an interest in its life. After all, it will never happen to you.

Well guess what? Neither will a lot of the criminal stuff, but you still talk about that, and engage with that as a valid subject at parties. ‘Is there anything worse than the wrongful conviction of an innocent man?’ You’ll hypothesise.  Well, yeah! The state stealing your babies. ‘Coz that’s like two wrongs, which, if everything must be turned into a competitive sport, is worse than one.

‘The state doesn’t steal babies,’ You’ll tut. ‘When did they last cover that on Panorama?’ and lucky old you with the luxury of doubt.

Not that I’m knocking doubt! How different might my own life had been if I hadn’t doubted much that I was told was truth? How different most peoples? But doubt from an informed position is very different than doubt bred from an absence of knowledge. That’s simply ignorance.

And of course you are ignorant because there is a conspiracy to keep you so.

An Open Letter to The Transparency Project

Disclaimer: No Samantha Baldwins were consulted during the writing of this blog.

Dear Transparency Project,

Some people, I say some people but I mean me mostly, think that you are a bit of a sham charity, comprised mainly of self serving lawyer types using public money and perception to further your own ambitions. Rather than making family law clearer you are simply court apologists, loath to antagonise or even question the hand that feeds you.

However, your website suggests you are the go to authority on family law in the U.K., so despite my considerable misgivings, I am going to you to ask some questions that I think Joan Public, or at least that tiny percentage of Joan Public that is interested in family law, would like answers to. These questions have arisen as a direct result of the recent high profile Samantha Baldwin case. It is already a case you have reported extensively on (three separate posts) so I wonder would it be too much of an imposition to post once again on this case, or more specifically on legal issues – your area of expertise – arising from the Samantha Baldwin case.

God knows you have tried to make as clear as possible all available information about this case, yet still rumours and half truths abound. There are many reasons for this, why ‘believers’ – I think that’s what you call them in the trade- continue to ‘believe’ in spite of numerous clear articles from law charities such as yourselves and the blanket message spread by the mainstream media.  News pieces such as the Daily Mail’s positive account of Sam’s parenting won’t help matters, humanising the Mother, describing her as a ‘doting parent’, words your team found to be ‘hallow’ in the face of Judge Lea’s subjective judgement. Of course, such media stories are only part of the problem.

Five minutes of positive press is no match for the ‘facts’ as released by Judge Lea and most doubters could be seen turning beetroot, mumbling ‘sorry’ and signing out of #justice4s quicker than you could say ‘twelve days, ‘long’ ones at that…’ But alas, for true believers, Judge Lea’s statement posed more questions than it answered. The rumours and half truths circulating suggesting that an alleged paeodphile ring was at the centre of this case were validated by Judge Lea’s own statement saying that there was an alleged paeodphile ring at the centre of the case.

‘…At the beginning of that judgment, I set out the respective positions of the parents in these terms: “This is a calamitous case. The two boys that I am concerned with have either been grossly sexually abused by their father, members of the father’s family, and a number of his male friends. Or, in all probability, they now have a false belief that he, his family and friends have done so. On either basis the consequences for the emotional and psychological wellbeing of these boys may well be catastrophic.” (taken from Transparency Project Website)

Whilst most people were prepared to take on face value the judge’s statement, especially with your website qualifying how thorough a job the judge had done, some were outright appalled by it.

Perhaps, part of the problem is that the believers in a case like this are made up broadly of family law obsessives. An obsession in something as obscure as family law is almost always bred by direct, or at the very least indirect experience of the process. In comedic circles such people would be called a tough crowd. It doesn’t matter how many times a charity set up to inform the public about family law explains the available data to them, they will twist it and find ways to subvert its findings to support their cause. Their cause, in a nutshell, is to expose the corrupt and inept nature of family law proceedings.

Now, I don’t have to tell a charity like yourselves about such people! How much easier would your life be if such individuals didn’t exist, constantly muddying the waters of an otherwise steady, single stream of clean, clear information?

Take The Women’s Coalition,  for example. This group must be a thorn in the side of family law courts everywhere. Flouting reporting restrictions as some kind of mission statement! Suggesting the only way to protect women and children in family law is to expose, expose, expose…

This group, among others, form the core of why I am writing to you seeking clarity for Joan Public. Joan Public as we’ve already established, if she’s interested in family law, probably has a personal perspective. She may well have subscribed to justice4s or justice4silenced tags, but she always had her eye on the bigger picture. That is not to say that she does not want justice for Samantha Baldwin, working from the perception that Samantha Baldwin has been done an injustice, it is simply to say she wants more. Samantha Baldwin’s story is one of many to her.

This sort of individual is very distinct from the core group of supporters that Samantha’s case has attracted, most of whom know Samantha personally. These people want this mother reunited with her children. Initially they thought the best way to help was to publish information, now they think the best way to help is not to.

And here’s where you come in. There are rumours and half truths that suggest that Samantha Baldwin is being held personally to account in a closed family court for the actions of renegades. Not friends or colleagues, but absolute strangers, who see her name as an opportunity to expouse their own personal agendas, ideologies and opinions. Take me, for example, I have never met her or anyone that has ever met her. If it wasn’t for all the police released photos of her, I couldn’t pick her out of a line up. Yet, I have written three blogs about her case. Much like The Transparency Project. There is nothing that Samantha Baldwin could have reasonably done to stop me writing these articles.

Such is the egotistical nature of every opinionator out there! Surely these rumours, like so many that your team have already fielded, have no place in fact? Surely, Samantha Baldwin cannot be held accountable for the words and actions of people she has never met? People who would use her personal crisis in an opportunistic fashion? People who would use her and her children’s pain for personal or political gain? These questions are particularly pertinent when we recognise that Samantha Baldwin herself has never courted publicity. Can you clarify this issue for us? Can you attest as to how the actions of strangers would never impact on the outcome of a secret family court hearing?

I note you have already briefly referred to #justice4s campaign. You mention the ‘mistaken belief’ that some of her supporters have that using a ‘s’ to denote ‘samantha’ legally negates the fact that the tag is for Samantha. I don’t think it was a mistaken belief. I think it was outright ignorance. It’s hardly surprising! Law. Reporting restrictions law. Defamation law ( I note you suggest that some people tweeting about the case need a crash course on this – can you suggest a link?).  Family law.  Any type of law is in fact so specialist that we defer to lawyers. Thank goodness we have a charity set up especially to navigate such complex and skilled subjects.

Please help!

Kind Regards,

Mothers In Law.