Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.


MYTHS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE


Gallagher's first book, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage and Sex, was published by Bonus Books in 1989. Judge Robert Bork called it "lucid, witty, profound, devastating," and George Gilder pronounced it "the best book ever written on men, women and marriage."

Currently an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, Gallagher has worked as an article editor of National Review, senior editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, and as a senior fellow at the Center for Social Thought.

Maggie Gallagher

4/11/97

It was just another news report, the sort that, living in any large American city, one gets used to:

Malik Griffin was sick with the flu when his mother, 19-year-old Jenice Griffin, left him the care of her 22-year-old boyfriend, Ginnacarlo Thompson, whom she had been dating for two years. After the sick boy had soiled himself yet again, Thompson "apparently became exasperated he had to clean the child," the police inspector told the New York Post. So Thompson proceeded to beat the youngster to death with his hands and fists.

Malik Griffin, who was buried Friday, was just 3 years old.

Young Malik's gruesome, tragic story made a particular impression on me, because I had just returned from testifying before the state legislature in Texas on no-fault divorce reform, the biggest objections to which come from groups concerned about domestic violence. This is not surprising. For years domestic violence has been discussed primarily as a problem of husbands abusing wives. Many people have the impression that marriage might even be considered a cause of domestic violence. The facts suggest otherwise.

Child abuse and domestic violence are not quite the same thing, of course, but both violence against women and violence against children are far more likely to take place in so-called "nontraditional families" -- in families and communities where intact marriage is no longer the norm.

Take child abuse, for example. Children who are not living with both biological parents face a significantly heightened risk of both physical and sexual abuse. One study found that a preschooler living with only one parent was 40 times more likely to be sexually abused than the child of an intact marriage.

The mother's boyfriend appears to be a particularly potent source of danger to a child. One study found that although boyfriends contribute less than 2 percent of all nonparental child care, they commit almost half of all reported abuse by nonparents. As researcher Leslie Margolin put it, "A young child left alone with a mother's boyfriend experiences elevated risk of physical abuse."

Similarly, the "intimate partner" most likely to injure a woman is not her husband. One Justice Department survey, which examined incidents of domestic violence against women committed between 1979 and 1987, found that only a minute fraction of such violence is committed by husbands. Boyfriends, ex-boyfriends and ex-spouses were responsible for 65 percent of all cases of domestic assault, compared to just 9 percent committed by husbands. Another study of pregnant women found that unmarried women were three to four times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than married women.

Many of the most vocal advocates of abused women and children have also been the biggest critics of the traditional family and the strongest advocates of "alternate lifestyle choices." The consequence is that most of the discussion about family violence has downplayed the clear correlation between the decline of marriage and domestic abuse.

A case in point was the highly publicized study of domestic violence released by the New York City Department of Health. To their credit, the authors did not shy away from acknowledging the role class or race plays in domestic abuse. More than half the 1,156 women killed over a five-year period in New York were black, for example, though only a quarter of the female population is black. But the survey obscured the role marriage plays, lumping husbands into the same category -- "intimate partners" -- as live-in and casual boyfriends.

Certainly poor women and minority women need better police protection. But they (like the rest of us) also need to be made more aware of the extent to which this, like so many social problems, is in part a direct result of our failure to sustain a marriage culture.

COPYRIGHT 1997 MAGGIE GALLAGHER

DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE



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