September 17th, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
For a long time now I've wanted to get a peek inside domestic violence shelters to see what really goes on in there. Unfortunately, I've had to make do with tantalizing glimpses. One example of that came with the study done in the state of Thuringen in northern Germany of the DV shelters there. I posted a couple of pieces about the study here and DV shelters in Germany generally here.
What the study and the article reveal is a lot of what we already either knew or suspected. Staff at shelters tend to have been indoctrinated in the feminist view of DV that only men are perpetrators and only women are victims. That view assumes DV to be a political act of power and oppression as opposed to the result of psychological disorder. As such, the "treatment" provided by DV shelters more closely resembles political indoctrination than any effort to actually help victims. Indeed, as the German study finds, DV staff are largely uninterested in helping victims of DV. In fact, their goal is often the separation, whether by divorce or otherwise, of the woman and her husband/partner.
It is against such a backdrop that this case arises. The link is to the final order of a family court judge in Oklahoma. The facts seem to be that Crystal Hall suffered from some form of mental/emotional/psychological impairment. She contacted Safenet Services in Oklahoma claiming that she and her five children had been abused by her husband and the children's father, James Hall. Apparently, Safenet through its executive director, Donna Grabow, urged divorce and the two went shopping for the court they thought would be friendliest to a woman claiming abuse.
Over the course of 28 months, James Hall apparently underwent a total of seven evaluations by various state agencies, all of which found him to be a fit and loving father with no evidence of abuse of either his wife or his children.
The court ordered the children placed in the custody of James Hall and further ordered his wife to pay child support, given that she is mentally capable of, and is in fact, working.
But in reading the court's findings, notice a few things. First, notice that the court finds that, after 28 months, there has been no discernible improvement in Crystal Hall's psychological state. Second, notice that Crystal Hall has become seriously co-dependent on Donna Grabow and Safenet who come to her house three times each day, seven days each week to make sure she takes her medication. Despite having an automobile and being able to work, Crystal Hall does not in fact drive herself to and from work; Donna Grabow or another member of Safenet staff does. Third, notice that, although the court granted her visitation rights, Crystal Hall has made no effort to visit her children for over a year. Fourth, notice that the Oklahoma family court judge has forbidden Safenet staff from ever contacting the Hall children, one of whom asked the judge to "get Safenet out of our lives."
It's admittedly hard to be on the outside looking in at a situation like this, but the facts found by Judge Dean look suspiciously like what we're learning about the goings on behind the closed doors of DV shelters.
My guess is that, in the Hall case, we have a mentally unstable woman who fell into the hands of a more or less typical DV shelter. There her claims of abuse were accepted unquestioningly and she was urged to divorce and told she would get custody. She was also told that whatever problems she had were not her fault, but rather that of the power relationship between her and her husband. To combat that power she was convinced to rely on the power of Safenet and Donna Grabow who forthwith became her all-purpose support system. The refusal of the court to grant her custody, I would guess, has been interpreted for her as simply more proof of the power relationships of which Crystal Hall is a victim. The children, being the instrument of that power are best left out of her life.
All that of course is speculation on my part, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that it's true.
And we may get an opportunity to do just that; James Hall has filed a civil suit for damages against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Safenet Services, Inc. and Donna Grabow. The discovery process in that case may provide us our most revealing view yet of the inner workings of the domestic violence industry.