Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley this week announced that the government is to provide temporary housing for ‘abusers’ who are ordered out of their own homes through police safety orders and/or protection orders. The reason given is to reduce the likelihood that such ‘abusers’ return to their homes because they have nowhere else to stay, leading to further family violence incidents.
The rhetoric used by Adams is dishonest stereotyping and amounts to propaganda. She refers to the emergency housing as being for “people who commit violence against their partners or families”, “perpetrators of domestic violence” or “abusers”. She refers to those who were allowed to remain in their homes as “victims”.
So how is this dishonest propaganda?
Well, the police safety order legislation when passed was said to be designed to deal with cases in which there was not the evidence to prosecute anyone for anything, but where police considered that a ‘cooling off’ period would be desirable. The relevant legislation, the Domestic Violence Act 1995, states
124B Qualified constable may issue Police safety order
(1) A qualified constable may issue an order against a person (person A) who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with another person (person B) if the constable—
(a) does not arrest person A for an offence against any enactment involving the use of violence against person B; but
(b) has reasonable grounds to believe, having regard to the matters specified in subsection (2), that the issue of an order is necessary to ensure the safety of person B.
(2)When considering whether to issue an order against person A, the constable must have regard to the following matters:
(a) whether, in the circumstances, he or she considers it is likely that—
(i) person A has used, or is using, domestic violence against person B:
(ii) person A has used, or is using, domestic violence against any other person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship:
(b) whether there is a likelihood that person A will use, or again use, domestic violence against person B:
(c) the welfare of any children residing with person B:
(d) the hardship that may be caused if the order is issued:
(e) any other matter the constable considers relevant.
The legislation does not refer at all to ‘abusers’, ‘perpetrators’ or ‘victims’ but only to “person against whom an order is issued” and “person at risk”. Those terms emphasize that no finding of fault or guilt is necessary for an order to be issued.
Even when a constable ‘considers it likely’ that person A committed domestic violence against person B, this is in no way proof or sufficient basis for labeling person A as ‘an abuser’ and person B as ‘the victim’. One may as well simply allow police to enter a conviction for any suspect they wish.
Even when a constable considers it likely that person A used domestic violence against person B, no consideration need be given to whether person B also used domestic violence against person A or the relative seriousness of each party’s violence. Indeed, we have heard many accounts from men who claim that the evidence clearly showed them to be the only victims or the main victims of violence but were still the party ordered out of the home. This is entirely legal for the police to do under the legislation. They might believe that if the violent female continues her violence after the police leave, the man might eventually be provoked into retaliating so they see her as being at risk.
We know from unbiased research that most partner violence involves both parties being violent towards each other, although the most serious partner violence including homicide is committed mainly (80%) by men towards women. In the case of serious violence police will generally prosecute, so cases dealt with by police safety orders will mostly have involved violence by both parties against each other. For Ms Adams to claim that those issued with safety orders are the ‘abusers’ and those not issued are the ‘victims’ is simply fallacious labeling.
Further, whether or not the constable considers it likely that anyone has been a perpetrator or victim of violence is but one consideration for the constable but is in no way necessary for a police safety order to be issued. Police are allowed to consider ‘any other matter’ in their decision about whether to issue a safety order and against whom. They might decide that it would cause the woman and/or her children too much hardship to be ordered out of the home for her violence whereas the man can suck it up. It cannot be assumed that those issued with safety orders were abusers at all and for Ms Adams to claim so is incorrect and offensive, actually abusive especially towards those many people issued with police safety orders on grounds they saw as unfair.
The article further went on to state “In 2010, police introduced special orders which required abusers to stay away from the family home for up to five days.” This was another piece of dishonesty with regard to its implication that men will only need the ’emergency accommodation’ for five days. In fact, the police usually encourage or pressure the ‘person at risk’ to apply for a permanent protection order in the Family Court, and anyway the District Court can issue its own protection order that is treated as if a Family Court issued it. So many of the men ordered out of their homes on police safety orders end up being homeless for much longer periods than five days.
Incidentally, the many news articles and other publicity concerning homelessness make no mention of the degree to which police safety orders and protection orders contribute to the homeless statistics, said to be one in a hundred NZers now. It’s likely that a large proportion of homeless, those living in their cars or sleeping on friends’ couches, are men who have been evicted from their homes on police safety orders or protection orders.
Getting back to the announcement, it may seem as though the government is generously providing accommodation and showing some caring for those it has allowed the police to throw out of their homes and deprive of many other normal civil rights without any fair trial or judicial process. However, the exact basis and intention of the accommodation plan is unclear. Given the unfair, stereotyping nature of the announcement by these feminist politicians, we can expect the reality to be far from generous or caring. Previous mention of such ‘men’s refuges’ suggests the funding may be given to Women’s Refuge or similar male-hating groups to provide accommodation that includes ‘programs for abusers’. There may be an intention to amend the legislation to enable police to order men to stay in the ‘abusers’ accommodation’, turning this into a kind of prison without trial or judicial process. Even if police are not given that power they will have other ways of pressuring men to stay in these feminist gulags. A man can be told that being seen in the same town will be treated as psychological abuse of the protected person for which the man can be arrested, but if he remains in the gulag this will be acceptable.
Mark our words.