Abuse, Indeed!
By Ron Montgomery

Most jurisdictions, including the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, still view domestic violence as something men do to women.  The implementation of Saskatchewan's Victims of Domestic Violence Act is a glaring example of this head-in-the-sand approach.  Justice Minister Robert Mitchell stated during a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation phone-in show in early 1994 on the topic of the proposed Act that he had never heard of one case of domestic violence against men.  Other Saskatchewan legislators have since made statements such as:

Hon. Mr. Calvert:
"... with regards to protection of women and children in rural Saskatchewan, a tool that has now proven itself to be very effective, as we hoped it would be, is The Victims of Domestic Violence Act. ... And the indications are that the Act is being utilised and is having an important and helpful effect for women in families in rural Saskatchewan."

Ms. Lorje:
"I'm very proud, Mr. Speaker, that this government pioneered legislation, the Victims of Domestic Violence Act, that do give an initial response to this very difficult issue of violence against women and children.  I hope and I expect as a government we will be introducing more measures that will deal effectively with the issue."

Mr. Wall:
"This government unveiled trail-blazing victims of domestic violence legislation in 1995 as evidence of our commitment to women, but of course more needs to be done."

Ms. Crofford:
"The Victims of Domestic Violence Act I thought to be very significant for all women, because prior to The Victims of Domestic Violence Act, women had to basically pack their bags and the children and run in the middle of the night.  What The Victims of Domestic Violence Act does is it gives women property rights.  They can stay in the home and the abuser has to leave."

Ms. Stanger:
"Mr. Speaker, the problem of domestic violence has been of personal concern to me and many of the women in my constituency, and I am proud to be part of a government who is leading the way in Canada."

Hon. Mr. Nilson:
"One of the areas that we are very proud of in this government is our Victims of Domestic Violence Act.  That legislation is legislation that leads in the country.  We get calls and letters regularly saying, how is this legislation working? How can we emulate it in other parts of Canada and other parts of the world? We drafted that legislation in consultation with the people of Saskatchewan, primarily the women of Saskatchewan, and we ask you very clearly to talk to the people of Saskatchewan before you make these kind of comments."

It's no wonder that the act is being misused and many innocent men are being thrown from their homes.  Often, police don't investigate allegations of abuse.  They simply tell the man to leave, even if there are witnesses stating that the woman is at fault.

A smiling police officer runs a man through the heart with a spear.Training materials produced for police officers who are required to enforce the Victims of Domestic Violence Act contain sections where the intent is to inflame the police against the male: cartoons showing a smiling police officer running a man through the heart with a spear and another of a police robot strangling a man.  (See Figures One and Two [to the left and below].)  This section also contains statistics of police officers killed or assaulted by men in domestic situations.

These same training materials contain several example scenarios of domestic abuse and all of them portray males as abusers.

The reason the Act has been implemented primarily against men is because it was designed and implemented, for the most part, with the feminist philosophy that permeates a significant number of the abuse centres, shelters, Social Services units and crisis centres throughout Saskatchewan.  Abused men are often ignored or mistreated by these organisations, so it's no wonder that -- with this draconian Act -- abused males are being driven further into despair.

A robot, choking a man.One of the early concerns that some of the general public had when the Act was being drafted was that it would be used as a weapon by women against men to gain the upper hand in a custody battle.  This was dismissed by the provincial government, which said there would be safeguards in the process.  In fact, Emergency Intervention Orders are routinely granted on the basis of a woman going into a Mobile Crisis Services unit and stating that she has been abused.  The man is rarely interviewed before the police escort him from his home.  Then, it is quite common for the women's lawyers (often Legal Aid counsel provided by the provincial government) to offer the man a rescinding of the Emergency Intervention Order on the condition that he agrees to giving the woman custody of their children.  Even then, if the man disagrees with that or any other condition, he is not allowed to appear before the court to plead his innocence on allegations of abuse.  Only the "victim" can keep the matter of the Intervention Order in court.

The Government of Saskatchewan continually states that there are safeguards built into the whole process under the Victims of Domestic Violence Act, including (a) that Justices of the Peace are trained to act "judiciously" and that (b) Emergency Intervention Orders are reviewed by a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench within 3 days.  In fact, the backgrounds of the Justices of the Peace are questionable, since they were predominantly drawn from a cohort of people involved in the political and ideological battle against "domestic abuse."  As things stand in Saskatchewan, "domestic abuse" tends to be a code-word for "violence against women" rather than a phrase covering "all forms of violence perpetrated in a domestic situation, regardless of the perpetrator's gender."  In addition, the Court of Queen's Bench judge merely rubber-stamps the order and checks it for technical and procedural correctness; neither side in a domestic dispute is allowed to appear before that judge.

Training materials produced under the Act state that this judge is involved for constitutional reasons but is nevertheless expected to approve most orders.  If so, this paints a bleak picture for most men, regardless of whether the allegations against them can be substantiated or have any basis in fact.  Even if they are abused, they will be treated like abusers and will be further abused by the provisions and procedures attached to the Victims of Domestic Violence Act.

Ron Montgomery is a resident of Saskatchewan who has had first-hand experience with the abuses made possible by Saskatchewan's Victims of Domestic Violence Act.