I’ve often thought that if I were a battered woman, the last place on earth I’d want to go would be to a battered women’s shelter. I’ve always suspected that those places are run by man-hating busybodies promoting rad-feminist ideology. It’s at the battered women’s shelter, I’ve suspected, that a lot of the battering goes on: the bashing of males. It turns out that my instincts are probably right. InkWell received this e-mail from a reader who styles herself “Anonymous” and worked as a volunteer at a Washington, D.C. battered women’s shelter until she got fed up:
“To put it bluntly, it is for the most part nothing more than a one stop divorce shop for emotional and bored housewives who want a change of life. It is also largely used as a free hostel for women with emotional problems if they are willing to hate their husbands enough and are willing to take out protective ordersagainst their husbands. Women who follow [the shelter’s] agenda are guaranteed residency at the shelter for up to seven months.
“From my observations, the goal of [the shelter] is to get bored and emotional housewives to leave their marital home after infuriating them with a heavy dose of husband-bashing, anti-male talk, patriarchy, and negative motivation. This is carefully planned and executed by the…staff and volunteers. Simple tasks as cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of children are explained to the housewives as abusive and demeaning tasks forced upon them by their spouses. Marital arguments are explained as serious verbal abuse. Occasional pushing and shoving are explained as serious physical abuse. Decision-making is shown as emotional abuse….
“With a series of pep talks, tests and evaluations, [the shelter staff] makes the wives and husbands incompatible, infuriates the wife with propaganda, and then exploits the wife’s frustration and anger as retaliation against the husband. The wife is given verbal and written instructions on how to leave the house secretly for the…shelter. System resources are geared to get the father charged with an offence and to make the mother look like the victim and the children ending up as helpless pawns in the abuse game…Women with almost no marital problems are declared abused and are coached by the staff to go to court and get a protective order against their husbands with the promise of long-term shelter legal services, counseling….This is a gross abuse of a system that was designed for real battered women.
“Most of the staff and volunteers… have a jaundiced view of marriage and men and attach little importance to the role of fathers in children’s lives. A majority of these staff and volunteers are women who are themselves from broken marriages and failed relationships, enraged with a bottomless pit of anger at men. Women, staff and volunteers at the shelter use foul language and spend a lot of time father-bashing, husband-bashing and hold group sessions to initiate the same feelings to new residents.
“Not only does [the shelter] impoverish a family by breaking them apart, but legally and morally commits child abuse by removing children from their home and putting them in a shelter. Away from their school, friends, and other familiar activities. I have spoken with several wives at [the shelter] who have deeply regretted having contacted [the shelter] and acting on its advice. They have all been told to outright lie and fabricate half-truths to distort. They have all taken out protective orders against their husbands in ‘the heat of the moment” at [the shelter’s] suggestions and deeply regret destroying their marriage, family, husband, and their children’s future and ‘burning their boat’ at any reconciliation, much to their dismay.”
The worst thing about the shelter where Anonymous worked, she writes, is that it’s funded by United Way! Our charity dollars at work.