The Violence Against Women Act expired this year after House Republicans blocked a reauthorization that boosted protections for Native Americans, immigrants and the LGBT community. This development has overjoyed Religious Right activists, who have long opposed the anti-violence law.
Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, speaking today with Ed Bartlett of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, criticized the indisputably effective law and attacked Vice President Joe Biden, warning that “if we knew Joe Biden’s private behavior with women it might not be a pretty picture.” Rios stated that Biden’s “crassness, crudeness and disrespect for women” raises doubts about his work on VAWA while Bartlett used Biden’s own admission that abuse occurred in his household when he was younger as a reason to block the law.
Rios was also upset that VAWA may soon include protections for the LGBT community. Bartlett contended that these new protections prove VAWA is too easy on women since “studies have shown that lesbian-perpetrated domestic violence is higher than violence among heterosexual couples.”
However, according to the Center for American Progress, “Studies have found that domestic violence occurs among same-sex couples at comparable rates to straight couples.” While Bartlett admits that domestic violence is a concern among same-sex couples, he and Rios seem to believe that is a reason to oppose the inclusion of LGBT protections in VAWA.
Rios: Then we have this whole business of reaching out to the LGBT community and now that’s confusing because that’s women against women in many cases. That would have to be women against women.
Bartlett: Exactly, you’re right. In fact, studies have shown that lesbian-perpetrated domestic violence is higher than violence among heterosexual couples. So that again shows that this is a problem not limited to male perpetrators and female victims.
Rios: You know the person that has been pushing for all these years is Vice President Joe Biden, I find that very curious, what can you say about that?
Bartlett: I’ll tell you something that most people don’t know about Vice President Biden. He himself as a child was subjected to very serious physical abuse by his female sister, his sibling. Most people don’t know that but he has actually stated that in hearings held in the Senate. There’s a high irony here, a fellow who as a child was subjected to female violence is now denying the very existence of that.
Rios: I also think it’s ironic. I have a personal opinion because of Joe Biden’s repeated behavior. I know he’s become the brunt of jokes because he’s always saying something silly. But one theme in his jokes is crassness, crudeness and disrespect for women. He’s supposed to be some champion for women and yet he comes out and says these outrageous things which are insulting. I think if we knew Joe Biden’s private behavior with women it might not be a pretty picture.
Rios even argued that the law has had “an extremely detrimental, unfair, tilted, bad effect on men.” Bartlett dismissed reports that women face disproportionate rates of domestic violence and said that VAWA was actually passed by those seeking “to undermine family stability.”
Rios: The problem with this particular law, as I understand it, is it has had an extremely detrimental, unfair, tilted, bad effect on men. Give us an example of how that has happened.
Bartlett: Sandy, you’re right and it’s happened in many ways. Part of what many people believe is the agenda is to undermine family stability by stereotyping men as being abusive. So over and over when you go to the websites of these various domestic violence organizations, they quote arrest statistics but they don’t quote the actual statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, which are the best statistics of all, which show that this is an equal opportunity problem. So we have men being stereotyped as being abusive, obviously that’s not good for strong, respectful gender-relationships in our country.
To be clear, the CDC and the Department of Justice [PDF] both find that women are much more likely than men to experience intimate partner violence. The DOJ found that “intimate partners were responsible for 3% of all violence against males and 23% of all violence against females in 2008,” and the CDC reports that “about 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner” in their lifetime.