By Cathy Young
REASON, February 1998
In the fall of 1996, Susan Finkelstein's live-in boyfriend was arrested and
charged with abusing her. Today, Susan, a 31-year-old free-lance editor in
a small Midwestern town, feels that she was abused by the justice system.
"I felt so helpless," she says. "I had no rights. Nobody listened to me,
nobody wanted to hear my story."
The tale sounds familiar enough--except that what angers Susan is not that
her boyfriend was treated too leniently but that he was prosecuted at all.
It all started when Susan and her boyfriend, a 44-year-old college
administrator whom I'll call Jim, were having a heated argument on the way
home from a party. Both of them, Susan explains, were under a great deal of
stress. The quarrel escalated, and Jim decided it would be best to pull
over. He wanted to get out of the car and walk, and Susan tried to stop
him. "I lost my temper, he lost his temper, and we got into a mutual
scuffle," she says. "I may have scratched him, he may have pushed me. It
got physical, but there certainly wasn't any beating."
Finally, they cooled down and got back on the road--only to be stopped by a
police car. Susan remembers thinking that Jim might have been driving
erratically during the fight and might have looked like a drunk driver. But
it was something very different. A passing motorist had seen their
altercation, written down their license plate number, and called the
Despite Susan's assurances that Jim hadn't hurt her and she wasn't afraid
of him, he was handcuffed and taken away. Under department policy, an
officer told her, they had to make an arrest in a domestic dispute. Says
Susan, "I was very upset that they wouldn't listen when I said that I was
fine. They said, `Well, we know that women who are abused often lie out of
After spending the night in jail, Jim was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge
of domestic violence and prohibited from having any contact with Susan, who
had to stay with a friend. Her efforts to convince the judge and the
prosecutor that nothing had happened were fruitless.
On a lawyer's advice, Jim pleaded no contest. He had to write a letter of
apology to Susan (which he wrote in her presence and mailed to the district
attorney's office, which forwarded it to her) and attend 10 weekly
counseling sessions for batterers, a three-hour drive away, at a cost of
$400. He is acutely aware that his record puts him at risk: "If Susan and I
have a loud argument and a neighbor calls the police, I'll be arrested
immediately," he says.
What happened to Jim and Susan--who are still together as a couple--is not
an aberration. It's just another story from the trenches of what might be
called the War on Domestic Violence. Born partly in response to an earlier
tendency to treat wife-beating as nothing more than a marital sport, this
campaign treats all relationship conflict as a crime. The zero-tolerance
mentality of current domestic violence policy means that no offense is too
trivial, not only for arrest but for prosecution. Consider these recent
In 1996, Seattle City Councilman John Manning, who came home one day and
was shocked to find his wife loading her things into a truck, was charged
with assault for grabbing her shoulders and sitting her down on the
tailgate (causing no injuries). He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic
violence, received a deferred prison sentence, and agreed to complete a
treatment program for batterers. (The Seattle Times editorialized that the
case gave "a public face" to the tragedy of domestic violence.)
The same year, Michigan Judge Joel Gehrke made headlines when he gave
convicted spouse abuser Stewart Marshall a literal slap on the wrist,
citing the wife's adultery with her husband's brother as a mitigating
factor. This episode, which provoked cries about judges who go easy on wife
beaters, should have raised questions instead about frivolous prosecutions.
Aside from the fact that many of the jurors believed Chris Marshall had set
up the incident as a leverage-gaining divorce tactic, Stewart's assault
consisted of grabbing her by the sweatshirt and pushing her; she did not
suffer a single scrape. A woman juror who backed Judge Gehrke's decision
explained that the jury "had to say guilty" because "if you touch, it's
In those cases, at least, the alleged victims wanted a prosecution. But
increasingly, women who don't--like Susan Finkelstein--find their wishes
ignored. This issue was brought into the spotlight by the 1996 Texas trial
of football star Warren Moon, whose wife Felicia was forced to take the
stand against him. In a less famous case in St. Paul, Minnesota, two years
earlier, Jeanne Chacon, an attorney, tried not only to drop battery charges
against her fiancÚ, Peter Erlinder, but to serve as his lawyer. Though
Chacon herself had called the police and accused Erlinder of "slamming" her
to the ground, she quickly changed her story: Abused as a child, she
explained that she was prone to violent outbursts, and that Erlinder had
merely restrained her with a "basket-
hold" technique recommended by her own therapists. Her therapists
corroborated her story, and Chacon had several violent episodes while the
case was pending. Still, prosecutors insisted on going to trial--which,
like the Moon case, ended in acquittal.
Like many crusades to stamp out social evils, the War on Domestic Violence
is a mix of good intentions (who could be against stopping spousal abuse?),
bad information, and worse theories. The result has been a host of
unintended consequences that do little to empower victims while sanctioning
state interference in personal relationships.
The battered women's advocacy movement, which has led the campaign against
domestic abuse, is heavily influenced by radical feminist politics and
tends to frame the issue in terms of a male "war against women." The
mission statement of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence links
"violence against women and children" to "sexism, racism, classism,
anti-semitism, able-bodyism, ageism and other oppressions." Booklets funded
by government and by charities such as United Way assert that "battering is
the extreme expression of the belief in male dominance over women."
Such thinking is responsible for such widely circulated factoids as
"domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to American women,"
"battering causes more injuries to women than car accidents, rapes, and
muggings combined," or "25 to 35 percent of women in emergency rooms are
there for injuries from domestic violence." These patently false numbers
(data from the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention suggest that less than 1 percent of women's emergency-room
visits are due to assaults by male partners, and that about 10 times as
many women are injured in auto accidents) are complemented by increasingly
expansive definitions of abuse.
Thus, in her landmark book, The Battered Woman (1979), psychologist Lenore
Walker writes that "a battered woman is a woman who is repeatedly subjected
to any forceful physical or psychological behavior by a man in order to
coerce her to do something" (emphasis added). While Walker focuses
primarily on women who have been physically assaulted, she also talks about
men "battering" their wives by, for example, being inattentive. Pamphlets
distributed by family violence programs stress that one doesn't have to be
hit to be abused and list such forms of abuse as "calling you names,"
"criticizing you for small things," or "making you feel bad about
yourself." A booklet published by the state of New Jersey, Domestic
Violence: The Law and You, informs the reader that she is a victim of
domestic violence if she has experienced "embarrassment or alarm because of
lewd or shocking behavior" or "repeated verbal humiliation and attacks."
These ideas have consequences. By 1982, largely due to lobbying by advocacy
groups, a majority of states expanded police authority to make arrests in
misdemeanor assaults which the officers had not actually witnessed--a move
applauded by most law enforcement personnel and family violence
researchers. But as the rate of arrest remained low, many states and
jurisdictions began to go further and mandate arrests, a policy viewed with
far more ambivalence. This trend has been boosted by the post-O.J.
Simpson-trial attention to domestic abuse and by incentives for pro-arrest
policies in the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Such policies have undeniably increased the number of arrests. It is far
less clear, however, that they have had a significant impact on spousal
abuse. Christopher Pagan, who was until recently a prosecutor in Hamilton
County, Ohio, estimates that due to a 1994 state law requiring police on a
domestic call either to make an arrest or to file a report explaining why
no arrest was made, "domestics" went from 10 percent to 40 percent of his
docket. But, he suggests, that doesn't mean actual abusers were coming to
his attention more often. "We started getting a lot of push-and-shoves,"
says Pagan, "or even yelling matches. In the past, police officers would
intervene and separate the parties to let them cool off. Now those cases
end up in criminal courts. It's exacerbating tensions between the parties,
and it's turning law-abiding middle-class citizens into criminals."
Many police officers agree--though all of those who were willing to discuss
their misgivings asked that their names not be used, given the charged
nature of the subject and their criticism of official policy. "We need
domestic violence law but we need common sense, too," says a veteran
small-town policeman in New Jersey. The officer stresses that he doesn't
miss the days when a woman could be bruised or bloodied and you couldn't
arrest the man unless she was willing to risk enraging him further by
signing a complaint. But today, he says, the law has gone to the other
extreme: "Sometimes the wife's begging, `Don't arrest him, the kids are
here,' and you have to arrest."
It's not just male officers who chafe at having their hands tied. A woman
I'll call Sally Gilmore, a sergeant on the nearly all-male police force of
a working-class New Jersey town, feels that mandatory arrest rules often
force cops to act against their better judgment. She recalls responding to
a quarrel between a woman and her ex-boyfriend, who had come over to pick
up his things. After being told that he couldn't be arrested for shouting
at her, the woman suddenly "remembered" that he had also hit her and
pointed to a bruise on her leg. "I asked, `When did this happen?' and she
said, `Just now,'" says Gilmore. "Well, this bruise was days old. He said
he didn't hit her. I basically knew she was lying, but I had no choice."
The effects of mandatory arrest are compounded by no-drop prosecutions. The
assumption behind no-drop policies is that when women recant or refuse to
press charges, it is out of fear or dependence. But reality is far more
complex. The woman may feel, rightly or not, that she is not in danger and
can handle the situation better without the complications of a legal case;
or the lines between aggressor and victim may be blurred; or the charge may
have been false, made in anger, and later regretted.
A counselor with a family violence intervention program in Florida who
generally favors no-drop prosecutions saw this happen with her own daughter
Angela--a troubled young woman with a severe drinking problem--and her
live-in boyfriend. One evening, says the counselor, who also requested
anonymity, an intoxicated Angela wanted to go out to buy more liquor: "Her
boyfriend won't give her the money. So she goes out to the corner and calls
the police saying he has locked her out--which he probably had because he
didn't want trouble--and fills out a report saying he threatened her, she's
afraid of him, and so on." The police took her home and arrested the young
man. The next day, a now-sober Angela was appalled by what she had done and
tried to back out--to no avail. With her mother's help, she hired a lawyer,
and her boyfriend was eventually allowed to plead no contest.
These policies apply not only to violence between spouses or cohabitants.
Shortly after Wisconsin's mandatory arrest law took effect, a Milwaukee mom
was locked up for slapping her misbehaving teenage son. In 1996 in
Missouri, a father was arrested and charged with assault because, after his
17-year-old son refused to get up early to mow the lawn, the father pushed
the lawnmower into the teenager's room and started it up.
Curiously, battered women's advocates (and journalists who take their cue
from the activists) continue to claim that police and the courts treat
domestic abuse less seriously than non-family assaults. In fact, this may
not have been true even prior to feminist-initiated reforms. In the 1992
book Policing Domestic Violence, University of Maryland criminologist
Lawrence Sherman concludes that underenforcement of assault and battery
laws was hardly unique to domestic violence. He cites data from the 1970s
showing that police were reluctant to intervene in any violent personal
dispute, be it a marital squabble, a neighborhood quarrel, or a bar brawl.
All else (such as injury) being equal, the rates of arrest were similar for
domestic and non-domestic cases. Certainly, more recent studies show no
evidence of discrimination against battered women. Analyzing the handling
of violent offenses in 1987-88 in Arizona, feminist criminologist Kathleen
Ferraro found--to her own surprise--that while most attacks of any kind
were either not prosecuted or were charged as misdemeanors, felony assaults
were less likely to be dismissed if they involved spouses or partners (even
though the victims in domestic cases were much more likely to request a
dismissal). Nor did the victim-offender relationship affect the severity of
Nowadays, however, some crusaders openly argue that domestic violence
should be taken more seriously than other crimes. In 1996, the sponsor of a
New York bill toughening penalties for misdemeanor assault on a family
member (including ex-spouses and unwed partners) vowed to oppose a version
extending the measure to all assaults: "The whole purpose of my bill is to
single out domestic violence," Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said. "I don't
want the world to think we're treating stranger assaults the same way as
These arguments, however, are rooted in the paradigm of domestic violence
promoted by the battered women's movement: the woman, powerless and trapped
by economic or psychological dependency, is victimized by the brutal,
domineering man who uses force to impose control. Certainly, some cases fit
this model; but many others do not.
For one, the feminist paradigm ignores mutual combat and female aggression.
Surveys by pioneering family violence researchers Murray Straus of the
University of New Hampshire and Richard Gelles of the University of Rhode
Island have found that half of all spousal violence is reciprocal while the
rest is evenly split between female-only and male-only violence (though men
are more likely to inflict serious damage). Those findings are confirmed by
a host of other studies. Nonetheless, materials distributed by advocacy
groups and used in training for judges, prosecutors, and police assert that
95 percent of domestic violence is male-on-female and dismiss mutual
brawling as a "myth."
Because of this ideology, the War on Domestic Violence gets a bit
schizophrenic when it comes to female aggression. Ironically, mandatory
arrest laws have led to a rise in the number of women arrested for domestic
assault, as sole perpetrators or together with their partners; in some
states, women now account for about a quarter of all arrests. According to
criminologist Lawrence Sherman, this "resulted in intensive lobbying [by
battered women's advocates] not to arrest women regardless of probable
cause to do so." In response, many jurisdictions have devised ways around
formal gender neutrality.
In Michigan, for instance, when Susan Finkelstein told the arresting
officer that she was at least as much the aggressor in their altercation as
Jim, she was informed that the policy required arresting the larger of the
two parties. More commonly, mandatory arrest laws are amended with a
"primary aggressor" clause, which can be interpreted quite creatively:
Sherman recalls an incident he saw in one of his field studies in which the
man was arrested because he had yelled at his wife--even though she was the
only one to actually strike a blow.
While battered women's advocates have had a major impact on the ways in
which charges of spousal assault are handled by criminal courts, the reach
of the War on Domestic Violence is still somewhat limited by constitutional
protections for defendants. Perhaps the worst excesses of this crusade are
found in the use and abuse of civil orders of protection, also known as
restraining orders--which require lower levels of evidence and can be
issued without the accused having a chance to defend himself.
Court orders prohibiting one party not only from harassing but, in some
cases, from approaching or contacting another are not limited to domestic
violence cases. Normally, getting such an order is a cumbersome process.
But under abuse prevention laws, on the books in 48 states by 1988,
restraining orders are easily available against current or former spouses
or cohabitants and some other family members. (Whether the relationship is
close enough to qualify--how about an ex-sister-in-law?--can become the key
issue at a hearing.) In the last decade, many states have strengthened this
legislation, further streamlining the process of obtaining an order,
extending eligibility to people who had dated but not lived together, and
toughening penalties for violators.
The basis for a restraining order need not include violence. In
Massachusetts, over half of the 60,000 restraining orders in domestic cases
issued every year do not, according to a 1995 state report, involve so much
as an allegation of physical abuse. Elaine Epstein, past president of the
Massachusetts Bar Association, recalls "affidavits which just said someone
was in fear, or there had been an argument or yelling--not even a threat."
In 1990, the state's highest court ruled that a restraining order had to be
based on "reasonable fear" of "imminent serious physical harm"; but many
judges don't like taking chances and are satisfied with a positive answer
to the question, "Are you afraid of bodily harm by the defendant?" In New
Jersey, abusive acts which qualify for a restraining order include verbal
harassment (which need not involve threats).
Moreover, temporary restraining orders are granted ex parte, without the
defendant being present or notified--much less informed of the specific
charges. Supporters of current laws concede that getting an order takes
very little evidence. "I think judges grant the restraining orders without
asking too many questions," Massachusetts state legislator Barbara Gray, a
sponsor of the original abuse prevention statute, told me in 1995. (Gray
has since retired.)
Usually within 10 days, a hearing must be held to determine if the order
will be extended for a year or more. That's when the defendant can tell his
side--in theory. In fact, writes Boston attorney Miriam Altman, "the mere
allegation of domestic abuse...may shift the burden of proof to the
defendant." Hearsay is allowed; cross-examination may be limited; and, many
lawyers say, the judge is unlikely to give serious consideration to
exculpatory evidence. "I don't need a full-scale hearing," one judge told
attorney (and Massachusetts state legislator) James Fagan when he brought
witnesses disputing a woman's claim of harassment by his client. The only
issue, the judge declared, was whether he felt the woman was fearful--"it
isn't even who's telling the truth," he said.
The consequences of a restraining order for the man on the receiving end
(and it usually is a man) can be quite serious. If he shares a home with
the plaintiff, he will usually be ordered to vacate the premises. Any
contact becomes illegal--in many states, a felony punishable by prison or
fines (it doesn't matter if the "victim" agreed to or even initiated the
contact). This can have particularly wrenching consequences when there are
Men who have had restraining orders issued against them on the basis of
uncorroborated or trivial allegations have been jailed for sending their
kids a Christmas card; for asking a telephone operator to convey a harmless
message; for accidental "contact" at the courthouse; and for returning a
child's phone call. The pressure on judges and prosecutors to be tough on
violators comes not only from women's groups but from the media. In
Massachusetts, the Boston Globe has been crusading tirelessly on the issue,
while showing no interest in horror stories of restraining-order overkill.
While father-rights activists claim that most restraining orders are based
on false claims, defenders of the law say that no more than 5 percent of
the charges are false. That still adds up to about 2,000 a year in
Massachusetts alone--hardly an insignificant figure when it's a matter of
people being evicted from their homes, cut off from their children,
sometimes jailed, and branded with the equivalent of a criminal record
(their names are entered in the abusers' registry)--all without the
safeguards of a criminal trial.
The policies in Massachusetts may be unusually tough, but they're hardly
unique. Connecticut attorney Arnold Rutkin, editor of the legal journal
Family Advocate, writes that judges tend to take a "rubberstamping"
approach to protection orders, and the "due process hearings" held later
are "usually a sham." A New Jersey woman whose estranged husband threatened
to take "drastic measures" if she didn't pay the household bills--by which
he meant having her telephone disconnected--was granted a permanent
restraining order due to "harassment." When state appellate courts moved to
curb these excesses, resulting in fewer restraining orders, an outcry from
advocates was quick to follow.
When the advocates and their friends in the legislatures do acknowledge the
potential for the misuse of restraining orders, it is usually to say that
no safeguards can be adopted without endangering victims. As Barbara Gray
told me, "You [would be] saying to a judge: On an emergency basis, you have
to look at this woman and see whether you think she's telling the truth."
Given the horrifying statistics on violence against women, says Gray, one
can't take the risk of not taking all accusations seriously.
Some judges seem to share that attitude. At a 1995 seminar, dispensing
advice to incoming municipal judges, Judge Richard Russell of the Ocean
City, New Jersey, municipal court declared, "Your job is not to become
concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you're violating
as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the
clothes on his back and tell him, see ya around. ...The woman needs this
protection because the statute granted her that protection....They have
declared domestic violence to be an evil in our society. So we don't have
to worry about the rights."
Judge Russell's comments, captured on tape and printed in the New Jersey
Law Journal, raised a few eyebrows. However, he suffered no consequences
beyond a mild chiding from the Administrative Office of the Courts. By
contrast, recently in Maine, Judge Alexander MacNichol was denied
reappointment by Gov. Angus King after battered women's advocates
complained about his alleged insensitivity to women applying for
restraining orders--which, the judge's many defenders said, meant simply
that he listened to both sides of the story.
Beyond questions of civil liberties and due process, there is no proof that
the crackdown prevents domestic homicides, the ostensible goal of hardline
restraining order procedures. Nor is there evidence that it prevents
serious assaults. A man who intends to kill a woman and either plans to
take his own life or knows that he will face murder charges won't be
deterred by the penalties for violating a restraining order, as too many
headlines show. A 1984 study by Janice Grau, Jeffrey Fagan, and Sandra
Wexler has concluded that the orders have a protective effect for women who
were not severely victimized in the first place. If so, peddling them to
women in real danger is like giving cancer patients aspirin.
"The restraining order law was changed to protect women who were really
abused, but it doesn't work," says Sally Gilmore, the New Jersey police
officer. "All it does is create an incredible amount of paperwork for the
cops, and most of the time it's just revenge, or just to get him out of the
Indeed, it has become a commonplace among lawyers of both sexes that
restraining orders are routinely misused as a weapon in divorces. It's hard
to come up with reliable estimates of how frequently that happens. But
given the advantages conferred by a restraining order, from possession of
the house to virtually automatic custody of the children, the temptation is
Robert Byers, a Georgia contractor, found himself embroiled in a
particularly twisted saga. In 1993, his wife, Lori Anderson, left the state
with their 8-year-old daughter. He soon learned that they were with her
relatives in Massachusetts--and that the police there were trying to serve
him with a restraining order. He went to Massachusetts for a hearing; his
request for a continuance so that he could get a lawyer was denied, and the
order was extended for a year, barring him from all contact with his wife
Byers went home and filed for divorce. When the Georgia court had trouble
locating Anderson to notify her of the custody hearing, he returned to
Massachusetts and went to serve her with the papers. She called the police
and he was arrested for violating the restraining order; unable to make
bail, he was locked up for three months. Finally, he pleaded guilty to the
violation in exchange for a suspended sentence.
In October 1994, Byers won custody in Georgia and went back to
Massachusetts to petition for the return of his daughter. The next day,
Anderson filed a complaint, alleging that he had loitered in her driveway
and made threatening calls to her sister. This time, Byers was held without
bail. In February 1995, he was found not guilty by a five-woman, one-man
jury; the judge also threw out his earlier suspended sentence after
reviewing the evidence.
Two hours after Byers's release, Anderson got a new restraining order. It's
hard to tell how long this farce would have dragged on if a probate judge
had not put an end to it by ruling that Massachusetts had to honor the
Georgia custody decree. Byers was able to take his child home only after a
total of nearly 200 days behind bars.
Stories like that of Byers, perhaps without happy endings, are likely to
become increasingly common. Spurred by the O.J. Simpson case, the War on
Domestic Violence has intensified in the past three years. The Michigan
legislature, in a fit of O.J.-itis, decided to allow restraining orders to
take effect as soon as they are issued, before the defendant has been
served--which means that he can face criminal charges for something he
didn't know was a crime, creating great opportunities for entrapment. Last
June, California abolished a provision allowing defendants in misdemeanor
domestic assaults to have the incident expunged from police records if they
compensate the victim and undergo counseling--an option still available to
the accused in other assault cases. In 1996, a new federal law made
domestic violence the only misdemeanor for which a person loses the right
to own a gun (with the spurious explanation that domestic assaults are more
likely to be prosecuted as misdemeanors than non-domestic ones of equal
Undoubtedly, there are cases in which victims of intimate violence are
badly let down by the system, sometimes with fatal results. But apathy and
excessive zeal can coexist--just as horror stories of children yanked from
parental homes on flimsy suspicions of abuse coexist with ones of abused
children handed back to their tormentors. Indeed, when apathy and excessive
zeal do coexist, the policy implications are often disastrous. Douglas
Besharov, a child welfare expert at the American Enterprise Institute,
compellingly argues that overzealous probes of frivolous claims of child
abuse lead to underenforcement where action is needed most because the
system is too bogged down in trivial pursuit to single out the serious
It's probably the same with domestic violence. The system, says sociologist
Richard Gelles, fails to differentiate between minor charges of abuse and
cases rife with danger signs--such as the events leading to the death of
Kristin Lardner, the daughter of Washington Post reporter George Lardner.
(The former boyfriend who fatally shot her in May 1992 before killing
himself had a long history of criminal behavior; yet after assaulting
Kristin, he was not jailed, despite violating his probation.) Indeed,
manipulators may be more likely to get the system to work to their
advantage than real victims, too scared or too unsophisticated to navigate
Even if the dangerous cases are caught early, some people are going to be
badly hurt or even killed by their mates. Such things are not always
predictable. And we might ask, without creating a new "abuse excuse,"
whether being denied access to his children might not push a nonviolent
person over the edge. "People with nothing to lose are dangerous people,"
says James Fagan, the Massachusetts attorney and state legislator.
The most obvious casualties of the War on Domestic Violence have been men,
particularly men involved in contentious divorces. But it has also hurt
many of the women who are its intended beneficiaries. Part of the problem
is the one-size-fits-all approach to domestic violence. For many couples in
violent relationships, particularly those involved in mutual violence,
joint counseling offers the best solution. But if they have come to the
attention of the authorities, it's one form of counseling to which they are
unlikely to be referred. Couples therapy is vehemently opposed by battered
women's advocates--ostensibly out of concern for women's safety, but also
because of the implication that both partners must change their behavior.
A few years ago, James Dolan, first justice of Dorchester District Court in
Massachusetts, warned that the system may be engaging in "benign abuse" by
"denying women the right to continue a relationship without submitting to
the authority of the court." Dolan may have been stretching the term abuse,
but quite a few women might agree with his assessment.
And then there are the women who, often on the basis of a misunderstanding
or a single, trivial incident blown out of proportion, are labeled as
victims against their will. "It was very paternalistic, even if women were
involved in the system," says Susan Finkelstein, reflecting on her
experience. "At one point, I told a prosecutor that I didn't appreciate
being told what was best for me by someone who didn't even know me. She
said, `It strikes me as odd that you don't appreciate the fact that we're
trying to protect you.' What I said didn't matter. It seems so ironic that
in trying to give women a voice, they are taking away their voices."
Contributing Editor Cathy Young is vice president of the Women's Freedom
Network. Her book Ceasefire: Beyond the Gender Wars will be published next
year by The Free Press.