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Similarities Between Donald Trump and Ray Rice
By Barry Goldstein
Why Is a Video Necessary to Take Intolerable Conduct Seriously?
We knew Ray Rice had assaulted Janay Palmer so severely as to knock her unconscious before the elevator video surfaced. The facts were really not in dispute. No one can point to any game-changing information we learned from watching the tape that was unavailable before. Instead, the tape made his horrific assault real to millions of people who would otherwise minimize and deny the terror and pain of domestic violence committed outside the vision of surveillance cameras.
Similarly, the public already had unquestionable evidence of Trump’s sexist and misogynistic behavior long before the tape that doomed his campaign was released. We knew he believed the value of women is only about their appearance, body parts and having sex with them. We knew he had harassed and probably assaulted women. He often took advantage of his power over individual women. There is nothing surprising in the latest video after many offensive remarks made during debates and interviews in which he was trying to impress voters. Trump repeatedly bragged that he would not be constrained by political correctness. Unsurprisingly, in private he used more graphic language and boasted about his privilege to sexually assault women, but that follows from the information already revealed. The monumental increase in the disgust towards Trump is not from new knowledge, but seeing what his ugly behavior looks like.
Abuse of women and children is far more common than the public would like to believe. President Obama has launched campaigns to prevent sexual abuse in the military and on college campuses. I am glad he has brought attention to this outrageous behavior, but it remains a huge problem. Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention establish that about one-quarter of our children will be sexually abused before they reach 18. I cannot imagine a fact that is more outrageous and yet it is widely tolerated. There are all too many tapes of this abomination called child pornography, but most of the public is blissfully unaware of society’s failure to protect children. Every year our custody courts send 58,000 children to live with dangerous abusers. Just like with Trump and Rice, we have substantial evidence and research about these atrocities, but we refuse to take effective action to protect our children because, for the most part these crimes were not filmed.
Innocent until proven guilty is an important Constitutional guarantee, but it is routinely misunderstood. It applies only to the criminal justice system. We properly protect defendants from conviction and jail unless their crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt with all the evidentiary safeguards. We cannot protect women and children if we misapply this Constitutional right to the rest of our lives. No good parent would allow their children to play in the home of an accused sex abuser. They wouldn’t take the risk by repeating “innocent until proven guilty.” The information we had about Trump made it likely he committed sexual crimes before the tape was released and even likelier now. He is innocent until proven guilty and should not be sent to prison unless his crimes can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But even before the tape, voters had substantial information about his beliefs and behavior towards women that make him unfit to be considered for the Presidency. The standard cannot be that video proof is required before we can protect women and children from a dangerous perp.
Avoiding False Equivalency
The Ray Rice case was mishandled by almost everyone responsible and one of the worst examples was that initially both Ray Rice and his victim, Janay Palmer were charged. It was alleged that Ms. Palmer slapped Rice, but the potentially life-threatening assault on her should have prevented officials from treating them the same. This is part of a larger problem where, police, prosecutors and courts treat defensive or responsive actions from domestic violence victims as equivalent to a long pattern of coercive and controlling tactics. The ACE Research establishes that it is the fear that leads to stress which creates most of the long-term harm. Obviously Ms. Palmer had good reason to fear Ray Rice, but he was not afraid of her
The fact that Trump has learned nothing from the response to the video is demonstrated by his second attempt at an apology. After a brief discussion of his egregious behavior, Trump immediately attacked Hillary Clinton for real and imagined offenses. Significantly, her alleged offenses have been investigated dozens of times, often by biased or even hostile officials. In some of the cases, partisan Republicans unintentionally admitted that the purpose of the investigation was to undermine her popularity and ability to be elected. There is good reason to believe that at least some of this abuse of process occurred because she was viewed as an uppity feminist woman. The failure to find any evidence to support a myriad of bogus claims speaks volumes about the lack of basis for these investigations. And yet the often unfair investigations have served to mislead the public so that one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for President is unpopular. I don’t mean to say that Hillary never did anything wrong, but only that there is nothing in her history remotely equivalent to Trump’s abominable behavior. When Republican partisans support Trump in order to help the party or cannot support Trump but say they cannot possibly vote for Hillary, they are choosing party over patriotism.
Connection to Public Policy
My greatest concern about both Trump’s previous misogynist behavior and name-calling, and the offensive tape is that real women will be assaulted and maybe even killed because of Trump’s example. This is why I must speak up although I would prefer to stay away from partisan issues. Research about batterer narratives found most abusers say it is wrong for men to assault women. And then they say EXCEPT… The exceptions tend to be if she is a (insert the kind of slurs Trump routinely uses) or she says or does something he believes is improper. This means that this type of language has consequences. When someone uses this language it makes all women less safe. The risk is far greater when the language comes from a famous person who has access to the media and substantial influence. We have seen Trump encourage supporters to assault protesters at his rallies, but I am sure assaults in private are also committed as a result of the anti-political correctness attitudes he promotes.
The United States spends over one trillion dollars every year to tolerate domestic violence. Our tolerance for rape and child abuse adds to this unnecessary expense. The human costs are so much worse. Most of these financial costs are for medical treatment, crime and harm to the economy as victims and children fail to reach their economic potential. Our present rate of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, crime, suicide, substance abuse and dropping our of school is related to our present level of domestic violence and child abuse. We have the ability to dramatically reduce domestic violence and child abuse based on practices that were successful in communities like Quincy, Nashville and San Diego.
The Quincy Solution would raise our life expectancy, improve our economy, reduce crime and improve the quality of our lives. I don’t know if Hillary Clinton might take the lead in promoting the Quincy Solution and bringing these benefits to our country. I know that she was willing to forsake what could have been a far more lucrative career in order to promote practices to help women and children. I know that Clinton cabinet officials Donna Shalala and Janet Reno promoted the success of the original Quincy Model. We can be confident Donald Trump will never promote the Quincy Model as his behavior and public statements seek to justify the right of men, and particularly influential men to use and mistreat women.
Numerous gender bias committees appointed by courts have not only shown widespread bias against women litigants, but shown that women are held to a higher standard of proof. Gender bias is rarely deliberate or conscious. Good people engage in gender bias without realizing it. This is why our society has failed to respond to so much abuse of women when there was no video to turn our stomachs. I hope that good people, who did not recognize the enormous harm of Trump’s beliefs and behavior before the video will turn away from him to send a clear message that his actions are intolerable. I hope next time we won’t need a video to recognize that the abuse of women is always intolerable. I hope we can learn that the hyper-partisanship that led Republican leaders to try to make President Obama fail led directly to the nomination of the most unqualified candidate ever. Donald Trump is responsible for his boorish behavior, but all of us are responsible to learn from the near calamity that his election would have caused. We must stop requiring a video before we find men’s abuse of women is intolerable. Trump’s behavior was intolerable long before the video was broadcast.
End Abuse in Family Court
Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
Barry has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
Barry has an ACE score of 0.