Innocence Is No Excuse
The potential for family therapy to become coerced psychotherapy is realized in the
divorce regime's domestic-violence arm. There is evidence that custody, rather than
violence, is the main thrust behind the exponential growth of this authoritarian power.
A judge quoted in the New Jersey Law Journal calls that state's domestic
violence law "probably the most abused piece of legislation that comes to my
mind." Massachusetts attorney Gregory Hession agrees: "The restraining order law
is one of the most unconstitutional acts ever passed. A court can issue an order that
boots you out of your house, never lets you see your children again, and takes your money,
all without you even knowing that a hearing took place." So routine are knowingly
false accusations that mothers now report being pressured into making them. Heidi Howard
and Nev Moore were ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services to take out
restraining orders against their husbands, whom they insisted had not been violent, and
attend battered women's classes, though they were not battered women. When they refused,
DSS seized their children.
Government therapy that claims to be strengthening marriages can thus be used to
destroy them and to institutionalize family members who resist. Fathers accused of no
violence are ordered into anger management and batterers' education programs, replete with
forced confessions reminiscent of Stalinism. Under a Massachusetts program called Common
Purpose, a judge ordered a minister to attend batterers' therapy, which required a
confession. When the minister refused, he was jailed for six months.
A Pennsylvania father against whom no evidence of violence was introduced had his
daughter seized by sheriffs deputies and was ordered to attend a class called "Men
Who Abuse." He said, "I was told that I had to admit to being an abuser. When I
refused, I was told that I would be kicked out of the class and charged with contempt and
probably put in jail. So this means I have to lie and admit to something that I did not
do. I have been told by other men who have been through this in this county that it will
be useless to try to defend myself because It will just make It worse."
Child protection is a federally funded apparatus in which therapy and law enforcement
eclipse due process. "Although spoken of in terms of social services," writes
sociologist Susan Orr, "the child-protection function of child welfare is essentially
a police action." Orr calls child protection "the most intrusive arm of social
services," because it can confiscate children. Yet because the parents are seldom
charged criminally, they cannot defend themselves in proceedings that are often secret and
"The child protection system is built upon the notion that child maltreatment is
remediable with the right therapeutic treatment," Orr writes. "By forsaking the
courts of criminal law, in which determinations of justice and injustice are made and
punishments meted out, child welfare agencies took on the much larger task of attempting
to heal family members."