Chipping Away at Domestic Violence
When the abuser co-opts the system
By Scarlette McCallum Nakamura
weekend, the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline will hold its annual “Chipping Away at Violence”
gala. Each year, this event raises discretionary funds for the DVCLH, Hawaii’s
frontline in the war against domestic violence.
violence is devastating. Its eradication is a noble crusade – one I supported
as a member of the Board of Directors of a DV organization on the mainland. While
I lent my support, thankfully, it had no place in my life. Then my wonderful
husband passed away, and four years later I was awakened by a box spring mattress crushing down on my backside.
episodes later, I left my abuser. That’s when I experienced the dark side
of a movement that, for many victims, constitutes their only hope.
three months, my abuser became engaged to a staff attorney with the DVCLH. She,
a 50 year old, two-time divorcee with no children of her own, had new law degree. To
complicate matters my abuser accused me of endangering our child by keeping company with a prominent Oahu
citizen whom the DVCLH powers-at be, had described as a “stalker”. There
was never a complaint against this man and he did not take kindly to the rumor.
suspect I may have been caught in the crossfire of a skirmish between the director and her detractors. I’m told the
fiancÚ believed she was the member of a sorority so omnipotent; she could help herself to another woman’s child. Needless to say, I became a persona non grata with the DVCLH. My nightmare began.
two years, my child and I endured a campaign of malicious litigation, tantamount to court stalking. As though they were following a
recipe, a series of baseless allegations were put before the court. I was arrested
without a warrant or investigation by a police officer/friend of the DVCLH, based on two letters which contained no threats
whatsoever. I too, was accused of stalking when; in fact, I was shopping with
the credit card receipts to prove it. Although my abuser could not afford an
attorney, he was represented, ad nausea, by the current Board President of the DVCLH.
plus court appearances and six figures in legal fees later, I retain custody of our child, and the criminal case was dismissed
in its entirety without even stipulation to probable cause. It is not the end
result I contest, but the being dragged through a process that was nothing more than a continuum of the abuse I was trying
I wonder; how can I reignite the spark in my child’s eyes lost to the chaos of police and courtroom melodramas? Might
I once again become the target of furious nonsense designed to humiliate me? Perhaps…but
then they would only be proving my point. It is not scrutiny I fear, but the
absence of scrutiny in the wake of their mindless propaganda.
we open our wallets to this virtuous cause, as well we should; let’s not be na´ve.
First, abusers can and do co-opt the system. Secondly, the campaign against
domestic violence is popular politics. It attracts millions of dollars in federal
funds – over 11 million for Hawaii during the Clinton
era - and creates political fiefdoms for its most effective custodians. Individuals
within the DV community are as ego-centered as the rest of the population and just as likely to pathologize those who disagree