the reported problems either in Massachusetts or elsewhere.” Nevertheless, the conclusions and recommendations elsewhere in the document ignore this sensible admonition and are far-reaching, and the film has adopted the view that the experiences of these women are, in fact, typical of society at large.
In the entire 106 page report, only one line is devoted to describing the evidence that violence actually occurred. This is found in footnote 54 and reads in its entirety as follows: “37/40 women reported that they have ‘documented evidence’ of abuse, such as medical records, police reports, and 209A restraining orders and affidavits.” The quality of the documentation is not examined or commented upon in the entire report. It is well known that all of the kinds of documents listed above may state that domestic violence occurred based solely on the claim of the subject.
The women report a wide variety of heinous acts by their ex-partners, and these constitute the main data in the report. 22/40 reported abuse while pregnant; 18/40 reported physical abuse of children; 23/40 reported that their ex-partner violated restraining orders; 29/40 reported being harassed and intimidated; 40/40 reported that the ex-partner abused the children physically post-separation; 16/40 reported that he abused the children sexually post-separation.
Reported outcomes included the following: 26/40 reported that the ex-partner had some form of custody at some point during litigation; 15/40 reported that the partner “retained” sole or joint physical custody after separation, and that all 15 abused both the woman and the children both before and after separation.
The multiplicity and severity of complaints suggest that either 1) this was a very highly selected group who had experienced the most extreme forms of domestic violence, and who do not represent the majority of cases of domestic violence; or 2) the allegations are exaggerated or fabricated, in whole or in part, or of little importance in the overall picture, and were so adjudicated in many cases. Since the latter suggestion, if true, would invalidate the entire report, it is strange that the authors took no steps to authenticate the claims. For instance, they could have examined the alleged documentary evidence. In addition, the report points out that if there is a restraining order in effect, or if there was a prior order, judges in Massachusetts are required to justify an order of shared legal or physical custody by producing written findings of fact. (See page 30). Thus, in the majority of cases, the courts’ findings of fact could have been consulted to help determine whether violence had, in fact, occurred, and why in 15 cases, shared or sole physical custody was retained by the accused partner.
Footnote 52 acknowledges that “…in some cases, women batter men.” Nevertheless, no effort was made to recruit battered men for this project. It would have been useful to see whether battered men were treated similarly to battered women; if so, the alleged failures of the court would seem to have more to do with the nature of the complaints than the gender of the complainant.
The text states that interviews of domestic violence advocates confirm the accounts of the 40 battered women. This statement is misleading, since the advocates did not confirm or deny the specific experiences reported by the subject women, but simply commented on their perceptions