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Bullies and domestic violence

by | Oct 16, 2017 | Firm News, Social Issues

Often men in a power position in the movie industry there are sexual predators who will try to take advantage of young women for their own sexual benefit.  Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Eric Boling, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Bill O’Reilly, Charles Payne, Roman Polanski, Donald Trump, and Anthony Weiner. These people seem to fit the list of predators to gain advantage for their own benefit. This can occur in divorce cases as well where one spouse takes advantage of another spouse.  In addition, this could be charged as domestic violence.  Harassment is a big problem when dealing with domestic violence. A bully partner can be a big problem throughout a persons life.  Sometimes the spouse or partner will not say anything for many years. In order to stop this delay in reporting and seeking protection we certainly can make the idea of going to court and seeking protection much easier for individuals under these circumstances.

The recent case of Harvey Weinstein is an example of delay in reporting harassment by a person.  Although he may or may not come under the statute for domestic violence he certainly shows the signs of it.

The good news is that we have this growing list of names for the public to read. The silence has been breached. It has been my experience that a poisonous presumption contributes mightily to empowering the morally challenged and disabling the vulnerable: there is a deep fear of affecting a man’s income and reputation. One editorial board actually told me that they could not back statute of limitations reform for child sex abuse—which would protect millions of children and families in their state—because they had received two reports about powerful men and their reputations did not deserve to be harmed. That’s the calculus: millions of victims to two men.

There is an active movement to end the child sex abuse SOLs. State after state is extending, eliminating, and reviving expired SOLs. This is justified by the reality of trauma wrapped in shame and humiliation: child victims don’t understand how and why they are being injured and then cope in ways that delay disclosure and healing. Whether it is substance abuse or PTSD, short SOLs often run out before the victim can get to court.

Bill Cosby is the great example of this tactic. He sued seven women for defamation after they said he sexually assaulted them. It took two years for the case to be dismissed. His lawsuit was nothing but a bully’s sham to force these women back into the shadows. It didn’t work, but those women deserved more from the system than just dismissal. Defamation law needs to change to fix this imbalance of power.

That would have meant that the seven women sued by Cosby could have walked away with the damages and attorneys fees they would have gotten through a civil lawsuit. That’s only fair. This fix should open the door to more representation of these victims and create a deterrence against these macho defamation lawsuits. The result is that victims can name their perpetrators without fear – regardless of the power of the perpetrator or the statute of limitations issues.