Hijacked by the Right: Battered Women in America's Culture War


ISBN 978-0-9886742-0-2 Diane Wetendorf, ©2013 All rights reserved. Available through Amazon and PG Direct

What could possibly go wrong when law enforcement enters into partnership with the other institutional powers: religion, family, government, and corporations?
Hijacked by the Right is a resource for those who are or may be affected by the Family Justice Center juggernaut: survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; advocates working in domestic violence agencies, shelters, and rape crisis centers; mainstream social service providers; churches and faith-based organizations; businesses; and concerned citizens.

Author's Note

The struggle for the heart of the domestic violence movement is a struggle over worldview and philosophy: whose worldview and whose philosophy will determine the perspective from which services will be provided.In Hijacked by the Right, I propose that domestic violence has become the new front of the Religious Right's war on women. On one side is the 40-year-old Battered Women's Movement, a community-based social justice model. On the other is the 10-year-old Family Justice Center movement, a socially and politically conservative systems-based model. Is the Family Justice Center (FJC) model — which co-locates police, prosecutors, domestic violence advocates, chaplains, child protective services, job training programs, and other community services in the same location — an evolution of the Battered Women's Movement or its hijacking? What could possibly go wrong when law enforcement enters into partnership with the other institutional powers: government, corporations, religion, family? Consider this:

Law Enforcement: Victims tell advocates that they don't go to the police because they fear the police and are terrified of becoming trapped withn the the criminal justice system juggernaut. Advocates fear that if they alienate the police or prosecutors, battered women will ultimately suffer the backlash.

Government: George W. Bush established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to "save a family in jeopardy—one soul, one heart at a time." The subsequent Family Justice Center Initiative was to provide "comprehensive services at one location, including medical care, counseling, law enforcement assistance, social services, employment assistance, housing assistance, and faith-based counseling programs." Community-based feminist advocates are forced to collaborate with the very systems they historically monitored and held accountable.

Corporations: Privatization redirects funds from existing community-based domestic violence agencies and shelters to investor-operated businesses, opening a huge market for corporations to provide survivor counseling, risk assessment, security services, law enforcement, correctional facilities, batterers' counseling, spiritual counseling, crisis pregnancy counseling, addictions programs, job training, housing, child care, parenting classes, budgeting... the list is virtually endless.

Religion: Most if not all FJCs engage faith-based organizations to provide services. Including faith-based providers appears to be good, but many (if not most) of them are conservative Christian organizations. Conservative Christian ideology sees men as "servant leaders" with a sacred obligation to lead their wives and children, sometimes with force. These ‘benevolent batterers’ exercise power and control over their families verbally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually, financially, and legally.

Advocacy: The Battered Women's Movement helped women to see and reveal the abuse they suffered at the hands of men who claimed to love, serve, and protect them. It also exposed the degrading oppression and abuse women received from the institutions they turned to for protection — the police, courts, religious institutions, medical providers, and their own families. The original domestic violence shelters and agencies focused on a woman's autonomy and choice: "what does she want us to do and how can we best serve her?" The FJC movement has co-opted this focus with institutional collaboration, protocols, and financial incentives.

In my efforts to decipher the Family Justice Center phenomenon, to understand how the centers operate, and uncover their underlying philosophy, I studied corporate marketing strategy, privatization of public services, social service delivery models, community policing initiatives, liberal and conservative philosophies, American social movements, the church-growth industry, governmental policy, and the Religious Right. It was like putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the aid of the picture on the box. Eventually I believed I had assembled enough of the pieces to present a fairly accurate picture of the FJC and the social structures which support it. I attempted to answer these critical questions:

After four years of research, I have concluded that religious and political conservatives are using the FJC model to drive the Battered Women's Movement back underground, siphon off its funding, and close the doors of feminist-based shelters and agencies. The struggle for the very heart of the domestic violence movement is a struggle over worldview and philosophy: whose worldview and whose philosophy will determine the perspective from which services will be provided? In 2011, Melissa Harris-Perry warned, "American women may not yet recognize the war being waged on their future, but we must awaken to it immediately. The stakes for women — and for the nation — are too high to ignore it." Her words ring even more true today.

I hope my book will find a place on your reading table.

Diane Wetendorf

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Reviewers say...

What can I say… my heart is aching after reading this book. The manipulation of women's lives by the institutional pillars of our culture is of the worst kind as it is built on the backs of the most vulnerable — survivors of domestic violence. — Shelter director

The foundation Diane has built by reviewing feminism's Second Wave and the Battered Women's Movement, followed by her exposure of the Christian Right's infiltration into all aspects of government and society, lead the reader into greater understanding of how women are once again being co-opted by our patriarchal society in ever more invasive and dangerous ways. This book makes apparent the inherent dangers battered women face if the only help available to them is their local family justice center rather than devoted feminist advocates. — Woman's advocate

Diane Wetendorf reveals a plot so sinister that it could be the basis for a crime novel. It is, unfortunately, not fiction. Her forceful argument against the Family Justice Center movement with its tactics to control victims and to silence critics make you stop in your tracks and think about radical religious fundamentalism infiltrating all aspects of our lives. I hope it is not too late. — Domestic violence prosecutor

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