I headed to the new Starbucks two blocks from our Men's Center wondering what I should write for my first Blog entry. In contention were the importance of the presumption of innocence versus a presumption of guilt, or how victim compensation programs go unnoticed as a primary culprit in the domestic violence industry debacle, and perhaps even something about why women organizations are shedding "women" from their names in favor of gender neutrality.
This Starbucks commands the busiest retail corner of a new high-rise split in two to accommodate a trolley stop. I wanted a turkey bacon and egg dry bread sandwich. Getting in line I heard, "Hi Harry." It was Casey Gwinn, retired San Diego City Attorney, new director of the San Diego YWCA, point man for President Bush's 16 city Family Violence Programs, and still the leading male in the now international domestic violence industry.
We talked about how nice it was to have a Starbucks close to our offices; the recent horrendous Santa Anna fueled fires in the county, and sandwiches. I recommended the turkey bacon and egg on dry bread. He ordered two, bought mine, and had a bold coffee. As we left he accepted my offer to show him our Men's Center.
We crossed "C" Street, crossed 11th, chatted past the YWCA, crossed 10th into the parking lot of our building, and maneuvered the stairwell leading to our Men's Center offices. I showed him the conference room; break room, and our suite of three offices. He had a few minutes before his next meeting. As he lowered into the offered chair in my office his eyes began taking things in. He was two feet from my Mensbiz framed print showing a woman in handcuffs being led away by police with the caption "Prosecute False Accusers". Six feet in front of him propped up on my computer is a 30"x36" red, white, and blue poster "Choice for Men is no Choice!" He scanned the two hundred or so books I have in my office, things like Farrell's Father and Child Reunion, Shelly Klein's The Most Evil Women in History, Susan Faludi's infamous Backlash, Braver's Divorced Dads, Horwitz's The Professors, Behavioral Neurology by Pincus...
Casey explained that he had just returned from an opening of another Family Justice Center in Louisiana. He was also a guest speaker at a Domestic Violence shindig of some sort in Florida and talked about abused men and women. Casey is involved with a faith based community prisoner re entry program. I explained our prison "tolling" project and the importance of suspending child support payments for incarcerated non-custodial parents. We discussed retraining orders and Supervising Family Court Judge Oberholtzer's recent move to close Domestic Violence Court in favor of integrating DV responsibilities back into regular Family Court, which we both agree made sense administratively. Years ago I designed, implemented, and supervised statewide pretrial services for the Alaska Court System that in part involved screening felons for release on their own recognizance as bail. Strong community ties dramatically increased the probability that release on one's own recognizance would be successful. I suggested that the same may apply in restraining order situations, since to my knowledge, there no program has even tested the idea. Casey seemed intrigued but favored the quick issuance of restraining orders without a court hearing. We also, discussed at some length why abused men have a harder time coming forward than abused women.
We talked for about 30 minutes about such things before Casey had to get to his 10:00 o'clock meeting. On the way out I pointed out the Mashproject's posters. I explained that one of the reasons why men have a hard time coming forward is because of the lack of male friendly literature and outreach materials. I suggested that we touch bases again in a month or so and talk about the YWCA or President Bush's Family Violence Center initiative buying the set of four Mashproject posters for each of the 16 Family Violence Centers around the nation.
Actually, a group is planning the 17th Family Violence Center in East Count San Diego. I received an earlier invitation to a planning session. If I can find it I should attend. What a pain.
God working in mysterious ways brings opportunities in the strangest forms.