American Judges Association




Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 53, Issue 1 (2017)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


More than 20 years ago, I spoke at a meeting of a newly constituted task force on domestic violence in Florida. As the director of the state domestic-violence coalition, my job was to inspire local communities to take action. In those days, the principles promoted by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of victim safety and offender accountability were just beginning to take hold. My presentation was pretty basic: the dynamics of domestic violence, its effects on victims, and the tactics offenders use to make victims look like they are the problem. After my talk, a family-court judge waited in the background to speak to me. When he stepped forward, he said, “I wish I had known this before. Now I understand what I have been seeing in my courtroom.” He said he could see the faces of women whose behavior he had not understood at the time. Now, he said, it all made sense