That Isn’t a Crime

My charity self defense course is a few months shy of being 18 years old. It has certainly taught me a great deal about the dark side of human nature.

When I say “the dark side of human nature”, I don’t mean that seeing the scars and hearing the stories of what my students endured opened my eyes to the cruelty and violence of which criminals are capable. My brief career in law enforcement was certainly adequate to do that! Instead it showed me just how people are willing to take advantage of my good nature in order to screw over an innocent human being.

I noticed after the first year or so that a few of the people who sought me out for help, some of whom claimed extreme abuse, weren’t acting the way the rest of my students would when discussing their experiences. They would exhibit some of the classic signs of telling a lie, they wouldn’t show any lingering physical signs even though they would claim serious injury, and their emotional reactions while relating their stories would be inappropriate.

A quick and easy way to confirm or discount any suspicions I might have would be to check police records. If they had actually been injured in an attack then there would be a police report somewhere. No report meant that I’d send them on their way.

What was more problematic were the claims of ongoing abuse at the hands of a spouse or boyfriend. The majority of my students are women, about 85% or so, and I was certainly not immune to chivalrous impulses. It became increasingly clear to me, however, that some women would claim abuse during a divorce in the hopes of gaining an advantage with the judge. How much more convincing would it be if they sought out a self defense class?

This tendency became more and more prevalent, and I started to catch ever greater numbers of potential students acting like they were lying to me. The worry was that a few convincing individuals might sway me despite my best efforts to remain vigilant, which would take up some of my limited time and money that could be better spent on people who had actually survived a violent crime.

The solution to this problem was very similar to the first. When someone claimed domestic abuse I simply required that there be multiple complaints to the police before I would accept them as a student, and that the first of these complaints have been filed at least six months before the start of divorce proceedings.

It is possible that these conditions meant that I turned away a few people who actually needed my help, but I am certain that it weeded out many more cynical opportunists.

The inspiration to share this rather tawdry tale with you came from this post by Eugene Volokh, even though it is only tangentially related. It would seem that a crime survey asked women if they had ever been forced to have sex against their will, which is a legitimate question. Unfortunately, the authors of the survey take pains to define “force” as something that really doesn’t apply.

But it turns out that “Young Adult Women Report Experiencing Different Types of Force During Forced Sexual Intercourse.” For 12%, the “type[] of force” was “Told Relationship Would End.” For 61% (the largest number), they were “Pressured by Words/Actions Without Threats.”

So 61% were nagged into it? Isn’t that what “Pressured by Words/Actions Without Threats” means? I’m going to have to try that, since buying them dinner and flowers doesn’t seem to work for me.

I’m at a loss here. What kind of reaction to their work did the authors of the study expect besides derision?

Go ahead and read the whole thing. It appears to me that the aim of the study is to find large numbers of victims, even if the requirements have to be lowered so far that the serious subject of sexual predation becomes a farce. I wonder if this Child Trends, the organization which published the report, is looking to secure more funding?

Let me be very clear here. I feel great contempt for criminals who would hurt innocent people just as I experience a deep sympathy for the victims of violent crime, and I think my record proves that. But the majority of what this report discloses are not crimes, and the majority of the victims aren’t.

(Hat tip to Glenn.)

2 thoughts on “That Isn’t a Crime”

  1. Your experience (and my rather limited ones dealing with work we copied in depositions, etc.) reinforced my sense that it is best to seal divorce proceedings – for the sake of the children, for the sake of later more rational relations between the couple, and for the sake of the truth. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to keep these quite private and heavily charged accusations out of election ads.

  2. Unfortunately, inflating the a definition, such as “force” in this case is very common in advocacy statistics. Back in college I found out that by many criteria I was considered homeless because I crashed on a friends couch for a few months.

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