Tony Miller Founder of DIDS new book extract: Ad nauseum
I never intended to put any of this stuff here. But I'll be damned if I'll be blamed for what happened to me. I did try to understand the courts and what was expected of me. There was no help from anywhere.
One of the presumptions is that the truth comes out in the courts. In my experience, partially described above, it does not. All that comes out is that the courts are prejudiced and incompetent. You're accustomed to dealing with the federal courts. The standards are higher there, and I expect better results are common. The greater proportion of cases never make it to federal court because of the prejudice and ignorance of the lower courts. From what I've seen, that is more often the reason.
I've tried to make some contribution to changing those facts. But as long as people like you ignore the problem, it will not happen. The courts do not find the truth. They are prejudiced - to the point they can be used confidently as tools for extortion. And all the dismissals you can come up with will not change what I witnessed.
Oh, BTW. When I was going through all of this, I called DiDS. There was no local group in those days. DiDS turned me away because I was in a de facto relationship and none of my own children were involved. I don't blame them. As I said, I applaud and admire the work DiDS does. But your dismissals only highlight the many gaps in your thinking and the system. DiDS was not the only group that turned me away. There are over a million de facto relationships in Australia. 40% of marriages begin as de facto relationships. It is a huge oversight.
Oh good greif. I only mentioned the US diagnosis and pension to date the process well before any legal issues arose here. As I mentioned, there was a letter from an Australian psychologist the magistrate refused to even look at. If he asked, I could have also produced an diagnosis from an Australian psychiatrist that was produced as part of my immigration process that would have put the lie to some of the testimony my ex gave in the court. If the court had bothered with this evidence, I could have also produced a half dozen people here in Australia that would have verified what I was going through, as I described it. I could have also produced the letter from my psychologist in California who would have supported the diagnosis of the Australian psychiatrist.
I prepared my questions in the only format that I could find on the Net, a Australian federal court interrogatory, because I knew that I might go into a panic attack in the court. I prepared the questions in what I hoped would be an acceptable format. There were over 65 questions initially, forcing my ex to recant over two years of abuse. I had culled the questions down to 40 for the court. The magistrate simply refused them. They did not fit the pre-judged outcome of the case, simply. They did not fit what this magistrate "wanted to hear."
Was I partially to blame? Yes. I am neither omniscent nor clairvoyant. I am however male, American, and fat. You get fat when you cannot walk for two years; when you are in constant pain and those around you treat you like an unwanted dog. And the magistrates animosity and condescension was obvious every one of the three times I saw him.
I had no idea that SRL even existed. It was months afterward that I learned of the organization even existed. SRL Resources keeps a low profile. People only find out about the organization by referral. I had no such referral, until months after the court cases via email. As you point out, " In Federal Courts Courts submssions can be handed up or read, local Courts are at the whim of State Governments. " Well, I could not find any such detailed information about the state courts. I had to assume what I had read about the federal courts in terms of rules of evidence and presentation, applied. Guess what? Every state has its own rules of evidence. But because the presentation of evidence is really at the whim and prejudice of the state magistrate, even the lawyers don't bother to read them. There is no point. The magistrate will simply do as he or she chooses.
Even more, the barristers and solicitors assume that none of their clients have any concept of rules of evidence or court procedure, for good reason. The courts are arcane and archaic. The mindless prejudice stems as much or more from the fact that state magistrates can be appointed with no legal training or experience. A waitor or lifeguard can be a magistrate if he or she does the right political favors.
Was it partially my fault? Yes. I should have followed the advice in the VLA handout on Intervention Orders. The message there is very clear: Shut up and do as you're told.
The opposing counsel had printed out the contents of my blog, which was effectively a diary of abuse. He had about 50 pages there in court. Frankly, there was another 50 pages or so of her abuse that never got written. When he quoted a few lines from the blog, out of context in the most damaging way, I asked that the entire blog be entered into evidence. Despite best evidence and full information available there in the courtroom, the magistrate refused. He refused because the opposing counsel waved his hand. He didn't have any reasonable objection, but he didn't need one.
Do you really want me to go on? I still have the records of what I went through. The full diary of abuse. The full set of emails. Recordings of conversations between my ex and myself that I transcribed onto that blog. What is missing is even more important. There are no records of any injuries sustained by my ex. There is no record of the police or anyone being called to protect her - even after she filed Intervention Orders. The only person who called the police was myself. I called them to report my own breach of the Intervention Orders when I tried twice to resolve the issues. Although I called the police to report a possible breach, she never told them she needed assistance. Why? Because she was never in any danger from me. Her own words to the police. Twice.
All she wanted was the house and its contents. Using the blind prejudice of the courts and system, she got those things. And she had the pleasure of painting me as someone I will never be. Just out of plain vindictiveness. Her own barrister identified her motives on the phone to me - " a woman scorned". Her brutal abuse of me when I was near invalid and in chronic pain had taken the love and trust out of our relationship. I wanted nothing to do with her. I had learned that making love with her only gave her license to be that much more abusive.
"so I prepared a full interrogatory in the format for the federal courts,"
What in heavens name is a full interrogatory? What Federal Courts use it? I am sure a local Court would be highly impressed by someone trying to use something they do not recognise. American Courts use interrogatories so that would have gone down like a lead balloon. Seems to me that you were also partly responsible for what happened in Court. Seems like you are confusing the process of local Courts and Federal Courts. In Federal Courts Courts submssions can be handed up or read, local Courts are at the whim of State Governments. If you have a medical problem then you should get a current Australian diagnosis for the Court, not something from overseas.
The steps you talk about are very well documented in the SRL peoples literature but some of it is only avialalble in various stages from them. They do some checking to ensure that the right attitude prevails before releasing certain materials. The stuff that the other poster referred to is Common sense stuff anyway
Tony Miller Founder of DIDS new book extract: Access in not possible
You got me to thinking. In my case, I went to VLA and got the pamphlets about Intervention Orders. I do have internet access, so I read everything I could find on this stuff. I didn't have access to a car, so I didn't go to the courts or other agencies - just legal aid and CentreLink.
I was going to represent myself in the second action, so I prepared a full interrogatory in the format for the federal courts, a statement to be submitted and read into the record as my testimony, took my medical records and even a letter from a psychologist I had been seeing. (I was forced to represent myself. The supervising lawyer at VLA had told me not to bother to ask if the case went to court a second time. She had felt there were no "important rights" at issue the first time. I had to illustrate the intimidation and threats daily for a week for her to assign a late and incompetent barrister - who was already prejudiced against me - the first time.)
All of this preparation was done while recovering from a major surgery. I could hardly walk, and needed a lot of rest. I literally had to learn to walk again. I was having panic attacks that went on for days, then I would collapse into sleep for a day or so. This cycle was instigated by my efforts to prepare for the case. It affected how well I could read, think, write .. even just sit. I could document a gran mal seizure, caused by the stress of the situation, where I nearly drowned in the local pool. I had come to Australia with a diagnosed condition: a tendency to panic attacks and depression. In extreme cases, resulting from long-term stress, I went into a gran mal seizure. I had had a burnout breakdown, and had a disability pension from the US for these conditions. The burnout was the result of too many years of high-responsibility, high-stress work. My ex knew very well what I was suffering from. She had used my tendency to panic attacks to "win" when she started abusive arguments.
I went to the court will documented evidence of all these things, and the magistrate refused every one. He had seen me in two previous panic attacks, and I'd told him what was happening. When I asked to read my written statement into the record as my testimony, - It had already been identified for the court as a submission. - the magistrate badgered me and told me that I could not read it in. It was all of four pages long; about 3 minutes reading.
Yes, it would be great in a perfect world if everyone had the energy and time, and mental state, to do all the research you did. But the fact is, those steps are not set out anywhere; and by far most who are subjected to this sort of prejudice don't have what is needed to do all those steps - much less get what they need from them.
I had hoped that a list of steps like you offer would be available on this site. It's good to see it in a forum post, but the steps need to be made more public. In the past two days, I've met two men who are susceptible to panic attacks. They both speak of the way the "aussie courts" treat them - as something disgusting. I experienced that myself. One thing I've observed as an aspect of the whole process is all of the 50 or so men I've met suffer from social anxiety and depression, in varying degrees. It is an issue that is not addressed adequately anywhere. I imagine DiDS has a nationwide roster of men with the same conditions. The fact is this system is literally 'crazy making'. And costs this country billions in productivity and initiative daily. One estimate in Victoria alone is that depression costs $10 billion each year. These courts cost the nation money and more.
This is a cruel system that damages people - men, women, and children. It is damaging the future of this country. It is costing this country money every day. And, as DiDS illustrates in so many examples, this system is costing lives.
Implicitly, the FRCs are there as access to those who can apply professional standards and educate the clients. The FRCs should be a place to find reason in the confusing circumstances. And to learn to negotiate fairly, despite any differences or feelings. In other words, how to fight fair.
What you say does bring up an interesting question though: What sort of homework do you think is required?
The only thing I can think of here is to bring a solicitor along. - And that pretty much ensures there will be only increased conflict.
I'm glad to see that you agree on the funding though.
I admire Tony and what he has done with DiDS immensely. I'm sorry that I will probably never have the chance to meet him in person, since I'll probably be heading back to the US soon. I don't seem to be able to find work in Australia despite a wide array of technical skills, on-going training in Australian business, and even recent experience.
That stuff aside, I think that DiDS should work up a policy program for the FRCs based on experience and an equal consideration of the needs of men, women, and children in a breakup, and submit it to Parliament. I do realize that no matter how practical or efficient such a submission may be, Parliament will most likely summarily dismiss it. But at least no one there will be able to say that they did not have practicable options. At some point, those options may become politically expedient.
The cheap, fear-driven politicking that has reigned for so long in this country - taking advantage of the ignorance and low standards of education - reminds me of stories from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky from last century. Literally like hillbilly communities. There is a reason so much money has been put into education. It's simply needed. But still some of the most important topics of education - history and civics - are not even part of the required curriculum. As much as every 5th grader in America hated those required subjects, what they learned there stayed with them for the rest of their lives. The children know their rights as citizens. They are (however at times improperly) proud of their country. Australia is a relatively wealthy country. Yet the claim of 100% literacy is barely true. The social paradigm is to resent education, and that's truly sad. Equally sad is that the Howard government has been allowed to silence much of the democratic debate by restricting funding to organizations - like DiDS, SPCA and MRA - which speak out against injustice and discrimination. The Mens' and Family Rights movement has some natural allies in those who wish to have their voices heard about other disadvantaged groups such as the elderly and disabled. - One of the most horrible roles a person can face is to be male and disabled in this country. I know. I did it.
The Mens' and Family Rights movement needs to get over its fear of being funded. If the government won't, because of discrimination or undemocratic policies, provide funding, then this movement should find the money needed anywhere they can (without breaching ethical boundaries, of course.) Every time I'm spoken to someone about ways of raising funds, the conversation stops - as if I had committed some sacrilege. Men who declare no belief in God act as if I should be burned at the stake. It is astonishing, impractical, and outright silly. If the government won't fund something this important, then find the funding somewhere. How can grown adults think they can influence national policy without funding to get the message out?
Anyway, 'nuff said. I've probably just contributed to the anti-Americanism…
Thanks, Tony. Because I was a de facto, and there were no children involved, I contacted DiDS and a couple of other agencies (MRA and others), but there was no help for me. I was lucky beyond any reasonable expectation to suddenly find a group of strangers, literally, who believed in me from a (now defunct) community group for those who were dealing with a life-changing injury, neighbors who could see what was happening, and a few men who had been similarly dispossessed unjustly within a few blocks of me. Honestly, it was astounding. One thing I would like to get into the discussion is that de facto relationships are affected, too. It has been estimated by ABS that 40% of all marriages begin as de facto. That's a 1-2 million people; 10% of the whole population. Men and women need the same sort of male-oriented consultations and support as married people. Most of the people who stepped forward to believe in me could not begin to understand what I was going through. They had no time because they had their own lives. I found that I could write out what was happening to me, and it helped. I joined a couple of online groups and poured my heart out. I set up a couple of blogs and just told the story. One blog was essentially my diary of abuse. Printed out, it was over 50 pages. I could have put another 50 pages into it easily. Two years of abuse gives a person a lot to talk about. And there was more every day as I struggled to come to what level of health I have.
There is no mental health system in Australia. I do not understand why the Mens' and Family Rights movement does not take up this cause. It is directly tied to the number of male suicides, not only separated adults but teenager boys, too. The FRCs and Relationships Australia are staffed almost exclusively by women. No matter how well trained a woman is, she cannot share or understand the feelings and drives a man has during a breakup. And there is little room for experimenting; the idea of OJT is ridiculous and dangerous. A man will feel willing to discuss his feelings with another man. He will always put on a front for a woman that cannot be penetrated. In my opinion, the FRCs - at least - should be required to have at least 50% male staffing.
There may be a place for agencies with one sexist perspective or the other, too. That may be too blunt to say, but it is true. What is amazing is that no one has sued against the discrimination which exists presently.
AG Ruddock has promised that all professionals involved - lawyers, magistrates, police, and clerks - will be trained before being allowed to practice in family law. I'd suggest one year of family development at the university level; then two years at the clinical level. These people need to see the realities of human nature face to face. And how human nature must be handled in the administration of the law. More than anything else, every one of them needs to clearly understand the concept of equality before the law. - And that the quickest way to lose their right to practice or be involved at any level is to lose that attitude of equality before the law.
There must be a ready and active oversight structure that quickly removes those who are only seeking to increase conflict (most obviously solicitors and barristers), and those who do not treat both parties with respect equally before the law. Until this sort of structure exists, the damage will continue to affect families and the future of this country.
Tony Miller Founder of DIDS new book extract: I hope you finish the book, Tony
I hope you finish the book soon, Tony. It will be an important work. Men have been so completely de-humanized by the family courts. People need to read the stories, and see that men are fragile emotionally. Even more, somehow there needs to be a wider understanding of the power of the commitment a man makes to a relationship. How much he will sacrifice for his family. And how deeply the end of that commitment can damage him.
I came so close to suicide, and the feelings lasted for more than a year. My mind raged with the urge. The roar of feelings was literally unbearable. Each identifiable emotion - relief, fear, guilt, anger, remorse, frustration, and others - was more than I could handle. The intensity of each feeling was like something possessed me. And when more than one feeling ripped through me, it was more than I could handle. I just wanted it to end. The feelings would rip through me until I collapsed, exhausted. I'd live in panic attacks, crying uncontrollably, for days; and then collapse into sleep for days.
If it hadn't been for a few people who came from nowhere in my life, I would have committed suicide. There is no question in my mind about that. But these few people stepped forward and when I said I needed someone to believe in me, they replied with words, or actions, or both, over and over. Sometimes, one of these strangers would tell me to look again, that I had people around me who believed in me. That he or she did. No matter how much or how long I hurt, that made suicide impossible - even if it remained attractive.
Even with these people, my neighbors and friends now, the feelings that ripped through me were often too much for me. The worst of it all was that there was no social fabric to support me. All the agencies I was sent to treated me like a criminal. Even more than that, that I had done nothing that warranted this treatment. I had not been abusive. I was abused for the two years I was crippled and nearly invalid, my ex treated me more and more like I was something that she could hardly stand to look at. Her cruelty, and words still live in my heart and my mind. Every year for three years certain dates bring the feelings back. I can fill my time with work, friends or study, but the raging feelings are just beneath the surface. A few moments alone and they come back almost as strong as before. The best I can do is to tell myself that time will heal these wounds. It will, to a degree. No amount of time will heal these wounds completely. I have to accept that. Like the long scar down my leg from surgery, the remnants of these emotional wounds will never completely go away.
About two years ago, I read that I should be happy for the intensity of my feelings. There is very little pride in those words, but there is some sense of self-worth. One of the most valuable things I was told was confronting. One (then very new) friend told me: "You chose to stay." My first thoughts were to explain all the reasons I could not leave - crippled, financial and emotional commitments, manhood, pride, or whatever - and then I realized she was right. I made the choice to stay and endure the abuse, on top of the physical pain. For whatever reasons I choose to turn to now, I made that choice. Strangely, that was something where I could find pride and a sense of self worth. The feeling was stabilizing. It put my feet on the ground for the first time in months.
I could also take some pride in that I had chosen not to become violent in any way. There were certainly many reasons I could have used for violence. Many of those who heard the story of the abuse, and then the carefully planned extortion using the prejudice of the courts and system, told me that they would do this or that. When the unjust attacks were fresh, I even tried to convince myself that I should, but I never could. Violence is not warranted in these situations. It's just that simple. It has no place. Despite her goading, the threats from her family, and the police that were so ready to attack, I never raised my hand to anyone. No matter what the prejudiced system has in its records, that is the truth. - Not that the truth matters to anyone. I found myself, and a sense of self worth, in that fact. It feels so small at times because I now, for the first time in my life, have on record "incidents with the police." I found out when I tried to join the local neighborhood watch. I was rejected. None of those "incidents" are of an arrest or an attack. I never allowed myself to be provoked, even when facing an eager policeman - red-faced with his hand on his baton - twice. And despite the insulting accusations of 000 operators and court clerks, who acted without any knowledge of the facts. There was nothing just, fair, decent, or even reasonable in what happened to me. Yet despite losing nearly everything, I never became violent with anyone. No matter what she may want anyone to believe, that is the truth. No matter what any report says, that is the truth. But the truth is an orphan that no one wants.
I hope your book tells these stories. I hope others read and understand. This is a brutality that is being done against men and families.
50% of marriages end in divorce. Of those, about 60% of the people form new relationships. How does it make any sense to seek constructive changes to Family Law without dealing with these situations? If anything, it would seem that parents should be there to guide and nurture the new relationships. Instead, animosity and resentment are all that is commonly expressed. It's not just the "new" parents who need support and guidance, but the children in the new relationship. Excluding the "new" parent doesn't work, that just alienates them - and consequently alienates the child(ren) more.
Yet on these boards, as in so many other venues, the issues of de facto and/or step parents are never discussed. Is that a mature and responsible attitude given the realities of the society?