New York Domestic Violence: Gender Biases

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Elliot Schlissel, a New York criminal law attorney whose firm represents individuals charged with criminal matters in Manhattan and its surrounding areas and on Long Island, has been practicing law for over 30 years and has seen the gender biases in domestic violence matters slowly shift. However, overcoming them is still an uphill battle.

90% – 95% against men

We asked Schlissel what types of gender biases he sees in New York domestic violence and spousal abuse matters. Here’s what he told us:

I would say 90 to 95 percent of all of the criminal prosecutions for domestic violence are against men. The judges are fair and impartial, but very often you have a man who is 6’5”, 240 pounds and he has allegedly acted inappropriately towards a woman, who is 5’2”, 120 pounds.

There tends to be a general bias against men – sometimes related to the fact that they can be so much bigger and stronger than women. In the event that there’s a negative interaction between them, some judges seem to presume that the woman is going to be on the losing end of the conflict.

There are also instances where women who are involved in custody battles or divorces inappropriately file for orders of protection as a strategic maneuver to force the man out of the house and put him in a more negative light in custody battles and dealing with other issues in the divorce.

New York judges in a tough spot

Schlissel says that, unfortunately, New York judges are in a difficult position as their job is to protect people from being abused, so they tend to give out orders of protection in most cases where someone alleges threats or violence. He explained:

While the courts are erring on the side of caution, the result is very often throwing innocent men out of their homes, disrupting their lives and putting them in negative situations with regard to custody and divorces. It causes them to incur tremendous inconvenience – living with parents, staying in motels, staying with friends, etc.. It also causes them to incur substantial attorneys’ fees and other expenses.

Schlissel’s office has an extremely active practice representing individuals charged with all types of domestic violence, cases throughout the courts in the New York county, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

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