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UPDATE: NH State Rep Now Suggests Victims of Violence May Have ‘Clouded’ Judgment; Says Counseling – Not Prosecution – Appropriate Response for Domestic Violence Crimes

For Immediate Release
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Media Contact
Zandra Rice Hawkins, (603) 225-2471

UPDATE: NH State Rep Now Suggests Victims of Violence May Have ‘Clouded’ Judgment; Says Counseling – Not Prosecution – Appropriate Response for Domestic Violence Crimes

State Rep’s pithy apology to offensive domestic violence remarks further highlights his lack of understanding and serious consideration of the issue 

*** Also: Warden skips Committee votes today due to “illness” then sends emails to committee members throughout committee meeting with his opinion on bills ***

Concord, NH – NH State Representative and Free Stater Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) doubled down on his offensive domestic violence comments yesterday evening in an “apology” statement posted on his Facebook page; in it he provides excuses for domestic violence occurrences and suggests that counseling is a more appropriate response for domestic violence crimes than law enforcement.

Responding to local pressure and state and national news coverage, Rep. Warden posted on his Facebook page yesterday:

"It was never my intention to minimize the trauma of domestic abuse or in any way demean the victims. I find violence abhorrent. How the state gets involved in people’s personal lives is a topic that requires thoughtful debate and should not be reduced to sound bites. To those whom may have been offended, I offer my sincere apology."

Warden’s immediate follow-up comment on the post, however, told a different story: it included unfounded assumptions about the role of alcohol in domestic violence situations, the false notion that abuser-victim co-counseling is a viable option for ending abuse in a relationship, and an all-around misunderstanding of the core issues. Warden removed the entire Facebook post by the morning – including the initial apology – but Granite State Progress posted a copy of it online.

“Rep. Warden’s backhanded apology speaks volumes about how little time he has invested in understanding the seriousness of the legislation before him,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “The perpetrators of domestic violence often exhibit a pattern of violence that escalates over time. To suggest that victims may have clouded judgment about being hit or that it’s more appropriate for an abuser to seek counseling than to charge them for their crimes is absurd. Rep. Warden’s votes and statements illustrate a fundamental indifference to the volatile domestic violence situations too many families are living in.”

“We’d encourage Rep. Warden to volunteer at a domestic violence crisis center to gain perspective, but we shudder to think what advice he might then give to victims seeking help,” Rice Hawkins said. “Rep. Warden skipped his committee votes today. We’d strongly encourage him to consider whether he should return to the State House at all.”

The faux apology was originally posted at Mark Warden for State Representative. Granite State Progress captured the apology in a screen shot and has posted here:

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Quick Facts on A Few of Rep. Warden’s Faux Apology False Assertions

Warden asserts alcohol is ‘often’ a factor in domestic violence situations, ‘clouding judgment’ about how and whether abuse actually occurred.

  • Reality: In New Hampshire, 43% of the perpetrators of domestic violence homicide over the past 10 years have a history of substance abuse – but none of them were impaired when they committed murder. (Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s 9th Report, October 2012, http://doj.nh.gov/criminal/victim-assistance/documents/domestic-violence...)

Warden: Says he recognizes domestic violence as a crime and supports law enforcement of domestic violence crimes.

  • Reality: Warden voted for both HB 264, which lowers the violation level if an abuser doesn’t leave a visible injury on the victim, and HB 512, which prohibits a law enforcement officer from arresting an abuser without a warrant unless they have witnessed the abuse occurring – tying police hands to protect the victim if they arrive moments after the abuse occurred.

Warden: Suggests counseling – not prosecution – as an appropriate response for domestic violence crimes.  “In cases of domestic abuse, perhaps counseling will better serve their individual needs, rather than police action.”

  • Reality: Marriage counseling in domestic violence relationships is not advised. The safety of a therapy session encourages open communication, but such communication can be dangerous in a violent relationship and subject the victim to more violence. Also, couples’ work is based on the agreement of shared respect for another and shared responsibility for the relationship outcome and process – when violence is present, one person has more power than the other, and is taking less responsibility for his or her actions.

Warden: “There are couples who like or love each other, but still argue and shout and fight.”

  • Reality: Domestic violence is not about couples who “shout, argue or fight”. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercion and control used by one partner against the other. Domestic violence typically increases in severity over time and can have lethal consequences. Why does Warden that seeking counseling is an acceptable alternative to the criminal justice system? Does he think that bank robbers should just go to counseling too? How about child abusers? Domestic violence is a crime punishable by law – as long as lawmakers like Rep. Warden don’t undermine those laws.

Warden: “People are free to make bad decisions. Lawmakers cannot legislate good behavior for every last person, as hard as they try. Government is there to protect your rights. If somebody has been intentionally harmed by another, the legal and criminal justice system is often the appropriate response.”

  • Reality: Someone needs to explain to Rep. Warden that lawmakers make the laws that the legal and criminal justice system operate by. And this is exactly why Rep. Warden should reconsider whether he’s qualified to hold public office in New Hampshire.

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Read previous press release:

Video: During Debate on Domestic Violence Prevention Laws, NH State Rep Says A Lot of People “Like Being in Abusive Relationships” and “Are Always Free to Leave”
 

Rep. Warden was "ill" for committee executive session today. Colleagues used his empty seat for jackets and paperwork.