-How implementing the Quincy Solution will make a difference.
It’s January 20, 2021. The long national nightmare can start to end. As a nation, we are in mourning from the deaths caused by COVID19 and from the deaths caused by our failure to overcome our history of racism. The economy is in shambles, with tens of million people unemployed.
The United States faces a huge deficit just at a time when we need funds to dig out of the depression and recession and help the millions who are suffering. The ‘stay-at-home’ orders have been especially devastating to women and children living with domestic violence (DV) abusers, and families that were pressured to accept shared parenting with an abuser.
The United States might face many problems at once, all desperately in need of practical solutions. At the same time, the huge debt will constrain our ability to employ responses that need substantial financial resources.
The Quincy Solution saves over $500 billion every year. It unleashes the full economic potential of women and children otherwise limited by the effects of domestic violence and child abuse, and it solves our domestic violence problem. It should be a priority because it frees up money to help solve other issues. It should be a priority because it improves the quality of life for tens of millions of people.
The Quincy Solution
The original Quincy Model was a group of best practices to prevent domestic violence crimes. These successful responses were developed and implemented in Quincy from the late-1970s to the mid-1990s. The Quincy Model was responsible for a substantial reduction in domestic violence crime. A county that had averaged 5-6 DV murders each year enjoyed several years in a row with no homicides. Communities like Nashville and San Diego used similar best practices that led to similar dramatic reductions in DV crimes.
The successful practices included strict enforcement of criminal laws, orders of protection, and probation rules. Responses were used to make it easier for women to leave their abusers. This is the opposite of what victims faced with stay at home orders or with the broken family court system. Quincy also relied on a coordinated community response so that professionals working to stop domestic violence could discuss issues as they developed and support each other’s efforts to prevent abuse.
Bill Delahunt was the District Attorney and one of the key leaders of the Quincy Model. He noticed that some victims stopped cooperating when their abuser sought custody. This did not derail the success in Quincy because, at the time, this was a rare tactic. Today it is a standard abuser tactic, and the failure of family courts to integrate scientific research has helped make this tactic frighteningly successful.
Research demonstrates that only accountability and monitoring are effective in changing abusers’ behavior. Some profiteers have sought to encourage the use of therapy, anger management, or batterer programs not based on accountability in order to pad their wallets. Some good faith advocates, mainly those concerned with trauma and our excessive jail population, have promoted ineffective leniency approaches.
It might seem that strict enforcement would lead to more imprisonment, but the opposite is the experience from Quincy and other successful communities. Experts understand that domestic violence is not caused by abusers being unable to control their behavior. They actually control their behavior well, which is why they don’t assault their bosses, waitresses, or bank tellers and only assault their partners in private. During Quincy, the word got out that they could no longer expect to avoid consequences for their crimes. Hence, the abusers stopped committing domestic violence in Quincy.
Children witnessing DV are more likely to grow up and commit crimes that land them in jail. Accordingly, stopping DV reduces our prison population. Misguided advocates seek leniency for DV offenders because many were traumatized as children. The problem is that childhood traumatization does not cause the DV, but removing the consequences encourages abusers to traumatize a new generation.
The main improvement in the Quincy Solution is the inclusion of child custody reforms. The ability of abusive fathers to manipulate family courts undermines domestic violence laws, makes it harder for victims to leave. Increasingly it is the answer to the question of why does she stay, and is a critical factor in reversing the progress that had been reducing DV homicides. The research is now clear that family courts are severely tilted in favor of abusive fathers and towards risking children.
Accordingly, the Quincy Solution includes the Safe Child Act. This remedy makes the health and safety of children the first priority. It requires the courts to integrate current scientific research like the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Saunders Studies. It requires a multi-disciplinary approach instead of only listening to experts in law and psychology.
The Safe Child Act would require early hearings limited to abuse issues. Meaning cases that now take many months and years and a considerable fortune in legal and other fees can be resolved in a few hours. Judges and other court professionals would be required to be retrained to learn about the subjects recommended in the Saunders Study. Finally, states would provide additional funding to DV agencies so that the experts in domestic violence can help courts understand domestic violence issues in custody cases.
Benefits of the Quincy Solution
The obvious advantage of the Quincy Solution is that women and children would be saved from the pain and trauma of domestic violence. They could live full lives, reach their potential, and their lives would be happier and healthier. I would be willing to spend an awful lot of money to achieve such beautiful results. However, there are many higher priorities in our still sexist society than saving women and children from domestic violence.
For me, everything changed when I saw a medical study that estimated the health costs in the United States related to domestic violence. We are spending $750 billion annually on health costs as a result of our tolerance for domestic violence. Crime related to domestic violence costs an additional $200 billion. The inability of women and children to reach their full economic potential brings the cost well over one trillion dollars. This means that rather than having to spend money to prevent DV, the Quincy Solution would actually save money. Obviously, even best practices won’t stop all domestic violence, but I believe we can save $500 billion annually, and that will increase as children grow up without experiencing domestic violence.
The health savings mean that insurance premiums will be substantially reduced. Employers who save billions on health insurance can afford to pay higher wages. Governments at all levels would save money on health insurance for employees as well as Medicare and Medicaid. These savings can be used for other needed projects. So too can the savings on crime. Increased productivity and the ability of victims to reach their full potential will strengthen the economy when we need it most. Best of all, we achieve these benefits without sacrificing anything of value because there is no benefit from allowing men to abuse their partners.
The Coronavirus crisis has caused enormous pain, death, and trauma. The pandemic has been a human tragedy and an economic calamity. People with pre-existing problems have been especially vulnerable, and that includes victims of domestic violence.
Women and children forced to live with abusers had their safe options severely limited or foreclosed because of stay at home orders. Reports of domestic violence and child abuse were drastically reduced while the actual frequency of abuse increased. The Quincy Solution helps reduce domestic violence by making it easier for victims to leave, but the shelter in place requirements often made it impossible to leave even while victims were forced to spend more time with dangerous abusers.
Most of the public and, indeed, most court professionals are unaware that family courts are broken when it comes to responding to domestic violence and child abuse. Scientific research is now compelling in proving the courts are severely tilted in favor of abusive fathers and towards risking children. Courts seek to require co-parenting even when there is a severe danger. Instead of forcing abusers to change their behavior if they want a relationship with the children, courts routinely pressure mothers and children to cooperate with their abusers. The fathers’ history of abuse that many courts do not understand how to recognize is treated as an obstacle to the settlement courts favor, instead of a warning that shared parenting is inappropriate in abuse cases.
The abusive fathers use shared parenting to control and punish the mothers, and children are often abused or neglected. In normal times, children will return from visitation with bumps or bruises or perhaps a stomach ache. During the crisis, they could return with a deadly disease, or the abuser may use the shelter in place order as a pretext to refuse to return the children.
We have been through what seems like a long, dreary, and painful time full of sacrifices. I know I am ready for something good to happen, and as President Kennedy sometimes reminded us, on earth, God’s work must truly be our own. The Quincy Solution will save lives after a period when too many lives were lost. Quincy will save money desperately needed as we recover from one of the worst periods in our history. Most of all, children can stop crying themselves to sleep. They and their mothers can be protected from the scourge of domestic violence and child abuse. Best of all, children will be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and start doing it with a smile on their precious faces.
Professor of sexual violence law