Interviewer: What are some of the bigger misconceptions people have about domestic violence and assault?
Paul Tafelski: Everybody’s seen the Ray Rice video recently. That’s what people really think of when they think of domestic violence and yet I’d say 95% of the cases do not involve anything nearly as brutal or serious as what you see on that tape. Most of these cases involve much more minor physical confrontation, yet the connotation is that it is very severe and that you’re a really rotten person if you’re accused of this. So the perception is much worse than what the reality usually is, but not always, but usually the reality is much less than what the perception is of someone who’s been accused or convicted of domestic violence.
Typically Men are Perceived As Aggressors in a Domestic Violence Case but Women are Increasingly being Accused of Assault
Interviewer: One thing I always hear that it’s always man on woman. Have you seen cases where that’s not the case?
Paul Tafelski: Oh yeah. many times I’ve represented many women who were the defendants in the cases. Typically there’s more men than women but just as many women becoming physical as the men. It’s just that usually what will happen is, women might push or shove or slap the man and then the man may hit her harder and that causes her to call the police. So that’s your classic situation of what, was itself defense or was it over-reaction to what was occurring.
The Stereotype in a Domestic Violence Case is the Battered Woman Being Abused by a Drunk Husband
Many situations are not like I think what you’re referring to is, that the perception is that it’s always the man being the aggressor, and that’s kind of the stereotype is that you have the battered woman who is getting beaten up by the mean drunk husband. Not to say that those examples don’t exist, but the majority of the cases we see are where both people were going at it with each other and one just maybe went a little bit too far or just the other accused one of going too far and led to a prosecution. The overwhelming majority of the cases we see are not involving a battered woman who’s afraid to stick up for herself. That’s just a misperception.
Throwing a Plate at Your Spouse During an Argument Can Get You Arrested on a Charge of Domestic Violence
Interviewer: When I was a kid, they used to tell stories about how my grandma used to throw dishes at her grandpa. They’re long gone, but these days now that’s behavior that would be considered illegal. You could get into major trouble with stuff like that, right?
Paul Tafelski: Believe it or not, I recently had a case where the husband was accused of throwing scrambled eggs at the wife and he was actually charged with domestic violence and technically you could make an argument that that satisfies the statue because it’s an offensive touching, it’s not harmful but it’s offensive, but I think most people would think that that’s kind of ridiculous that you need to engage the legal system, and prosecute somebody and that’s the situation where the wife didn’t even want her husband to be prosecuted but the police took him away anyway. Throwing a plate at somebody would get you arrested nowadays. So your grandma might be spending some time at Oak County Jail if she was living here.