An innovative community antiviolence program that has helped communities, including Quincy, MA., Nashville, TN., and San Diego, CA., effectively respond to domestic abuse offers “an enormous opportunity” to presidential candidates—and others running for office—say longtime domestic violence prevention advocates Barry Goldstein and Maralee McLean. The Quincy Solution to Stop Domestic Violence and Child Abuse “provides proven practices that can dramatically improve the health and safety of children and battered women while saving $500 billion annually,” they say. “The savings could help expand the economy while increasing income and reducing costs to the federal government that could be used to fund needed programs, reduce taxes and/or reduce the deficit.”
In the three communities where it’s been piloted, the pair says it dramatically reduced domestic violence crimes, especially murders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research has demonstrated how children exposed to domestic violence and other related trauma are expected to live shorter lives and suffer more injuries and illnesses. “The Quincy Solution,” the authors contend, “repeals an unintended ‘abuser subsidy’ that has encouraged batterers to ruin lives.”
The original Quincy Model was based on strict enforcement of criminal laws, protective orders and probation rules together with practices that made it easier for victims to leave abusive situations, as well as promoting a coordinated community response. Barry Goldstein updated the successful practices with new research demonstrating strategies that actually impact offender behavior, new technologies like GPS, and including the custody courts. The plan focuses on the judicary out of concern that many abusers “are successfully manipulating the courts to undermine domestic violence laws and maintain control over their victims.” The Quincy Solution advocates custody courts require that the health and safety of children are the first priority in all custody and visitation decisions. They note that many people are surprised this obvious approach is not already law.
In Quincy—and other communities that are taking domestic violence seriously, the authors say—the message is unambiguous: abusers will face serious consequences for their crimes.
In order to increase visibility for the innovative plan, recently Goldstein wrote an open letter to Hillary Clinton asking her to include the Quincy Solution in her presidential campaign. What follows is his letter.
I’m writing because I believe the “Quincy Solution to Stop Domestic Violence and Child Abuse” must be part of your campaign.
In 1995, Donna Shalala, Health and Human Services Secretary in your husband’s cabinet, spoke at Harvard University about the success of the original Quincy Model. She was joined by Attorney General Janet Reno, author of an op-ed advocating governmental reforms based on the successful practices in Quincy. New research demonstrates the enormous human and financial benefits available by implementing best practices that were successful in communities like Quincy, MA., Nashville, and San Diego. The Quincy Solution will empower women and children by dramatically reducing domestic violence and child abuse. It is hard to imagine an issue more in line with your career and your purpose in running for President. I urge you to examine the Quincy Solution and make it a central tenet in your campaign.
In Quincy, District Attorney Bill Delahunt (who later served in the U.S. Congress), noticed virtually every inmate at a nearby high security prison had a childhood history that included domestic violence and often sexual abuse. He believed by preventing domestic violence all crimes would be reduced. He was right. A county that averaged between five and six homicides annually enjoyed several years with no murders.
What was successful in Quincy? Strict enforcement of criminal laws; protective orders and probation rules; practices making it easier for victims to leave abusers; and a coordinated community response. At first blush it seems this would increase our already excessive prison population, but it actually reduces it. Let me explain.
Men who act abusively can control their behavior—they don’t similarly assault other people in their lives, and they treat partners well at the start of the relationship. In communities that implemented these practices, abusers saw that their crimes were no longer tolerated so they stopped committing them. I have taught batterer classes for 15 years and I’ve noticed consistently the men pay close attention to how judges respond to other abusers. When courts and prosecutors are strict, abusers realize they can’t commit their crimes with impunity. Research demonstrates that children exposed to domestic violence are far more likely to commit crimes when they grow up, so the Quincy Solution reduces our prison population.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
CDC doctors use Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) research to diagnose and treat patients with medical problems caused by childhood trauma. Prevention is an even better use of this research. The essence of the ACE Studies is that children exposed to domestic violence, child abuse and other traumas, suffer more illnesses and injuries and live shorter lives. Such children are also more likely to engage in a variety of harmful behaviors including substance abuse, self-injury, dropping out of school, prostitution, criminal activity, and suicide. Boys with high ACE scores are more likely to be future abusers and girls are more likely to be abused by future partners.
Fear is central to domestic violence. Abusers use a variety of tactics to scare and intimidate their partners. And fear leads to stress, associated with many of the health risks caused by adverse childhood experiences. The research demonstrates the enormous benefits available by preventing domestic violence and child abuse; the Quincy Solution provides proven practices to prevent catastrophic consequences.
Cost estimates based on the ACE research demonstrate that the United States spends $750 billion annually on health costs related to domestic violence. Taking into account crime costs and failure of victims of abuse to reach their economic potential, by tolerating the abuse of women the U.S. is spending more than a trillion dollars annually. The human costs of tolerating domestic violence alone should provide strong incentive for you—and all candidates for president and other elective offices—to adopt the program to prevent domestic violence tragedies. How can we possibly continue to tolerate abuse when the Quincy Solution will significantly save much needed financial resources?
For the Children
Your remarkable career has long focused on protecting women and children. Domestic abusers don’t just kill women. Many survivors never reach their potential because of the controls placed on their lives by those abusing them. The ACE research demonstrates the harm to children from domestic violence and child abuse is far greater than we ever imagined, and physical assault is not necessary to impose enormous consequences.
Secretary Clinton, the Quincy Solution is based on proven practices that have been successful in diverse communities. It is also based on sound scientific research from credible sources such as the CDC and the Department of Justice. It can bring enormous benefits not just at home but in other countries around the world.
You have the platform to make the public aware of these benefits. As President you can help change millions of lives for the better while stimulating our economy. Most of all, millions of children will live longer and healthier lives. Isn’t that why you entered public service? Your granddaughter Charlotte will be so proud.
Barry Goldstein is the author of several books about domestic violence and child custody including The Quincy Solution: Stop Domestic Violence and Save $500 Billion. For more than 15 years he has worked as an instructor in a model New York state batterers’ program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maralee McLean is a child advocate, domestic violence prevention professional, and author of Prosecuted But Not Silenced Courtroom Reform for Sexually Abused Children. She consults with the Women’s Media Center, and the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, and is a member of the speakers’ bureau for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. She can be reached at email@example.com.