"Hot Bench" has a panel of three judges -- Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker, and Larry Bakman -- who listen to small-claims legal cases and then privately come to a consensus before making their verdicts. I don't get to watch "Hot Bench" often, but it seems to be one of the better court TV programs on these day. IMHO, as always!
Today's program was titled "Male Victim of Domestic Abuse?" It was a rerun from late last year featuring what appears to be an Iowa couple where the plaintiff -- AKA the ex-girlfriend -- sued the defendant -- AKA the ex-boyfriend -- for several months of unpaid rent, as well (I believe) additional rent money for the remainder of his lease.
He claimed that he was the victim of domestic violence who finally had the courage to escape his abuser. She claimed that he was a deadbeat and that he was just trying to get out of paying the rent. He ultimately lost his case.
The ex-boyfriend described a variety of abuses by his ex-girlfriend, including physical abuse, name-calling, took away his cell phone, and isolation from friends and family. His brother testified to witnessing some of the emotional abuses. He said that he became increasingly depressed as a result of this abuse and began to experience suicidal thoughts as a result of it. He never went to the police or to a mental health provider; nor did he take any pictures of bruising.
The ex-girlfriend initially treated his claims as a joke in court, openly smirking while he described what happened in their home. She later told one of the judges that she allowed him access to his family -- which seemed like an odd choice of words.
I was disappointed in the judges' dismissal of and skepticism towards his claims of abuse. Judge DiMango was particularly bad. It was bad enough that Judge Acker called them out during their private session and point-blank asked them if they would ask the types of questions that they asked of the defendant if he'd been a woman who claimed to be the victim of domestic violence. Judge Bakman admitted that he wouldn't have.
Judge Acker noted that the defendant's story was a textbook example of someone in an abusive relationship. But we as a society are so dismissive of domestic violence towards men, that this guy really never had a chance.