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| Chapter 9 The Male Perspective |
| Next You can sue but you can't win (if you are a man) |
| Back Defensive male actions under current law |
NOTE: The Equal Justice Foundation does not endorse or condone unlawful surveillance, civil harassment by use of electronic devices for purposes of annoyance or embarrassment, or the invasion of any citizen's privacy. You would be well advised to become familiar with your local and state laws, or to consult an attorney before employing any surveillance methods such as those outlined here. Personal communications between a husband and wife are generally regarded as privileged and subject to special restrictions.
Voice-activated recorders to monitor abuse at home
Portable digital voice recorders
Trials, hearings, conferences, mediation, and other meetings
Transcripts from audio recordings
Surveillance technology is both improving and becoming more affordable. While we are well aware of the potential for abuse of surveillance, the level of threat many men, women, and their children face justifies virtually any defense they can mount. That threat is particularly acute when citizens are meeting with child "protective" services or other social workers, police, or court hearings.
The methods of surveillance described below can be used equally by men or women but our emphasis here is helping men who are being abused or stalked. Note that in many cases where we know men were the ones being stalked, the legal system has been perverted to the point the woman doing the stalking has successfully charged her victim with the very actions she committed.
We have been astonished at how frequently men are stalked by women and how difficult that is to prove. In such cases these surveillance methods may be of some use to counter a woman's lies. However, it may be very difficult for you to get the monitors to work in a manner that will provide evidence admissible in court But simply the fact that her actions are being recorded may be sufficient to deter some women. Surveillance is no deterrent to a psychotic of either sex, however.
There are basically three types of surveillance that can be done at reasonable cost and effort, audio, computer, and video. All descriptions here assume a reasonable degree of technical skill in making computer connections, installing software, running telephone lines, setting up mechanical devices, and a few basic carpentry skills and tools. You will probably find it useful to Google "surveillance systems reviews" if you are planning to use surveillance methods in your defense. A GPS vehicle tracking system may also be a worthwhile investment if your wife is having an affair. Also, if you suspect infidelity you may want to try out Checkmate's semen detection kit to see if those white, starchy stains in her panties, on her clothes, or elsewhere are what you think they are.
And don't ignore the fact that she (or he) may be using surveillance methods against you as part-and-parcel of her (or his) stalking. You should regularly sweep any area you occupy for "bugs" such as cameras or microphones. One inexpensive device for doing this is the Bug Scanner, but other, more $ophisticated devices are available. Search the Web under "technical surveillance countermeasures," "TSCM," or "electronic debugging."
You may also want, or need to hire a private investigator, depending on the circumstances of your case, but the cost will typically be much higher than the methods listed here.
For all three methods it is essential that the time and date be an integral part of the recordings. And the time/date stamp on your records must be tied to a standard in a demonstrable fashion if you are to have any chance of getting the record admitted in court. You must also keep a written journal noting the date, time, and location of all notable events as many things will happen that won't be caught by the surveillance equipment.
While it is a felony to destroy evidence, if your intimate partner, or stalker, can get her hands on the recordings she is very likely to destroy them and the instruments without penalty. Thus, it is essential that the records be stored somewhere she does not have access to such as a safe deposit box, a drawer at work, a friend's house, etc. Anywhere that is dry, relatively dust free, and not subject to extremes of temperature can be used to keep your recordings. That means your car trunk or glove box, or attic are not good places, but your garage or workshop might be. However, a number of men have written us who kept such information at home. The woman then obtained a restraining order barring him from his home and that prevented him from retrieving the evidence. So any location a woman might be able to bar you from returning to is not a good place to keep your surveillance records and journal.
NOTE: The Equal Justice Foundation does not endorse or recommend any of the products listed or condone their use for illicit or immoral purposes. Links are provided solely to provide a starting point for men and women who are seeking to defend themselves from abusive partners or stalkers and to document illegal actions. Other products and methods may be more suitable in an individual case than those described here.
WARNING: The use of the following or similar methods of surveillance may in some cases increase the level of danger to an individual. The Equal Justice Foundation is not responsible for actions or injuries that might result if surveillance methods described below are used.
Common surveillance instruments that are widely available for audio recording include telephone recorders, portable microcassettes, portable digital recorders, and voice-activated recorders. Note that if you are recording directly on, or transferring recordings to an older computer you may need to upgrade to a larger capacity hard drive, typically at a cost of ~$200 for parts and labor. But all modern computers, i.e., post-2005, include multigigabyte drives and storage is seldom a problem anymore.
It is fundamental in all domestic violence and abuse, as well as stalking situations to have caller identification on any phones you use. And check the name and number before picking up the phone. Or use voice screening with an answering machine for all calls. There is no excuse for not practicing self defense!
As we fade into 2011 the use of cell phones has become ubiquitous. A bad joke is that cell phones were invented for women to report restraining order violations with. So it is very likely that your nemesis has one. However, that can work in your favor as well as against you.
For one thing, virtually all cell phone companies track the location of the cell phone whenever it is turned on. Generally they can locate the phone to within 300 m (1,000 feet) or less anytime it is turned on (newer phones have GPS location devices implanted for emergency location). They also keep such location records for periods of a few months to a few years and will produce such records under court order. Thus, if she claims you were at her house (or some other point) in violation of a restraining order it is often possible to use the records from your cell phone to show that at the time and date she claims you were at her house that you were, in fact, somewhere far away.
Conversely, if you are being stalked you might be able to use her cell phone records to prove she was in fact outside your apartment at the time death threats were made. However, it is critical that you notify the cell phone vendor in a timely fashion that you are seeking location records for a specific period and phone number so that they don't destroy the records before you can obtain a court order. In such situations a private investigator can often be a major asset as well.
Also, many cell phones now come with a technology called Bluetooth, a way to transmit pictures and other digital information between cell phones and similar devices, e.g., personal desktop assistants (PDAs), over short distances (10-100 meters). In order to do this, the cell phones can be set to emit a signal everywhere they go (Bluetooth is turned on). If you are being stalked by someone you know has a Bluetooth-enabled device, you can install Bluetracker software on your Bluetooth-compatible device, usually your cell phone, that detects the nearby presence of the stalker if their device has Bluetooth turned on. It alerts you whenever a specified Bluetooth-enabled device comes within range. Bluetracker now works with AT&T wireless and a variety of phone manufacturers. Note that the stalker need only have a phone AT&T or one of many others Bluetracker is compatible with.
If you're being stalked, Bluetracker could be a lifesaver. Your phone can alert you that the stalker has come within range. For men targeted with restraining orders by women intent on framing them for violating the order, this could also help keep them out of jail now that violation of a protection order has become a favored tactic of redfems for destroying men.
If you are receiving harassing phone calls on a landline it may be useful to use call tracing. To do so, immediately after hanging up from the call, lift the receiver and press *57 (or 1157 on a rotary phone) before any other calls are made, or anyone else calls you. Follow the recorded instructions to take action appropriate to your situation. In Colorado after you initiate the call trace you should then call (800) 582-0655 to verify the phone company was able to trace the call.
Typically, a $1 fee is charged for each attempted trace whether successful or not. The phone company or police will take deterrent action only if three calls from the same number are identified, but you will not be given the name or telephone number of the person who called you.
If you feel you are in immediate danger you should next contact the police if the call trace was successful.
As presently constituted this is a pretty useless service but should not be ignored as it does sometimes work. However, if the harasser or stalker has any intelligence at all they will call from a pay phone, use different telephones, or use a phone card to make the call, thus defeating the call trace. Also, since it is very difficult for you to find out the number of the phone that made the call, you can't relate it to telephone numbers of her and her friends.
At present cell phones operating through the major carriers all provide caller ID that identifies the caller., or at least whose cell (mobile) phone is being used to make the call. However, anyone wishing to avoid that, i.e., your stalker, can easily obtain a prepaid, untraceable burner phone. Also, if you are trying to hide for any reason, you should only and exclusively use a disposable cell phone that is changed regularly.
If you didn't answer the phone it may sometimes be helpful to use last call return rather than call tracing to try and get the phone number of whoever is calling you. To use last call return, after they attempt to call you, with pen and paper in hand, lift the phone receiver and dial *69. If useful, the phone number of the last caller will be given. Don't redial the number, however, or you could violate a restraining order, or be accused of telephone harassment yourself.
Time after time we hear stories of women taking out restraining orders against a man, then calling him, or having the kids call him as in most states the restraining order does not apply to her. When he talks to her, or to his kids, she reports him for violating the restraining order, he goes to jail, and typically she need not even present any evidence of the call. Again, the male must prove his innocence.
It is a basic requirement to have a voice-activated recorder on your telephone, both landline and cell phones, with the longest possible recording time. Check to make sure it is working before you need it and when you need it. And remember to check the recorder daily to be sure it is operating and has room to record the next message.
Digital recorders are strongly preferable to analog, or tape devices, in today's market. Be sure the digital recorder has a USB connection and can be downloaded to your computer. A copy in your computer can be used to transcribe the conversation into hardcopy with products like Dragon Speech Recognition Software and for cleaning up background noise.
Most states do not require notice that you are recording your own private telephone conversations but a check on local laws should be made. Note that any conversation that begins with a threat of any kind does not require notice that the statements are being recorded. In some cases it may be advantageous to have the recorder play the beep that indicates the conversation is being recorded as a deterrent even though the law does not require it.
The concept is that recording a phone conversation is not a "wiretap" so long as the person making the recording is not an "unseen listener." In some states you can record your own conversations (but not between the kids and mom). In other states you must notify the person you are recording. This can be accomplished in a sneaky way by saying something like "I didn't understand (whatever) ...can you clarify it just for the record." And knowing the conversation is being recorded may help keep you from losing your temper and making a bad situation worse. Also, remember she may be recording the conversation on her end as well.
Telephone recordings can be of very high value because experience has shown that women who make false DV or child abuse claims often make statements on the phone admitting that it is a con job frequently as a way to interfere with parenting time, or to blackmail you into giving her money or something else she wants. Having her recorded statements is then of tremendous value, and can often be used in visitational interference, custody, and property settlement cases too. When recording such calls, if possible, you should turn off the radio, TV, air conditioner, and minimize any other sources of background noise.
Recorders for your landline telephone and cell phone are available from such stores as Radio Shack at a typical cost of $26-$169 (in 2011). Digital recording devices are strongly preferred as they are more accurate, generally have more sensitive microphones, have no tape to jam, stretch or break, automatically time/date stamp each recording, and generally have more recording time. However, you may want to add flashcard memory and an external battery pack to extend the recording time even more. You should get an audio recorder that can be played back in an ordinary tape drive if analog, or MP3 player with USB port if digital, so the recording can be taken to a remote location for playback or downloaded to your computer for transcription.
A recorder that notes the time and date of each recording is essential and you will need to label any recordings you keep. But be sure in advance that the timestamp on the recording is accurate. You will also need spare tapes if using an analog device. Be sure to duplicate critical recordings and store the copy in a secure remote location such as your office, parent's house, bank deposit box, etc., that you are certain your abuser does not have access to. One good way to make copies would be to use the CD or DVD burner most computers come with today to make a CD or DVD that can be stored for up to ten years without degradation. The shelf life of many magnetic recordings is two to four years.
If there is no restraining order in place, and for any reason you must call your abuser, before you dial state the date, time, the phone number, who you are calling and the name of a witness (if available and always a good idea) to the call for the recorder. Also consider calling a friend or your parents and keep them on the phone while you interact with her (you may need special phone services for such conference calls and such witnesses may constitute an "unseen listener" in some jurisdictions unless you give her notification of their presence). If she is aware that there are other witnesses it will seriously dampen any attempts at misusing the DV laws. End the call by stating the time after you break the connection but before you hang up. Also record the date and time of the call in a journal together with the name(s) of any witness(es).
With products such as Sound Snooper you can record your phone conversations directly on to your computer and with products like Dragon Speech Recognition Software you can transcribe such recordings directly to a word processing program. A sworn transcription may be a requirement to get such recordings admitted in court.
The use of audio recorders isn't limited to recording telephone conversations. They are often of great value in recording events around the home if she is still living with you or her boyfriend comes over when you are at work.
Voice- or sound-activated recorders come in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices. You may need a model that allows multiple microphones depending on the layout and volume of the area to be monitored. Microphones should also be as small as possible. Another alternative, but more expensive and harder to maintain, is to use multiple recording devices in separate locations.
The installation of the recorder(s) should be in an unobtrusive location, yet sufficiently accessible to make it easy to download to your computer if the digital recorder is portable. Depending on location, you might be able to record directly to your computer using voice recording software and a sound card.
The longest possible recording times with supplemental flashcard memories should be used with digital recording devices. The recorder should also be playable on other common drives or devices. You will need to test that feature prior to purchasing and installing the system.
Another use for voice-activated recorders is to catch someone breaking into your home or car repeatedly, which may occur with stalkers. These people are often emotionally disturbed and, believing they are alone, will frequently talk to themselves (and to the hidden recorder).
Again, these recorders should be downloadable directly to your computer for editing, filtering, and transcription if needed.
The recorder may use batteries or house power and the choice probably depends on where you need to locate the device. Again, the location should be unobtrusive but sufficiently accessible that there is no problem downloading the recordings and changing the batteries. And don't forget to take, or transmit backups of the recordings to a safe location after you take them off the recorder.
The microphone(s) must also be far enough away from noise sources, e.g., air conditioning, furnaces, dishwashers, radios, televisions, etc., that those devices don't activate the recorder every time they turn on or off. Ten hours of TV noise, or the AC switching on and off, are not of much value.
The recorder should not be located in the same room, or rooms where the pickup microphone(s) is. Thus, it may be necessary to drill some holes in walls or floors. Alternatively, wireless microphones are available, though at additional expense and maintenance.
After the recording system is installed you must test it to be sure it picks up voices and sounds in the area you want to cover.
Obviously, if your intimate partner is assaulting you verbally or physically, you need to remember to move to a location where her words will be picked up by the microphone(s). Whenever possible you should turn off the radio, TV, and minimize any other sources of background noise when an argument begins if that can be done without arousing her suspicions.
If she makes any statements about filing false claims keep and date the record. Also write up a short "dated" note regarding what is on the recording and the key phrases. If she is outrageous during any conversation you should keep the recording to show a history of unreasonable behavior on her part. Of course, at all times while recording you must be the model of sane behavior.
If she calls the police, play the recording for them and insist they arrest her for creating the disturbance, and perhaps for making false statements regarding a crime that never happened. While her arrest may be unlikely, at least it makes it much less likely the cops will arrest you.
If you know she intends to call the police you might want to show her the recorder (from a safe distance), and let her know that the police won't be fooled.This will annoy her to no end but she will be on notice that she can't so easily get away with playing the false DV or child abuse card on you. However, we have instances where the woman has grabbed the tape recorder from out of the hands of the police and destroyed the tape while the police watched the felony in progress. Therefore, it is best to keep the recorder in your hands as it is less likely the police will stand idly by if she physically attacks you in their presence.
It may be very helpful to keep a digital recorder in your car or on your person and have it running whenever you are near her, talking with police, or other witnesses. For example, it is suggested that any direct exchange of the kids for visitation be recorded. Or if you meet with your or her attorney, for mediation, etc., it is often extremely valuable to have a recording of such meetings. It helps to wear bulky clothing, such as a sweater, to conceal the recorder although the size of digital recorders continues to decrease. Currently (July 2006) one can obtain a digital recorder that looks like a pen for about $100 that records for 70 hours with a USB connection for downloading to your computer or a CD-ROM.
When recording keep away from noise sources if feasible and conversations as short as possible. The whole recording must be transcribed if brought into court. You don't want the conversation to disintegrate into an argument or screaming match, especially if the recording has you screaming back at her. In some situations, however, unique noises, e.g., traffic, may be useful in establishing location on a voice recording.
If nothing happens you can erase the digital record but such recordings also make good tests to find out how well the recorder worked. You must test the recording system and pickup before you ever need it.
Most laptop computers now have a sound card. With a microphone for the laptop you can use the computer to record conversations in some situations. But a tiny digital, voice-activated recorder is almost certainly a better choice in almost every situation.
Always record any hearings, trials, conferences, depositions, mediation, attorney conferences, consultations with court-appointed "experts," or other meetings you attend or are involved in with her, any witnesses, or other interested parties in your case. If told you cannot record the proceedings do it anyway without telling the officials using an unobtrusive recorder like the fountain pens now available with an included digital recorder. In our experience recording is always permitted under the law but many officials will try to bully you into not keeping a record. They may claim they are already recording the proceedings, e.g., in court, but I have heard and documented far too many instances where the recorders were, in fact, turned off, the recording erased, edited, or "inaudible."
It has become so common for court tapes and transcripts to be altered that it should be assumed they have been. Thus, it is essential for you to have your own, independent recordings of any court proceedings with which to verify the accuracy of the court's records and transcriptions. This is a sad, but accurate commentary on the level to which our judicial system has descended. You must be prepared to defend yourself against the court who, in conjunction with the judge's cronies, will often prove to be your worst enemy.
For making recordings in a courtroom, depending on your location, there may be a form you must file prior to the trial or hearing without which you are at the mercy of the courts permission as to whether you are allowed to record. So check on this and file the form if required!
Courts are generally much more restrictive about making video recordings or photographing any parts of the proceedings. If you plan on making videos or taking photographs in the courtroom be certain to get permission in advance.
Have plenty of spare batteries and blank tapes if you use a tape recorder (not recommended). For digital recorders it may be necessary to install additional flashcard memory and rig an auxiliary battery pack for the extended recording time often needed in court. Also, remember to download the recording to your computer or other storage device every evening so the previous record isn't lost.
There is now software available that transcribes voice to a word processing program. Dragon Speech Recognition Software is one of the leading products in this area currently. That makes it quite reasonable to make your own transcripts on your computer though you will have to use the audio recording to review each and every sentence for accuracy and content. However, it is unlikely you can use transcripts of a court hearing if filing an appeal and you will still have to pay for an official transcript.
More and more often we hear reports of women using computers for illicit purposes. Of course, men have been doing this for sometime and it is not a gender issue. The question is what can a man or a woman do to find out what their intimate partners are up to with their cybersex partners? Be forewarned, you are probably not going to like what you find. But forewarned is forearmed.
While there are a variety of software packages for recording keystrokes and screen captures it is essential that your partner be unaware her computer activities are being monitored. If possible, it is also desirable to have the information emailed to you at a remote location. Note that if you are recording directly on, or transferring recordings to your computer you may need to upgrade to a larger capacity hard drive, typically at a cost of ~$200 for parts and labor, if you are using an older computer. All modern computers have multigigabyte hard drives so this typically isn't a problem today (2010).
The technology and software for computer surveillance is rapidly changing and you should check on the latest advances before purchasing any hardware or software. As of December 2005 eBlaster (~$70) is commonly-used PC software that meets these criteria. SpectorSoft also markets the Spector program if you can't have the information emailed to another address. Many other similar programs are available.
Such programs as eBlaster are widely used by industry to monitor computer use by their employees. You may also find these programs useful to monitor what your children, as well as your spouse, have been up to.
Because she may get an ex parte (without notice to you) restraining order against you at any time it would be wise to enable remote access to your computer. If you have a DSL or cable connection there are a number of programs that allow you to do that. GoToMyPC and Symantec's pcAnywhere are but two of many products allowing remote connection to a PC. Late-model Macintoshes (G3 or later) using OS X have Airport already (need card for G3), though you probably would want to upgrade to Airport Extreme with a 500-foot range (restraining orders typically specify no approach within 100 yards, or 300 feet) using a directional antenna if you don't have a full time network connection, or through the base station if you do have a broadband Internet connection. There are many other ways and means to remotely connect to your computer than listed here. The critical thing is to do so, and test, before you might possibly need it. Such links can also often be used for remote, off-site backups, a critical step in surveillance.
As such programs produce a considerable amount of information you may need to upgrade your computer to handle it. On an older computer a larger hard drive will be required but additional RAM may also be needed to maintain performance. You will also need to review and discard unwanted information, often a time-consuming task, and difficult to accomplish in private if the information resides on your home computer. Be sure and keep offsite backups of your files and email as well as one of the first things Cupcake may do is trash your computer.
You must have a time synchronization utility on your computer and use it. She will try to lie and say she wasn't there at the time and place recorded, and may even produce witnesses as well. If you can't substantiate that the time and date recorded is accurate your credibility will be destroyed, and you probably won't get the data admitted as evidence.
Macintosh computers synchronize their time with a national standard every time they log on to the Internet. Utilities for time synchronization such as Automachron are readily available for Windows and NT machines as well and with Microsoft XP OS and later a time standard is built in.
Unobtrusive video monitors are available for as low as $70-$80 that work in both daylight and darkness. Cameras hidden in such things as working wall clocks, radios, plants, motion detectors, etc. are available from PalmVid for $150-$400. Wireless versions of these cameras sell for roughly $300 to $600 although prices are coming down. Wireless video monitors that can be worn on the body are also available. Other types of monitors are available as well, depending on what you are trying to record. For example, a stalker who comes in the night will require different cameras, e.g., infrared wireless cameras in the yard, than cameras for recording an intimate partner who is assaulting you in your home.
Most video cameras do not include a microphone or a sound monitor. If sound recording synchronized with the video images is required, and we recommend you record both, then additional effort and expense will be incurred. Think it through before you buy the hardware and software. Be sure what you get will do what you want and need but don't be ashamed if you find you need a more elaborate surveillance system. The cost for good surveillance equipment is minuscule compared to attorney fees and the nightmare your life will become without physical evidence to support you.
You can record the images on a VCR, DVD, or on your computer (generally preferred as of December 2005), and most systems can be set to only record when motion is detected. If you are using your computer for the monitor (recommended), the requisite software is about $70 for a single camera, or $400 for multicamera recording. Gotcha! is one commonly used program for security video purposes.
Examples of an effective use of video and sound monitoring of an abusive woman can be found here as of April 2011.
Unless you have a new (2001 or later) computer you will have to upgrade your machine to handle the video images. For video processing on a PC a clock speed of 500 MHz or faster is required. 500 MB of RAM should be considered a minimum. A 100 GB hard drive should be considered a minimal requirement, and the larger the better. Adding another hard drive will cost about $200. You will probably also need to add a video capture board (~$200). An automated, large volume backup system, e.g. a DVD or flash drive, will also be essential, or a way to transmit to an offsite storage location if you have broadband Internet access. However, that option runs the risk of Cupcake finding the site from your home computer and destroying your files.
No matter what size hard drive you have, video images may fill it fairly quickly. Assume you will have to edit the files and remove the unwanted images at least once a week. Be sure you make a backup of the edited files, e.g., burn them on to a DVD, and keep the backup in a remote location she can't get to.
If you have a high-speed Internet connection some software will let you transmit the camera images to a Web site that can be monitored remotely in real time. However, unless you have the skills to make the site secure, be aware that anyone else on the Web can also see the images. Note that computer and phone technology is rapidly changing and much of what is proposed here can now (April 2011) be done with devices like an iPod. But our experience is that such devices are rarely remotely backed up so if Cupcake trashes your phone or iPad you may lose all your documentation.
Obviously you need to do the monitoring in a manner that doesn't make her suspicious. Claim it is for security and part of an alarm system, for example. Or put one monitor in the children's bedroom and claim it is for their safety.
After installing the cameras, hardware, and software, test the pickup from different areas in front of the camera(s) and at different light levels. Playback some recorded images to be sure of the quality and that the area you want to cover is being captured. If making an audio recording as well, you will also need to test what effects background noise sources, e.g., radio, TV, air conditioner, furnace, etc., have on the recording. If an argument or fight starts try and turn off the radio or TV if possible.
If she does begin assaulting you, and you have video monitors set up, you need to move to a location where the monitors can pick it up.
If you manage to get videos or images of her abuse or violence be sure the date and time are also recorded on your video tape or computer and get a copy made and transported to your offsite backup as soon as possible. Very frequently women wait to report they were assaulted until the next day when the man is at work. The wise man using surveillance will have made a copy of the previous nights assault and taken it to work with him so the only copy isn't in the house where he will be forbidden to go when she gets the restraining order. Also, check that the date and time on your machine is accurate.
You won't have a chance to grab the videos or computer files if she is assaulting you and you have to get out. And trashing your computer may well be one of her priorities, so off site backups may be all you have to go to court with. We have stories from a number of men who collected all the evidence but kept it at home. When they were arrested, or a restraining order was issued against them, it was impossible for them to get their evidence.
If you have children, and are using surveillance monitors, you should set up a monitor of the area where she is likely to punish the children as well. Women who abuse men very frequently abuse their children as well. Hospitals have been very successful in monitoring child abuse by mothers (and occasionally men) by setting up surveillance monitors.
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| DV Home | Abstract | Contents | Authors and Site Map | Tables | Index | Bibliography |
| Chapter 9 The Male Perspective |
| Next You can sue but you can't win (if you are a man) |
| Back Defensive male actions under current law |
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Last modified 10/7/16