California Domestic Violence Lawsuit Will Help Secure
Services for All Abuse Victims
By Marc Angelucci and Glenn Sacks
At the age of 11, Maegan Woods tried to stop a domestic dispute between her parents. She soon found
herself staring down the barrel of her father's shotgun. She watched helplessly as the trigger was
pulled. She is only alive today because the gun didn't fire--the safety was on.
Maegan was abused and witnessed domestic violence in her home for most of her childhood. By age
seven there had been knife attacks, punches, kicks, and more. It was hard to leave--the abuser was the
one who earned the money, and the victim was unable to work because of a disability. On numerous
occasions they looked for help to escape the abuse but were refused. Why?
Because in Maegan's family, the abused spouse was her father, and the battering and child abuse were
perpetrated by her mother.
The California Battered Women Protection Act of 1994, codified in Health & Safety Codes Section
124250, et. seq., created funding for domestic violence shelter-based services. However, by defining
domestic violence as something only experienced by women, the statutes exclude male victims from
receiving state-funded domestic violence services, including shelter, hotel arrangements, counseling
and legal services.
Maegan, now 21, and her father, David Woods, are the lead plaintiffs in a new lawsuit against the State
of California and numerous state agencies and state-funded domestic violence service providers.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, David was violently attacked on numerous occasions by his wife Ruth,
who suffers from a bi-polar disorder which, in her case, creates a propensity toward violence.
On several occasions David decided that he and Maegan should get out of the house to escape Ruth's
violence. However, with his disabling condition and inability to work, David had no money to provide
for himself and his daughter. Numerous times he contacted a Sacramento domestic violence agency he
had heard of in the media, WEAVE, but they always told him "we don't help men," and never offered
him a referral to another facility. David tried churches and various programs, but all they could offer
for men were homeless shelters with waiting lists. He found nothing for abused men and their
children. David gave up and sank into a heavy depression.
By February 2003, Maegan began telling her father to find a place of safety from Ruth's violence. He