06/18/2014 05:15 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2014

Why Women Need to Stop Punishing Men

Years ago when I was in California, I had dinner with a friend who lived there. Lou sadly shared how miserable he was with his wife, who had evaded intimacy with him for years, by sleeping in a separate bedroom. She wanted nothing to do with Lou, so he was surprised that when he asked for a divorce, she refused to give it to him. He had met a woman he really liked but didn't want to date her without a divorce in progress, so he tried to convince his wife to not fight a divorce.

She explained that she liked having the "married" status for her career. She gave him permission to see other women. And warned that if he filed for divorce she'd use California law, which called for a 50/50 split to "take him the cleaners" financially. She gleefully told him she'd demand half of his beloved book collection, passed down from his dad, because by law she could. She said she was empowering herself.

But doing mean things to a guy during a breakup is not empowering! I remember watching the movie, Waiting to Exhale, when Angela Bassett's character put her husband's things in his car and torched it. Many women cheered, like she'd done something great. Some of us boo-ed, knowing that getting nasty revenge isn't healthy, or empowering. As Lou ranted about how vicious women could get, I asked not to be lumped in with the ones who look to punish their men when a relationship ends, since I wouldn't be one of those women.

It's time for women to stop abusing laws created to protect us! I'm sure that people who know me as someone who tries to help women empower themselves will be surprised that I'm advocating for mens' rights. But trying to screw over a man you once cared by using laws meant to protect women is empowering. It's nasty revenge, which creates negative energy.

When a relationship ends and the woman is angry about it, she'll often look for a way to hurt the guy. I hear women vowing like Lou's wife to "take him to the cleaners." Not only do they try to rape their husbands financially but they use the kids as pawns for revenge, which hurts the kids. And it actually hurts you. Going after revenge keeps the anger alive, eating away at you, keeping you in what I call "grrrrrr..." mode.

I was thrilled to hear that Jason Patric won the right to sue to be acknowledged as the father of his son by his ex-girlfriend who insists he was just a sperm donor, despite photos and videos of his interactions with the boy. I consider her efforts to keep him from his son a spiteful, heinous misuse of the law. Plus it hurts their son who obviously loves his father.

There are many laws and traditional beliefs that protect our rights, while men are left fighting losing battles, with seemingly few rights or support. Often a man isn't considered to be the best parent, which is a shame. My ex-husband was a much better parent than I was when we got divorced.

In those days I was a full fledged a mess -- a pathetic door mat -- trying to create a life. Hubby asked to stay in the house with our daughter. I agreed and spent a lot of time with her and I cooked for both of them when I visited. That allowed me the freedom to reinvent myself. Instead of living with a dysfunctional role model, my daughter had a loving dad who did loads of activities with her as she watched me grow into the woman I am today, and learned from it.

Our divorce was amicable because all I wanted from him was my freedom. Over the years we still did things together as a family and to this day, we're good friends. I prefer that over trying to hurt him! To me empowerment is not trying to milk your ex but learning to take care of yourself. By taking responsibility for my own welfare I became empowered. It forced me to use my brains and skills to earn a living. If I had looked to punish my ex, I'd have been stuck with the kind of bitterness that I see in many angry women.

It's unfair that men have no laws to protect them from vindictive women. Women tend to get the money, house and kids. Yet men make great parents too! Some women take advantage of being women to get their way, and to punish men.

My daughter was lucky to have been raised by her father. Yet people criticized that decision, saying she should have been with me. Being a mother doesn't make one a better parent! I was a mess when we divorced. It's time to recognize that if we want to be treated equally, that women need to stop abusing laws created to protect them to punish their ex. It's more empowering to learn how to navigate life on your own. The best revenge is to create a great life without him, not to milk him financially or withhold your kids from him. Punishing him creates bad karma that will come back to bite you. Building yourself up brings empowering rewards!