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August 28th 2016 print

Augusto Zimmermann

Denying Female Domestic Violence

It is time to abandon the sexist (and racially biased) paradigm that has hijacked the domestic violence debate, and to correct all the injustices caused by the politicisation of a tragic reality that affects countless adults and children, male and female alike

angry womanYou may have seen the campaign against domestic violence running on Australian television. These ads are part of a $30 million federal campaign designed “to help break the cycle of violence against women and their children”. The campaign seems to suggest that the perpetrators of domestic violence are all Caucasian males.

We must speak out loudly and clearly about domestic violence against women, but men and children are also victims of such violence. And yet, from the media reports, public inquiries and official campaigns one would be forgiven for believing that men are the sole perpetrators of domestic violence—and that all men are equally likely to carry out such acts of violence.

The feminist lobby exerts constant pressure to present domestic violence solely as a “male problem”, to place all the blame for domestic violence on men as a group. As a result, and based on a radical feminist theory that addresses domestic violence primarily as a male issue that is predicated on so-called “patriarchy”, male victims are frequently met with disbelief, even suspicion, when they seek protection from a violent female partner.

This might explain why crime surveys are so reluctant to estimate the number of male partners who suffer domestic violence. Instances of domestic violence against male partners are grossly under-reported, since men who sustain such violence are unlikely to seek help because of a reasonable fear that they will be ridiculed and experience shame and embarrassment. If they do overcome these psychological barriers, they still face numerous unfair institutional barriers in seeking help from social services and the criminal justice system.

There are few social programs or non-profit organisations providing useful assistance to men who are the victims of domestic violence. When male victims locate the few resources that are designed to accommodate their needs, hotline workers often infer that they must be the abusers, and refer them to batterers’ programs.

Male victims of domestic violence also encounter greater animosity when contacting the police. For instance, male help-seekers often report that when they call the police during an incident in which their female partners are violent, the police sometimes “fail to respond or take a report”. What is more, some men report “being ridiculed by the police or being incorrectly arrested and convicted as the violent perpetrator, even when there is no evidence of injury to the female partner”.

Further, male partners are far more likely to be arrested compared to their female counterparts, even when other factors including previous arrests are taken into account. A study in the United States also revealed that men face harsher legal ramifications after arrest: 85 per cent of violent men were arrested and prosecuted by the police compared to only 53.5 per cent of violent women.

Within the judicial system, men who are victims of domestic violence are often treated unfairly solely because of their gender. Male partners who make claims of domestic violence face a system which is far less sympathetic in its treatment of abused men. This is an area in which the so-called “general paradigm” has caused serious problems of injustice. In the United States, even with apparent corroborating evidence that their female partners were violent, male help-seekers frequently report that they have lost custody of their children and have been falsely accused by their female partners of violence and of sexually abusing their children. As professors Denise A. Hines (Psychology) and Emily M. Douglas (Social Policy) point out:

Male help-seekers have reported that their complaints concerning their female partners’ violence have not always being taken seriously, yet their partner’s false accusations have reportedly been given serious weight during the judicial process. Other men have reported similar experiences in which their female partners misused the legal or social service systems to inappropriately block access between them and their children or to file false allegations with child welfare services. According to some experts, the burden of proof for IPV [intimate partner violence] victimization is high for men because it falls outside of our common understanding of gender roles; this can make leaving a violent female partner that much more difficult. For example, many men who sustained IPV report that they stayed with their violent female partners in order to protect the children from their partner’s violence. The men worried that if they left their violent wives, the legal system could still grant custody of the children to their wives and that perhaps even their custody rights would be blocked by their wives as a continuation of the controlling behaviors of their wives used during the marriage.

Since the 1980s more than 200 academic studies have demonstrated that, despite the common assertion, most partner violence is mutual. Professor Linda Mills of NYU Law School is currently the Principal Investigator of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice, which focus on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders. The studies involve a randomised controlled trial examining and comparing batterer intervention and alternative treatment approaches for domestic violence offenders. According to Professor Mills, “when it comes to intimate abuse, women are far from powerless and seldom, if ever, just victims”. Like men, she explains, “women are frequently aggressive in intimate settings and … studies show not only that women stay in abusive relationships but also that they are intimately engaged in and part of the dynamic of abuse”.

By contrast, those who deny the empirical evidence showing gender symmetry in domestic violence often resort to unacceptable tactics. This includes “concealing those results, selective citation of research, stating conclusions that are the opposite of the data in the results section and intimidating researchers who produced results showing gender symmetry”.

The Australian government is objectively wrong to regard domestic violence as a solely male problem. The Prime Minister seems eager to believe in the radical feminist ideological postulate that women do not and would never resort to violent behaviour against their male partners. This assumption is derived from a view that domestic violence is an issue of power and control of which only men in a so-called “patriarchal system” are capable.

What then of all the reports of numerous women (both mothers and wives) involved in the most appalling acts of domestic violence? There are numerous facts that simply do not support the argument of violence as primarily a male problem.

The reality is that anyone, regardless of gender, can become a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence. According to the New South Wales criminologist Paul B. Kidd:

of the thirty-two recognised cases of serious murder in modern times in Australia, nine of the killers were women … with only two of those cases in tandem with a male. This means that seven female serial killers acted entirely on their own, without the excuse of alleged influence of a male encouraging them to commit unspeakable acts.

In the United States, an emergency clinic study in Ohio found that burns obtained in domestic relations were as frequent for male victims as for female victims, and that 72 per cent of men admitted with injuries from spousal violence had been stabbed. Likewise, at an emergency clinic in Philadelphia male patients reported having been kicked, bitten, punched or choked by female intimate partners in 47 per cent of cases.

Unfortunately, however, an important study has found that emergency clinics tend to ask only women, but never men, about potential domestic violence origins for injuries. This may be a natural consequence of the cornerstone of mainstream feminist theory that domestic violence is primarily motivated by “patriarchal control”. According to Adam Blanch, a Melbourne psychologist and family counsellor, “only a very small percentage of domestic violence is found to be motivated by control”. As he points out, reliable studies have discovered that “control” is a motive for both men and women in equal proportions, and he also reiterates that “an extraordinarily large body of evidence consistently shows that most domestic violence is committed by both women and men and is motivated by feelings of revenge, frustration and anger”. He concludes that women are no less violent than men, although women’s violence against their partners is notoriously unreported because men rarely report violence against them.

Perhaps it is not surprising, given the ideological construct of the problem, that domestic abuse against men is so significantly under-reported. As Hines and Douglas comment in their seminal study on women’s use of domestic violence against men:

the conceptualisation of domestic violence from a strict feminist viewpoint has hampered the ability of women who abuse their male partners to seek and get help from social service and criminal justice systems.

Women who resort to domestic violence, these two female scholars report, face considerable barriers when seeking help in the current social service system. The following quote exemplifies the experience of one of these abusive women:

He tries to understand my side of the argument. He talks to me rather than hits me. I still hit him, however. I would like to enrol in a class in anger management, but the shelter for battered women does not help women with this problem.

Frequently men do not conceptualise the physical violence they sustain from their female partners as a crime. Indeed, studies indicate that men are reluctant to report assaults by women, “even when severe injuries result”. This reluctance is prevalent among male domestic partners, perhaps because they are expected to be physically dominant. It follows, therefore, that admitting to sustaining violence from a female partner may be viewed as “emasculating”. Further, when domestic violence is conceptualised as a “crime” in these surveys, women are significantly less likely to report their own use of violence. Some research reveals that women fail to report as much as 75 per cent of their own use of violence. According to Professor Donald G. Dutton and Dr Katherine R. White:

One reason that intimate partner violence toward men is underestimated is that men are less likely to view [domestic violence] as a crime or to report it to police. Men have been asked in surveys if they had been assaulted and if so, had they reported it to police. In a 1985 survey, less than 1% of men who had been assaulted by their wife had called police. In that same survey men assaulted by their wife were less likely to hit back than were wives assaulted by their husband. Men were also far less likely to call a friend or relative for help (only 2%) … Historically, men who were victims of assault by their wives were made into objects of social derision … Men are socialized to bury problems under a private veil, including being the object of abuse from female partners … Either the women are bragging or the men are in denial, or both.

Male victims of domestic violence struggle to find anti-domestic-violence services to assist them, since help-lines and shelters are generally targeted towards female victims. Moreover, male victims often report not only that their complaints concerning their female partners’ violence have not being taken seriously, but that they have even lost custody of their children as a result of malicious accusations of violence and/or sexually abusing their children by what are commonly the female abusers themselves. Research also indicates that fatherless children are particularly vulnerable to becoming the victims of domestic violence by their mothers and their mothers’ boyfriends.

Domestic violence by women against men has received little attention in the media, academia and the political elite. Despite this lack of attention, for nearly four decades research has shown that men are frequently the targets of domestic violence by their female partners. It is therefore time to abandon the sexist (and racially biased) paradigm that has hijacked the domestic violence debate, and to correct all the injustices caused by the politicisation of a tragic reality that affects countless adults and children, male and female alike.

Dr Augusto Zimmermann is a member of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, and the Director of Postgraduate Research, Murdoch University School of Law.

 

Comments [24]

  1. [email protected] says:

    Your opening paragraph said it all – ‘The campaign seems to suggest that the perpetrators of domestic violence are all Caucasian males’. The article by Bettina Arndt in the Australian yesterday 9/7/2016 was very informative and revealing. Domestic violence reports in NSW [Dubbo and Bourke] are 60 times higher in those areas with a high percentage of Aboriginals in the community than are those in areas with low or no Aboriginals in the community. I remember recently reading that in the NT [Darwin] Aboriginal women are 83 times [I am not certain of the exact figure] more likely to be hospitalised than are women of European extraction.
    This whole episode reminds me of the Royal Commission into child abuse which looked mainly at the Churches, especially the Catholic Church, and did not look at the far worse and more recent events in aboriginal communities, or at the incidence of female genital mutilation occurring in Islamic communities.
    It is because conservatives don’t really make a fuss over issues like this and loudly call out the cant and hypocrisy is why we are losing the ‘culture’ wars.

    • Warty says:

      I allow a little rule of thumb thing run through my mind, when ever ‘the progressives’ overreach themselves: if I am feel highly irate at those domestic violence ads, and the plethora of ads that make men look like dumb klutzes, alongside their all knowing, adept, smug wives: I imagine that I am just one of many thousands of other silent majority males seething with anger. I then speculate on the conservative drift to the various minor parties, at the expense of the compromised Libs, who seem to be cheering on the progressives.
      So, yes, you are right, the conservatives don’t make a fuss outwardly, but they can vote, and they don’t make a fuss, but I have a feeling there is the beginnings of a shift of sorts. Why else have the Greens, Labor and Hinch come out so strongly against a SS plebiscite? I think they actually believe they’ll lose (partly courtesy of Roz Ward and her Safe Schools Programme, and the growing resentment amongst parents).
      Just a thought.

      • ianl says:

        Hinch has shown a depth of vanity and hypocrisy that surprised even me, and my experienced expectations are way below sea level to begin with.

        Hinch has stated many times that he has never actually voted – but is now denying everyone else the chance to do so in a plebiscite.

  2. Warty says:

    As my non battered wife will concur, those domestic violence ads have me frothing (well almost) with anger. Augusto Zimmermann points the finger at the feminist lobby as being ultimately responsible for the ad campaign, which doesn’t surprise me at all.
    I wrote a fairly lengthy response to an equally disturbing article in The Spectator http://spectator.com.au/2016/08/marriage-for-one/ but the moderator blocked it, probably considering it hard core anti feminist.

  3. Ninderthana says:

    If you want a devastating expose of the lies that the general public is being told about DV – look no further than this YouTube video entitled: Canadian Senate Told Men Are Also Victims of Domestic Violence

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f5v1QgtFfo

  4. Jody says:

    As the mother of 3 adults sons I’m appalled by the anti-male stance on every issue – not just DV. I lived just 20km away from the infamous Kathleen Folbigg who would found guilty of murdering her 4 infant children, so I have no wish to be lectured about male DV. And whatever happened to the woman from Cairns who murdered, was it 8, children in Cairns last year? She was coloured, so the whole thing seems to have been swept under the carpet.

    The gasping hypocrisy of the Left and it’s army of belligerent ‘progressive’ is gaining momentum inside its own devastating centrifuge.

    • [email protected] says:

      Hypocrisy is one thing that the left have truly mastered. If there was an effective way of taxing it even Wayne Swan could have produced his mythical ‘budget surplus’.

  5. Rob Ellison says:

    You can’t excuse men who beat and rape. Men are trained to violence in nearly all societies. It just is. Women usually don’t have the strength or training to do much damage. Well there was a girl in martial arts class. You wouldn’t hit a girl she said. Well no I started to say… and she beat me up. But denying reality is not a generally useful starting point for social analysis.

    ‘For victims of family and domestic violence-related2 assault, there were:

    Four times as many female victims (4,534) as male victims (1,157) in South Australia;
    Four times as many female victims (3,482) as male victims (807) in the Northern Territory;
    Three times as many female victims (10,648) as male victims (3,860) in Western Australia;
    Three times as many female victims (465) as male victims (145) in Australian Capital Territory; and
    Twice as many female victims (19,488) as male victims (9,261) in New South Wales.

    For victims of family and domestic violence –related2 sexual assault, there were:

    12 times as many female victims (230) as male victims (20) in South Australia;
    12 times as many female victims (81) as male victims (7) in the Northern Territory;
    Seven times as many female victims (1,147) as male victims (165) in Victoria;
    Seven times as many female victims (471) as male victims (70) in Western Australia;
    Six times as many female victims (692) as male victims (114) in New South Wales; and
    Three times as many female victims (29) as male victims (9) in Australian Capital Territory.
    In Queensland, there were 36 female victims and no male victims of family and domestic violence-related sexual assault2 recorded by police.’

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2014~Main%20Features~Experimental%20Family%20and%20Domestic%20Violence%20Statistics~10000

    • rogerfranklin says:

      Rob, that girl who thrashed you in martial arts class, let us hope it hurt. You deserve no less for reducing the complexities of human follies to a list of feminist-gathered statistics.

      • Rob Ellison says:

        Martial arts are founded in control and discipline. The critical point however is that violence in society is most obviously dominated by men. A fact you are hardly likely to get around by characterising ABS statistics based on police reports as feminist.

        • Alistair says:

          Except aboprtions – not dominated by men, therefore ignored as it spoils your narrative – You people always leave out abortions because it spoils your narrative.

    • Jody says:

      Well, it seems there ARE male victims after all. Thanks for confirming this.

    • Warty says:

      As you know, the current lot of domestic violence ads depict caucasian male aggressors. Now, you’ve presented us with a flurry of stats here, but they don’t seem to differentiate between aboriginal and non aboriginal perpetrators and victims. I would have thought that might have been rather important, don’t you? Kinda skews things a little, particularly seeing the ads seem to suggest domestic violence is a white issue, not black.

    • Ninderthana says:

      Rob Ellison,

      Please look at this video if you really care about female victims of DV:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f5v1QgtFfo

  6. Bill Martin says:

    Without disputing or detracting from the value of the article, a comment concerning the men on the receiving end of domestic violence. Putting aside the physical superiority of men, it would seem very unlikely that a husband enjoying the respect of his wife would be abused by her, physically or verbally. The question is, why some men fail to command such respect?

    • Warty says:

      It’s hard to know just how to begin this, because it is a true story, so let me change a few place names etc. Way back in 1979/1980, four five years after I had separated from my first wife, I met a very pretty girl, but with shoulders like a grid-iron player and the upper body strength of, well, any strong young man. It turned out that she had worked on a farm on the Norfolk Island, throwing up bales of hay. Me? Well I’ve always had this irritating habit of getting up people’s nostrils, getting even more relentless when I know I’m succeeding.
      The first time I did this, I was a passenger in her Mini Cooper. She had just got out when I’d let fly with my final smart aleck barb, whereupon she half climbed back in and straight-armed me (i.e. punched). It was the start of a very interesting relationship, and she was far worse when drunk, and believe me I gave her plenty of ammunition, such was my want. No particular harm was done on either side, but she had had a particularly traumatic upbringing, with a Croatian father who used to regularly beat up his wife.
      On one occasion he had chased his own brother round and round the house with a kitchen knife, with every intention of doing him serious harm. As a result she had significant ‘anger management problems’ (to use a modern cliche). She’d be the equivalent of poor Rob Ellison’s Karate Girl, without the ‘moves’. We parted ways twice, but I was richer for the understanding that girls can and do hit, and some just don’t fit Rob’s ‘don’t have the strength or training’ profile.

      • Jody says:

        Boy, you dodged a bullet there!!!!!

        • Warty says:

          Yes and no. It is good that my current wife gives me what I deserve by way of scathing repartee (more cutting at times than the serve you gave Roberto, above). But the girl friend was also extraordinary. We went into a war-zone in 1979, lets call it Uganda (same continent). She would photograph armed convoys she ought not to have; and take copious journal notes on activities she ought not to (she was rather oblivious to danger, extreme danger). We were, I don’t quite know how to explain it, but we were ‘politely abducted to an extremely isolated farm, where one of the group went through our belongings, checking our passports to determine we were whom we claimed we were (the other bloke was meantime showing us home made mortars, claymore mines, emplacements etc, knowing full well we would never leave the farm, if we were indeed foreign journos). We only found out what their intentions were when we were taken back to the rather frontier town.
          So, the relationship brought a level of excitement to last a life-time, but survival is important too.

          • Jody says:

            Yeah, these combative relationships can be ‘interesting’ at first; I’ve been in one myself. Soon the ‘woop and warp’ lost its charm and appeal and, anyway, it turns out he was married. Woops. For really interesting, inntelligent and spirited equality between the sexes go no further than this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGndDtbwGtA

  7. Alistair says:

    This is all very academic and interesting – he hit me, she hit me – sort of stuff – which all plays itself out in the courts. But to my mind the biggest form of “domestic violence” occurs where the victim is denied even the status of existence, let alone representation in the courts. The violence is abortion. If the 85,000 annual cases were added to the domestic violence statistics a different, but more correct picture, would emerge concerning violence in the community.

  8. Bryce M says:

    All we hear of is male violence. Female violence commonly takes the form of verbal aggression, particularly and predominantly in the domestic sphere, social exclusion, backbiting and storytelling, belittling, and unfaithfulness.

    The newest and most effective form of aggression against the male is commonly for the most selfish and narcissistic of reasons, is the threat of or use of the Australian Family Court, which now commonly strips a male partner of his home, children, superannuation and savings, and the courts tend to the feminist view that the male is the one to be deprived, to help the poor little woman. Australian men, foreign visitors sometimes tell me have been reduced to terrified domestic servants by this horrendous legislation.

    Where physical violence is concerned, the carving knife tends to be the woman’s weapon of choice, but usually they are not this silly. It could result in incarceration for them. Better to a bride of the state plus spousal maintenance and be as promiscuous as they imagine they could be. Most are disappointed in this as their attractiveness in the eyes of the unattached is seldom what they believe.

  9. Patrick McCauley says:

    Exactly, Alistair – abortion is the ultimate form of domestic violence… which is absolutely and completely performed and controlled by women. Until this is recognised and included in the conversation about DV … we will be unable to proceed. The trouble is that the feminists are talking about ‘Violence Against Women’ and what is happening is violence against families ( women, men and children … and mostly children) If a man can be indicted for shouting at his wife then The Family Law Act is a form of violence against men.

    • Alistair says:

      Thanks,
      Interestingly, under Sharia Law, beating the wife (or child) is OK, and it is ambiguous over honour killing, not wishing to take sides. However, abortion carries the death penalty. Any feminists out there wish to comment? Probably not.