The gap between public perception about domestic violence (DV) and its reality is astonishing. DV was recruited as a weapon in gender wars, but those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
In 1984, Diana Russell claimed that 54% of women were the victims of sexual abuse. In 2000, an advocacy group claimed that one in three women around the world have been physically assaulted by their partner. The horrifying statistics keep coming, and varying, but all insist that men are an inherently serious problem.
We rarely hear of the hundreds of serious, academic studies on intimate violence that have been done over the last 35 years. They do not serve those using violence for their own abuse of others. The most authoritative studies are the three Nation Incidence Surveys commissioned by the Department of Heath. While the rate of mild violence, such as slapping or throwing a magazine, are about the same per year for each gender (around 20%), women commit over twice the severe partner assaults as men: punching, kicking, and threat or use of a weapon: 4.6% of women and 1.9% of men.
Why has domestic violence been an effective tool for women when there has always been very little and women commit more of what does exist?
Because of the morality. Men are supposed to protect, especially protect women. Women are not. Men do not perceive women as a threat, so rarely complain even when seriously abused. But male violence against women, however rare, has a high emotional impact, especially upon those same, allegedly villainous men. Female violence is ignored while all are horrified by mens, until it seems the only kind that exists.
As Patricia Pearson documents in her book, When She Was Bad, this means women get away with murder. Literally. And when everyone only reacts to male violence you can bully legislatures into special provisions for women and no protection for men, a dangerous imbalance that invites more female abuse of men.
The natural bias is understandable, but is a bias and should be so regarded. Is female violence less bad? Murray Strauss is one of the academic researchers who feels that, to a child, it doesnt matter which gender it sees hitting which. It models violence as a response.
And should women get away with crimes we dont tolerate from men? Gender double standards were considered bad, when women took their brunt. Do we want our laws and practices based upon emotion, or real threats?
Erin Pizzey established the first battered womens shelter in the world, but by 1998 was so alarmed at the political use of DV that she wrote a scathing article for the London Observer. Unfortunately, at this time the feminist movement hungry for recognition and for funding was able to hijack the domestic violence movement and promptly set about disseminating dubious research material and disinformation.
This is a disservice for real victims of DV, who can be anyone. The wrong thing is targeted, wrong solutions provided, and not provided to the right people. Advocates do not care about reducing family violence. They seek the power in vilifying others.
So far Ive been nice.
Women commit 55% of spouse murders, 64% of all child abuse including 78% of what results in death, 81% of parent murders, and 55% of sibling murders. Mothers commit 55% of child murders while natural fathers commit 6.9%. Yet the more common forms of female aggression are relationship violence and emotional bullying.
In divorce, to protect children from violence, perhaps we should always award sole custody to fathers.
Want to play gender politics with DV?
©2007 KC Wilson
To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French