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Gender bias no cure for domestic violence
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/134357939_scott24.html
The Seattle Times
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Gender bias no cure for domestic violence
by Lisa Scott -- Special to The Times
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most articles and
public-service announcements this month focus exclusively on female
victims, while at the same time stereotyping all abusers as male. Federal
laws such as the Violence Against Women Act codify gender discrimination
and gender profiling.
Women's advocates claim that virtually all domestic-violence victims are
women, therefore discrimination is justified. They repeat often-cited
claims such as "the number one reason women age 16 to 40 end up in the
emergency room is violence," "95 percent of domestic violence is committed
by men" and "the chance of being victimized by an intimate partner is 10
times greater for a woman than a man."
Yet, these "statistics" cannot be verified and are repeatedly contradicted
by both government and private studies. A Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) report found the leading causes of women's injury-related emergency
room visits are accidental falls, motor-vehicle accidents and accidental
cuts. Homicide or injury purposely inflicted by others (including
strangers and intimates) was the least likely cause, exceeded even by
injuries due to animal bites and venomous plants (National Hospital
Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary).
Proof that women are not the only victims of domestic violence appears in
the 1998 Justice Department report "Intimate Partner Violence." Of 1,830
domestic-violence murders, 510, or almost one-third of the victims, were
men. The study also indicated that males are 13 percent less likely to
report being a victim of intimate violence than females.
Another 1998 Justice Department report, "Violence Against Women Survey,"
found that while 1,309,061 women were assaulted by an intimate partner in
the prior year, 834,732 men were victims of domestic violence, 39 percent
of the total.
Extensive research concludes that men and women are almost equally likely
to initiate domestic violence. While women may be more severely injured
when domestic violence escalates, they can and do commit serious crimes of
violence against men. Women's advocates continually downplay the existence
of female violence. This obscures the fact that men are at risk of being
victimized, and leaves them less prepared for the potential for violence
against them.
Should an important public policy debate be about which sex is the most
important victim? Should a female victim be more important than a male
victim? Was Melanie Edwards (murdered by her husband in a divorce/custody
battle) more important than Chuck Leonard (murdered by his wife in a
divorce/custody battle)? Was Gertrudes Lamson (shot and killed by her
husband) more important than Donyea Jones (doused with gasoline, set
afire, and burned to death by his wife)?
Many male victims are ignored or ridiculed by a system that seems to
recognize only female victims. When women are the abusers, they are more
often than not given a pass. Recent cases with which I have personal
experience involve men who have been hit, punched, gouged, choked and
threatened with weapons by their spouses. Despite reports to police, none
of the women were charged with crimes.
These local cases, and their numerous national counterparts, demonstrate
that domestic violence is not the sole province of male perpetrators and
female victims. Yet, we are constantly told that women are the only ones
at risk. Had there been more education about the potential for violence by
both men and women, men like Chuck Leonard and Donyea Jones may have
been able to take precautions and avoid a deadly risk.
Myths and distortions about male and female violence have no place in the
debate about stopping domestic violence. Despite a continual barrage of
reports about how epidemic domestic violence has become, the truth is that
most men and women are law-abiding citizens, loving spouses and caring
parents. The 1998 "Intimate Partner Violence" report indicates steep
declines in domestic violence against both men and women. The Justice
Department numbers cited above indicate that only 1.3 percent of women
(and .9 percent of men) are actually victimized each year.
Yet, domestic-violence advocates promote the myth that American women
live in constant terror of violence from husbands or boyfriends. It is simply
irresponsible to falsely demonize fully 50 percent of the population,
further fanning the flames of gender warfare.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let's not let the zeal to
protect one class of victims perpetuate a bias that unfairly stereotypes
an entire gender. It is noble and well-meaning to advocate for female
victims. Yet, denying the existence of male victims of female violence
demeans and ignores these victims, puts them at further risk and reduces
the likelihood that female abusers will be held accountable for their
crimes.
Lisa Scott is a Bellevue attorney focusing primarily on family law,
divorce and domestic violence. She is also a founding member of TABS,
Taking Action against Bias in the System.
Copyright  2001 The Seattle Times Company
Seattle Times Home:   http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/home/

I personally feel these figures are still low. Since the VAWA women are getting help but more men are being abused. Often, it is not called abuse. I have seen many feminist sources call something abuse if it happens to a woman but it is not seen as abuse if she does the same thing to him. Why the double standard? 

Is it not time to value ALL our people?

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