The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
Some Reasons Why Men Do Not Report Female Domestic Violence
November 18, 2002
by George Rolph
There are three broad reasons why men do not report domestic violence against themselves by females. I want to explore these reasons in this article.
The reasons are listed as follows:
1. Fear. This is a very common reason that men give for failing to report their experiences of female domestic violence. Fear of losing ones home, children, money and reputation in any court battle can be an extremely powerful reason to keep quiet and say nothing about the abuse one is suffering in the home.
It is common practice in the courts and in society at large to view the female the safest option when considering who to give custody of the children to in cases where a relationship has broken down. Is this perception an accurate one or is it based on what we think we know about women? For example, would you give a child into the care of an abusive parent? Of course not. To do so would be seen as cruel, thoughtless and completely irresponsible. Yet this is exactly what happens everyday in the family courts of western democracies all around the world.
When we think of abuse we tend to think of it only in terms of males abusing females. However, the facts show that women abuse males as much as vice versa. There is almost an exact 50 50 split in the scientific evidence gathered over the last thirty years between male and female perpetrators of domestic violence.
50% of men and 50% of women abuse their partners in the home. Yet in the family courts, 80% of custody cases are found in favor of the woman. Therefore, children must be being given over to abusive mothers an alarming amount of times. This high percentage of custody awards is what prevents a lot of men reporting their abuse experiences to the police and other agencies. They know that if they do, they will see their kids given to their abusive spouse so much of the time. So ask yourself a question: Would you report your abuser if this were true for you?
2. Ignorance. Some men don't think about the cuts, bruises, scratches and bumps they receive from their wives as abuse. There are solid reasons why they don't think about such injuries in this way. Men are taught from very early ages to "Be strong," "Act like a man," "Don't be a wimp," etc., etc. If they are sporting types they receive injuries on the sports field constantly. Bruises, cuts, lumps and bumps, even broken limbs, are a way of life to them. Men accept injuries they get from sports, at work, hobbies etc., as par for the course. They have a tendency to view a black eye as "Just a black eye." Consequently when the get a black eye from their spouse they will tend to dismiss it in exactly the same way. They see such injuries as minor and therefore, do not report them. This is also true of psychological wounds inflicted by their partners.
Growing up in a macho culture means always appearing to be strong and courageous. It becomes almost impossible therefore, to admit that one is suffering at all. To admit that one is suffering at the hands of a "weak" female is made extraordinarily difficult by that macho culture which states, "I am a man. I can take it." However, when we look at such injuries received at the hands of a spouse in terms of domestic violence, we suddenly see that there is no difference between the sexes. Domestic related injuries are not like those picked up on a sports field where most of them are accidents. Domestic injuries are evidence of one persons attempts to dominate, control and manipulate the feelings of another. It does not matter what sex the person doing this dominating is, the fact is that the results are domestic violence. Men suffering these injuries to the body, emotions and mind are just as much victims as females suffering these thing are. The imperatives for men to speak out are therefore much greater if the veil of societies ignorance on this issue is ever likely to be lifted. As long as men do not realize that what they are suffering is abuse, they will not report it. We must educate men to see that abuse is not the same as other injuries they may pick up. If we don't, we run the risk of having thousands and thousands of damaged males loose in our society and all of the costs, both financial and emotional that such a state of affairs would bring.
3. Shame. This is the single most common reason men do not report domestic violence against them by females. When they have come to recognize their treatment as abuse they are often terrified to report it. Why is that? Well, its our fault. Yours and mine. We simply do not believe them when they report it. Instead we dismiss, ridicule, condemn and devalue male victims. We tell them that their pain does not matter. We encourage them to keep silent. We perpetuate the myth that only males abuse because that is easier than looking at the truth. When someone tells us that 90% of all domestic violence is committed by men on women, we are unwilling to examine the truth of that statistic. Instead, we just accept it. In doing so, we condemn men as despicable abusers and make it extraordinarily difficult for male victims to speak out. Already covered in false shame just for being a man, how does he then say to a hostile society, "Wait! I am a victim too"?
I have heard men say that they are ashamed of their sex for the violence carried out by them on women. I have yet to hear a woman say that about her sex. Why? Because women are not being hounded for their roles as abusers in the same way that men are. As an example, consider this: More physical abuse of children is carried out by mothers than by fathers. (over 60%) but, how often have you seen an advert on the TV or in the press depicting a child cowering away from a women's hand? Not once. Men are always portrayed as the aggressor even though the facts say otherwise. This means that females abuse and men get blamed. Men then, are forced to carry the shame of abuse they are mostly innocent of. When they are subjected to abuse, men already know that that society views them as animals who hurt women and kids. If they go out and say, No, I was abused by my mother, sister, or wife, society is pre-programmed to actively say to them, "I don't believe you." Or, "What did you do to her to make her behave that way?" Or, "She had PMT so she is excused." Etc., etc.
Do not underestimate the degree of shame men feel when they are abused. How do you tell your work mates or friends that a person five feet four inches tall and weighing a third of what you weigh has been beating you or attacking your mind on a daily basis? How do you report your psychological injuries to a disbelieving policeman in a police station? Even if you do work up the courage to report it, your female partner only has to imply that you were violent towards her and you will find yourself thrown out of your home and separated from your kids. Homeless, hurting, your life shredded, often out of a job too, because some employer automatically assumes you to be the perpetrator, and almost totally without any form of official support, you are finished. Better to keep quiet it seems and "Bare it like a man." Alternatively you could always kill yourself... and many men do just that!
As a society we hand men huge amounts of shame on a daily basis just for being male. This shame is dished out by a clearly biased, feminist dominated, domestic violence industry. An industry that shamelessly lies and distorts the truth in order to secure funds and to get revenge for often imagined wrongs they claim have been done to women by the patriarchy. What astounds me about all of this is the politicians, policemen and society, just assume that the figures being broadcast by these groups are totally reliable. No one ever questions them. Well, almost no one. As an example of what I mean by "almost no one," here is a report from The Statistical Assessment Service in America. This group carefully monitors official statistics to ensure that are accurate.
Domestic Violence Deja-Vu
"Domestic violence is a serious subject. President Clinton underlined this during his Oct. 28 radio address when he said, "In America today, domestic violence is the number one health risk for women between the ages of 15 and 44 ... Every twelve seconds, another woman is beaten. That's nearly 900,000 victims a year." A dreadful state of affairs, if true. The trouble is that all three of these statements are untrue. Furthermore, most of them were untrue when the president first made them in 1995. In fact, the White House was forced to retract the original statement after the inaccuracies became a public issue ("Analysts Dispute Clinton On Crime Against Women: Figures at Issue as President Inaugurates Program," Washington Post, Mar. 22, 1995). But now the dust has settled, these fraudulent figures have surfaced again, despite the fact that a few moments' thought will show how unsound they remain.
Let's start with the every twelve seconds figure. Most obviously, this doesn't even square with the "900,000 a year" figure. If five women are beaten a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day (you get the idea), the sum would be over two and a half million, not "nearly 900,000." But even without this arithmetical carelessness, the figure still doesn't add up. The total number of violent incidents recorded by the FBI in 1999 was 1,430,693. That's about one every 22 seconds. Domestic violence is under-reported to the authorities, certainly. But can it really be so under-reported as to make it more common than the total number of all violent crimes?
In fact, as regular readers of Vital STATS will know, there is a government survey, the National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), that seeks to measure under-reporting. It estimates that there were about 670,000 violent crimes against women by their intimates in 1999. That's one every 47 seconds. But the figure also includes 450,000 cases of simple assault; this can mean a push, shove or grab, which many studies have found to form the majority of incidents of domestic abuse. The remainder of 220,000 seriously violent incidents (which includes robbery) implies a rate of one every 2 minutes 20 seconds -- less than one-tenth the President's figure.
That figure has a murky history. It seems to derive from misreadings of studies with generous definitions (some including "stomping off" and other non-violent forms of abuse). It certainly cannot be substantiated properly. Which is why the White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry acknowledged its inadequacy the first time the President used it in March 1995. "We want to take back that statistic," he said.
The 900,000 figure is also five years old. It is actually the NCVS figure for violence against women by intimates from 1995. In itself, that figure had shown a substantial decline from the figure of over a million that had been posted in 1993. But violent crime has declined dramatically since the heights of the early '90s. In fact, according to those NCVS figures, violent crime against women by intimates has declined almost 30 percent since 1995.
The third figure being misused is the claim that domestic violence is the number one health risk for young women. The official backing for this figure derives from a statement by a badly briefed Surgeon General Antonia Novello. In actuality, the primary source was an extremely small study of one emergency room which simply suggested that domestic violence may be a more common reason for visiting the ER than car accidents, rapes and muggings combined. The Centers for Disease Control, often cited as the source of this factoid, have disowned it, telling journalists that it is neither theirs nor reputable.
So how could the White House repeat its mistake? STATS would not dare to suggest that someone merely pulled a five year old briefing document out of a dusty file and recycled it without bothering to check any of the figures. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to be badly briefed once may be regarded as a misfortune; to do it twice looks like carelessness.
The last word on the seriousness of this matter should, however, be left to The New Republic, commenting on the first incident: "The statistics are bad enough as they are. Why inflate them, unless you don't think [the actual number of cases] warrant a response?""
This report can be read on my website at man2man. You will find a link to it on the "My Favourite Links" page.
Once again men have shame heaped upon them, this time by the American President, and the figures used are utterly wrong and male victims of female DV are not even mentioned.
It is time for us as a society to remove the blinkers that blind us to the reality of female domestic abuse. It is real. It is happening and, it is happening at the same rate as male abuse of females. These are facts attested to in dozens of scientific studies carried out in countries all over the world in the last thirty years.
On my web site at http://www.man2man.themenscenter.com I have gathered the evidence for public inspection. Please, go to the site and look reality in the face. Then have the courage to check your attitudes and preconceived ideas and change them. If you know of an abusive female, encourage her to seek help. If you know of a man being abused, encourage him to visit my site and get in touch. Together with "Mankind" Britain's first charity for men, we are doing all we can to help male victims speak out and get help. Please, help us to help them by talking about this issue and looking at the truth.
George Rolph is the webmaster of man2man.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
(please click above to vote for this site)
JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month