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Domestic Violence Against Men

category national | miscellaneous | opinion/analysis author Friday May 04, 2007 11:35author by Shelagh Sutton Report this post to the editors

A Hidden Phenomenon

You may well be chuckling to yourself at the notion that men could be victims of domestic violence at all but the ever-increasing incidence of abuse against men in the home and the media’s subconscious conspiracy to keep this very real issue hidden might well surprise you.

Watching Shooter, the latest action movie to be churned from Hollywood, I was irritated by a scene in which the love interest (Kate Mara) strikes our hero (Mark Wahlberg) across the face. Needless to say the slap definitely doesn’t hurt him; it merely wakes him to the fact that he has to give her his full attention while she explains her emotional turmoil. You may be wondering where the problem is: we frequently see women like this in films and TV programmes striking the man but never hurting him. The message is: it’s ok for a woman to hit a man because it can’t harm him, because, in fact, it’s not real violence. And therein lies the issue: why isn’t this recognised as violent behaviour?

According to Men’s Aid, many sources on domestic violence rely on report-based studies. Such studies usually conclude that domestic violence is predominantly a woman’s issue. This is understandable since, for example, in a random sample survey of both men and women in Ireland undertaken in 2003 by ESRI and the National Crime Council (NCC), it was found that 29% of women but only 5% of men report their experience of domestic violence to the Gardaí. Likewise, OSS, the domestic violence information and resource centre based in Cork, reported that, between 2000 and 2004, only 14% of their calls by victims were made by male victims. Essentially, there is much less reportage by male victims even though gender-neutral surveys the world over are finding that domestic violence against men is becoming as prevalent as it against women.

For example, in the NCC/ESRI survey, while more women than men experience violence over a lifetime, the exact same proportion of men and women reported experience of violence within the previous year. This indicates that more men are beginning to experience violence in the home. In many gender-neutral surveys in English-speaking countries, it has been found that in roughly half of relationships experiencing domestic violence, both partners are equally violent, with the remainder fairly equally divided between male-only and female-only violence. In addition, men and women tend to give similar reasons for perpetrating violence against their partners – quelling the myth that women are only violent in self-defence.

So why is our society one big ostrich with its head firmly wedged in the sand on this issue? We are only too aware how women and men are entitled to equality in all walks of life these days but we still have an ingrained and reinforced notion that a woman could not hurt a man. It certainly doesn’t help that films and TV programmes again and again churn out scenes depicting a helpless woman justifiably slapping a man across the face. We need to look past the tired stereotypes – only then might we become aware that women can be perpetrators and that men too can be victims of domestic violence.

Related Link: http://www.amen.ie
author by Carol Annpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 13:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is an issue that has been consistently ignored and buried away by society at large.

Violence against men is rife in our society. We see it every day of the week. The bigger problem is that it appears that to many it is acceptable and is quite often the source of jokes and laughter as evident from the recent accusations relating to the alleged assault on the actor Ross Kemp by his partner.

Boys and men are quite correctly told it is wrong to hit a girl or woman. Girls and women are not told it is wrong to hit a boy or man.

Another example of the attitude and mindset of people was the appearance some years back of Niall Quinn on the late Late Show where he told a "funny" story about his wife clocking him over the head with some implement because he came home late one night with a few drinks on him.

Everyone roared with laughter at this as if it was justified. Can anyone imagine would the audience be laughing if it was the other way around and Niall has assaulted his wife because she came home with a few drinks on her? I think not. Domestic violence is wrong whether carried out by the man or the woman. There is NO justification for hitting anyone or slapping anyone regardless of gender, except in the case of self defence. Annoyance at a partners behaviour is not justification under any circumstances.

Groups like AMEN deserve more support and asistance from the authorities and there needs to be more awareness campaigns, both in the media and in schools, to make young girls and women aware that domestic violence is wrong in all circu,stances and slapping your partner etc is domestic violence.

author by Sineadpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"This is an issue that has been consistently ignored and buried away by society at large."

This is an issue aired every week in the Irish Times with a double act from John Waters and some woman from Amen, without any progression or enlightenment in the past ten years of trotting out the same nonsense. Violence is violence is criminal. Sex without consent is rape is illegal. Stop this gendered nonsense and campaign for resources to assist victims of sexual and relationship violence.

Victim of female
Victim of female

author by wageslavepublication date Fri May 04, 2007 15:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is my understanding that Women are more likely to pick up a knife and use it in such situations thereby causing grave injury. There was a study done recently in about this stuff in ireland last year but i cannot find the link right now. can anyone dredge it up as it is relevant to this thread.

Kudos to AMEN. Men are more likely to be enduring traumatic emotional torture which has little outward sign but a bruise on the cheek after years of enduring this leads to everyone siding with the woman.

I know there are awful men who punish their spouses unfairly and such women have my deepest sympathies but it is not always the case.

Some women set simple minded men up and take everything they have using the backing of the law which is biased and unfair to men.

The myth that all women are deep down nice and caring to their children does not reflect my own experience of reality or that of many people i know who experienced deep emotional trauma at the hands of cruel bullying and selfish mothers.

Time for this balance to be addressed in our society. Men and women are equally capable of being bad people. Its just that their modus operandi may differ. And the children coming from such situations grow up to pass the cruelty on in their own relationships, to the detriment of society.

Mothers have the power to change the world through how they bring up their children but as far as I can see, mostly they seem to waste this golden opportunity then gripe a lot about being disenfranchised. Is there anything that society can do to help change things at this level?

Well awareness and acknowledgement of the rights of men and male children is certainly a step in the right direction. Bringing up female children not to be preoccupied by their own looks and insecurities with good value systems would be an even better step as they are the mothers of the future.

Perhaps making becoming a parent a little harder by having to pass a psychiatric evaluation and studying a good parenting course would be good too but it is too hot a potato for any politician.

Amazing that these days the simplest mindless job requires a degree or a diploma and yet the hardest work in the world, that of bringing up a child well, needs no qualifications just the ability to drunkenly fuck in the back of a car.

An enlightened society we truly are not.

author by Carol Annpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 15:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sinead i dont know what part of what I said is supposed nonsense. I do campaign and support campaigns for the victims of domestic violence, both men and women.

I do agree with you when you say Vilence is violence is criminal. However, one time it was not viewed like that and a man hitting his wife was not viewed as a crime. Thankfully, that day is no longer here in general and there is less acceptance of it in society.

However, we now need to ensure that people also realise that a woman hitting her partner is equally wrong and is equally criminal.

I also agree with you that sex without consent is rape is illegal. Again no difference in whether it is perpetrated by male or female. Rape is rape and is illegal and should be treated as such.

I also agree that we need get rid of any gender differences in the law. We should provide justice for those victims of violence and sexual abuse regardless of gender.

author by Sineadpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"However, one time it was not viewed like that and a man hitting his wife was not viewed as a crime. Thankfully, that day is no longer here in general and there is less acceptance of it in society."

It is still viewed like that, and getting worse. 99% of rapists get off scot free. If you and I agreed on anything, then there would not be a nonsense thread about "the hidden problem" of relationship abuse - one fifth of us go through what might be the most public, demeaning and belittling experiences a human being can be put through. Rather than bleating about poor little men being ignored you should be asking why the perpetrators don't go to prison. How about commenting on the declining detection, prosecution and conviction rates for rape that Rape Crisis Network just published?

author by Carol Annpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dont know what your problem is Sinead but I am not 'bleating about poor little men' as you say.

Domestic violence against a partner, whether male or female is wrong. Do you disagree with that Sinead? If you started a thread or comented on violence against women should I tell you to "stop bleating about poor little women"? Would that be acceptable to you?

Do you think that it is ok for us as women to hit our partners? Is that acceptable?

author by Sineadpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 17:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Domestic violence against a partner, whether male or female is wrong."

Yes it is. But if you remove all references to the gender of the victim in this article, it makes no sense (no sense = nonsense). And the pas de deux that repeats every week in the Irish Times (and anywhere John Waters and that woman from Amen can find an audience) has not progressed the policing of domestic or sexual violence and is closely linked to a particular view of sexuality. If you can rewrite the topic without mentioning the gender of the victim then I applaud you.

author by Carol Annpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 17:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I didnt start the topic so I cant change the title but I would agree with you. We shoudl deal with Domestic Violence and specify violence against women or men seperately. For instance the ad campaign that stated that a man hitting a woman was a crime was appalling.

The implication by omission was that it is not a crime to hit a man or that it was somehow less so. Considering that a male victimof domestic violence is as much a victim as a female victim of domestic violence i felt that was appalling bad judgement.

A more effective one would havebeen to state that hitting your partner was a crime and leave it gender neutral. Would you agree?

author by wageslavepublication date Fri May 04, 2007 18:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There are different issues in the case of male violence against women and female violence against men. Some of the problems that arise are different. Some of the solutions will be different. There is some common ground but it It does not make sense to just blanket them under the same banner of "violence against a partner". Hence logically there is a need for groups addressing these differences.

To be honest I don't think Sinead cares too much about men judging by her "poor little men" comment. It comes across like she resents men trying to stand up for themselves. Perhaps if those valuable column inches were given over to stories reviling evil rapist men then you might be happier sinead? I find your attitude sexist , unpleasant and it serves as an example of what the writer wished to highlight. Thank you for that.

We should not wish justice for just one gender but for all people in abusive relationships. However IMHO a blanket genderless "victims of relationship abuse" organisation, while it might have it's place further down the line, right now is likely to just become another womens organisation in all but name under the current climate and set of attitudes.

Might I also make the rather obvious point that the last thing an abused women wants to see in the waiting room is a bunch of men (not that this scenario is likely given current rate of reporting among men). Ditto for an abused man. Ever heard of "safe spaces" sinead??

The fact is men need their own organisations to address their particular issues. Get over it. There are plenty of womens groups, courses of womens studies and writers who champion womens issues. As a man, i do not begrudge women having such support groups etc.In fact I applaud them for their good work. Why sinead, as a woman do you begrudge men their own equivalent groups etc.. Such an irrational attitude railing against men having their own specific support networks reeks of hatred of men.

author by Sineadpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 22:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Two fifths of raped children and one fifth of raped adults are male. There certainly are circumstances when male and female victims should be treated differently and there are good reasons for male-centred support groups. That is not at issue - services are grossly lacking for everyone. The predominant issues for proponents of the "hidden male tragedy" story is about men's legal rights with respect to family, the promotion of particular views of sexuality (remember who sabotaged Exploring Masculinities?), the declining respect for their version of manhood, etc, etc. Gender has moved on.

author by Shelagh Suttonpublication date Wed May 09, 2007 00:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Many thanks to everyone who posted comments.

Below are some responses to some of the many interesting points that were raised.

While it should be noted that the vast majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by men against women, sexual abuse in the domestic sphere accounts for only part of domestic violence (which, according to the definition presented by The Report of the Task Force on Domestic Violence Against Women in 1997, also encompasses physical and emotional abuse). In fact, when all components of domestic violence are taken into account, there is evidence that women in Ireland and other English speaking countries recently are at least equally as violent as men and sometimes more violent (see ERSI/NCC; McKeown & Kidd – links below). This fact, and the fact that it is rarely known by the public was the starting point for this article.

On a similar note, the issue of rape and the legal system’s gross inability to effectively deal with offenders is a related but separate issue of huge importance, but was not the area under exploration in the article.

I would like to emphasise that my intention was by no means to belittle the plight of women who experience domestic violence. In addition, I fully acknowledge that sexism against women is still present and is a real problem in society. However, in this article I wanted to highlight that sexism against men also exists in our society, and ignoring an issue like domestic violence against men is one of its manifestations. Gender constructs and gender stereotyping are so fundamental to sexism and therefore to this article that the suggestion to rewrite the “the topic without mentioning the gender of the victim” suggests to me that the point may have been missed.

There has been some media coverage of the issue of domestic violence against men by groups such as AMEN in Ireland and Men’s Aid in the UK (www.mensaid.com). Such campaigns are making some impact on the misinformed consensus that men are the main perpetrators and women the main victims of domestic violence. But the reality is that the consensus dominates: according to an Irish survey, the majority of respondents believe the consensus and also that women assaulting men is not nearly as serious as male assaults on women (see McKeown and Kidd: 2002). There is a range of reasons for this, such as (among others) violence against women is more visible in society; there is more shame for male victims in seeking services and when they do, they are often humiliated (as a small survey by AMEN found), and, of course, there is the phenomenal reluctance by the fictional media to present the issue, as discussed in the article. In addition, as mentioned in one of the comments, support groups and campaigns for female victims of domestic violence, while they are crucially important in helping such victims, tend to disseminate campaign material that perpetuates the idea that domestic violence is synonymous with domestic violence against women, totally disavowing male victims’ experiences.

As Wageslave suggests, women do tend to use weapons more than men. For example, a study by McLeod in 1984 found that “roughly 80% of women use some sort of weapon to compensate for the difference in size when they seriously assault their mates” (Corry et al 2001). However, it is worth noting that despite this, women overall tend to experience the more severe physical injuries (McKeown and Kidd, 2002), but this is not to discount the experience of male victims.

Essentially, females as perpetrators and men as victims are largely omitted from the discourse of domestic violence as a whole. As Carol Ann pointed out, “girls and women are not told it is wrong to hit a boy or man.” In this respect, education is paramount and a acknowledgement of the existence of the issue may at least be a good start.

RESOURCES:
- The first large-scale gender-neutral survey in Ireland on domestic violence was conducted by ESRI and the National Crime Council in 2003. You can view the full report (2005) at the following address: http://www.esri.ie/pdf/BKMNEXT056_Domestic%20Abuse.pdf.
- See also http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/mdv2.pdf?direct=1 for a report to the Department of Health and Children in 2002 by McKeown & Kidd entitled, “Domestic Violence Against Men: What Research Tells Us”.
- For “Controlling Domestic Violence Against Men” by Corry et al, see http://www.parentalequality.ie/pe_resources/pdf/corry.pdf.

author by wageslavepublication date Wed May 09, 2007 00:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and for your informative article and links

author by Sineadpublication date Thu May 17, 2007 20:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the Examiner, Irish Times and elsewhere today it is reported that "Women say ‘no’ to Fahey domestic violence plan", a broad refusal to support Minister Fahey's "greatest achievement", Cosc, the National Domestic Violence Office. Mr Fahey replies "While the title of the office makes direct reference to domestic violence its remit will extend to the broader remit in relation to other forms of violence against women.”

Most reports refer to "Rape victims and women forced in to trafficking, prostitution and pornography" with the implication, reinforced by repeated reference to women, that ONLY women are affected. (DRCC's annual report on Tuesday said 16% of callers were men).

Just to repeat myself, but with the opposite gender reference, the gender of the victim is (mostly) irrelevant. Sexual, relationship and domestic violence is just plain wrong.

author by yellopublication date Thu Jul 05, 2007 13:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An interesting article. But I was wondering: what about domestic violence in gay and lesbian relationships?
Or the domestic violence inflicted on children or elderly people?
Maybe we need to raise these issues as well.....

author by Ericpublication date Tue Nov 04, 2008 21:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with DV against men and boys being hidden and shunned by society and some (but not all) shelter for women and women's groups, I highly disagree with calling a book "That Bitch" there is no need for this. You do not counter this problem with choice words. I am now going to assume amen is a "rhetoric for profit" group who specializes in telling men what we want to hear so we buy the book(s). This is despicable. It would be like calling a book "That Bastard" which targets female victims and their stories. This Domestic Violence is going nowhere imho, not as long as these groups keep lying, cheating and generating biased surveys as they do. There are surveys done in the UK of violence in the home against women and girls but no counter argument done for violence against men and boys. Is this NOT biased?? There are many surveys for women out there about DV and they are loaded with biased questions to try and drag the numbers up to make men look bad. This is desperation b/c the numbers of men who do this is just so low, and the women's groups are unhappy with this.

There is too much bias out there on both sides and it is only serving to protect these criminals. Also I see countless female pedophiles being protected by society and the female gender role and being described as "lost souls looking for love". Do you think this goes for male child molesters?

We need to see where men/boys get prejudices against women, that would be the denial a woman can commit any crime against a man or a child. This is where the hatred of women is bred, when a boy is deceived and gets no justice. I don't see men's groups getting together to protect a male rapist or child abuser or trying to defend a man who beats a woman. However I do see women's groups coming on TV defending women who do this. Why is that? Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know.

Prejudices against women or men are bred into the minds of the young. So we need to stop all the ammo being throws and the 'battle of the sexes' need to stop if we want to help each other and get rid of prejudices.

author by no namepublication date Tue Nov 04, 2008 23:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Name calling is the resort of individuals not able to get an attentive audience. It is an emotional substitute for rational argument. In a society riddled with competing agendas being promoted by assorted groups big and small it is difficult to gain and hold an audience in attempts to persuade people to work for desired changes. This calls for patience and a long-term view of change. Remember that the slavery abolitionist campaign took more than a century to realize its goal of emancipation - and sexual and bonded work slavery is widespread across national boundaries in our time.

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