Whilst Tim Watt’s heart is probably in the right place, a combination of immaturity, male self-loathing, and a compulsion to play the role of ‘white knight‘, seems to have blinded him to reality. And that reality is that many women are abusive, that many men are victims of abuse, and that acknowledging this in no way diminishes ones ability to recognise and empathise the suffering experienced by female victims.
So, OK, how many men are we talking about here? The answer depends on a number of variables, particularly the issue of how domestic violence is defined. As a consequence the ratio of male to female victims has been found to range all the way from one in four up to three in four. Even if one only accepted the lower end of that range, that still amounts to a considerable number of male victims – and certainly far too many to simply disregard as a statistical aberration.
Detailed data and analysis in relation to domestic violence can be found in this other blog post, but I’ll provide a few snippets of information below.
One Australian survey found for example that “the rate of men reporting current partner violence almost doubled (a rise of 175%) since 2005 (an estimated 119,600 men reported such violence in 2012)” (Source)
A survey in the U.S.A reported that “We analyzed data on young US adults aged 18 to 28 years from the 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which contained information about partner violence and injury reported by 11,370 respondents on 18,761 heterosexual relationships. Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.”
A survey in the U.K found that:
(And, for comparision purposes, click here to see the Canadian results for victimisation from violence generally)
**Male victims of domestic violence who are seeking assistance, and who live in Australia, should read this information**
Personal accounts of, and by, abused men
There’s a lot of men suffering the same Abraham, men are less likely to report it though. Its a two way street. I found it degrading after having my bipolar partner restrained by police to be put in an ambulance, that the literature given to me and having called the help line, that it was all geared towards women. Even the men’s help line, when called and told of being involved in domestic abuse, being questioned about what I’d done to abuse her.
You know when she’s off tap and I’m being pushed to the limits, I could just knock her block off, I can handle myself, if it was a bloke doing it, it wouldn’t even be an issue, but its a woman and mother of my children, I’m better than that. My kids have had to witness it for years, they even ask how i endure it without retaliating. But its my job to be their role model, not sport stars or entertainers. I stay composed, controlled. I was safer in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s time for men to stand up and be more vocal. I’ll start it off.”
“Its not the violence although she has slashed my car tyres to stop me from leaving and has threatened me with a knife on many occasions. It’s the threats to kill herself, or ringing my work, or on many occasions showing up at work because I won’t do exactly what she asks. Several suicide attempts, what am i to tell my kids if I stay at work and she rings and tells me she’s taken an overdose and i keep working. The ambulance wont come on their own anymore when she loses it, the police have to come, because she is violent to the ambulance driver. I’d post videos, but I don’t want her identified on the internet. My kids have been embarrassed enough, they don’t need all their friends knowing.
I said I would start this off, all my friends on here know now, but no-ones going to use it to try get to me, most are smart enough to know better. Like I said if it was a male that was threatening me it wouldn’t be an issue, I did my time in conflict zones, I can handle myself. My pay goes into an account she controls, I get an allowance. I got my pay put into my own account awhile back and she went to our head office and made a scene, nearly got me sacked. So I changed it back to stop her going back. My boss has said to me how I manage to be early every day, get through my day and churn out a high standard work is beyond him. Never late, never take a day off, always try to be upbeat. I do what i do because i am my kids role model, not some sports star or celebrity, I set a standard, I tell them not to react, stay calm and I practice what I preach. (Source)
“I have encountered similar violence by a wife towards her husband and I can promise you, it’s no laughing matter. Especially when men are often brought up to never lift a hand up against a woman. Thankfully, they are no longer together, but she still has most custody of their beautiful little boy. She has gone out of her way to use the son to hurt him, but thankfully family, friends and even a judge has seen through her and have provided him with much needed support. He is a lovely dad who was snared by a vicious, vindictive woman” (Source)
“Predictably the top comment is from a woman ridiculing the incident. He doesn’t sound a particularly great husband but would you have found it as amusing if a man had ripped off his wife’s breast because she wasn’t a good wife? Nope, didn’t think so. The comments here just show the gulf in society’s attitudes towards violence to men and women from the opposite sex.”
“The number of women convicted for domestic violence rose by 30% in the year to April 2015, from 3,735 to 4,866. It marks an upward trend – the number of convictions involving female perpetrators is now six times higher than it was ten years ago”
In a comment he contributed to this article, Chad Tindale wrote:
“Police were once called because my girlfriend, at the time, was stabbing the bathroom door (behind which I was locked) with a knife. When the police arrived, she was still drunk, and still holding the knife. They told us to keep it down so that they didn’t have to come back… then they left me there… with her… with the knife. You’re not a hero when you rescue a man from a woman, so it’s often just easier to leave them there… leave them with her… with the knife.”
On the level of support provided for male victims of domestic violence
“On the societal level, women’s violence against men has a trivial effect on men compared to the devastating effect of men’s violence against women” (Source).
“Shelley Serdahely, executive director of Men Stopping Violence, in Decatur, Ga., questions the validity of studies showing women are more violent. “Women might be more likely to get frustrated because men are not taught how to be active listeners and women feel like they are not being heard,” she said. “Often women are more emotional because the relationship matters a lot to them, and while that may come out in a push or a shove or a grab, all of which are considered dating violence, it doesn’t have the effect of intimidating the man.”” (Source)
This is the mistaken belief of many within the pro-feminist domestic violence sector whose philosophical approach is proscribed by the so-called Duluth Model. An attitude that underpins the chronic under-resourcing of services for male victims of DV.
“There are thousands of shelters in the U.S. for women and even thousands for our pets, but not a single independent shelter just for men (and no federal funding). The Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware Country, PA (where I grew up) was the first to campaign to assist victims of both genders but that only meant they were one of the first to allow mothers with teenage boys to find assistance as most still see 12-18 year old teenage boys as members of the “almost clinically and psychologically dead” (as per Dr. Helen Caldicott) “foreign male element.” Many states claim to help men somehow but not a one can provide any data on the number served.
England built their first men’s shelter in 2003 after 423 shelters (now 7,500) had been built for women (forced to open in secret due to fear of violent protests). All public funding for men’s shelters in England (like most countries), however, have since been pulled as men are now told to go to women’s shelters (a 2008 House of Commons report claimed there was no need or desire for male-only shelters with the issue only being distorted by a deep-seated contempt for women). Battered men around the world are routinely told to go to homeless shelters (what, no possibility of ingrained contempt for men?).
A few countries like Holland, Serbia, and Switzerland have set aside funds for battered men shelters but they are scarce and underfunded compared to homes for battered women. Most men are still waiting for their country’s first governmentally supported refuge. We must identify the violence done by women against men, see it as a serious social problem, and face the reality domestic violence is more likely mutual or female-initiated and so our public service announcements and federal service funding urgently need to be de-gendered.
The 1975 National Family Violence Survey (Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family, Straus et al.) found men and women equally abusive. The myth of subjugated women (Gelles, 1988; Kaufman, 1990; Straus, 1991) has but “crippled prevention and treatment efforts” (Scott, 2006). In 2008, Drs. Douglas and Hines conducted the first-ever national survey of men who sought help for heterosexual partner violence. It regrettably showed a large proportion of men who seek help from American domestic violence agencies (49.9%) or hotlines (63.9%) are specifically told, “We only help women.”
Many men seeking assistance from DV agencies (40.2%) or DV hotlines (32.2%) end up accused of being the batterer, a third of male victims who call the police end up arrested, and less than a third of those who consult with any mental health professionals are offered details on how to get help from a DV program. The investigation concluded the worst places for men to get help were “those that are the core of the DV service system: DV agencies, DV hotlines, and the police. The qualitative accounts in our research tell a story of male help seekers who are often doubted, ridiculed, and given false information.”
“I vividly remember accidentally walking into a “safe room” for victims of domestic violence at the court house and being pounced on by a bunch of quite militant women and told in no uncertain terms to get out of the room, for no other reason than I was male and they assumed I was the guilty party. It didn’t even occur to them that I , a male, was the VICTIM of domestic violence. The irony is that my extremely violent wife would have been welcomed with open arms in the same situation and been showered with empathy by them.” (Source: Readers comment)
“I’m not suggesting that violence against men doesn’t happen, of course it does, but it is actually really rare.” Karen Willis, Executive Officer for Rape and Domestic Violence Services in Australia (Source)
Prioritising women’s safety in Australian perpetrator interventions: The purpose and practices of partner contact (April 2020). An example of the work of ANROWS, brimful of gender bias but substantive enough to the naïve, or biased, eye to have a significant influence on the manner in which DV-related funds are dispensed.
“According to study author Brenda Russell, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University, the officers surveyed rated male perpetrators of IPV as more “dangerous” to others than any other gender or sexual orientation.
In contrast, male victims of female perpetrators were considered “responsible” in some way for the abuse they suffered. Victims of lesbian and gay male violence were also considered more culpable and more likely to demonstrate thoughts and behaviors indicative of mental illness.”
“Forty years of feminist campaigning and the influence of gender stereotypes have had a major impact on how society views IPV.” “Gender biases are highly influential in affecting people’s perceptions of the severity of IPV.”
Here in Australia, to get an idea of the level of resistance to acknowledging male victims of DV, one only has to observe the response from feminists on the few occasions when some agency or individual (e.g. Tanveer Ahmed) publicly discusses male victims. The most recent example was when the NSW Police service featured male DV victims in a campaign in early 2015:
“Across almost every study, gender came out as a significant factor: the male participants were more tolerant and more willing to stay in relationships that involved aggressions. This was unexpected, but may reflect a reluctance within men to define their partners as aggressors and themselves in some sense as victims, as seen in low reporting rates of domestic violence against men.”
Domestic violence (DV), also referred to as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) or Family & Domestic Violence (FDV), is a shocking blight on the community. This is a scourge that inflicts substantial negative impacts on the lives of countless men, women and children. Whilst definitions have evolved and broadened, DV is loosely defined as “physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse“.
It is important to acknowledge that DV encompasses man on man, women on women, man on woman, and woman on man violence (both cis- and transgender). Further, in many instances violence is perpetrated by both partners as shown in the accompanying diagram. There is also a strong nexus between the incidence of child abuse/neglect and subsequent perpetration of domestic violence by affected individuals upon reaching adulthood.
The Wikipedia entry for ‘Epidemiology of domestic violence‘ provides readers with useful background information on this topic. For those willing to read something a little meatier, I would recommend this paper by esteemed DV researcher Malcolm George. Malcolm walks the reader through the historical context to the current debate about gender differences in violent behaviour and the way that society responds to the issue.
Many of those working within the DV sector, particularly here in Australia, only choose to acknowledge one element of the problem – that part involving male perpetrators and female victims. It is no coincidence that most staff within these government agencies, universities and NGO’s are strongly influenced by, and biased towards, feminist ideology. The feminist position is unequivocal, and it is that domestic violence = men’s violence towards women. Here is an example of that mindset, and here are many others.
This routine failure by feminists to recognise and discuss male victims, female perpetrators and bi-directional violence is no accident or coincidence. It is a deliberate strategy to build their brand, and in so doing demonise the overwhelming majority of men who have never, and would never, hurt or abuse their partner.
As a result, and in order to support the feminist narrative, a great deal of ‘cherry-picking’ and misrepresentation occurs in relation to the statistics provided in DV literature. In addition, the design and implementation of survey instruments is too often tainted with bias. This issue, that of feminist efforts to hide or discredit legitimate research and/or generate false or misleading statistics, is explored in this further blog post.
You will note, as you scroll down this page, that there are a multitude of sources of DV statistics, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States. Here in Australia, much less research has been undertaken – particularly in relation to male victimisation. One of the more significant sources is the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2012, which found that one in three victims of domestic abuse were male. The results of overseas studies generally found levels of male and female victimisation that were closer to parity, and in some instances even higher rates of victimisation for men that women.
Unfortunately many journalists display remarkable tunnel-vision when addressing the topic of IPV. Indeed some have suggested that the media is complicit in the same sort of systemic gender bias against males noted earlier amongst those working in the field of DV.
Turning to my first example, an article called ‘Til death do us part’ which appeared in The Australian newspaper. It consisted of five pages of heart-wrenching coverage of men’s violence towards female partners, but made no mention of any other form of domestic violence, i.e. m-m, f-f, or women on men. Similarly this February 2014 article from The Mail newspaper also neglected to mention that men can be victims too.
Fiona McCormack also ignores male victims and female abusers this item on Australian ABC TV … except in an aside where she implies that anyone who raises the issue of women abusers is only seeking to “excuse” the behaviour of male abusers. This is very much akin to the feminist predilection of labelling anyone who questions various aspects of sexual assault (e.g. false rape allegations) as being “rape apologists” “victim blamers” etc.
Now let’s turn to this article by Charlie Pickering (more about Charlie here). Charlie is concerned that more attention is paid to the issue of random one-punch attacks on men, than on the violence visited nightly on women people in their homes. He goes on to state:
“For a long time, the termdomestic violence has softened and normalised what is really going on. A more accurate term is ‘men’s violence against women’. Not ‘violence against women’, because that takes the responsibility for it away from those who need to be made responsible.”
This belief, that by acknowledging male victims and female perpetrators, we are somehow ignoring the validity and the pain of female victims is absurd, yet unfortunately commonplace in public discourse. The fact that there may be somewhat fewer male victims does not, nor should not, make domestic violence a gendered issue.
A precious few writers, like this one, suggest a more practical and unbiased approach to the issue:
“When it comes to the statistics about domestic abuse, it doesn’t matter to me how many men to how many women experience domestic violence. Domestic violence is a power issue more than a gender issue. Intimate Partner Violence affects men and women, and I really do not care in what proportion …
Within anti-domestic violence advocacy, there seems to be a trend to pit female victims against male victims and vice-versa. I do not know who is behind it, nor do I know if there is a “who” to blame. I do know that blame has no place in this fight against domestic abuse, especially when victim blames victim for any reason …
In a perfect society, men and women are equally protected under the law not because more laws were made to protect one sex but because in each mind and heart of all people, women and men are respected equally, and the individual contributions or crimes are our only measures of judgment. However, this ideal is as far away from our current reality as the idea that no person would seek power over another.”
Many others within the wider community have, however, embraced a biased and incomplete representation of DV, liberally salted with misinformation, at face value. Who could blame them, given that so many sources are bellowing out the same relentless message about male perpetrators and female victims, whilst studiously ignoring other elements of the issue.
Here in Australia, let’s look at this page within the web site of the Department of Social Services entitled ‘Women’s safety’, and the linked 28 page literature review prepared by ‘Urbis’ consultants at a cost of $220,000. One would have assumed, especially given the enormous cost, that the review would have encompassed all forms of abuse and perpetration. But, unfortunately, it did not.
In fact the review states that “Male perpetrators of domestic violence or sexual assault against men and female perpetrators of either offence against men have not been considered in this literature review. It is acknowledged that in practice the great majority of programs will be targeted towards men who commit domestic violence or sexual assault against women.”
Yes, that makes perfect sense … there are no programs for female offenders so let’s pretend they don’t exist. Such circular logic is (almost) unbelievable. And no, there is no corresponding ‘Mens Safety’ page within the DSS web site.
To be fair, the authors of some studies do admit that there are many female perpetrators and male victims, and that little research has been directed towards these groups. They also admit that there are probably many similarities between male and female perpetrators of IPV. They then invariably proceed, however, to offer a variety of justifications to continue their focus on the ‘domestic violence = Mens violence towards women’ model (example).
When misleading statistics are repeatedly exposed the feminist reaction is to move the goalposts by expanding the reach of the definition of domestic violence to encompass sexual violence, and less tangible forms of non-physical ‘violence’. This serves to both maximise the perceived magnitude of the problem, as well as support the anti-male narrative.
Naturally those areas where female perpetration is substantial, such as child abuse and elder abuse, are totally ‘out of bounds’. This theme is explored in this separate blog post. The same approach has been taken by feminists to prop up the notion of the existence of a ‘rape culture‘ in western societies.
Those of us concerned about men’s rights seek to have all aspects of domestic violence considered, as well as seeking remedies to specific issues such as:
the lack of resources to assist abused men and their children
laws and legal procedures that are based on the assumption that the male in the relationship is the abuser
negative and biased behaviour towards men who seek assistance, for example the screening of (only) male callers to abuse help-lines to determine if they are in fact perpetrators (example)
A selection of statistical sources that haven’t been doctored to support the feminist narrative
“Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In non-reciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.”
More than 125,000 women homeless because of domestic violence (15 February 2016). The only figures for male victimisation that were mentioned – because they appeared to support the feminist perspective – were drawn from this media release from a government agency. What’s not mentioned though is that the relatively low numbers of men seeking assistance are indicative of factors other than simply lower rates of male victimisation, incl.:
the rampant genderbias of ‘help-lines’, advocacy groups and even government agencies
the (widely-known) lack of resources available to help male victims (with or without children, and
the much greater incidence of non-reporting of DV by men (compared to women)
“The proportion of male victims who told police about their domestic abuse increased from 10.4% in 2014-15 to 14.7% this year as charities said more men were shaking off the stigma of talking about their suffering.“
For Nelson Women’s Refuge manager Katie O’Donnell, the solution to New Zealand’s domestic violence problem is more straightforward. “People say it’s a really complex issue. Well, it is a complex issue but also it isn’t – guys just have to stop doing it”
Telstra introduces domestic violence leave (13 January 2015) Australia. Article implies only women are victims of domestic violence and leaves us guessing as to whether the company policy is sexist/discriminatory – or just the journalism
In this article a feminist writer, Amanda Hess, attempts to rationalise why domestic violence by a female sports star should be addressed differently than in the case of a male sports star (22 September 2014) Most of the 600+ readers comments that followed disagreed and told her so in no uncertain terms.
‘Lollies at a childrens party and other myths: Violence, protection orders and fathers rights groups’ by Miranda Kaye and Julia Tomie (1998). Another detailed but flawed paper in support of the feminist position on DV. Its main line of attack is that available statistics don’t support claims made by men’s rights advocates. It conveniently ignores the fact that most Australian DV research is undertaken by feminists and biased towards finding ‘evidence’ to support a pre-determined conclusion. Thus the accuracy and impartiality of the research is the real issue, rather than the credibility of the whistle-blowers.
The paper also misinterprets and/or takes out of context, many of the comments it attributes to fathers groups in an attempt to portray them as irrational or unreasonable. Finally the authors attack specific statements put forward by fathers groups despite the same arguments having been used (at other times) by feminists in support of their own (feminist) perspective. The authors of this paper, for example, want to jump from one camp to the other (and back again) in relation to the issue of whether behaviour other than physical violence should be included in the definition of domestic violence.
We need to show it’s just not manly to hit out (9 July 2014) Nonsense article dripping with white knight bias … “The idea that the woman may be equally to blame, even if she is also violent and even the initiator of the violence, is simply not acceptable”
A reddit discussion thread about the anti-male bias evident in the web site of an American domestic violence centre’s web site. Unfortunately such bias (i.e. stating or implying that all men accessing the site are abusers and that all women are victims) is also common in domestic violence centres in Australia.