Monday, February 9, 2009

At least 90 percent of domestic violence victims are women - PART 2 - Victims

Back again. Fighting the "At least 90 percent of domestic violence victims are women" myth means deconstructing stereotypes. Last week I talked about violent women, this weeks topic is male victims. While virtually unseen male vicitms of DV have a lot of similarities (not confident enough to leave, think it is their fault, are ashamed) with female victims and some important differences. I will show you some anecdotal evidence and talk about it in detail.


Men in England and Wales aged between 20 and 25 are more likely to be victims of domestic violence than women in the same age group. Campaigners claim not enough is being done by the police, social services and the government to tackle the problem. Read one victim's story.

Mark from Buckinghamshire, not his real name, was a victim of abuse for nearly a decade.


"I've been stabbed with scissors in my thumb and my wrist. I've had a marble chopping board smashed over my head which needed 12 stitches," he said.
"She would put cigarettes out on me. She'd send the kids into the back garden to play and then she'd corner me in the front room and just attack me.

"She'd be scratching my face, kicking, punching, spitting in my face. That was a regular thing." Mark says the physical abuse wasn't that hard to deal with, but the psychological manipulation was the worst part because he had no control over it.

"Some nights maybe she'd go out and go missing, turn her phone off, and then come back and say she'd been with another man. All that was going on."

Mark has been asked lots of times why he didn't walk away from the relationship but says it's not that easy to get out of an abusive relationship.

"You know that you've got to leave but you have to go through a whole process to get to the point where you've actually got the strength to walk out that door. "Also when there are children involved, how difficult is it to walk out of the house with your kids there? It's impossible."


He says leaving his kids was the hardest part of the process and why he waited so long to leave his abusive partner.

"I'd packed a little rucksack secretly the night before. I'd phoned a friend the day before and said to him, 'Could he wait at the bottom of the road in his van?'

"She often used to lock the doors and the windows of the house so I couldn't get out. She was worried about me leaving.

"She eventually fell asleep and I grabbed my rucksack and ran down the road with my heart pounding, jumped into my friend's van.

"We drove along the seafront at half two in the morning. I threw my keys and my phone in the sea. That was my way of saying to myself, 'OK. I'm starting a new life'.

"To be honest I wish I'd done it years before. But I stuck at it for the sake of the kids."

"I don't think I'll ever recover. I know I won't recover from what I went through. I've just learnt now how to live with it.

"But I'll carry the scars for the rest of my life."- from here

Before I start, the release of the study mentioned above lead the bbc to have a "have your say" feature on their site. It is online since Monday (09.02.09) and in this few days arround 150 people (most of them come from abused males, telling their stories) have added their comments. Read it here.

Now back to Mark. What we can see here is one of the main difference between male and female DV victims. Women often do not leave their abusive partner because they are financial dependent on their partners, men on the other hand often do not leave because they fear loosing their children. The situation is worse if we talk about an unmarried couple, as the husband has absolutely no right to see his children (but of course every obligation to pay for them). And while it is right, that women lack the physical strength of men we see that they can still inflict damage as female batteres are more likely to use weapons.

Kevin Kinsella

When her anger turned to a rage she could neither understand nor control, Linda Kinsella became physically violent and had an easy target in her husband, Kevin, whom she could control by tipping over his wheelchair.

She says she's embarrassed by her past behaviour, which locked Kevin into her private hell for four years, but can no longer stand back and watch society shape itself into a belief system in which only men abuse their partners.

"If women are able to do all the good things that men can do in professions like medicine and law and in all other fields, then why is it that we, as a society, deny that women can do the bad too? It is my fondest hope that someday there will be true equality in our society and that domestic violence will be seen not as a gender issue but as a societal one that will end when we work together to stop it."


"I love this guy," she says, gently slapping his chest. "I think back over those four years and I wonder why he's still here. Well, I know why. He couldn't get away. Tipping his wheelchair was like taking a hammer to another man's knees."


She believes the current war against violence against women is distorted and dangerous.

"I remember thinking when I was in a rage that I had full control. In the back of my mind there was always the thought of the telephone. All I had to do was dial those three digits (911) and claim I was the one abused, and I would win. If it was in my mind, I'm sure it's in others' too."

One night I did it. I had hurt Kevin physically and he had had enough and he wanted out. When he tried to get to the door I tipped his chair. Then I made the call. It was pure anger. I'll show you who's in charge. While I waited I calmed down and realized what I had done. I didn't want to lose him. I want this marriage to work. That's why we got married the way we did."

When police arrived they told Kevin he was under arrest. I told them to look at the evidence. I was the one who committed assault. They said they were sorry, but it was policy. The man goes to jail. By pointing out how difficult that was going to be for a man in a wheelchair, they decided to leave him at home. But it stuck with me. An officer told him he was under arrest because of a policy and it had nothing to do with evidence. That's just plain wrong."


That night of the 911 call was the turning point.

"Every time it happened, that I lost control, I swore that would be the last time. I knew it wasn't Kevin I was angry at, but he took the brunt of it. The abuse was verbal and physical. I said terrible things, ugly things. But after that night I knew I needed outside help and I went looking for it."

She couldn't find any. Now she had a whole belief system to be angry at.

"I went to a therapist who listened to my confession about my physical abuse of my husband, and she responded with an observation: she said he must be doing things to deserve that kind of treatment. I went looking for women's groups that might offer some kind of self-help for anger problems. If there are any I still can't find them."

Eventually she found help through a therapist who ignored Kevin and helped her find the source of the anger.


Men have no place to turn when a situation like ours happens. We have no resources to help men in these situations. Kevin had no place to go, either to live or to get help." - from here

Of course not every man is physicly stronger than his wife, the most shocking yet common thing is the reaction of the police. Although he was clearly the victim the police would still have arrested him. Worse, even the therapist couldn´t help Linda with her anger problem and keeps blaming the victim. This is reality for most battered men. There is no supporting network (not even for the female batterer) and even officials don´t recognize female batterers or male victims.

Jerry Miranda

Jerry Miranda is part of a largely hidden group in domestic violence - the male victim. "It's really embarrassing," he says. "I don't want people at work to know I have these kinds of problems."

"She would give everybody the impression she was this kindhearted down-to-earth person. Everybody would enjoy her parties," he recalls. "But then she would come home, the door would close, and her personality would change."

Hassania Miranda had a fierce temper fueled by drinking, he says. She would not only abuse Jerry, but their two sons Alex and Joe. "I have memories of my mother stabbing my brother, going after my brother with a knife," says Alex.

Jerry Miranda was afraid that if he left his wife he would lose custody of his sons. And, he says, his military status kept him taking his children and fleeing the relationship: "That's called desertion."

Jerry Miranda finally found the strength to sever ties with his wife. But on May 4, 1999, four months after he had filed for divorce, his wife broke into his house. He came home to find it ransacked. There were bullets all over the house. When police finally picked up Hassania Miranda, they found a fully loaded semi-automatic handgun in her pocket.

She was arrested and taken to jail but just six hours later she had posted bail and was out again. From jail she went to the Air Force Academy, where Jerry Miranda works, and attacked him with a knife.

"Then the knife comes down very hard, it gets me once in the back," he recalled. "And it kind of...luckily it hit the bone."


Hassania is currently considering a plea bargain. If she pleads guilty to lesser charges, she could serve as little as 120 days in jail.

Jerry Miranda is still constantly on guard - fearing another attack from his estranged wife. "When I leave the house, I take the gun with me," he says. "If I go in the yard I take the gun. If I go to the mall I take the gun."

He says he will never feel safe from Hassania Miranda: "It'll never be over, never. This will never be over." - from here

Another good example, highlighting weapon usage and the typical slap on the wrist by officials. 120 days for attempted murder? This is insane.

Dean Lai-how

So what's a guy to do?

Dean Lai-how did everything by the book when his ex-wife began harassing and haranguing him. It wasn't enough to stop her fatal attraction.

In January, Dean looked out the window of his apartment near Seattle. To his shock, his ex-wife was just standing in the parking lot, looking up.

In March, his ex-wife showed up at the Target department store in Lynnwood, where Dean worked. She approached with a plastic container of kerosene while smoking a cigarette. She told Dean she had "something he would cherish the rest of his life," according to prosecutors.

The next day the ex appeared at his apartment complex at 3 in the morning. When Dean arrived, she followed him to his unit and threw a lighted Christmas ornament filled with kerosene as he rushed to shut his door, police say. The ornament didn't ignite, but detectives later found kerosene on the door and walls.

There was the time the ex-wife allegedly told Dean she was so angry with him she felt like running him over with a car. On another occasion she falsely accused him of molesting her children. Letters accusing Dean of pedophilia mysteriously turned up in neighbors' mailboxes. Police do not believe the accusations were legitimate but do suspect Dean's ex-spouse had something to do with the letters.

Yet another time, prosecutors say, the ex-wife told Dean that she could easily buy a gun and use it.

Dean decided enough was enough. He applied for a protection order. A hearing was set for May 19 to decide whether to make permanent a temporary protection order that Dean had gotten in March. The day before the hearing, the 34-year-old was slain by his ex-wife, police say.


[W]omen can be violent. Their violence can be escalating, predatory and lethal.

That is the case with Dean, who represents the less visible face of domestic abuse.

Reading through police reports and court papers, it becomes apparent that Dean's ex-wife, Rebecca Lynn Lai-how, was ticking, waiting to detonate.

The couple separated three years ago. They divorced a year ago.

Ironically, the justice system came to appreciate Rebecca's potential for danger only after Dean was dead and Rebecca had turned herself in to police.

"The defendant's escalating violence in this case as well as her apparent mental health and substance abuse issues render her a poor candidate for pretrial release," writes Mary Barbosa, a senior deputy prosecutor for King County.

Rebecca, it turns out, was building to her crescendo in a case mirroring so many in our region in recent years in which men have killed wives or girlfriends.

But here is one big difference: Dean's killing for some reason failed to make front-page news or stir up the public outcry that predictably reverberates when men kill estranged female partners. Is it because the victim was a man?

Dean lived in mortal fear. The protection order he sought against his ex-wife was never served because Rebecca could not be located. Dean was waiting to move away after Rebecca was served with the order. "He felt that way his new address would not be in the (order) request and Rebecca would not know where he was living," court documents say.

In April, Rebecca got her hands on a Ruger .357 revolver. A sales receipt shows the gun was bought at a Portland-area gun shop. On May 18, around 10:30 in the morning, authorities got a 911 call from a Renton apartment.

Dean was on the line: Help me! I've been shot! By my ex-wife!

Dean had been walking a dog when a woman jogged up with something black in her right hand, according to one witness. A bang sounded. A neighbor heard Dean scream: "Ouch!" The neighbor saw the mystery woman chase Dean as he scrambled toward the stairs of his apartment and dashed inside.

Police and medics had to force open Dean's locked door. They found him dying on the floor of the dining room. Medics couldn't save him. The bullet had entered his right shoulder and ravaged his lungs, lodging in the aorta.

At the police station after the shooting, Rebecca said the gun and bullets were in the trunk of her blue Mitsubishi, parked right outside. She locked eyes with a detective. "No one was supposed to get hurt like this," said Rebecca, 41, who has been charged with first-degree murder.

Her words are what so many batterers tend to say. They say it after they harm the ones they love. - from here

One of the extreme cases that are luckily rare, but happen. And as long as female on male DV is not taken serious we are denying victims proper care and justice.

More from

Battered men

A Seattle therapist who convicted of assault and required to pay a $500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and have absolutely no contact with the woman says:

I was dumbfounded from the very start of the incident," the man says. "I was getting struck by this woman while I was holding my daughter and I was the one who called the police.

In Kelso, a man had been out drinking and came home to fall asleep on the couch. His wife took an iron skillet and beat him. He was taken to the emergency room of the hospital and stitched up. He was taken there by police, but no charges were filed against his wife.
My wife—in one of her drunken rages—took our daughter’s baseball bat and used it to smash the locked door to my study, where I was trying desperately to meet a deadline. And since I’m over 6 feet tall and muscular, I wouldn’t get much sympathy posing as a “battered man!”: I had thought of calling the police that night. When I recalled this incident to my divorce lawyer some time later, his response was: “It’s a good thing you didn’t, because the police probably would have arrested you.”
We've tried to find help for him but all of the shelters just answer in silence. It's a shame how he was treated by the police and that there are no shelters or groups to help men, they need it every bit as much as women. It's time to stop offering help to someone just because they are a women. Abuse is abuse, it does matter how the abuser is or how the abused is.
I have been verbally and psychologically battered and abused, I've been threatened with bodily harm, I've been threatened to be shot right between the eyes, I've been kicked in the groin, I've had to watch while my ex sexually molested my daughter and not dare interfere for fear of retaliation. Then 1 day she called 911 so fast and had me arrested, my head was literally spinning with disbelief. When trying to tell the officer that I was provoked and that she was hurting my daughter and that I was protecting my daughter, he told me that I had better keep quiet, I'd charge you with a felony if I could, he said. .. So now what do i do?
Wife became very angry and she attacked me with a set of Porsche Keys - maybe three inches long. she stabbed me thirteen times. As I was trying to leave, she took our daughter and tried to throw her down the steps
Although she had been physically aggressive in the past, she turned downright violent toward me. It started by hitting me with the phone, throwing objects at me, kicking and clawing. She drew blood a number of times. Under advice from my attorney, I was warned that even taking a defensive position could be seen as an act of violence toward her. The ONLY physical action I took toward her was to restrain her from hitting or biting or kicking me. She was an expert at falling down and screaming -- "see kids, look at what your dad is doing to me."
Why did I take it? I had a daughter that was small that was also screamed at and hit,and scared by stories of the bugger man getting her.I finally had to leave or get killed.
My wife of almost 9 years was a woman of an incredibly short temper and possessed the ability to swing from mood to mood faster than you could shake a stick at. Over the years, she had thrown things at me, including knives, slapped me, punched me, and shoved me on numerous occasions. I had always felt a sympathy towards her because of the fact that she had no one in her life that truly seemed to care for her. I was going to be her protector.
I still don't understand why I stayed in that relationship as long as I did. I quess it was because she was such a great girl in every other way and I hoped she would change. I'm never going to go back into that kind of insanity again.
Funny, at the time I told myself I deserved it.
I was abused too many times and decided to end the relationship many times but I was unable to do so. Because she followed my each and every move and I was reluctant to file stalking charges against her because I did not want to hurt her feelings. The abuse intensified, she did not hesitate to hit me ... She also clawed me numerous time and even cut me with a knife. I was again failed to report the incidents to the authority. Many times she had threatened me that if I bring any charges against her, she would not hesitate to bring false charges against me - from
If you follow the link you will find a collection and even more cases. Again we have to take female battering serious, as serious as we take male battering. The victims are real, the injuries are real and the suffering is real. We have to keep gender out of it, every victim has the right to be recognized and to get help. This gender neutral helpline is a step in the right direction.

That´s it for now. In the next part I will talk about how our society accepts violence against men.

End of Part 2 -> Part 3


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