Friday, September 18, 2009

Women three times more likely to be arrested for domestic violence

Ugh, sometimes one can just be speachless. I was after reading this gem.
Men are responsible for most cases of domestic violence, but women are three times more likely to be arrested for incidents of abuse, research reveals today.
I am more disappointed with the headline than the report itself.. The study was based on a small sample (96 participants) of police data which simply isn´t fit as a basis for generalized statements like the above. A rundown on different types of studies.

Studies based on CTS-Surveys

A random sample of persons is asked if they were hit/slapped/kicked etc. or did this themselves to their partner.

Those studies give us a good reflection of reality.

- Men and women batter each other equally in minor and severe cases
- Women are more likely to use weapons
- Men are less likely to be injured (about 40% of injured victims are men)
- High number of victims. Low percentage of severe violence

Studies based on Crime-Surveys

A random sample of persons is asked if they were victims of a violent crime.

This kind of survey finds less victims as a lot of victims don´t see their victimisation as a crime (My partner only punches me when he/she is drunk. I still love my partner she/he has just temper problems) it also finds more violence crimes as those where injury occurs are more likely to be seen as crimes.

- Men are more likely to batter women
- Women are even more likely to use weapons
- Men are even more likely to be injured among that sample
- Lower number of victims. Higher percentage of severe violence

Studies based on Police Data / Women´s Shelter Data etc.

Not based on a random sample but on police / women´s shelter data.

- Men are far more likely to batter women
- Even more women use weapons
- Lowest number of cases analysed
- Highest percentage of severe crimes
- Men are more likely to be injured
- Women are more likely to be arrested

Explaining the gender difference

We live in a society where female violence against men is something seen as funny in the media while violence against women is stigmatised. Boys are raised to never hit a girl, girls are not. If a woman in a relationship is slapped people advise her to leave, if a man in a relationship is slapped he is asked what he did wrong. While we accept women as victims and victims only, we accept men as perpetrators but never as victims.

Findings from a report on ABC.
Turning the Tables

How Do People React When There's Abuse in Public, But the Gender Roles are Reversed? How Would You React?

On previous shows, "Primetime" has staged scenes of abuse in which the man is the aggressor, and the woman is the victim. And in these situations, passersby -- men and women -- often stepped up and intervened. So producers were curious. What would happen if the tables were turned, and the man was suddenly the victim? Would people be just as willing to come to his defense?

This staged scenario happens more often in real life than you may think. According to Colgate University psychology professor Carrie Keating, women abusing, even assaulting their male partners "is a big problem in this country."

"There are some data that suggest that women actually hit more than men do," says Keating. "Men create more damage, but women hit more than men do."

A report prepared for the Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year there are over 800,000 serious cases of men being physically abused by women. But the actual figures are believed to be much higher, since many men are often too embarrassed to admit being the victim of abuse by a woman.

Even professional athletes, with their macho reputations, have alleged abuse. In 2002, Major League pitcher Chuck Finley's wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was arrested and jailed after he accused her of pummeling him, causing bruises and abrasions. She pleaded not guilty, and charges were dropped after she agreed to attend anger management classes.


One after another, passersby witnessed the abusive scene… and kept right on going.
Mathilda was one of those bystanders. She says she didn't think the man was in any physical danger, and could probably take care of himself. "I didn't immediately think to protect the man at all," she said. "It didn't look like any harm was being done."

The reaction of another woman, Lynda, was stunning. As our actress continued to heap abuse on her make-believe boyfriend, she walked by the scene and pumped her fist in a show of sisterly solidarity.

"Good for you. You Go, Girl!" is how Lynda recalls her reaction.
"I was thinking he probably did something really bad," she said. "Maybe she caught him cheating or something like that…and [it] made her lose it and slap him in the face. I reacted like, 'Yes. Woman power.'"

This type of reaction didn't come as a surprise to Keating. Observers often excuse their "own lack of response by denigrating the victim and making up stories that he really deserved the punishment he was receiving," Keating says.

She says that perhaps these people have some past frustration in their lives which makes them "actually enjoy vicariously the experience this woman was having by being aggressive" toward her boyfriend.

'Old-Fashioned Views'

Later, a husband and wife out for some exercise observed the abusive situation and continued on their way. So "Primetime's" producers stepped in and asked, "Why not stop or at least call 911?"

"What they were havin' there…[they were] just havin' a little tiff. They'll be all right," said the man, a police officer in a nearby community. His wife told "Primetime" that she would have found it "more upsetting if [the young man] had put his hands on" the young woman."

"Oh, without a doubt," her husband readily agreed, acknowledging the double standard. "Call it old-fashioned views. If you're raised the way I was raised, you don't put your hands on a woman, right?"

Keating says that holding those kinds of values and beliefs "is going to give them a very different lens through which they see the behavior of the actress, the aggressiveness of the woman against the man. They under-value the potency of her responses."


Over two days of taping, "Primetime" watched 163 people just walk right by the actors – the abusive woman and her boyfriend. Of all those who had the chance to step up and get involved, only one group of women stopped.

After taking time to assess the situation, these women -- four of them -- gathered at a distance to assess the situation. They then sent an emissary to offer the fighting couple some assistance.

But when the actress replied that "this is not your business," the woman respectfully walked away.

But while the first woman was attempting to engage the couple, one of the other women, Clare, was calling 911 from her cell phone.

"I'm in Leonia Park, and there are two people fighting on a bench," she reported. "She's …beatin' him up and I was wondering if somebody could come and just check it out?" (The police were aware of the hidden camera experiment).

The fact that the abuser was a woman did not matter to Clare and the other women with her. They said they just knew they had to do something.

"She was a little out of control," said Clare.

"I was concerned for both their safety," another woman said.

Another member of the group, Donna, recalls "trying to assess the situation before we reacted."

Keating found this group of concerned women to be "an interesting collective. In a sense they verify the sort of cognitive steps we all go through whenever we see a situation that conveys some sort of ethical dilemma: 'Should we respond or not'?"

"They saw it as requiring intervention," she said. "They stepped up to take responsibility. They collected as a group and tried to figure out what to do and actually put into place a plan of action where they could be of help."
 Another finding.
Survey finds male abuse approval

More than half of women questioned at a Glasgow university said they approved of wives hitting their husbands.

The Glasgow Caledonian students were among 6,500 women surveyed from 36 universities for an international study into attitudes on domestic violence.

Of the 200 women, 60% said it was acceptable for women to hit their husbands while 35% admitted assaulting their partner.
Also imagine the impact the shelter movement had on these numbers. I doubt a crime-survey in 1950 would have found many female victims (my husband sometimes slaps me but I deserved it). This is very much where men are today (my wife sometimes slaps me, but I deserved it). A female assault is less likely to be seen as a crime (as men are less likely to be injured, this also leds to less reports) and therefor is less often reported. Some evidence.

37% of female victims of DV called the police only 15% of men did (Family violence in Canada - 2003)

17% of male victims of DV seeked helped with "formal social agencies" compared to 48% of female victims (Canadian General Social Survey - 1999)

Female victims are 9-time as likely to call the police and 5-time as likely to talk to a relative or friend than male victims (National family Violence Survey - 1985)

8% of male victims called the police compared to 22% of female victims (British Crime Survey - 1996)
47% Of female victims and 16% of male victims called the police. Only 39% of male victims defined their expierience as domestic violence but 77% of women did. (Scottish Crime Survey - 2000)
Women are more likely to report minor cases to officials: Only 25% of all cases reported by women were severe cases compared to 86% of cases reported by men. Men were injured in most of this cases and most of this cases also involved weapons (most often knives) (McLeod - Women against men: An examination of domestic violence based on an analysis of official data and national victimization data - 1984)
To make matters worse (and to further explain the widening gender gap in studies based on police-data) the police (and society) are treating male victims different than women.
Often victimised men are not taken serious by the police (Farrell - 1993 | Wilkinson - Children and divorce - 1981) and often that leads to men not reporting their victimisation (Steinmetz - The battered husband syndrome - 1980 | Machietto - Aspects of male victimisation and female aggression - 1992)
Data that comes from helplines that support male victims confirm this. An analysis of callers to the ManKind Initiative’s Helpline ManKind
Did You Seek Help From The Police – How Did They Help
(Yes Answers Only)?
Arrested you - 26%
Sympathetic – no help offered - 39%
Characteristics of Callers to the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men
Male victims’ experiences with the system

[A] common theme in the men’s qualitative reports:
When men are victimized by women, they may be additionally victimized through their dealings with domestic violence advocates. Consider also these men’s experiences:
“I called eleven different numbers for battered women and got no help.”
“She stabbed me with a knife, and I didn’t even defend myself, and after I got out of the hospital two weeks later, the court tells me to go to a group they say is for victims. It turns out to be for batterers and I am expected to admit to being an abuser and talk about what I did to deserve getting stabbed.”

“M, a 37 year old ex-police officer with two young children is seeking a temporary safe haven from threats of serious violence from his ex-wife, who will be released from prison soon. . . . In M’s case, attempts to access domestic violence resources increased his sense of fear and helplessness which he expresses as anger, particularly over the apparent lack of concern for the welfare of his children, who would receive no shelter from the violence of one parent simply because the other parent is male. The only helpMobtained from a local domestic violence agency was a referral to a statewide ‘resource center’ for men, which turned out to be program for batterers. [DAHM confirmed with both agencies. The referring agency stated, ‘We send all our male callers there.’]”

“J tried to access the limited resources available in his area in an attempt to initiate couples counseling. reaching out for help left J feeling further abused; he was treated with suspicion, disbelief and thinly veiled accusations that he was a ‘batterer.’ [DAHM confirmed.The first response of the agency supervisor was, ‘Why would a man call a helpline if he were not the abuser.’]”

“While married, R was kicked in the groin, punched, stabbed and strangled. R states that for several years he ‘just took it’ because ‘that’s what we’re supposed to do.’ . . . Although separation has stopped the physical violence, R’s estranged wife continues the abuse through the only means available: preventing visitation, alienating the children and filing false allegations with Child Protective Services.”
As these quotes illustrate, several men, prior to finding the DAHM, were revictimized by a system that is set up to help female victims of IPV, and at times, may not even consider that men can be victimized. A number of male victims in the current study reported calling several different domestic violence helplines only to be turned away, laughed at, or accused of being a male batterer. These quotes are illustrative of the ways in which male victims can be revictimized through the current domestic violence service system:
A man who was stabbed by his abusive wife must admit that he deserved being stabbed because he is the real abuser; another man who is stabbed by his wife but was not violent in return is prevented from seeing his children; a man seeking refuge for both himself and his children because of a violent wife is referred to a batterers’ program. The revictimization that many of these men experienced in the very system that is set up to help victims of domestic violence is important to consider because it can have grave consequences. Consider this woman’s call to the DAHM. She called to receive support and validation of her son’s experiences:
“B is calling for support; it is close to the anniversary of her son’s suicide. She wants someone to hear her grief and understand her belief that he was driven to suicide by the false allegations of a controlling wife who knew how to manipulate the system. After leaving the relationship, his estranged wife would obtain a restraining order, initiate contact, then charge him with violating the order. Several such encounters with the justice system left her son emotionally and financially drained. With ‘no where to go and no one to talk to,’ he became increasingly despondent and eventually took his own life.”

Malcolm George (Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men as the Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence - 1994) made a nice summary.
Straus & Gelles (1986) sum up much of the problem we find when discussing male victims of female violence when they say "Violence by wives has not been an object of public concern. There has been no publicity, and no funds have been invested in ameliorating this problem because it has not been defined as a problem" (p. 472, italics added). It can be argued that by defining wife battering as the problem, and husband battering as a non-problem, realistic estimates of husband-battering, be they large or small, are nearly impossible to obtain. It is easy, for instance, to argue that battered husbands occur only as rare and isolated cases. Nearly all male victims are isolated individuals owing to the relative paucity of groups willing to acknowledge their victim status. The fact is that a large proportion of the social agencies that deal with family violence target only female victims. Thus we should not be surprised if these groups do not find evidence of male victims of domestic violence. Further, the politicized nature of domestic violence among many within academia mitigates against finding any evidence of male victims. Consequently, some professionals, like mental health professionals, may be insensitive or even hostile to a man describing himself in victim terms (Macchieto, 1992). Added to all this, the traditional stereotypes give creditability to a woman to be seen as a victim. The stereotypes associated with men, however, lead most to deny such a possibility or to ridicule' such a notion as male-as-victim (Farrell, 1993; Wilkinson, 1981). This clearly deters men from making such an admission (Machietto, 1992; Steinmetz, 1980). Also, male victims may be aware, if only dimly, that to proclaim victim status will only lead to unfavorable or unequal treatment compared with female victims (Harris & Cook, 1994).
If a man is attacked by his wife and decides to call the police, he is the one who is likely to be arrested. (quoted in Wolff, 1992, p. 22)

She was knocking the shit out of me; no one would believe me. (Male victim and resident of the Kingsland Estate, Hackney, London, England speaking on Kingsland, Channel 4, television documentary, 4th June 1992)

When you are talking to your mates, it's hard to admit you're being bullied by a woman. (quoted in Kent, 1993, p. 37)
Steinmetz (1980) has suggested that some men, following traditional social norms, consider it unmanly to attack or even retaliate against an assault by a woman. Further, when men and women rate violent male-female interactions, they perceive male-to-female aggression as more negative than female-to-male aggression (Arias & Johnson, 1989). By implication, female-to-male violence has a type of social acceptance not accorded to male-to-female violence (Greenblatt, 1983). Thus while it is argued that "society does not appear to shape the attitudes of most men and women to accept the use of violence by men against women..." (O'Leary, 1993, p. 24), we could suggest that society does appear to condone the use of violence by a woman against a man.
And finally, the whole issue of male victimization can be suggested to receive scant attention because of the threat it poses to masculine self images and "patriarchal" authority, as much as for any threat it poses towards efforts to counter female victimization. The lack of attention of female aggression, as opposed to male aggression, has been suggested to be rooted in scholarly debates on nature, culture, and gender in which "sameness" or "differences" are key issues; but actually result from a reluctance to consider similarities between men and women, as opposed to differences (Fry & Gabriel, 1994). Thus it is not surprising that domestic violence against women, as opposed to men, is a socially acceptable concern and receives study and support. This reinforces two more easily recognized social stereotypes, female vulnerability and male authority or dominance, and protectiveness. The admission and recognition of male victimization, in the battered husband, is the antithesis of this acceptable order and an equality between the sexes that has been resisted historically, especially by men (e.g., see judgments in the Willan vs. Willan and Teal vs. Teal cases, Bates, 1981).

No matter their number, battered men deserve better than to be seen as little more than footnotes from earlier historical periods when they were castigated and forced to ride a donkey backwards.
Undermining male victims does nothing to help the fight against violence.

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