June 14, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Here’s a good article on domestic violence (Vancouver Sun, 6/7/19). Apparently, Simon Fraser University criminologist, Alexandra Lysova, has been studying Canada’s General Social Survey that’s conducted every five years.
One of her main points – and one of the article’s – is that men too are victims of domestic violence. Indeed, in Canada, they’re more often victims of DV than are women. The latest figures show that 4.2% of men and 3.5% of women have been victimized in the past five years. Now, to begin with, that’s good news. Those figures have been steadily declining to the point that, on average, 0.7% of women and 0.8% of men have been victims of DV in the past year. Canadians seem to be cleaning up their act at least as far as intimate partner violence goes.
A few points of interest in the data: when all physical violence, including sexual assault is considered, 2.8% of men and 1.7% of women report victimization. As to severe violence with sexual abuse, 1.2% of men and 0.5% of women were victimized.
But the other issue emphasized by both the article and Lysova is that men’s victimization remains very much in the dark. It comes as a surprise to most people that men and women are victimized about equally.
It shouldn’t. The simple fact is that we’ve known that women are as likely as men to perpetrate DV against an intimate partner for well over 40 years now. The earliest studies conducted on the subject revealed the fact and literally hundreds have subsequently.
So why isn’t it common knowledge? Because the press and the DV establishment haven’t publicized the fact. As researcher Murray Straus said several years ago, simply reporting the facts about DV can get an academic attacked by those who, for whatever reason, have a stake in the status quo. That status quo includes the idea that DV is a gendered phenomenon, that men commit DV to maintain power and control over their female partners and that only realization of that phenomenon can permit men to change their evil ways.
That essentially none of the above is true as a general principle troubles the DV establishment not a whit. Year after year we see the same claims and with the same results. Here in the United States, there are about 1,500 DV shelters for women and perhaps three for men. In Canada, the article makes clear, there are none.
That’s not for lack of trying. Several years ago, one activist, Earl Silverman, attempted to start a DV shelter for men, but was denied any funding by the national and provisional governments to do so. Needless to say, shelters for women in Canada don’t lack for public funds.
Much like Nancy Shannon and Jennifer Harman, about whose article in the Lincoln Journal Star I wrote twice last week, Lysova calls parental alienation a form of domestic violence against the targeted parent.
While [psychologist Denise] Hines has found females are more likely to report being called names or prevented access to family income, male spouses more often said their partner tried to control their every move or denied them access to their children.
The latter is leading to increasingly common cases of “parental alienation,” Lysova said, in which one partner, particularly after a separation, unjustly poisons the reputation of the other spouse in the minds of their children.
Partly because so many people are uneducated about men’s victimization, men tend to shun the system that’s supposedly there to help victims of DV. Among those ignorant of the realities about DV faced by men are the police, social workers and judges, i.e. the very people who might help an abused man in family court.
The issue of DV comes up frequently in contested child custody cases, so it would benefit men and make the process much fairer if those people knew the facts about domestic violence.
Perhaps they could start by reading Lysova’s work. And of course there’s plenty more in the same vein. And other news publications could follow the lead of the Vancouver Sun and publicize men’s victimization with the same vigor and diligence as they’ve publicized women’s over the many, many years.