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  • A Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence Against Men Is a Growing Problem

    Amid the media frenzy over Tiger Woods and Bengals receiver Chris Henry, a key aspect of both stories slipped through the cracks: Like millions of other men, Woods and Henry were -- allegedly at least -- the victims of domestic violence perpetrated by their wives or girlfriends. Beyond its brutal physical and psychological costs, domestic violence against men exacts a cruel economic toll at the personal, societal and national levels.

    For the most part, the media, authorities and average citizens see domestic violence as a crime that is committed by men and victimizes women. Consequently, funding to combat the problem has overwhelmingly been spent on programs that support women.

    Widely Ignored Problem
    And yet, more than 200 survey-based studies show that domestic violence is just as likely to strike men as women. In fact, the overwhelming mass of evidence indicates that half of all domestic violence cases involve an exchange of blows and the remaining 50% is evenly split between men and women who are brutalized by their partners.

    Part of the reason that this problem is widely ignored lies in the notion that battered males are weak or unmanly. A good example of this is the Barry Williams case: Recently, the former Brady Bunch star sought a restraining order against his live-in girlfriend, who had hit him, stolen $29,000 from his bank account, attempted to kick and stab him and had repeatedly threatened his life.

    It is hard to imagine a media outlet mocking a battered woman, but E! online took the opportunity to poke fun at Williams, comparing the event to various Brady Bunch episodes. Similarly, when Saturday Night Live ran a segment in which a frightened Tiger Woods was repeatedly brutalized by his wife, the show was roundly attacked -- for being insensitive to musical guest Rihanna, herself a victim of domestic violence.

    Lack of Research
    Sometimes it is impossible to ignore the problem, but when domestic violence against men turns deadly -- as in the case of actor Phil Hartman -- the focus tends to shift to mental illness. The same can be said of the Andrea Yates case, which many pundits presented as the story of how an insensitive husband can drive a wife to murder.

    Much of the information on domestic violence against men is anecdotal, largely because of the lack of funding to study the problem. Although several organizations explore domestic violence, the biggest single resource is the Department of Justice, which administers grants through its Office on Violence Against Women.

    For years, the DOJ has explicitly refused to fund studies that investigate domestic violence against men. According to specialists in this field, the DOJ recently agreed to cover this problem -- as long as researchers give equal time to addressing violence against women.

    First National Study
    Researchers Denise Hines and Emily Douglas recently completed the first national study to scientifically measure the mental and social impact of domestic violence on male victims. Interestingly, their research was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, not the DOJ. Not only does this demonstrate the lack of resources for researchers of this issue, but it also suggests that male battering is perceived as a mental health issue, not a crime.

    This decriminalization of domestic violence against men affects research conclusions. While survey-based studies have found that men and women commit domestic violence in equal numbers, crime-based studies show that women are far more likely to be victimized. This inconsistency begins to make sense when one considers that man-on-woman violence tends to be seen through a criminal lens, while woman-on-man violence is viewed more benignly.

    A recent 32-nation study revealed that more than 51% of men and 52% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a wife to slap her husband. By comparison, only 26% of men and 21% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a husband to slap his wife. Murray Straus, creator of the Conflict Tactics Scale and one of the authors of the study, explained this discrepancy: "We don't perceive men as victims. We see women as being more vulnerable than men."

    Kneed In The Groin

    This trend becomes particularly striking when one considers the 1996 case of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Warren Moon, who tried to restrain his wife after she threw a candlestick at his head and kneed him in the groin. Subsequently charged with spousal abuse, he was only acquitted after his wife admitted that she attacked him -- and that her wounds were self-inflicted. Ironically, her admission of fault did not result in charges being brought against her.

    While Moon's trial was particularly high profile, his situation is actually very common. In fact, studies have found that a man who calls the police to report domestic violence is three times more likely to be arrested than the woman who is abusing him.

    The mainstream perception of domestic violence also impacts the resources that are available to battered men. For example, the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, the only national toll-free hot line that specializes in helping male victims of domestic violence, has faced numerous roadblocks in its search for funding. In Maine, where the helpline is based, the surest route to funding is through membership in the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.

    On A Shoestring
    But, according to Helpline director Jan Brown, the Coalition refused to even issue the program an application for membership, effectively denying it access to funding. Today, 45 Helpline volunteers field 550 calls per month, 80% of which are from men or people who are looking for help on behalf of a man. Operating with a yearly budget of less than $15,000, it provides intensive training to its workers and offers victims housing, food, bus tickets and a host of other services.

    The Helpline's sheltering services are informal and ad hoc, largely because its lack of access to funding makes a shelter financially impossible. In fact, of the estimated 1,200 to 1,800 shelters in the U.S., only one -- the Valley Oasis shelter in Antelope Valley, Calif. -- provides a full range of shelter services to men. And, on average, less than 10% of OVW funds allocated to fight domestic violence are used to help men.

    For male victims of domestic violence, the legal system can become another tool for abuse. As in the Moon case, battered men are often likely to find themselves arrested, even when they are the ones who call the police. And, even after the arrest, the process of incarceration, restraining orders, divorce court and child custody hearings continue to disadvantage men.

    A High Cost
    Restraining orders are a particularly difficult hurdle. Radar Services, a watchdog organization, estimates that approximately 85% of the roughly 2 million temporary restraining orders that are issued every year are made against men. In many states, the requirements for an order are exceedingly vague: In Oregon, for example, a "fear" of violence is sufficient for a restraining order, while Michigan issues them to protect family members against "fear of mental harm."

    But there's nothing vague about the effect of restraining orders: They often turn men out of their homes, deny them access to children and result in further personal costs as millions of men have to find new places to live, hire lawyers and pay other expenses. For some men, as Hines and Brown point out, the legal system gives abusive wives and girlfriends tools to continue attacks even after their relationships end.

    As Straus notes, "The preponderance of [domestic violence] resources should be made available to women. They are injured more often, are more economically vulnerable, and are often responsible for the couple's children. That having been said, more resources need to be made available to men."

    There is no doubt that domestic violence against men can be reduced; the domestic violence initiatives of the past 40 years have brought a hidden crime to light and provided protection for millions of women. The next step is to admit that domestic violence is not a male or female problem, but rather a human problem, and that a lasting solution must address the cruelty -- and suffering -- of both sexes.




    By BRUCE WATSON Posted 10:30 AM 01/30/10
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence Against Men Is a Growing Problem started by nickb275 View original post
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. dad_savage's Avatar
      dad_savage -
      I'll never forget one time my sister was staying with me, and she became violent. She has severe mental illness, and is prone to episodes of self-harm, and can be a risk to others under certain circumstances usually involving screw-ups with medication. I had to call the police in the end because I didn't want to risk hurting her myself and getting into trouble; much later they sent me this support package for person's living with family violence; a list of resources.

      A big envelope full of brochures. Seven in total. Five were for women, one was for homosexuals, one was for people with young children. I eventually managed to speak to someone fairly high-up and said 'Do you realize as a man who identifies with the heterosexual community this package amounts to an insult; it says to me quite clearly that I cannot be a victim, and society does not allow for my protection in the face of such crimes, or care to support those dealing with their effects,' he seemed to understand, but said he couldn't include brochures for services that do not exist.

      He also was worried about whether male-oriented brochures might end up being inadvertently sent to women on the grounds that it would upset them. Can you believe this?
    1. Percy's Avatar
      Percy -
      Quote Quote from nickb275 View Post
      I never know what to make of you percy, jest or no jest, that is the question. I was thinking of Rohara's post about the youtube link from ignored gender. It is widely IGNORED.

      My error, Nick.

      I am so used to reading that DV is 'ignored' that I didn't even read the piece. See my correction above.

      Get Lay DCaff to smack my bare bottom.
    1. Marx's Avatar
      Marx -
      Quote Quote from dad_savage View Post
      ...he couldn't include brochures for services that do not exist.
      And that is the crux of the problem.

      Quote Quote from dad_savage View Post
      He also was worried about whether male-oriented brochures might end up being inadvertently sent to women on the grounds that it would upset them. Can you believe this?
      God DS, you're SOOOOO insensitive!

      When will you understand that a woman's fweeelings are sooooo much more important than a man's safety... and life.
    1. dad_savage's Avatar
      dad_savage -
      God DS, you're SOOOOO insensitive!

      When will you understand that a woman's fweeelings are sooooo much more important than a man's safety... and life.
      I'm sorry! I just wasn't thinking!
    1. nickb275's Avatar
      nickb275 -
      Quote Quote from dad_savage View Post
      I'll never forget one time my sister was staying with me, and she became violent. She has severe mental illness, and is prone to episodes of self-harm, and can be a risk to others under certain circumstances usually involving screw-ups with medication. I had to call the police in the end because I didn't want to risk hurting her myself and getting into trouble; much later they sent me this support package for person's living with family violence; a list of resources.

      A big envelope full of brochures. Seven in total. Five were for women, one was for homosexuals, one was for people with young children. I eventually managed to speak to someone fairly high-up and said 'Do you realize as a man who identifies with the heterosexual community this package amounts to an insult; it says to me quite clearly that I cannot be a victim, and society does not allow for my protection in the face of such crimes, or care to support those dealing with their effects,' he seemed to understand, but said he couldn't include brochures for services that do not exist.

      He also was worried about whether male-oriented brochures might end up being inadvertently sent to women on the grounds that it would upset them. Can you believe this?
      calls for help, biased info, wants better info told none is available and may hurt woman if was resulting in the ultimate fix. Sad really. Thanx for that anecdote dadsavage. Scary what is out there.
    1. Popadibs's Avatar
      Popadibs -
      Quote Quote from dad_savage View Post
      I'll never forget one time my sister was staying with me, and she became violent. She has severe mental illness, and is prone to episodes of self-harm, and can be a risk to others under certain circumstances usually involving screw-ups with medication. I had to call the police in the end because I didn't want to risk hurting her myself and getting into trouble; much later they sent me this support package for person's living with family violence; a list of resources.

      A big envelope full of brochures. Seven in total. Five were for women, one was for homosexuals, one was for people with young children. I eventually managed to speak to someone fairly high-up and said 'Do you realize as a man who identifies with the heterosexual community this package amounts to an insult; it says to me quite clearly that I cannot be a victim, and society does not allow for my protection in the face of such crimes, or care to support those dealing with their effects,' he seemed to understand, but said he couldn't include brochures for services that do not exist.

      He also was worried about whether male-oriented brochures might end up being inadvertently sent to women on the grounds that it would upset them. Can you believe this?
      Yes I can and do believe it. If males are afraid that females will be upset at the thought of brochures being sent with the idea of protecting men from violence there is obviously reason for it. Subconsciously and even consciously, we know how bigoted, sexist and what lack of empathy they really possess towards men. Until they give a damn about our protection we should stop caring about theirs. I know that might be hard for those of us that don't have a heart of coal but it may come to that. Seriously though, we know for a fact that female doesn't equate with victim. It's not about protecting victims but always about protecting them.

      I'm tired of this. So what if the species dies out as a result? As intellectual as females may pretend to be they only understand things at a primitive level. When their own survival is impacted by ours then they might understand the implications of their bigotry towards us. Yes, the state is behind this but women are behind the state.



      lyrics to 'Hard Times' Mob Parlor

      Verse 1
      Clappin' our hands when we're out on a weekend
      Stompin' our feet with the people we believe in
      Dogs howling at the moon, holding out for pain
      Waitin' for the day they leave their towns and make their names

      Chorus
      Aint no remedy to recommend
      Hard times, in the hearts of young men

      Verse 2
      Speaking our minds but nobody cares
      You know some people got it so good it just aint fair
      No money in our pockets so you know we had to make a move
      Aww we live tough we die tough but it aint our life to choose

      Chorus
      Cuz after all we cross and avert them
      Hard times in the hearts of young men
      In the hearts of young men

      Verse 3
      The president aint got our cause
      He's selling souls and breaking laws
      And telling lies for the applause

      Well aint no future for our kind
      And these are hard times

      Verse 4
      Me and my kids got a gift for the man
      With our souls on fire and our hearts in our hands
      A fist in a face of any mouth that will tell us no
      Aint to time left for faking you know we gotta go, go, go

      Chorus
      Before there's no flag left here to defend
      Hard times in the hearts of young men
    1. senach's Avatar
      senach -
      YouTube - The Parlor Mob - Can't Keep No Good Boy Down

      While listening to the last,try this one.
    1. K. J. Smith's Avatar
      K. J. Smith -
      The scope of this problem go far beyond what this article has raised. If you read the Cantankerous Old Fart blog you will find the story of a man that was brutally assualted by his wife and on the last occasion of it was able to get away, get to the hospital, and get the police involved. He made the mistake of saying he would leave the house because the wifes children (his step children) were there and she needed to be with them. He unfortunately discovered too late that there was no help out there for men, ended up sleeping in a car for 2 months in -40 weather. And while his wife was under a no-contact order her and her lawyer worked to make sure the only assets he got were the clothes on his back he left with.
    1. Butch Campbell's Avatar
      Butch Campbell -
      Quote Quote from Douglas View Post
      That is TERRIBLE!

      And things like that, of course, lead men to not call the police, and therefore the statistics reported by the police show that men aren't being attacked, so therefore resources aren't needed to help men, etc. etc.

      Meanwhile, the poor man, under attack and no-where to turn to, will eventually lash out in rage and we end up with the statistic that women suffer more severe injuries from domestic violence.
      This is so very true and it happens quite often. I know of myself and a couple of other men who this has happened to and we all had one thing in common. We belonged, at that time, to AA and went to meetings regularly.

      The other thing in common was that several of the women who worked in both the womens shelters were also members and coached these women in meetings on how to get what they want and use the laws as a form of control. Then if a split between the couples occurred the additional harrassment to the men came in the false accusations of child abuse when the fathers had either custody , visitation, or both.
    1. Percy's Avatar
      Percy -
      G'day Butch, and welcome.
    1. Josh's Avatar
      Josh -
      I used to get hit by a girlfriend...I couldn't do anything except try to fend off blows because I knew I'd go to jail if I fought back. On top of that, even after we broke up and she moved out (still oweing me a bunch of money) she ended up coming into my house months later and stealing things...I tried to stop her but then she started screaming as if i was beating her and yelling for help and "Get off me" etc so I immediately stepped back and put my hands in the air because I knew there was nothing I could do...I called the police but they wouldnt do anything.
    1. Popadibs's Avatar
      Popadibs -
      Quote Quote from Josh View Post
      I used to get hit by a girlfriend...I couldn't do anything except try to fend off blows because I knew I'd go to jail if I fought back. On top of that, even after we broke up and she moved out (still oweing me a bunch of money) she ended up coming into my house months later and stealing things...I tried to stop her but then she started screaming as if i was beating her and yelling for help and "Get off me" etc so I immediately stepped back and put my hands in the air because I knew there was nothing I could do...I called the police but they wouldnt do anything.
      That's why I don't feel sorry when I find out about cops being killed.
    1. nivek's Avatar
      nivek -
      Butch:The other thing in common was that several of the women who worked in both the womens shelters were also members and coached these women in meetings on how to get what they want and use the laws as a form of control. Then if a split between the couples occurred the additional harrassment to the men came in the false accusations of child abuse when the fathers had either custody , visitation, or both.
      Josh: I used to get hit by a girlfriend...I couldn't do anything except try to fend off blows because I knew I'd go to jail if I fought back. On top of that, even after we broke up and she moved out (still oweing me a bunch of money) she ended up coming into my house months later and stealing things...I tried to stop her but then she started screaming as if i was beating her and yelling for help and "Get off me" etc so I immediately stepped back and put my hands in the air because I knew there was nothing I could do...I called the police but they wouldnt do anything.
      And feminists claim that men have all the power.

      what sick twisted minds they have eh!
    1. The Possible Human's Avatar
      The Possible Human -
      Quote Quote from Josh View Post
      I used to get hit by a girlfriend...I couldn't do anything except try to fend off blows because I knew I'd go to jail if I fought back. On top of that, even after we broke up and she moved out (still oweing me a bunch of money) she ended up coming into my house months later and stealing things...I tried to stop her but then she started screaming as if i was beating her and yelling for help and "Get off me" etc so I immediately stepped back and put my hands in the air because I knew there was nothing I could do...I called the police but they wouldnt do anything.
      Sounds all too familiar. Change the locks, document everything and don't back down on pressing the police to file charges. Get a copy of the police report, they have to provide it to you. That puts them on notice that you are not going to back off. Even if your ex-gf got away with that crap, keep pressing the issue.
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