Domestic violence is a human epidemic. It is a disease, one we have the potential to eradicate. If we do not see it however, we can do nothing about it. Behind the veil of the women victims, are the growing number of men who have become victims themselves. How have we allowed this breakdown of our very structure as a species to continue through our cultural desensitization and ignorance? How have we grown to think that it is okay to harm a man, woman or child? Why do we continue to raise our young boys not to hit women, but almost encourage them to beat up other men. It is of no benefit that we beat each other down, domestically or otherwise, however, it seems to be a central part of the human condition.
The growing problem starts in the home. Most would say that in the home-front if one was witness to domestically violent parents, they too would be more likely to treat their partner as such. This in and of itself is a microcosm to the truth. Domestic violence has become portrayed with sexism, and has been blown up to a scale that exaggerates its horror against women victims. We are once again brought to a woman’s face, disfigured with acid, as she tells her story, we are told of a terrifying worse case scenario, and society bows its head once again to the idea that it is really just a man’s problem. Reasons to blame men are brought to the forefront as we delve into a woman’s viewpoint of a man’s psychology.
Batterings are depicted as a man’s issue, as the Duluth model, stretches across the country with it’s “‘Power and Control Wheel.”‘ This wheel is “central to the model, depicting the primary abusive behaviors experienced by women living with men who batter.’ [emphasis added] There’s no doubt that it reflects a feminist ideology of male oppression of women.” Hoff explains in his article, “The Faulty Duluth Model”. It is a model developed by the, Minnesota Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. This model blames men for the abuse of women, and rather then understanding that abuse is sexless, it aims towards accusing men of abuse, no matter what their circumstances or positions.
According to Amy Chen Mills, in her article, Sex Pain & Politics, “While almost completely abandoning traditional approaches to domestic violence, such as relationship and family dynamics, couples counseling and anger management, the male-patriarchy view of domestic violence focuses instead on re-educating men until they relent and admit that they are responsible for their violence–and almost all social violence.” This shift in the pendulum seems to exonerate women for any violence on their part, and focuses rather on an assumption that, possession, jealousy, anger issues, the need for control, are simply a man’s issue. These issues effect everyone. These are human issues, once again relayed in a microscopic view. When we learn to zoom out, we realize that men too have dealt with issues, and worse then an act itself, are those atrocities happening behind a shadow of ideas, expectations and perspectives about the roles each sex plays in our growing populations and diluted cultures.
Most of us become advocates for women victims as we jump on the cultural bandwagon. Meanwhile we are encouraging, invaliding, downplaying, or outright denying men who are victims of women. No one seems to be listening. Men are abused by women every day, but we are taught at a very young age, that they can handle it, and worse, they are encouraged to just deal with it. Boys are handed the responsibility of protecting their family, brothers protect their sisters, at any cost, and they are taught that joining their country’s fight for the “defense” of freedom is an act of honor and nobility. This has been happening throughout history and across cultures.
The systems in place seem to ignore the potentials of drug and alcohol abuse as well as psychological disorders, such as bipolar and anxiety disorders that may cause women or men to lash out. These are human conditions, intertwined with one another. Society has taught us “men don’t cry”, “they can handle it” while women are organizing together claiming only they are the victims. Men seem to be swept up in a hurricane of hypocrisy, as they are sent for rehabilitation in the form of programs developed by women, or are wrongfully sent to jail as they await their trials.
The law itself struggles with a definition. It seems unable to define exactly what violence is as it fights through the exceptions…Is capital punishment violent, or in a war situation, can we become violent….at what point is an act okay, and then not okay? If we can not describe violence itself, how can we possible ascertain what is violence in the home.
Just a couple of generations ago, slapping or spanking your child was considered to be simply part of the punishment. Children were “abused” long before it was seen of considered as such. Children were freed through advocacy and cultural change. A complete 180 has happened, and now such a thing may be considered a domestically violent act and may even be construed as child abuse.
Though domestic violence is a problem that has been addressed, it seems to only have been addressed on one side of the spectrum. Women have formed an alliance, and feminists blame men for women’s issues while they constantly cry out as victims, meanwhile a silent killer lay feeding on the ignorance of our bias. Behind closed doors violence strikes in a culturally unlikely place. Women are striking down men, and when this heinous act is committed, it is outwardly accepted, and even encouraged.
In 1994 the Violence Against Women’s Act, also known as the VAWA, was passed. The very title indicates that women are the only victims of domestic violence, though once again there is an attempt to balance the scale on the Department of Justice’s website that cites, “Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.” Women advocate for women, offering emotional support in a domestically violent situation. Men however are ashamed to admit they are being abused, and they are embarrassed to state to any authority figure that are in a situation that would constitute as abuse. Culturally it is virtually unacceptable, and such Acts as the Violence Against Women Act, only work towards enforcing this social flaw.
For decades now women have been fighting for equality among men, and now they come together in groups treating men as subservient bystanders in a world that is adapting its very laws to protect women, while assuming men will protect themselves. According to the United States Department of Justice, “The Family Justice Center Initiative awarded more than $20 million since October 2003 to 15 communities across the country for the planning, development, and establishment of comprehensive domestic violence victim service and support centers. The Initiative is administered by the Office on Violence Against Women.” This funding only encourages this social mindset, as shelters for women are erected in the name of safeguarding our women and children.
These laws instituted to protect women against domestic violence and enforce them have backfired. It has started a cycle that has violently spun out of control. Restraining orders meant to protect women are being used as weapons, allowing the woman to simply claim abuse, and then retreat with the children. Child Support agencies all over the country hunt down men assuming they are “dead beat dads”. Such a statement in and of itself is a derogatory and abusive statement. Where are the “dead beat moms”? Apparently it isn’t as catchy a phrase. Men have been arrested and held on claims before there is a trial, while they are evicted from homes, which snowballs into a devastating downturn of loss of custody, and loss of employment.
Child Support agencies are given immunity similar to the FBI and CIA, and their power has become its own generator. They are entitled to enforce support however they see fit, utilizing resources that seem to be hypocritical in their intent. A man’s license to drive can be revoked. Without a license, gaining employment is nearly impossible in today’s society. Without employment, there is inability to pay, and inability to survive or maintain living quarters and expenses. If a man is lucky enough to gain employment, and lucky enough to find shelter, then his pay is allowed to be garnished in order to cover back support. Often times such a diminishment of pay is so great that the man can barely survive. Another downward spiral towards homelessness and starvation begins, and inevitably there is loss of employment, which means no child support payments and a loss of license and a warrant for arrest. This cycle leaves the man with inability to get custody of the children. It is the perfect weapon for women to be abusive, even if the abuse is mutual. The misfortune is that men understand how this works and when it is recited as a threat, it is so great a threat, men turn there heads and say nothing about the abuse they undergo themselves.
It is rare a man will go to the police over a dispute, an officer of the law may snicker at his circumstance, and undermine the seriousness. Out of all the research that has been done, and all of the statistics that are published to the public, how can we possibly use them as evidence as more violence being done against women. The CDC conducted a telephone survey which included 8000, men and 8000 women. The National Institute of Justice Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a claim that “According to survey estimates, approximately 1.5 million women and 834,700 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.”
This research published in 1998 demonstrates that more women were abused by men, yet they are inaccurate to say the least. The disturbing part of statistics gathered by this research is that women may be more likely to admit abuse due to social and cultural mindsets. One is left to question just how many men of those 8,000 were abused and said nothing about abuse that they were actually experiencing.
Our media portrays women beating men as humorous, or as an act of defense made against the increasingly powerful woman. Sitcoms, like “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Married With Children”, and “Home Improvement” as well as others highlight the humor of insults towards men. As a result of media men may begin to downplay a personal abusive situation as no big deal, simply through desensitization.
If we are blind-sighted by bias, then we have no hope of changing the devastating effects of domestic violence. Women, men and children are victims of domestic violence, and it is something that effects all of us. The scale of justice must be balanced and funds must be put in place to assist battered men and develop men’s shelters. A clear definition of domestic violence needs to be obtained. Programs need to be developed with a goal of education without targeting men. Counseling programs need to be made accessible to and enforced in men and women. The focus of these programs need to teach healthy communications, self empowerment, family dynamics, anger management, and responsibility, instead of blame. At the very least these programs can balance the scale and begin society can begin to finally see that domestic violence is truly a social epidemic and that is really is ageless and sexless.
List of Sources
Hoff, Bert H.
Battered Men – The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence Batterer Treatment Programs: The Faulty Duluth Model.
Mills, Ami Chen.
Sex, Pain & Politics: California lawmakers have adopted an aggressive feminist agenda to make men who abuse women Public Enemy Number One.
Tjaden, Patricia and Thoennes, Nancy
Prevalence,Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey (NCJ 172837)
National Institute of Justice Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Office of Violence Against Women
The Family Justice Center Initiative.
United States DEpartment of Justice