Thursday, June 3, 2010

Domestic Violence (DV) more complicated than myths

Here are the facts. Nearly 250 scholarly studies (including studies by Statistics Canada) show women are at least as likely to initiate or engage with equal vigour in DV as men. Only 5.5% of all DV conforms to the gender paradigm of violent males who gratuitously batter non-violent females, and almost all of those men are extremely psychologically damaged (or culturally driven, a whole other ball game from normative DV). Self-defence accounts for only 10%-20% of female partner aggression. Fewer than 1% — not 22%, as often claimed — of emergency room visits by women are for DV assaults. False allegations of abuse, rarely punished, are at least as ruinous to men’s lives as actual abuse is to women’s. (Barbara Kay, National Post, June 3, 2010)
Domestic Violence, one of the most heinous of situations for police to investigate, and certainly one of the most heinous for family members to experience. And the myths that have grown up surrounding this horrible dynamic are just as horrendous as the physical pain that victims of both genders suffer.
I am a survivor of domestic violence, being on the receiving end of physical, sexual and emotional abuse until eighteen, at the hands and larynx and psyche of a troubled mother. And my father, the partner who "did not know what to do about the situation" was found in the middle of the night, behind the jacket-heater with a .22 pointed at his head, because he was at his "wit's end" in the situation. I was 12 that night and for 52 years, until his death, not a single word was ever spoken in our family to discuss the moment, its causes or its consequences. It was the great "family secret." This is the first time it has been disclosed publicly, both parents now being deceased.
Women as perpetrators of violence is not a myth.
Men as perpetrators of violence in not a myth, either.
What is a myth is that men are the single cause of family violence.
It is always much more complicated than that. And yet, our compulsion for simple explanations, supported by the facts of a larger body, and more muscular strength of the man, has brought us to the point where myths have to be debunked.
Men have to own their full share of responsibility for domestic violence, and so do women, something that has not been the case for far too long. And as long as both parties inflict physical, emotional and sexual abuse, without taking responsibility for their part, whether by overt or by covert attitudes, decisions and actions, the victims will show up in our hospitals, courts, classrooms, churches and morgues. And the myth of male "violence" and abuse of women, exclusively, will continue.
Let's hope there will be ownership and acknowledgement and a sharing of respsonibility for Domestic Violence between both men and women, at the conference on the subject in London this week.

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