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October 21, 2005

Comments

Caitriona

Although I understand the concerns of the MRAs when it comes to documentaries such as this one, I believe that the public has had their heads buried in the sand for far too long when it comes to abuse. While most fathers are good men, one of the tragedies of our legal system is that some of the abusive fathers are suave enough to fool the courts, resulting in children having to live with further abuse.

There are only two reasons I've ever seen for a child to cry parental abuse - 1) the child is *extremely* angry with the parent whom s/he is accusing, or 2) the abuse is actually happening. It is a difficult job, but it is the responsibility of the legal system to determine which of the 2 cases it is.

When my parents seperated, I was lucky enough that my mother was awarded sole custody. I was unlucky enough that my father had monthly visitation. My mother's POV was that no matter what, he was my father and I should love him. My father, on the other hand, "dug his own grave" with his words and actions.

Because I have seen that end of things, it is difficult for me to understand why the MRAs don't lobby for some sort of guidelines to be put into place to protect children from abusive parents, whether the abuser is the father or the mother. They state that they are concerned for the children. If they're so concerned for the children, then they should be acting for the *children*, not for themselves.
bg

stanton

Hugo - I hear you, and I agree that hyperbole is a huge barrier to communication and understanding. Both sides could take a step back and look at themselves in that regard. I consciously try to avoid it myself, but I know I blow it at times.

Not having seen the program in question, I have to ask whether or not the use of expressions such as "assault" is the only criticism you have for Glenn. Had he used less inflammatory language, would his concerns have seemed valid to you? What was he complaining about? My impression, just from what you wrote, is that it made the abusers out to be virtually 100% male. True? Does this reflect the reality of the situation?

Caitriona: I don't know any MRAs who wish to protect child abusers. As far as I know, we would all be fine with locking them up until their kids are grown, and when they are released, give their kids permanent immunity from prosecution for any future offense they may commit against the jerk. This is for proven abuse, of course, following due process. Not for just any new accusations that suddenly arise in the heat of a divorce battle. Do you know MRAs who wish to protect abusers?

Hugo

Stanton, I chose to focus on Glenn's words because I haven't seen the documentary. But unless the video itself was slapping and beating men, I'm nonetheless confident that the term "assault" was inappropriate rhetorical overkill. More than that, it's symptomatic of what I see as an unsavory (and thankfully not universal) MRA tactic -- appropriating victim language despite very little evidence that men, as a class, are systematically victimized.

stanton

I understand your concern, though "assault" is commonly used metaphorically in English. There are assaults on many things these days: the senses, the first amendment, the environment, the constitution, Precinct 13, Social Security, and much more. A secondary definition of the verb "assault" is actually "to attack in speech or writing". I doubt that the word was chosen to preempt female victims of literal assaults, coming from Glenn. But hey - as long as you chastise feminists for their hyperbole as well as MRAs, then I have no quarrel with your stand.

Did anyone out there see the program?

Caitriona

Stanton, I don't think most MRAs wish to protect abusers, but it does seem to me that many of the more vocal MRAs are so obsessed with "fathers' rights" that they neglect to insure that "children's rights," the right to a safe home, are safeguarded. Some sort of training needs to be given to the judges, some safety net put into place, to deal with those few cases where one of the parents is abusive. Something needs to be in place to protect the children.

Rainbow

Many PBS stations are NOT showing this documentary.
It was not even shown in New York City last night. It won't be shown in NYC until November 20 at noon, not exactly primetime. The MRAs have been fairly successful in their latest "assault" against women and children, many of whom have already been assaulted many times before by the "men" in their lives. Thank you for at least posting this controversary. So much for breaking the silence. You think the MRAs would at least allow the other point of view to be heard. Women who have been financially broken by estranged, abusive men do not have the resources to flood PBS affiliates with calls, letters or finance press releases. No wonder more and more women are afraid to leave their abusers or certainly dare not file for child support. All the pretty lectures about feminism mean nothing when you live in fear for life and the lives of you children.

Pat

Hugo, when people refer to "man-bashing" in a class they are not referring to physical violence. It is in reference to constant put downs towards males that have little merit and do nothing to advance any issues. Your argument in this section of your blog was a weak one.

stanton

Does anyone have any idea WHY there were protests about this program? No one has addressed this yet. Rainbow - in your experience, is the feminist perspective not being heard in America today? I believe they are better financed than MRAs by orders of magnitude.

Hugo - do you see any hyperbole here that may warrant some words of admonishment?

Rainbow

Why are the MRAs supporting a court system that allows an abusive father to control and abuse innocent children? Do they really believe all of the children in the documentary are lying? including Joe Torre, manager of the Yankees? Good fathers should be in the forefront of releasing abused children and letting them get away from abusers.

Rainbow

To Stanton -- Mothers are not being heard. Women who devote themselves primarily to motherhood and homemaking are not respected.

stanton

Geez, Rainbow! You have not been paying attention. Fixing up the lousy family court system is one of the top MRA priorities. Believe it or not, abusive mothers get custody too sometimes. Abusive mothers kidnap children after losing custody. Abusive mothers drill their kids to lie to the courts about their fathers. It is not a gender thing, other than when it comes to sexist turf wars. Fixing the family courts does not mean that one gender suddenly gets it all. It means that gender is no longer a factor in decisions - the children are the priority. It means that visitation is enforced - not just the support payments. It means that a parent does not get to move the child far away from the non-custodial parent for their own convenience. And yes - it means that abusers do not get custody, nor do they get unsupervised visitation. Listen up! We wanted this fixed long before the feminists tried to make it their issue. But we welcome your participation to the battle, late as you are. That is - if you can remember that it's about the kids - it's not a nice new platform for making men the bad guys.

bmmg39

"You think the MRAs would at least allow the other point of view to be heard."

You're kidding, right?

The "other point of view" ("men beat up their women and children") is the ONLY view being heard. And I use the word "view" loosely, because most or all of what they're saying is true. The problem is that, again, female-on-male and mother-on-child abuse, also rampant, are being ignored. It's a sin of omission.

Calling light to abusive fathers/husbands, in and of itself, is a good thing, but you're dropping the ball as a society if you never mention the other scenarios. And our point is that society, indeed, is dropping the ball.

boy genteel
www.vawa4all.org

stanton

"Women who devote themselves primarily to motherhood and homemaking are not respected."

Not respected by whom? I have heard some pretty shrill feminist vitriol aimed at them (but not lately, I admit), but I have not heard any men giving them a hard time, MRA or otherwise. Just where do you see this disrespect?

Rainbow

If you respect free speech; if you respect the rights of children, then allow the PBS stations to air this program. Write to PBS and thank them for airing the point of view of abused children and the mothers who have tried to protect them, who have been silenced in this country for way too long. If your PBS station did not air this program last night when it was scheduled for showing, call and write them asking to please allow children to tell their stories. NO MORE ABUSED CHILDREN; no more children watching their mothers taking constant abuse, Please G-d.

stanton

Rainbow, it sounds to me as if this is a program that shows fathers as the bad guy every time. How would you feel about a followup program that was exclusively about mothers abusing their chidren? Will you write a letter to PBS and demand that they produce such a program? Will you give voice to the children and fathers in this category that have been so profoundly silenced that some even claim that they don't exist? NO MORE MOTHER ABUSE OF CHILDREN; no more children watching their fathers take constant abuse, Please G-d. Will you write that letter?

Rainbow

I read a post from the producer of the documentary that he originally planned to include abused fathers and children but since the court cases and the children he met overwhelming had abused mothers he did not feel it would be statistically accurate to include abused fathers.

Uzzah

One of the most unpleasant tactics of the Men's Rights Movement has been to appropriate "victim language". MRAs talk incessantly about being "assaulted", either literally by women or figuratively by a court system that they see as hopelessly biased in favor of mothers.

Unfortunately everyone in this country seems to cry victim sometime or another. It's certainly not limited to MRA's. As a society we glorify being a victim. The term grabs headlines and loosens taxpayer pocketbooks. How many threads here have devolved into who's the biggest victim?

What I can't stand is when groups that claim victim status conveniently ignore issues that might weaken their status as victim.

The PBS show is just an example. Family violence is not limited exclusively to men. All here know it. But to some, saying that is heresy. The family court system is another similar issue. Women know the inequities of the family court system but conveniently ignore the fairness of it because in the majority of cases it benefits women. To admit it weakens their "victim status". To hell with fairness and equality if it benefits me.

Someone made a comment the other day that, sometimes the oppressed take on the mannerisms of their oppressor. Still doesn't make it right.

I might also add, that fixing the family courts wouldn't be nearly as difficult if judges would weed out and prosecute false claims of familial abuse. It's a well known and much abused tool in Texas Family Courts. Unscroupulous women (and men) make real abuse issues harder to recognize and deal with appropriately in the court arena. That would truly help children.

FP

Well stated Uzzah.

Hugo: "One of the most unpleasant tactics of the Men's Rights Movement has been to appropriate "victim language". "

Uhm, so you don't like that your enemies have co-opted your weapons and used them against you? Seems like fair play to me..

The Countess

Thanks for the link and the post, Hugo. The documentary is an important one that needs to be aired.

It's specifically about how mothers who are victims of abuse themselves who are trying to protect their children from abuse are punished by the legal system. Abusers continue their abuse by using the court system as a weapon against their ex's and the children. Yes, abusive fathers are winning custody of their children because of a widespread belief that mothers often "alienate" their children from their fathers, despite Parental Alienation Syndrome being junk science that is not recognized as valid by the American Psychological Association. Fathers' rights activists often spread the lie that mothers mostly lie about domestic violence and child abuse in order to get back at their ex's. Bona fide false allegations of abuse are rare - only 2 - 8% of all cases are false.

Friendly parent theory that has made it into the court system also punishes protective mothers. Friendly parent theory awards custody of the child to the parent who supposedly is most likely to support the relationship between the child and the other parent. Abusive mothers are seen as being "unfriendly", and therefore they lose custody.

I know two of the women whose cases were covered in the documentary. The entire situation is horrendous, and this documentary provides much needed education towards airing the problem.

Regarding the lobbying fathers' rights activists have been doing to get PBS to give their concerns equal time, their point of view is already out there. Their point of view already gets media coverage. The point of view of the abused mothers who are trying to protect their children, yet are losing custody despite that, has not been heard and it needs to be heard. Besides, there is nothing that requires that PBS give fathers' rights views of the issue equal airing. That would be like requiring PBS to provide "equal time" for Holocaust deniers after airing a documenary about the Holocaust. Fathers' rights claims that men and women are equally abusive and that women frequently lie about abuse to get an upper hand in court are false. The research out there already has proven that. There is no need to provide "equal time" for views that have no basis in fact.

From The American Judges Association: "Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases."

Another fact: "Abusive fathers are far more likely than nonabusive parents to fight for child custody, not pay child support, and kidnap children." [White, Ann C., The Florida Bar Journal, Vol LXVIII, No. 9, citing Hansen, Marsali, and Michele Harway, Battering and Family Therapy 175 (1993); Grieg, Geoffrey L. and Rebecca Hegar, "Parents Whose Children Are Abducted by the Other Parent: Implications for Treatment," 19 American Journal of Family Therapy 215, 221 (1991); Zorza Joan, "Protection for Battered Women and Children," 27 Clearing House Rev. 1437 (1994).]


bmmg39

Countess: " Besides, there is nothing that requires that PBS give fathers' rights views of the issue equal airing. That would be like requiring PBS to provide 'equal time' for Holocaust deniers after airing a documenary about the Holocaust."

Shame on you.

"Fathers' rights claims that men and women are equally abusive and that women frequently lie about abuse to get an upper hand in court are false. The research out there already has proven that."

Only self-serving, fatally flawed "research" proves that.

The truth is like a pot of boiling water. Try to keep it shut and the pressure will only increase until it explodes. The truth about domestic abuse is finally beginning to find its way through the cracks, whether you like it or not.

bg
Stop violence against women AND men.
www.safe4all.org

Uzzah

Fathers' rights claims that men and women are equally abusive and that women frequently lie about abuse to get an upper hand in court are false. The research out there already has proven that. There is no need to provide "equal time" for views that have no basis in fact.

Which is the biggest lie? Claiming that men and women are equally abusive, or that women are never abusive. Denying that women pull the abuse card in court (as do men) is naive at best, dishonest at worst. Anyone that has ever spent time with a divorce lawyer knows this.


From The American Judges Association: "Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases."

Does this indicate that Judges and Police authorities are completely clueless in 70% of cases? Or does it actually point to the fact that many accusations of "battering" are false (spell that perjury).

Trish, one of the reasons I avoid blogs like yours is that your statements, and those of many of your posters seem to follow a pattern. Men are the root of both women's problems and men's own problems. Women never contribute to their own problems or create problems for others. Women are never vindictive, or abusive. And if they are, the men in their lives somehow deserve it. And if these men did nothing to deserve it, then they are guilty by association. And of course, my favorite; women are just innocent victims in all this. An oppressed class. Any facts or statistics disproving to the latter are lies. And of course there is no reason to provide "equal time" since they are lies and have "no basis in fact". So you are wrong for even examining the issue.

If you are so sure of your position, let in the light of day. Even if 8% of abuse allegations are false, that is a staggering number. Don't you think that deserves some recognition? Even your statement about Parental Alienation Syndrome being junk denies the problem that some mothers (and fathers) do actually brainwash their children into hating the other parent for hateful and vindictive reasons.

I can't say how pervasive it is. But these things do happen. Undeniably.

The Countess

At the risk of someone yelling "Godwin's Law" ;) - bmmg, for fathers' rights activists to demand that PBS air their side of the story would be like demanding PBS air a documentary created by Holocaust deniers in response to a documentary aired by PBS about the Holocaust. Fathers' rights views about domestic violence and child abuse are not supported by valid research. PBS is not obligated to present their side of the story, in part because it isn't obligated to do any such thing, and also in part because fathers' rights views are not supported by valid research.

Uzzah, I never said that women are never abusive. There are men who are abused by women, but those abused men are greatly outnumbered by the men who abuse women. No one said that women are never abusive. Fathers' rights activists often proclaim that women and men are equally abusive. Even one of the researchers of the Conflict Tactic Scales, which is the research cited by those who claim that men and women are equally abusive, has criticized fathers' and men's rights activists who have misrepresented the CTS. Researcher Richard Gelles, who one one of the researchers who created the CTS, said that [W]hen we look at injuries resulting from violence involving male and female partners, it is categorically false to imply that there are the same number of "battered" men as there are battered women. Research shows that nearly 90 percent of battering victims are women and only about ten percent are men."

From The American Judges Association: "Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases."

Uzzah: "Does this indicate that Judges and Police authorities are completely clueless in 70% of cases? Or does it actually point to the fact that many accusations of "battering" are false (spell that perjury)."

It's clear what that indicates. It indicates that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody. They use "alienation" and friendly parent theory, plus harassing their victims through repeated malicious litigation to get their way. The documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" highlights cases in which exactly that has happened.

It is not a fact that many accusations of battering are false. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, "The Sexual Abuse Allegation Project: Final Report" has found that "false charges are infrequent, and every allegation must be taken seriously."

According to the two best and largest studies on the subject, false allegations of sexual abuse are rare -- in the range of 2 to 8 percent [1,2]. That means the other 92%-98% are meritorious, and this 92%-98% comprised the 152,400 *substantiated* cases on record for 1993 alone [3] (and, bearing in mind that child sexual abuse is a highly *underreported* crime, these are just the cases we know about).

1. Thoennes N, Tjaden PG: The extent, nature, and validity of sexual abuse allegations in custody/visitation disputes. Child Abuse & Neglect 14: 151-163, 1990.

2. Everson MD, Boat BW: False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 28: 230-235, 1989.

3. McCurdy K, Daro D: Current trends in child abuse reporting and fatalities: The results of the 1993 annual fifty state survey. Chicago: NCPCA, 1994.

The extensive study of 1,249 allegations by Everson and Boat found a false allegation rate of 1.6% for children under 3 years of age, 1.7% for children aged 3 to 6, 4.3% for children aged 6 to 12, and 8% for adolescents (for an age-averaged rate of 4.7%).

"Why Attorneys Should Routinely Screen Clients for Domestic Violence", By Pauline Quirion, Esq., has shown that "the high frequency with which RO's [sic] are issued might lead some skeptics to assume that these orders are granted too easily for minor offenses and almost any man is at risk of being a defendant. The data from the new RO database in Massachusetts reflect otherwise. Men against whom RO's have been used are clearly not a random draw from the population. They are likely to have a criminal history, often reflective of violent behavior toward others. Research suggests that false reports of family violence occur infrequently. Although many believe that women especially will lodge false charges of child abuse or battering against their spouses in an effort to manipulate or retaliate, the rate of false reports in these circumstances is no greater than for other crimes. Most batterers minimize and deny the frequency and severity of their abusive conduct. Similarly, victims often underreport and may minimize the abuse."

So, the research shows that your claim that "many" allegations of battery (and child abuse, for that matter) are false.

Uzzah: Saying that I believe that "[m]en are the root of both women's problems and men's own problems. Women never contribute to their own problems or create problems for others. Women are never vindictive, or abusive. And if they are, the men in their lives somehow deserve it. And if these men did nothing to deserve it, then they are guilty by association. And of course, my favorite; women are just innocent victims in all this. An oppressed class."

I have never said anything like that, nor do I believe it. You are projecting your own prejudices onto me. For some reason, people like yourself view domestic violence, child abuse, custody cases, and the court system as a zero-sum game. People like me must believe that only men are abusers and never victims. That's nonsense. I recognize that the majority of abusers are male, but that does not mean that I believe all men are abusers. I suggest you actually read what I write on my blog, and not project your own biases onto what I write.

To get back to the topic, it was important that PBS air "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". It was important that PBS not bow down to pressure from fathers' rights groups. The documentary is airing and it has aired. Stories about abused children who have been awarded by the courts to their abusive fathers need public attention, and PBS provided it, much to the rage of fathers' rights activists. Those protective mothers do not get much media attention, and it's about time they did. PBS provided it for them. I have also learned that the documentary is going to be aired in a special showing in Michigan for key legislators. It's important that legislators get educated about how the court system treats abused mothers and abused children. This documentary is one way to do that.

bmmg39

Trish: "Researcher Richard Gelles, who one one of the researchers who created the CTS..."

I am beginning to think that this one Gelles essay is in the handbook for those of you who deny the equality among domestic abuse cases. I've addressed this argument by Gelles before. THIS WEEK, in fact. So, as I am pleased with my response that day, I think it will work equally well here. Allow me to refer you to a quotation from that Gelles essay:

"A battered man is one who is physically injured by a wife or partner and has not physically struck or psychologically provoked her."

That's a rather tight definition, wouldn't you say? Imagine if I argued that a woman isn't really battered if she "psychologically provoked" her husband first. That would be the "she brought it on herself" argument that was popular, oh, forty to fifty years ago with regard to battered women ... but battered men still hear with regard to themselves.

The article refers to serious injury. Not even to mention the men who go to the emergency room with "carpentry accidents" that were really attacks from their wives, I had thought that one doesn't need to send another person to the E/R in order to have committed abuse.

It's also interesting that you take this one example from Gelles, when plenty of other works he has written call attention to the same things that I do. Here's one really good one. You may not like the website it's on, but you will find that it was originally submitted to THE WOMEN'S QUARTERLY:

"The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence: Male Victims"
http://www.ncfmla.org/gelles.html

Here is a notable excerpt from THAT Gelles article:

"My colleague Murray Straus has found that every study among more than 30 describing some type of sample that is not self-selective (an example of self-selected samples are samples of women in battered woman shelters or women responding to advertisements recruiting research subjects; non-select selective samples are community samples, samples of college students, or representative samples) has found a rate of assault by women on male partners that is about the same as the rate by men on female partners."

Here is another that reiterates my criticism of VAWA:

"The real horror is the continued status of battered men as the 'missing persons' of the problem. Male victims do not count and are not counted. The Federal Violence against Women Act identified as a gender crime. None of the nearly billion dollars of funding from this act is directed towards male victims. Some 'Requests for Proposals' from the U.S. Justice Department specifically state that research on male victims or programs for male victims will not even be reviewed, let alone funded. Federal funds typically pass to a state coalition against or to a branch of a state agency designated to deal with violence against women."

And here is his conclusion:

"Given the body of research on that finds continued unexpectedly high rates of violence toward men in intimate relations, it is necessary to reframe as something other than a 'gender crime' or example of 'patriarchal coercive control.' Protecting only the female victim and punishing only the male offender will not resolve the tragedy and costs of domestic violence. While this is certainly not a politically correct position, and is a position that will almost certainly ignite more personal attacks against me and my colleagues, it remains clear to me that the problem is violence between intimates not violence against women. Policy and practice must address the needs of male victims if we are to reduce the extent and toll of violence in the home."

Also, I point out that Gelles is one of those who have endorsed our bid to make the Violence Against Women Act completely gender-neutral:

http://www.vawa4all.org/endorsements.asp

And, Trish, I'm POSITIVE that one or many of us have referred you to these 174 (the number has increased over time) studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate that women initiate DV against men approximately as often as the reverse occurs:

http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

I don't see Gelles' name on all 174, either. Not even close.

Trish: "I recognize that the majority of abusers are male, but that does not mean that I believe all men are abusers."

Speaking for myself, I have read your blog and understand that. I know you're not implying that all abusers are men or vice versa; I am disagreeing with your selective use of literature to imply that the vast MAJORITY of abusers are men. Even Gelles, whom you cite, points out that male victims ARE NOT COUNTED.

boy genteel
www.vawa4all.org

MRAguy101

Boy Genteel is kicking Trish 'The psycho bitch' Wilson's ass! hah

The Countess

bmmg, the CTS isolates individual physical "hits" out of the context of the abusive incident and the abusive relationship. Abuse is about much more than a hit and a punch. There is an entire cycle of abuse that the CTS conveniently ignores. This is a portion of
Measuring The Extent of Woman Abuse in Intimate Heterosexual Relationships: A Critique of the Conflict Tactics Scales", by Walter Dekeseredy and Martin Schwartz:

Many social scientists consider CTS data "probably the best available when it comes to estimating the incidence and prevalence of woman abuse in the population at large" (Smith, 1987, p. 177). Yet, quite a large number of researchers have criticized the CTS for the following reasons:

* The CTS rank orders behaviors in a linear fashion, from least serious to most serious. In doing so, it incorrectly assumes that psychological abuse and the first three violence items (e.g., slaps) are automatically less injurious than the items in the severe violence index. Many strongly object to creating what Liz Kelly (1987) calls a "hierarchy of abuse based on seriousness" because emotional abuse is often experienced as more harmful than physical violence (Chang, 1996; Kirkwood, 1993), and a slap can often draw blood or break teeth.

* The CTS works from an ideological base that presumes that violence is family-based, rather seeing the issue as one of male violence directed toward women.

* The CTS only asks about several specific types of abuse, but does not ask about many others. Many researchers fear that respondents will not report abuse that is not asked about, such as scratches, burns, and sexual assault.

* The methodology of the CTS is simply to count the raw number of violent acts committed. What it cannot tell us is why people use violence. Thus, CTS data almost always report men and women as equally violent, and thereby miss the fact they use violence for different reasons. Women use violence for a variety of reasons, but a common one is to defend themselves. Men typically use violence to control their female partners (DeKeseredy, Saunders, Schwartz, & Alvi, 1997; Ellis & Stuckless, 1996).

* The CTS only situates violence and verbal aggression/psychological abuse in the context of settling conflicts or disputes (note again the preamble above). In doing this, it ignores a large number of control-instigated assaults that do not have their root in conflicts or disputes. Even worse, it may miss attacks that "come out of the blue" with no external reason or dispute to mediate. These attacks, whether physical or verbal violence, may be as or more highly injurious as those that stem from conflicts or disputes. The CTS, although it may accurately count numbers of blows struck, overlooks the broader social psychological and social forces (e.g., patriarchy) that motivate men to abuse their female partners.

---

More from the same paper:

As suggested above, the CTS does not provide adequate answers to this question. Much worse is that many people think that the answers the CTS provides do in fact deal with this question. The data that arise from the use of the CTS are commonly, and problematically, used to show that violence in relationships is "sexually symmetrical" (Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, & Daly, 1992). In other words, by simply counting the number of blows struck, the data appear to show that women are just as, if not more, violent than men. Unfortunately, this crude methodology can hide as much or more than it can illuminate (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1993).

These problems can be avoided by including questions about motives, meanings, and contexts in different sections of the CTS or CTS2. For example, DeKeseredy and Kelly (1993) placed the following three questions after both the first three and the last six violence items in the CTS, as part of a national study to measure the prevalence of violence in Canadian university and college dating:

On (the following) items, what percentage of these times overall do you estimate that in doing these actions you were primarily motivated by acting in self-defense, that is protecting yourself from immediate physical harm?

On (the following) items, what percentage of these times overall do you estimate that in doing these actions you were trying to fight back in a situation where you were not the first to use these or similar tactics?

On (the following) items, what percentage of these times overall do you estimate that you used these actions on your dating partners before they actually attacked you or threatened to attack you?

In analyzing the data generated by these questions, DeKeseredy et al. (1997) did not find support for the sexual symmetry thesis. Rather, a substantial number of women reported that their violence was in self-defense or "fighting back." These findings are consistent with Saunders’ (1986) study of battered women. Thus far, the sexual symmetry thesis has only been supported by those using crude measures, such as the CTS with no further questioning.

The most important point of this paper is that the bulk of the research in this field has simply counted blows (who hit whom, and how often). The CTS2 speaks to one context issue (but only one) by asking about injury. A light slap may be different than one that jars loose several teeth. A push out of the way is different than a push down a flight of stairs. However, the survey still does not easily differentiate between a victim fighting back for her life, a survivor retaliating, and an instigator of violence without cause. All are considered violent. Even the more recent strategy of asking who struck the first blow (purportedly to tell who is the aggressor and who is fighting in self-defense) can be hard to place in context. When a woman has been beaten 30 times in the past and knows from her husband’s behavior that a beating is coming within minutes, and further knows that if she strikes first she will end up being hurt less, does that mean that the violence is the woman’s fault?

Thus, both versions of the CTS have serious limitations. However, this does not mean that researchers should not use them, only that their studies will be flawed if they use the CTS or CTS2 as the sole measure of abuse. What are required, then, are multiple measures of abuse.

---

By the way, bmmg, Fiebert's list has already been discredited. All of the studies he cites rely almost solely on the CTS. The CTS, as I have shown, has serious problems in the way it tabulates abuse. While it has its uses, it should not be misused to "prove" that women and men are equally abusive.


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