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January 05, 2006



The new VAWA includes a minor improvement...

"(8) NONEXCLUSIVITY- Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title."

...but it will be meaningless if the 35% or so victims who happen to be male (statistic courtesy of none other than the Violence Against Women Act survey itself) continue to be discriminated against.

No, Hugo. We're not against victims receiving help. We just want to ensure that ALL of them get it.

boy genteel
Men's Rights = Women's Rights = Human Rights


I have no quarrel with that clause, b. And as we've all said so many times, that 35% number is misleading -- when we look at cases of severe domestic violence, the sort that lead folks to seek out a shelter, the number is far, far lower than that.


So violence against men is legitimate?

By the way, with the war in the Middle East still going on, perhaps someone can tell me where feminists are on Selective Service? I assume they are demanding that women be registered for the draft? I assume feminists want an affirmative action draft?


This feminist has seen violent women and violence against men and think it's utterly not legitimate. And is anti-draft in general... However, I'd support draft of women as long as, if there was a family involved, only one partner was drafted. No parentless children.

The reason, alexander, that there's a movement towards preventing violence against women specifically is that - even by your statistics - there's more of it against women in society. The violence has a different language for women than for men, on average. (Ann Coulter is the one with the majority of hate-rape fantasies against her, not Bill O'Reilly...) Also, on average, we're smaller and are easier targets.
These are averages.
There are some women who believe that women cannot be violent and hurt/batter men. I agree that education needs to be done about those issues. There's a bunch of issues that male battery and rape have to confront that women's battery and rape DON'T have to confront, and I think it's valid to talk about that: the "you were hit by a girl?" mockery; the idea that somehow women are more "nurturant" and "empathetic", and so couldn't be abusers; the "any man would love to have sex, whatcha bitchin' about" bullshit; machismo; angel in the house; etc. Also, some women who have been repeatedly hurt are going to have a hard time understanding how any of these guys who are in constant power over them are vulnerable to that. So, yah, I've heard disbelief sometimes.

I think we need to be really respectful that there are different issues in our society for men who have been hurt by women, and women that are hurt by men. It's not the same cultural issue, though. The fact that female abuse of men exists is a hard issue, and I think one some feminists are talking about (there are a lot of us that are working against the stereotypes of maleness); it's not one all feminists are going to be talking about because there are more women who are deeply hurt, and there are other things, like economics and all the chicks on all the magazine covers, that are utterly overwhelming.


Arwen said: "The reason, alexander, that there's a movement towards preventing violence against women specifically is that - even by your statistics - there's more of it against women in society."

I think you will find Arwen that men are more likely to be victims of violence in our societys, have a look at the stats. Just because it's men attacking men does not make the victim less of a victim.

Apart from that part, thankyou for recognising that violence is an issue for men that does get easyly dismissed.



If you look at statistics on violence in general (not just domestic violence) - it is quite clear that men are more often than not the victims. But if you also look at who is perpetrating all of this violence - again it is by far other men. The problem with looking at this issue is that it is not, as has been discussed previously, an equal issue for men and women. It should be an equal issue when you are dealing with a victim however. In the work I do with batterers (99.9% male) many of them talk about being the victim. But once we start to get into their stories we find that some have been yelled at, called names, and maybe even physically attacked. But almost all of the time it is as a result of their partner defending herself or of their wife or girlfriend "encouraging" an attack by him to get it over with - because she knows its coming. By the way I'm not saying that her attackng him is right - but you need to think of it in context. I also ask the men I work with if they ever feared for their lives when they were being attacked - most of the time they say "no". Most of the time, women victims do. There is the main difference.
What I would like to see father's rights folks do is admit that men's violence against women is more prevalent and more damaging. AND, to really work WITH anti-violence folks to make sure that male victims get the services they need.
By the way the organization I work for also does alot of support work with men - even with male victims (usually of childhood abuse). And, the batterers program will work with female heterosexual batterers (and gay and lesbian batterers). We've only worked with one female heterosexual batterer in the 16 years we've been doing this work. Most aggressive females end up being identified as victims or go to our anger management classes.
'nuff said.


Sorry Wookie: should have clarified - I was specifically talking about domestic and partner abuse, since I thought that's what Alexander was addressing and what the bill was about. (I don't know much about what's happening in American Law.)

Actually, I was talking about female abuse of males domestially - since the issue of gender does bring with it other issues. But I forgot the situation of gay domestic abuse, which probably gets bad stereotypes from both gendered discussions. Yargh.

I was making the case that male violence against female family has a different bag of issues than female violence against male family, because in each of those situations, a whole bunch of stereotypes that exist in the wider culture get introduced to a very personal situation. The woman abused by the man hears rape-as-punishment stories that add to her burden. The man abused by the woman hears "you were beaten by a GURL?" jokes which adds to his burden. Both are in personal relationships in which there is a violent power dynamic, but there are different painful messages that they have to work through.

I trust your stat that men are more often the victims of violence. I think removing gender changes the dialogue, and we move away from beaten-by-a-girl & needs-a-real-man. I think that obliterating our dependence on violence or working with it constructively is definitely a worthwhile cultural goal. I must admit I'm wary of entering a lot of discussions around male to male societal violence - the most prevelant kind: from schoolyard brawls to bar brawls, I've heard a lot of "I wouldn't understand" and "testosterone" and "outlets" and "evolutionary biology" and that oft-repeated, deeply hated "boys will be boys". I'm a pacifist generally, which is a pretty mocked tradition. However I do tend to see male to male and female to female violence differently than other analogues because there aren't the same issues of gender identity that surround those sorts of violent acts.


Russell; okay, weird position for me to be in, here, as a woman and feminist, but what can you do. Is it a possible hypothesis that the number of female batterers is underreported, for reasons of "we just can't believe it's true"? I would agree that (on average) male spousal partners don't fear for their lives the way female spousal partners do when coping with battery, but might that not mean they're less likely to seek out official avenues? Especially in the face of machismo?

For full disclosure, as a kid I lived with a female who would regularly escalate to violence. In no way would I let off the hook the person she became violent toward in terms of sick dynamics, but he wasn't moving into the realm of physical violence. (They were both nutbags in different ways...) They were not economically dependant, and earned similar amounts. The violence of the woman was often aided because she was smaller: she hurled things, pots, and in one scary instance, an axe.

Now I doubt the man in question really was scared in the same way that she would have been with him. He had a foot's worth of height and 50 more pounds on her. It was still damaging and scary.

I have another friend who's family suffered abuse from a woman. We've talked a lot about how we didn't even know that this home dynamic was POSSIBLE, excepting in cultures not our own that seemed to love a pot-wielding iron-fist-in-velvet-glove matriarch. That matriarch was always funny in some way, though: our situations were scary because they weren't disciplinary, they were raw rage. As female children, we've also had to do a lot of work to seperate out these particular people from our definition of self.

Anyway, it gives me a perspective on female to male violence. At least for our two families, the very idea of reporting to authorities seems strange, like growing a new head, because the perception is that the man can just leave! and he's bigger! and he's stronger! and why is he a pussy? And, to an extent, this is true for more men than women. On the other hand, inner messages often keep people with abusers, even if there's an avenue of escape.

The Happy Feminist

That's an interesting point about the stereotypes surrounding male-on-male violence. I had a case once when I was a prosecutor when three middle aged male board members at a non-profit were having a heated argument pertaining to board politics. One of them suddenly took a large glass vase and hurled it at the other guy-- and then started after the other guy throwing punches. We prosecuted the violent one, who was politically connected in town. Even though the facts were undisputed, it was amazing to me how many people in town came forward to say, "Why are you prosecuting this . . . Boys will be boys . . . You don't understand because you've never been in a playground brawl, blah, blah, blah." Meanwhile, the victim was saying (rightfully), "Boys will be boys, my ass! I shouldn't have to flee in terror from some bully when I'm 45 years old!" So yeah, I'd agree that gender stereotypes play into virtually every kind of violence.

Of course, that's not to say that there shouldn't be a statute like VAWA that addresses intimate partner violence, which has dynamics that are particularly difficult to extricate oneself from over the long haul.


I appreciate your point. I do understand that men would likely be more unwilling to report the violence they had experienced at the hands of a woman. I've thought about this and tried to find ways to reach out to those men. There is also a difference between "intimate partner violence" and child abuse. I am not as sure about statistics, but I imagine - from experience - that there is a higher percentage of women who abuse children than women who abuse their partners. Then, what does this mean for the family system - oppression works "downward" - so is the woman a victim who (inappropriately) then takes power-out on her children? In the work that I do, I dislike the whole idea of either-or, which is the tension I feel all the time from activists on both sides of the issue. This is why I said I would like father's rights folks to consider working WITH violence intervention people. I've tried in my area to reach out the other way, and have been re-buffed. I have also noticed in my region that people who do this work - child welfare organizations, batterered women's programs, etc - are starting to use the term "family violence" in order to move away from the "she's the victim, he should go to jail" thinking. They are starting to acknowledge that you need to work with everyone. And, if the woman has been abusive - look deeply at the situation and get her some help. And for men - the same thing. I have been getting more and more calls from these organizations to help them think about working with men and fathers - whether they are abusive or not. A step in the right direction.


And on the other, other hand, it's important that we don't forget that women:
1) tend to be smaller 2) tend to make less money, and 3) tend to have less social status, as well as being the primary targets for domestic abuse. So I really do want to say that I understand the male->female battery being more immediately life-threatening on average. On average, women also have less resources for extrication.
It's one of those things that shouldn't be an either/or discussion, though. I just want to acknowledge male->female battery, and how often it gets utterly dismissed.


Hah: crossed posts in the air. Thanks, Russell.


Arwen, obviously, great minds think alike....


In my humble opinion, we need to focus on violence period, and not constantly reinforce the "women as victims" stereotype. Violence is violence and should not be tolerated.

I've handled a lot of protective order cases in juvenile court. Women and men are treated very differently.

An example. The other day, a woman went to court to defend herself from a protective order being entered against her by her husband (now separated). She had found out that he had been having an affair. Came home and started swinging at him, but didnt cause any damage.

When wife and husband walked into the court, the judge started lecturing the man. The wife spoke up and said "I'm the defendant."

She admitted hitting husband and said why she did it.

Judge refused to enter a protective order against her. If the roles had been reversed, there is no question that the judge would have entered the protective order. Free pass for the woman.


"The reason, alexander, that there's a movement towards preventing violence against women specifically is that - even by your statistics - there's more of it against women in society."

Some statistics hold that female victims greatly outnumber male victims, some suggest that the two are about equal, and some even suggest that there are MORE male victims than female ones. At the very least, the difference between female victims and male victims is far smaller than I believe you think it is.

In one of my other groups, a woman said she had a son who was constantly being abused by the girl he was dating (both were middle-school age). When the mother went to the school demanding they protect him, she was told that this case wasn't violence because it was a girl acting out against a boy, which is "different" from the reverse. That's the attitude police departments and courts have, which is why you've been led to believe that female-on-male violence is close to non-existent.

Here's a common scenario: husband comes home late from work. Wife yells at him, begins throwing things, begins hitting him. Man calls police. Police arrive, hear both accounts, and (as they've been instructed) arrest the MAN for abuse. Man becomes a "batterer;" woman becomes a "victim."

If the criteria for abuse are so flawed to begin with, then what can you expect to find?

"In the work I do with batterers (99.9% male) many of them talk about being the victim."

Why can't I shake this feeling that figures like "99.9%" are completely made up?

"By the way I'm not saying that her attackng him is right - but you need to think of it in context."

I'm tired of "context" being used to differentiate between male and female aggressors. If someone punches you in the nose, I'm mostly certain you're not worrying about the "context," or why the person did that. Your nose is broken either way.

Sometimes women hit men out of self-defense; sometimes men hit women out of self-defense. Those aren't included in my statistics; I deal with a person INITIATING the physical abuse.

"[Women] 1) tend to be smaller 2) tend to make less money..."

Yeah, and so do I. Both of those are irrelevant, though. A person doesn't have to fear for his or her life to be in need of help. All cases of violence should be treated equally with similar cases: a slap with a slap, a shove with a shove, and a punch with a punch, and we shouldn't bring in a multiplier for the height and weight of the involved parties.

"She admitted hitting husband and said why she did it. Judge refused to enter a protective order against her. If the roles had been reversed, there is no question that the judge would have entered the protective order. Free pass for the woman."

Right. So is there any wonder why so many cases of female-on-male violence go completely unreported? We're told as children to "tell a grown-up" if someone hurts you; when we become older, it's "call the police." And this is how the system treats hundreds of thousands of battered men. VAWA treated battered men as a mere footnote, or the exception to the rule, certainly doesn't help.

Men's Rights = Women's Rights = Human Rights



Excellent post. My experience similiarly suggests that men simply do not report it and when they do, it isnt taken seriously.

Comments like "she didnt really hurt him" and "he cant be afraid of her because she is smaller." Yet, the husband touches wife and she files for a protective order with absolutely no prior history of violence and an admitting minor event: Protective order!!!

Violence should be treated as violence. Period.

Richard Bennett

It's interesting, Hugo, that you can't even get through a three-sentence post on VAWA without attacking men. Where's the spirit of Christian charity?

Men and boys experience more violent crime than women and girls by a huge margin, yet our society doesn't have a "Violence Against Men Act", as any peace-loving society should have. Will you join the evil MRA's in advocating for one, or are you content to simply sit back and bash the small group of people advocating equality and non-violence?

Mr. Bad

bmmg39, spot on. All the qualifiers used to dismiss and excuse female on male violence are insulting and disrespectful of the victims. As another said, the sex of the perps and victims shouldn't matter - helping all victims should be priority #1, but sadly, we have a long history of addressing women's needs and ignoring men's.

Just because men are the majority perps of violence against men shouldn't be an excuse to dismiss men as victims. This is equivalent to justifying ignoring FGM because most of it is perped by women; ignoring back alley abortions because most are perped by women; etc. We wouldn't even consider such things, so why do we do this when men are victimized by other men? I think that the main reason some people do this is their bias against men.

Also, I find the argument that we should give priority to the people who are hurt more or who are more in fear to be disingenuous; those two categories are simply proxies for women in order to give preference to them. It shouldn't matter who is more in fear or hurt more - we should be working to prevent all types of violence, not waiting until people are hurt or 'afraid.' The latter approach is defeatist.

Finally, I think that for at least the near future, if VAWA is signed into law, funds should be taken from VAWA and diverted specifically towards services for men in order to make up for past injustice and discrimination against men in the area of violence prevention and victim services. I'd rather see sexist legislation like VAWA not be approved, but if it must be then it should be used to address the types of past wrongs that men have had to endure as a direct result of previous authorizations of VAWA.

The Gonzman

This is why I said I would like father's rights folks to consider working WITH violence intervention people.

Been tried. Result: "We'll give a perfunctory "acknowledgement" of your problem, and push it to the back burner in perpetuity."

I've heard often from feminists that men need to open their own shelters. Fine and dandy. But please don't bother me then to be concerned about your programs and problems when I am dealing with my own. Sauce for the goose and all...


Richard Bennett: Please don't try to equate "men" with "Men's Rights Activists." Please.

Richard Bennett

I don't know what a "Men's Rights Activist" is, djw - the anti-male "feminists" call me one, but I've never used that label myself. As there really is no such thing as an MRA movement, I can only conclude that the label means "men".


"Men and boys experience more violent crime than women and girls by a huge margin, yet our society doesn't have a "Violence Against Men Act", as any peace-loving society should have."

Just as men and boys are more likely to be the victims of paternity fraud or false charges of rape, but there are no special laws to protect them.

This is why those of us in the men's movement can claim that the "justice" system is rigged against men.


Bmmg, and all the ya! what he said! people - did you miss entirely how Russell and the Happy Feminist and I were discussing violence against men in society and how it shouldn't be an either/or proposition to deal with one or the other? And how we were discussing some of the things that prevent men from being taken seriously?

For crying out loud, I know that female to male abuse happens. I grew up with it; read my post. If you note my discussion with Russell, you'll see that I also wonder about the incidence of reporting, and therefore about the statistics. I'm trying to HELP here.

I'm not going to argue with you who-does-it-more; I'm on your side that there's a problem. If you believe that the main problem is women, then I as a woman, can't help you. And what would your solution be?

Men have different things to deal with in having their violence taken seriously. Some of which you've outlined. Further, this violence is differently treated man to man vs woman to man. There's a shitload of unfortunate and unfair gender politics that men have to deal with, a whole lot of expectations of what "manhood" entails.

Women have a different set of issues to deal with when coping with violence. I'm not going to outline all of them for you, since I'm really getting the sense that you're feeling so unheard that you can't hear; but they are a different set of issues.

I absolutely agree that it's hard for men's complaints to be heard judicially: first, there's the cops, and then there's the judge's prejudice, and on top of all that, there's the man who won't report.

The thing that scares me with Mr. Bad's approach that doesn't take into account level of hurt is that we have worked bloody hard to have domestic violence taken seriously (after all, my Grandfather thought it was part of his *duty* to batter my Grandmother). I'm afraid that the ignorant people who have bullshit stereotypes of men (take it like a man, boys will be boys), will scapegoat 'slap' complaints as an excuse to ignore *all* domestic violence complaints for both men and women.

Also, someone who almost kills his or her partner is creating more hurt than someone who slaps his or her partner; petty crime vs. grand theft. Neither are good; but stealing a chocolate bar is not robbing at gun point is not Enron.

Of course, we could seperate out domestic abuse and attempted murder. That would work for me as a strategy of protection: any spouse who gives another spouse a couple of cracked bones or some level of skin bruising (20% of skin surface?) is charged with attempted murder. Male, female, don't care.

The thing is, I don't think we can really pretend that we don't have different issues when it comes to reporting and in the culture. I'd be right there with you trying to figure out how to educate, inform police, inform and educate judges, and find ways of dealing with the prejudice against taking violence against men seriously; but I'm not going to have the energy if I'm fending off attacks on the work done on violence against women.

Do you see what I mean? Violence is NOT just violence. There is some violence that an abused man experiences - sissy-boy, pussy, you must be the violent one - that a woman does not experience. If you use some empathy, you can find things a woman experiences that a man does not. There are different roles -- which I think are bullshit a lot of the time -- that hold us differently to the pain of violence.



The Happy Feminist

In my jurisdiction, officers are definitely not taught to automatically arrest the man. The relevant statute provides that in situations where there is probable cause to believe that both parties have committed abuse against each other, the officer may arrest both parties or may arrest the primary physical aggressor. In determining who is the primary physical aggressor, the officer must consider the relative degree of harm or fear suffered by the parties involved and any prior history of abuse by one of the parties upon the other.

Of course, I'm sure gender stereotypes (stereotypes harmful to both male and female victims) play into officer determinations (as well as determinations made by prosecutors and judges) and that should be addressed.

But from where I sit, the law seems in my jurisdiction to be applied fairly to both sexes. I have aggressively prosecuted women who have committed domestic partner abuse.


As a sidenote, the consequences of a protective order can be quite serious. The person gets kicked out of the house. If they are at any place and the "victim" walks in, they have to immediately leave. Violations send you to jail. You cannot possess firearms.

Not surprisingly, protective orders are often used quite effectively in divorce cases against police officers and hunters.

An emergency protective order and typically the preliminary protective order are issued ex parte. (Without the defendant being present to defend himself.) The preliminary protective order lasts for 15 days.

In my area, we even have a pro bono project where lawyers donate their time to help the victim. The defendant has to pay for a lawyer.

Judges have to ask themselves: "If I deny the protective order and he hurts her, my name will be in the paper as the Judge who failed to protect her." If the judge grants the protective order, the judge doesnt stand much chance of getting into the paper.

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