LETTERS: Men Can Be Victims Of Domestic Violence

By Marianne Mogon

July 24, 2012

I’m writing to applaud the Olean Times Herald and local agencies for the informational page recently regarding domestic violence. Not only was it valuable material, but except for the one picture of a man striking a woman, it was put together without gender bias.

So often, when there is a public service announcement regarding domestic violence, the information is gender-biased and people get the impression that domestic violence is a crime only against women.

According to a 2010 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Justice, “in the last 12 months more men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence and more than 40 percent of severe physical violence was directed at men. Men were also more often the victim of psychological aggression and control over sexualor reproductive health.”

Yet, there are more assistance programs and laws to protect women than men. Another study showed that 78.3 percent of men who called a domestic violence agency were told they only help women. Sixty-three percent received that response from the Domestic Violence Hotline. Further, many male callers were told they were probably the aggressors. And if the police are called, the man is the one more likely to be arrested, even if he is the victim.

Not only is this gender bias and discrimination, but it goes against the 14th Amendment of our constitution. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It says partner, which sounds good, but in reality, only pertains to women. It appears as if feminists have managed to sway society into believing this is a problem only women face, when in reality it is a problem of all people.

Domestic violence itself is not gender-biased, yet men are being ignored and they are threatened by a double-edged sword. They are being victimized by partners who are controlling, demanding and physically and psychologically abusive and they are victims of a gender-biased legal system that subjects them to guilt by gender and they have no recourse. Men are unlikely to seek help and if they do, there is little, if any, available. In some states, men are arrested and convicted of domestic violence for so much as slamming the door to get away from an abusive partner.

The domestic violence system needs to treat violent couples as violent couples, instead of shoehorning them into the “man as perpetrator/woman as victim” model.

Counseling services for violent couples are rare. The adage of “it takes two to tango” is hardly ever considered. What we are doing now is not prevention, but hindrance and with mandatory arrest laws, most people won’t call the police. And many arrests occur without physical evidence. Our laws are not preventing or protecting, what they are doing is destroying marriages and families and increasing the public-assistance rolls and perhaps even adding to our already overcrowded prison system. Not only that, but it ties up the courts with cases that have no good outcome.

Because divorce is readily attainable, we have created more single parents and increased the public-assistance rolls. In today’s society, however, most domestic violence occurs in non-marital relationships.

We should be making more work for counselors instead of lawyers and judges. Instead of making criminals out of people, we should be helping them not to become one. Justice would be better served if marital disputes were taken to counseling instead of the courts. In our effort as a society to eradicate a problem we end up causing more problems than just solving the one at hand.

Current legislation like the Violence Against Women Act needs to be rewritten without gender bias to correctly address the problem and not contain so many ways to incriminate men. Women are just as likely to commit a form of domestic violence as men.

Domestic violence hurts everyone and women are not the only victims.

Source: Olean Times Herald