News and Commentary

Violence Against Women Act

REAUTHORIZATION OF VAWA-2020 Monday, 03 February 2020 13:47 REAUTHORIZATION OF VAWA-2020 FEATURED Written by Robert Cubby At this point in time the House of Representatives have forwarded their amended version of the Violence Against Women Act to the Senate. It is stalled because provisions governing the seizure of firearms among other concerns.

Sharing is caring!

robert cubbyAt this point in time the House of Representatives have forwarded their amended version of the Violence Against Women Act to the Senate. It is stalled because provisions governing the seizure of firearms among other concerns. I thought it would warrant a review of the House version would bring to light any changes favorable to males in any way in an act focused on women.

With the advent of same sex marriages, civil unions, the abandonment of terms, words and references to marriage has changed to intimate partnerships and civil unions. I was curious as to how this would impact the pronouns used describing the perpetrators in an act of domestic violence. After all, the “he” isn’t necessarily the perpetrators in the union of two women. And of course, in an act entitled Violence Against Women Ace, the woman will never be depicted as the perpetrator. So in House version HR 1585 we find the following citations. Section 204 struck “women” for “people”, page 42 actually mentioned that domestic violence training for complex cases includes male victims, section 402 “women” changed to “adults, youth”, section 701 refers to women victims but no mention of male victims, page 101 does mention male victims, page 102 cites female but not male victims of workplace homicide, page 103 female not male victims of economic hardship due to domestic violence, and section 1001 still holds to the Office on Violence Against Women but no Office on Violence Against Men.

After review we see some change in language of the Act reflective of the change of marital status and change in gender pronouns, but not change in funding or emphasis on male victims in domestic violence. How does this play out in real time? When the police are called to a domestic violence situation, how do they handle the victim being a male?

In previous articles I have written for Mens E-News (Review of Domestic Violence Training in NJ 4/18; It Not Always the Male at Fault, 7/14; The Nightmare of the Male Police Officer Involved as Victim of Domestic Violence, 3/14) I have cited the problems men haver faced as victims of domestic violence. Seeing that these were written 6 years ago and now we are facing a reauthorization of VAWA, not much has changed, except some language, in the amended House version. Has the situation in society changed for men? What are they now facing as victims under VAWA?

Statistics show in the US, an average of 20 people face intimate partner physical violence every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence and/or intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post traumatic stress, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner not always reported as domestic violence. 3 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner. 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.Data is unavailable on male victims. 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Clearly women take the brunt of domestic violence and the need to protect them is acknowledged. But what of the men cited? They are victims too. Do we dare play the numbers game that they are not statistically significant?

So the real life scenarios of men victims then is a nightmare not addressed by VAWA in any version. In a recent article (National Parents Organization Researcher: What Happens When Abused Men Call Domestic Violence Hotlines and Shelters?) of the abused men who called domestic violence hotlines 64% were told that they only help women, 32% the abused men were referred to batterers’ programs and 25% were given a phone number that turned out to be a batterers’ program. A little over a quarter of them were given a reference to a local program that helped. Overall, only 8% were given any hotlines that were helpful and 69% that were not helpful at all. Finally 16% of the hot lines dismissed or made fun of them. Imagine the outcry if these were females treated this way. Yet VAWA stands mute.

(LA Times 8/17 Its hard for a guy to say ‘I  need help.” How shelters reach out to male victims of domestic violence) Last year the National Domestic
Violence Hotline received 12,046 calls and messages from men who said they were victims in abusive relationships- a fraction of the 119,470
interactions with women but a 73% increase from 2014.

12,046 victims who have no voice in the present VAWA as written . No funding for mens shelters for victims of domestic violence. At this time there are only two such shelters in the US. Men are otherwise housed in hotels, cut off from support and counselling that VAWA gives female victims but not males. In the two existing shelters the men are given necessary support and counseling but needless to say, the response to male victims is inexcusable under VAWA. We have the opportunity as it seeks yet another renewal, to breath new life into it and make it equal protection under the law as it was meant to be. We need to acknowledge men as victim and instead of VAWA why not VAPA Violence Against People Act.