Family Violence in Canada 2000 An Alternative Approach, Part. 2, Spousal Violence
This document contains critical comments by Eeva Sodhi, pointing out
flaws in the method of presentation and in the statistics contained in:
Statistics Canada pub. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical
Profile 2000The comments by Eeva Sodhi contain as well excerpts from comparable studies and
sources that differ widely in quality from the deplorable quality of the information
produced by Statistics Canada in their report.
Cat. no. 85-224
This page contains the second
part of comments provided by Eeva Sodhi in three parts.
Parts of Critique
- Child Abuse and Murder
- Spousal Violence
- Spousal Homicide and Research
Family Violence in Canada 2000 An Alternative Approach, Part. 2
Spousal ViolenceFVC 2000, as did the previous ones, ignores the entire spectrum of indirect violence
 which allows one spouse, usually the
female, to use the law enforcement agencies and judicial systems as a proxy. Those
agencies in turn use the data from this publication to justify their draconian measures.
The vicious circle has been completed, once more.
FVC 2000 places considerable importance on incidents which are not reported to the law
enforcement authorities. The British Home Office Research Study 191 explains the
reasons for not reporting succinctly: Most of the incidents were not considered to
be crimes by their victims: only 17% overall. Virtually no male victims
defined their experience as a crime. 64% of the respondents said that it was just
something that happens [p.50]. In all honesty, if each and every incident
defined as violence or potential violence by the feminist literature which is
distributed through schools, workplaces and community centres was reported, every adult
Canadian, irrespective of sex, would be a perpetrator as well as a victim.
Because of the extensive publicity that is given to the gender based perception of
violence against women, women are becoming increasingly sophisticated in this
area and are more likely to report any domestic incident, no matter how small. As men are
not targeted by similar public education, they lag behind women in their readiness to
address certain subjects in the questionnaires from the same angle. Notably absent are
questions that men would be more attuned to answer, such as: Has your partner ever
used, or threatened to use, the zero tolerance policies to make you to agree with
Though the British Home Office Research Study 191 could be considered to
be the first official government publication to attempt non-biased bi-directional research
in violence, it also has not been able to shake off the vestiges of bias.
One of the best examples of feminist bias can be found on p. 62 of the above study:
An important issue not addressed here is the extent to which men and women have the
option of leaving violent relationships: on the balance men are more likely to have the
necessary financial resources and to be less constraint by family responsibilities.
Most divorces/separations are initiated by women. It is a generally acknowledged fact
that those who have the most to gain are the ones to initiate divorce. Men have become
increasingly wary of the authorities and the heavy penalties imposed on them as a result
of divorce or separation. Therefore, they are more likely to remain in an abusive
relationship out of fear of legal and financial consequences. Women, on the other hand,
can expect to receive many benefits. One of the main attractions is sole custody, which
translates to absolute power over their children, with accompanying support
payments and exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This alone is a sufficient
incentive to initiate divorce/separation proceedings, often with allegations of abuse, or
fear of abuse. A British study found
that men lose 50%, women gain 50%.
Some other examples of the speculative and biased editorial comments found in the
latest edition of the Family Violence in Canada:
The available research results do not show any such trends.
On p.11: While this survey indicates that relatively equal proportions of women
and men report spousal violence, it also indicates that women are abused more severely
than men. For example, women are more likely to be subjected to severe forms of violence
(e.g. beaten, choked, sexually assaulted), are three times more likely to suffer injury,
five times as likely to receive medical attention, and five times more likely to fear for
their lives as a result of the violence. In other words, the severity and the impact
of spousal violence on women and men have different outcomes and consequences.
On p. 14:
number of cases in which violence was the cause of separation or
divorce (Johnson, 1996) All of these factors could partially explain why women and men are
more likely to report violence in previous relationships than in current
Public education campaigns which exhort women to see certain occurrences
as potentially violent acts may be the major reason for the, at times, irrational feeling
Further on page 14 (Family Violence in Canada, 2000) Nature and severity of
violence in marriages: Again, the author puts her own spin on the facts.
As has been pointed out in the
British Home Office Research Study no. 191,
among others, men are more likely to forget past incidents. The leading editorial in
Multiple victimizations is unnecessary. See the comment above. The readers
should be credited with a level of intelligence needed to decipher the statistics.
On the same page: Physical injury and medical attention: The fact that
there are no corroborative data available in this regard has been dealt with above.
Fear has become an integral element in violence against women
questionnaires as more results of bi-directional surveys are published and women are found
to be at least as aggressive as men. There are at least three different approaches to the
feeling of fear. Real fear is not difficult to detect; there are tell-tale physiological
signs which cannot be masked. Then there is the feigned fear which is used to gain
sympathy or any other positive feedback, the nature of which depends on the intended
audience. Thirdly, we have the irrational, instigated fear. This may occur as an end
result of feeling guilty, or as the fear that is created by the advocacy movement:
Do you feel that there is something wrong with your relationship (mate or life) but
cannot put your finger on it? Remember that emotional abuse may lead to physical
abuse or even murder.
Though the actual numbers of assaults have increased, the most serious forms of
assault show decrease. Drawing upon
communications theory, Kasperson and his colleagues (1988) have presented a model of the
social amplification of risk. At its simplest level, the amplification (or attenuation) of
the perception of risk depends not only on what the message is, but also upon who
transmits the message and how the receiver decodes and evaluates the message.
Womens advocates cash on the statistics of the total reported incidents. They
also equate fear of violence with actual violence. That women have become more fearful is
due to the advocacy literature directed at them in every conceivable manner. Women are
told that violence against women has been identified as an
important problem requiring change in Canada, and violence against women by their intimate
partners is touted to be one of the most serious threats to Canadian women's physical and
psychological well-being (e.g., Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, 1993). Women are
told that violence by their intimate partners may begin very early in young women's
relationships (e.g., Smith & Williams, 1992). That young women are victims of dating
violence is a social concern in its own right (e.g., Currie & McLean, 1993; Phaneuf,
1990), and the patterns established in early intimate relationships may also contribute to
later violence in the lives of adult women (e.g., Roscoe & Benaske, 1985)
Considering all the advocacy, it is no wonder that women are growing increasingly
afraid of every gesture or look that their male partners make. During a GSS like this one,
even the most innocuous questions take a new meaning when seen from the advocacy
perspective. As no such data are directed towards men, they tend to take the questions at
face value and respond accordingly.
The available data also shows that men are more reluctant to admit fear of, or actual
assault by, their partner.
See the above for advocacy role in forming motivations, memories and perception, as
well as the male tendency to downplay and forget past ills. The subjects affecting men,
such as the proxy use of law enforcement authorities and domestic violence courts are not
included in the questionnaires.
P.15: Risk factors of spousal violence: It is only with respect to previous
partners that the differences between female and male rates of violence is evident.
This yet another editorial with no merit, which is based on the doctrine of
What kind of men are abusive -- why women abuse.
Dr. Jaffes data and research is unidirectional and highly biased as it side-steps
the female-male and female-child violence.
P. 16: The generational cycle of violence
Considering that emotional abuse is as damaging to everyone, irrespective of age or
sex, this paragraph is a most interesting bit of speculative advocacy. The recent focus on
female v. male violence has revealed that females are more likely to resort to indirect
violence [see note 7], which often manifests itself as
emotional aggression/violence or financial abuse, often done by proxy. Based on this fact
alone, we can only conclude that men may be suffering from a more virulent form of abuse,
with longer lasting consequences, than women. This supported by the ever increasing
numbers of young men who take their own lives.
FVC 2000 p. 17: Presence of emotional and financial abuse:
Research in the area of family violence has indicated that some
find emotional abuse to be more disturbing than physical assaults,
deleterious effects of emotional abuse can leave women
The writer goes to extreme lengths to describe how the consequences are more palpable
to women than to men. Yet she chooses to ignore the statistics on male suicide. Suicide is
the culmination of despair, and therefore the most accurate indicator of victimization.
The evidence seems to suggest that when women attempt suicide they often do it in order to
gain sympathy without actually intending to succeed.
P. 18: Consequences of spousal violence:
To the best of my knowledge, all the mens support services, with one or two
exceptions country wide, are related to abusive men. Leslie Tutty, a prominent feminist
advocate, recommends that abused husband use the services provided to abusers: A
number [of agencies for abusive men] noted that they would include male victims in their
regular mens perpetrator groups, as the focus is on taking responsibility for
ones behaviour and assuring safety.
To ask an allegedly abused woman to attend a program designed for anger control and to
take responsibility for her behaviour is unmentionable.
Further on p. 18-19: Use of Support Services: Various types of social services are
available to women and men.
Though the departments of the provincial and federal attorneys general keep no
statistics of false allegation, they subscribe to the belief that spousal/family violence
is synonymous with violence against women, no questions asked, no explanations allowed.
Leslie Tutty in her: Husband Abuse: An overview of research and perspectives
downplays the importance of husband abuse and states that the current research [does
not] support the changing the wording of family violence material from being specific to
women victims to being gender neutral. Bolstered by this attitude, women are
becoming increasingly aware that to get rid of their male partner, for whatever reasons,
all that is needed is to cry abuse or fear of abuse. The dictum at
the specialized family violence courts is that men must plead guilty.
FVC p.19: Reporting to police.
to increase charging by the police and
prosecution by the Crown in cases of wife assault.
The guesswork by the author is speculative and clearly unethical. There is no evidence
to support the assertion that women experience more severe violence. There is no question
that while men on average are bigger and stronger than women, they may be able to do more
damage in a fistfight. However according to Professors R.L. McNeely and Cormae Richey
Mann, "the average man's size and strength are neutralized by guns and knives,
boiling water, bricks, fireplace pokers and baseball bats." Let us not forget cars
P.20: reasons for reporting: In addition, women were more likely to report the
incident to the police so the abuser would be arrested or punished.
likely due to the relatively more severe violence experienced by women.
A 1984 study of 6,200 cases found that 86% of female-on-male violence involved
weapons, contrasted with 25% in cases of male-on-female violence. [McLeod,
Quarterly (2) 1984 pp. 171-193]
The ever increasing numbers of reported incidents by women could also be due to the
desire to gain the upper hand in the divorce and custody battle as expressed by Madame
Justice Benotto. There is little to fear in terms of penalties for false allegations,
family court judges seldom consider them worth a mention. Too much space and energy is
devoted to this type of advocacy, financed by the Canadian taxpayer. If the writers wish,
they are free to expound their ideas in a separate, non-official publication.
This fear could be the result of the public education campaigns by advocacy groups.
Their pamphlets and posters are prominently displayed in schools, workplaces, community
centres, hospitals and physicians offices. They have launched effective media
campaigns and they hold information sessions in schools and community centres, as well as
in the work place. Using Statistics Canada surveys as justification, physicians, and even
dentists, are asked to routinely treat all female patients as potential victims of wife
assault. All this designed to
instill fear and paranoia.
P. 21: But victims (should be alleged victims as the data is based on
subjective, uncorroborated data) of more recent cases were slightly more likely to
that their lives were in danger from a violent spouse.
As this a statistic of reported, not proven, incidents, there can only be alleged victims. As noted
above, there are no statistics about false allegations, either intentional or
unintentional. However, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that women are encouraged
to allege abuse during divorce and custody proceedings. False allegations themselves
constitute a form of indirect violence as they can lead to loss of ones reputation,
home and children, bankruptcy, imprisonment, suicide and, in rare cases, even to murder.
P. 21: Police-reported spousal violence. Women were more than 6 times as likely
to be the victims of these offences than men
There are no data available in Canada as yet in this regard. A close examination of
the data in the U.S. does not support this claim.
P. 25: International Comparisons of Spousal Violence. Women were also more likely
than men to require medical attention
- Indirect aggression refers to a form of social
manipulation where the target is attacked circuitously and the aggressor can
therefore remain unidentified. It involves acts such as shunning, stigmatising and
gossiping. Girls are more likely to exclude newcomers than are boys (Feshbach 1969), to
destroy their adversary's property or tell tales on them (Brodzinsky, Messer & Tew
1979) and to use tactics of ostracising and manipulating public opinion
(Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Ferguson & Gariepy 1989). Girls are significantly higher
than boys on becoming friendly with someone else as revenge, gossiping and suggesting
shunning of another (Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz & Kaukiainen 1992; Crick & Grotpeter
1995). Studies of school bullying also report that girls preferentially employ indirect
strategies (Ahmad & Smith 1994). Female use of indirect aggression continues
into adulthood. Bjorkqvist, Osterman and Lagerspetz (1994), investigating
victimisation in the workplace, found that women more than men used indirect forms such as
spreading false rumours and not speaking. The tendency for girls and
women to employ indirect means is not associated with greater condemnation of the use of
direct physical and verbal aggression by females (Osterman, Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz,
Kaukiainen, Huesmann & Fraczek 1994).
One of the earliest recorded examples of
indirect aggression by women is the story of Medea. When Jason deserted her for another
woman, Medea, in revenge, planned and performed the murder of their two sons. Medea mused
that the most cruel way to hurt her husband Jason was to kill their children. In pledging
her maid to silence about this deed, Medea revealed the malaise of indirect aggression:
Say nothing of the plans I have prepared; don't say a word, if you are loyal to your
mistress and loyal to the race of woman!
One modern day example of this loyalty to the
race of women is the callous response by womens groups to the torture
and death of Matthew Vaudreuil in B.C.
In other words, the torture and killing of a
child can be justified as long as the deed is done by the mother and a doubt about what
kind of a man would the victim grow into if allowed to live is planted into the
In a broad sense, relationships between
parents and children are not time limited. The impact of our experiences as parents and
children extends beyond the years during which we are parenting or being parented. And our
ability to behave as responsible parents is mitigated by those experiences.
When the tragic case of Verna and Matthew
Vaudreuil was in the news, for example, a great deal of attention was paid to mother as
villain, son as victim. This narrow perspective, however, failed to address the
victimizing, childhood experiences that made Verna Vaudreuil into the abusive mother she
became. It failed to consider the kind of person Matthew might have become had he
survived. [Jill Hightower, Executive Directive of the BC Institute on
Family Violence Andrea Kowaz, Ph.D., R. Psychologist and Lynne Melcombe, freelance
Another example is the treatment afforded by
the media to the recent murder suicides and/or attempts. The style of reporting is
damning, if a male is the perpetrator, or understanding, if the deed is done by a female.
The reaction by FREDA was in similar vein,
though not as blunt. It simply ignored Matthew and dwelled on the abuse that the mother
had allegedly suffered.
The anticipated swift reaction to this edition
of the FVC by the feminist groups is similar. McLeans ( Aug. 7, 2000)
published a bloodcurdling article about the fictitious male murder gene. Yet,
though the FCV 2000 gives us a glimpse to the real gender culpability, it nevertheless is
nothing more than another feminist apologia.
Larceny / theft, a crime that women commit most
commonly, is a manifestation of indirect aggression. It includes appropriation of others'
resources without direct physical confrontation and subsumes credit-card and welfare
fraud, shoplifting, writing bad cheques, non-payment of bills and surreptitious taking of
others' property. (Campbell, A. 19--)
- Do You Know a Woman Who Is Being
Abused? : A Legal Rights Handbook by Community Legal Education, Ontario. P. 5:
If your partner does any of the following
things, you may be a victim of abuse. He may:
read your mail
As mutual letter reading is considered to be one
the most pleasant family activities, every member of a normal family would be both a
perpetrator and a victim. Furthermore, we women, due to our more inquisitive, not to say
suspicious, nature tend to be keener to read everyone elses mail. What does that
make us? http://www.cleo.on.ca/PDF/DoYouKnowaWoman.pdf
- The advocates also tend to embrace extremely
broad and vague definitions of abuse that have also found their way into official domestic
violence intervention programs -- not only physical assaults but verbal putdowns,
"criticizing you for small things," "making you feel bad about
yourself," "threatening to leave" "denying you
In 1993, "The incidence and prevalence of
woman abuse in Canadian University and College Dating Relationships," prepared by W.
DeKeseredy and K. Kelly for Health Canada, reported that 76% of men admit to abusing
Statistics Canada's Violence Against Women
Survey found that 51 percent of women over the age of 16 have been abused.
Both studies used the US researcher Mary Koss's
Conflict Tactics Scale, which allows advocate-researchers to inflate victimization levels
as it classifies all unwelcome emotional interaction (insult, swear, put down) as
indicative of abuse", even if the respondent didn't so classify the
incident. (Edwina Taborsky; Reena Sommer)
The DeKeseredy study equates flirting
with another woman" with rape at gunpoint. "Insults or swearing," doing
something out of "spite" and "flirtation" account for more than 80 per
cent of the reported incidents. Less than five per cent involve "physical violence
against the partner." And most of this five per cent constitutes of pushing, shoving
- Ontario Superior Court Justice, Mary Lou
Benotto, wrote the following in 1995:
Domestic abuse is abhorrent. I have never found
a judicial officer who treated physical cruelty with anything but the seriousness it
deserves. However, the term abuse has been diluted beyond all proportion.
There is scarcely a separated spouse who does not believe that he or she was in an abusive
relationship. Abuse is a powerful term. But it is routinely used to describe shouting,
badgering, voice raising, walking away when angry. Think for a minute about
your private relationship. So as not to raise a bald allegation, the particulars given of
the marital discord become very detailed. [Justice Mary Lou Benotto,
Ethics in Family
Law: Is Family Law Advocacy a Contradiction in Terms?, Presented to the
Advocates Society Conference in Nassau, Bahamas, 2 December 1995]
- British Home office Research Study 191: [p.
61-62] Are men, then, equally victims? The findings would tend to suggest not
Men were less upset by their experience, considerably less frightened, less often injured,
and less likely to seek medical help (see the U.S. survey, where men are less likely to
disclose the relationship) It is not possible to determine from the survey why this so.
Possible explanations are
The report itself discounts this.
men were more willing within the context of a
crime survey to report trivial incidents that women felt inappropriate to
Considering that women are more likely to use a
weapon, such as a gun, a motor vehicle or a frying pan, to give the extremes, the physical
strength cannot be considered to be a factor. Also, women are more predisposed to violence
by proxy, with the generous support by the authorities. A more likely explanation is
that injured men who seek medical help do not disclose the origin of the injury, or the
relationship to the assailant. This has been noted by various sources, including the
United States Bureau of Justice Statistics and the British Home Office itself in this very
the prevalence of assault is relatively equal but
the outcomes tend to be less serious for men because of their, on the average, greater
Document after document seems to consider this
to be the most likely reason.
male victims are less likely to admit, for
reasons of shame, embarrassment, or machismo, the true seriousness of outcomes of assaults
- Child Custody Policies and Divorce Rates
in the US, by Richard Kuhn, Children's Rights Council Washington, D.C. John
Guidubaldi, D.Ed., John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH) and Kent State University
(Kent, OH) 11th Annual Conference of the Children's Rights Council October 23-26, 1997.
Washington, D.C. Copyright 1997, Children's Rights Council.
"This paper compares divorce rate trends in
the United States in states that encourage joint physical custody (shared parenting) with
those in states that favor sole custody. States with high levels of joint physical custody
awards (over 30%) in 1989 and 1990 have shown significantly greater declines in divorce
rates in following years through 1995, compared with other states. Divorce rates declined
nearly four times faster in high joint custody states, compared with states where joint
physical custody is rare. As a result, the states with high levels of joint custody now
have significantly lower divorce rates on average than other states. States that favored
sole custody also had more divorces involving children. These findings indicate that
public policies promoting sole custody may be contributing to the high divorce rate. Both
social and economic factors are considered to explain these results.
...high levels of
child support associated with
sole custody may encourage divorce, because custody of children represents an asset for
the custodial parent to the extent that
child support payments exceed the cost of raising
a child (Muhtaseb, 1995).
State divorce rates and other vital statistics
are maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of the
Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A 1995
NCHS report (Clarke, 1995) gives data on physical custody awards for 19 participating
states for the years 1989 and 1990. This NCHS report is the first of its kind to report
figures for physical custody of children.
If one investigates the simple question,
"who initiates divorce," we find from the Monthly Vital Statistics Report
May 21, 1991 (NCHS, 1991), that from 1975 to 1988, in families with children present,
wives file for divorce in approximately 2/3 of the cases each year. In 1975, 71.4% of the
cases were filed by women, and in 1988, 65% were filed by women. ... If women can
anticipate a clear gender bias in the courts regarding custody, they can expect to be the
primary residential parent for the children. If they can anticipate enforcement of
financial child support by the courts, they can expect a high probability of support
monies without the need to account for their expenditures. Clearly they can also
anticipate maintaining the marital residence, receiving half of all marital property, and
gaining total freedom to establish new social relationships.
States that favor sole custody in divorce may
thus expect to see more divorce than states that encourage joint custody. On a practical
level, joint physical custody makes it less likely that a parent can move to another city
to eliminate interaction with the other parent. Because both parents provide for the child
directly, child support payments may be somewhat lower with joint custody, reducing
financial motives for divorce. Perhaps most significant, joint custody also removes
the capacity for one spouse to hurt the other by denying participation in raising
the children. The correlation between joint custody and reduced divorce may have a simple
explanation. If a parent considering a divorce is told by an attorney that a judge will
probably not permit him or her to relocate with the children, and that the other parent
will continue to be involved, he or she may decide that it is easier to work out problems
and remain married."
- Marriage for Men : Violations of Articles
12, 5 of Protocol 7, & 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by the
United Kingdom (UK) The Cheltenham Group, September 1999
The significant differences between cohabitation
and marriage are:
- married men usually receive much abuse and
degrading treatment during a legal divorce process, this less applicable to cohabiting
- married men lose assets at divorce with an
average value of about £20,000, while married women gain with an average value of about
- women who remarry usually have additional
unearned income over her previously married situation, and over a normal
- a married man whose wife had no income, at the
time of divorce and after, will be forced to pay ex-spouse maintenance with an average
value of £5,400 pa
- the woman will usually continue to receive child
benefit of typically £1,042.60 pa while the man will usually receive no share of this,
and will pay extra taxes to cover this benefit.
Marriage carries very significant benefits at
divorce for the woman:
- a gain in assets with an average value of about
- possibility of ex-spouse maintenance with an
average value of £5,400 pa.
Marriage carries very significant damages at
divorce for the man:
- much abuse and degrading treatment, especially
- a loss in assets with an average value of about
- possibility of being forced to pay ex-spouse
maintenance with an average value of £5,400 pa.
- Women are likely to gain by being married at the
time of separation, while men are likely to lose significantly.
For those couples who separate, with
- Marriage is of very significant benefit for
women. Marriage is very significantly damaging to men.
- Women: Marriage usually ensures a greater share
of assets at divorce than that contributed.
- Men: Marriage usually ensures a lesser share of
assets at divorce than that contributed.
- It is becoming increasingly evident that
women are at least as aggressive as men. Therefore, in order to continue the portrayal of
women as the victims of male aggression, new and innovative ways had to be developed.
Womens fear has become one of those. In focusing upon higher levels of
female fear in response to prospective aggression, we are in a better position to account
for results from human experimental work. In a meta-analysis of 127 laboratory studies it
was found that women estimated the danger of the
aggressive encounter to be higher than did males (Eagly and Steffen (1986) and Bettencourt
and Miller (1996))
- A 1984 study of 6,200 cases found that 86% of
female-on-male violence involved weapons, contrasted with 25% in cases of male-on-female
violence. (McLeod, Justice Quarterly (2) 1984 pp. 171-193 )
A motor vehicle is a weapon, as is a knife or
anything in between. Therefore, the speculation about severity as expressed in this
context is a purely personal one and has no validity.
- A 1996 Health Canada report found that
it is as difficult for men and boys as for women and girls to admit
that they are abused and more difficult to find help. However, other sources,
including thissue, acknowledge that males find it more difficult to admit
that they have been assaulted.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in a report
titled National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department
Summary: "... It may be that because of cultural norms, men are reluctant to
disclose that they were assaulted by a female partner..."
- British Home Office Research Study 191,
p. 39: One cannot discount, of course, the possibility that men may have been more
reluctant to admit emotional distress; On the whole, the study points to the fact
that men are more reluctant to report the incidents and to talk about them. Men also find
that they are not taken seriously if they tell being assaulted by their female partners.
- Leslie Tutty, in Husband abuse: an
overview of research and perspectives, p. 20:
men feel a stigma about
being seen as a victim and that creates a barrier to their asking for and receiving
services. When men do ask for assistance, they not only fear being mocked, they also
report having been laughed at by some service providers such as police officers.
idea that men are often reluctant to seek professional help, feeling stigmatized as
failures if they admit to problems is supported in the clinical literature (Gill &
Tutty, in press; Williams and Myer, 1992)
- As yet, no scientific data in this regard is
available in Canada. Health Canada has a program in place which will begin the relevant
data collection in September. However, seeking medical help may be influenced by other
factors as well, notably the need to create a history of abuse
for divorce/custody proceedings.
- The British Home Office Research Study 191,
p. 38: half of the women who saw a doctor or went to hospital said that it was
wholly or partly for emotional or other reasons.
- Women also exhibit greater concern with their
health than do men. The strongest predictor of preventive health care is gender (Harris
& Guten 1979).
- Women rate the importance of health higher
than men, know more about health issues and are more likely to track the status of their
health (Umberson 1992; Waldron 1988)
- Holly Johnson, Canadian Centre for Justice
Statistics: One of the ironies of crime in Canada is that those who express the
greatest fear of crime are often the least victimized. [Statistics Canada Survey,
Patterns of Criminal Victimization in Canada]
- One cannot discount the possibility that men
are not as ready to admit this
[British Home Office Research Study 191,
- Despite the fact that men are more likely to
be the victims of violent crime than women, women are more fearful (U.S. Bureau of Justice
- Women report higher levels of fear of crime
(LaGrange & Ferrero 1989).
- Sex differences in fear appear in childhood
and fear is trait-like in its stability over time (Gullone & King 1997).
- Females show higher levels of concern with
survival than do males and
fear is a plausible proximal mechanism for this sex
difference (Campbell, Staying Alive: Evolution, culture and women's intra-sexual
- Advocacy literature may play a significant
role in this regard:
Interestingly, Melanie Phillips notes:
far from assuming that men are violent, women take men's non-aggression
granted. [Melanie Phillips, The Sex Change Society: Feminised Britain
and the Neutered Male, (1999), published by Social Market Foundation.]
- CAPRO Overview: ...Have you
ever heard of the figure that one in four women have [sic] experienced abuse in
their lifetime?... CAPRO is sponsored by the Ontario Farm Women's Network and funded
by The Trillium Foundation.
- Rather than presenting accurate findings
about incidents of violence, the feminist writers emphasize womens
of it. Women are taught to view their perceptions in a social, rather than
personal context. The social context being that men, on the whole, are the perpetrators
and women always are the helpless victims. Womens personal histories become
intertwined with those of other women, and in the final analysis
fact. The advocates in womens shelters and transition houses impress on
women that they have personally been assaulted, or that they
should be afraid
of being assaulted, in a fashion that is common to all victims
(victim always meaning female) of domestic violence. ... [and the
problem to overcome:] They [women] are not in a position to perceive their problem from a
socio-political perspective and stick to personal analysis [in:
Workers in Feminist Approach to Conjugal Violence : Summary of the action-research,
Clearinghouse on Family Violence, c. 1992 page 10]
- Education Wife Assault, by the
United Way: Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or
- According to Marilyn French: The
knowledge that some men do [abuse women] suffices to threaten all
- According to Gloria Steinem, "patriarchy
requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself . . .
The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the
enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home."
Therefore, one could conclude that the
prevailing pro-feminist law enforcement and justice system actually
male-female violence rather than reduces it as frustrated men may eventually resort to the
kind of violence that they have been charged with. Often these charges are levelled
for the sole reason of material benefits during divorce proceedings. Indirect aggression
produces payoffs whether they be extrinsic (material or social benefits, i.e. exclusive
possession of the matrimonial home, support payments, etc.) or intrinsic (the
of power for its own sake, restraining orders, sole custody and thus decision
making about children, imprisonment and humiliation of the male partner, etc.). Therefore,
to ignore the role that indirect aggression plays in family violence is to ignore the
major reason that lead to direct violence as well.
- An equally valid observation would be that
research indicates that men are more likely to forget previous incidents. Women are more
inclined to dwell, and to inflate, past infractions.
someone who reported
frequent shoves and pushes will be classified as a chronic victim of domestic
assault [British Home Office Research Study no. 191, p. 23]
- Black (1983) views violence as a means of
informal justice used to remedy personal affronts and injustices by those
access to formal institutions of legal process.
Level 1 assaults (no physical
injury), the most common form of assault, has shown the largest rate increase
(60%) since 1983. In contrast, level 3 assaults, the least common but most serious form of
assault involving significant physical injury, have shown a 12%
rates (CCJS, 1990a). As we noted earlier, a similar pattern can be seen with sexual
assaults. The least serious forms of sexual assaults have risen since 1983 while the most
serious sexual assaults (aggravated sexual assault) has shown no change. Fear of violence
will remain disproportionate to the actual probabilities of violence. Striking a more
equitable and reasonable balance between perceptions of risk and the actual probabilities
of risk requires a careful analysis of all the variables that contribute to
the public's fear of violence. [Gauging The Risk For Violence: Measurement,
Impact And Strategies For Change 1994-09, James Bonta, R. Karl Hanson, Corrections
Research, Solicitor General Canada, 30 May 1994]
- 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,
- If this paragraph was deemed necessary, the following
data would have been as pertinent:
- a) Walker (1984) In her study of over 400
battered wives, 29% of the wives and 35% of the battering husbands had witnessed their
mother inflicting violence upon their father during childhood.
- b) Sommer, R. (1994) Male and female partner
abuse: Testing a diathesis-stress model. Unpublished. 34.8% of men and 40.1% of women
reported observing their mothers hitting their fathers.
- c) Marshall & Rose (1988) surveyed a sample
of 330 undergraduate witnesses and victims of violence in childhood using a modified
version of the Conflict Tactics Scale. 40% reported that they saw their fathers hit their
mothers, 40.6% reported seeing mothers hit fathers.
- The concept of emotional abuse is highly
subjective. Feminist literature defines it being whatever a
feels uncomfortable with.
Considering the extent of public education by
various community and womens groups, such as the United Ways Education
Wife Assault, in community service centres, schools and workplaces, most women are
familiar with the feminist concept of woman abuse, including the definition of
financial abuse. Accordingly, men are perceived as being financially abusive
if they ask their female partners to account for their expenses. They are also perceived
to be abusive unless they account for their expenses, whether they are for the family or
for personal use. Clearly, this sends a contradictory message: Women are not accountable
but men are. This, as well as other feminist victimization definitions, are indirect cues
to women how to perceive normal family interactions as being potentially abusive. This
perception can have a direct influence on womens responses to surveys like the ones
conducted by Statistics Canada. It also influences public opinion.
"In Britain, the public reaction to the
Home Office research was almost complete silence. The government, too, appeared impervious
to its implications. Shortly after it was published, the Home Secretary opened a domestic
violence court in Leeds that was founded on the explicit assumption that only men were
In June 1999, the Cabinet Office women's unit
launched a campaign to "change the culture" that presented domestic violence as
almost exclusively a problem of male crime.
In November 1998, the women's unit announced a
new initiative. Children were urged to report violence against mothers and sisters. There
was no mention of abuse against fathers. Instead, a television advertisement showed a
husband berating his wife when she told him dinner would be late. That was the violence.
It was followed by a helpline number for children to call if a woman in their house had
This fictional scenario illuminated some
remarkable thinking by civil servants and ministers. It had become acceptable, it thus
appeared, for children to inform on their fathers to teachers or "helplines"
simply for shouting at their mothers. Shouting was now to be classified as domestic
violence. If that is the case, then violence happens with enormous frequency in families.
Don't women sometimes shout at men? [© Melanie Phillips 1999 Extracted from
Sex Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male, by Melanie
Phillips, published by Social Market Foundation.]
- BBC Monday, 17 April, 2000, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK Young
Men and Suicide, Dr. Ian Banks, Men's Health Forum, Three times as many young men as
young women take their own lives - a total of 3,640 in 1996, up 2% on 1982. The number of
women committing suicide fell by 41% during the same period. Men are known to be far less
likely than women to ask for help if they have problems.
According to Statistics Canada, men are four
times more likely than women to commit suicide.
Canadian Suicides WHS)
- In order to access those services men have to
first acknowledge the ownership of violence and plead guilty, based on biology
alone, even if they are the victims. Though Ms. Tutty hides behind the backs of service
providers (this a manifestation of indirect aggression, proved to be a female
characteristic), there is no doubt about her personal sentiment as expressed in her:
Abuse: An Overview of Research and Perspectives.
Though Dr. DeKeseredy is cited twice, his
documentation is of no scientific value. The Incidence and Prevalence of Woman Abuse in
Canadian University and College Dating Relationships: results from a National Survey,
by Walter S. DeKeseredy and Katharine Kelly. Data on violence toward males by
females for this survey had been gathered but the results were completely omitted
from the government report.
Ms. Tutty includes a suggested reading list of
two types of publications: one In support of the serious and widespread nature of
husband abuse," which is very limited, and two: Questioning the serious
and widespread nature of husband abuse. It is unheard of to have such a division
of subject matter in any publication about violence against women. DeKeseredys work
figures prominently in her list of references which is drawn from the major feminist
resource lists. All in all, though ostensibly documenting husband abuse, Ms. Tutty was
more preoccupied with presenting the document as a justification of female-male
- a) The Hon. Dianne Cunnigham, Ontario
Womens Directorate on Domestic Violence Court Pilot Project: ...The offender
plead guilty and is required to participate in a male batterers program.
[Note that Ms. Cunningham assumes that the alleged offender is a male in every case. She
does not use the word alleged though there can be only alleged
offenders before a guilty verdict. Furthermore, if a guilty verdict is obtained by
coercion, it is hardly an indication of guilt]
- b) 'Mandatory Arrest/Charging' policy refers to
guidelines that require police officers to lay criminal charges against the abusive
partner in all cases of wife assault where there are "reasonable
grounds" [Ontario. Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services.
Standards Manual. (Ontario: Ministry of Solicitor General and Correctional Services,
1994), 0217.01, 0217.04]
- c) The project targets first time offenders
where there is no significant /visible injury to the person abused.
Cases are screened by the Crown Attorneys, who
identify those eligible for the Pilot Court. Women victims are given information cards by
the police which urge the woman to contact the Victim Witness Assistance Program at the
Courthouse. [Note: there can be no victim if there are no signs of abuse and the accused
has not yet appeared in front of the judge]
If an individual before the court on abuse
charges agrees to plead guilty, and assuming his partner is agreeable, the
court will accept (??) the guilty plea. His plea will be entered and he will
get a series of court orders from the judge. The orders will be Bail Conditions which will
include mandated attendance at an intervention program for batterers. His bail orders will
also be changed to allow him to reside with his partner [the carrot to plead
guilty though he may be innocent]. It is specified that if his partner feels threatened or
afraid she should contact Police immediately and the Bail condition can be changed to get
him out of the house [aggression by proxy: you do what I tell or you will get a criminal
Once all of the women have had an
opportunity to identify what they want, the full court reconvenes. At
this point those charged who are willing to plead guilty and enter the program appear
before the judge and are mandated to attend the already identified intervention program. [Domestic
Violence Courts Project, by: Vivian Green, Metro Woman Abuse Council in the EWA
Newsletter V.8 #1 - Spring 1997: The Impact of Funding Cutbacks on assaulted Women]
In conclusion, men are left with no option but
to plead guilty if they have no financial and/or mental resources to contest the charges,
even if they are innocent. It would be of benefit if Statistics Canada made an in-depth
statistical survey on the practises of the Domestic Violence Courts which
be the worst expression of family violence by proxy.
- a) Violence Issues: An Interdisciplinary
Curriculum Guide For Health Professionals
Prepared by Lee Ann Hoff, Ph.D. Faculty of Health
Sciences University of Ottawa For Mental Health Division Health Services Directorate
Health Canada August 1994
- b) A Handbook Dealing With Woman Abuse And
The Canadian Criminal Justice System: Guidelines For Physicians, prepared by Lorraine
E. Ferris, Asifa Nurani and Laura Silver for the Family Violence Prevention Unit, Health
- c) Family Violence Handbook for the Dental
Community, Prepared by Donna Denham and Joan Gillespie For Mental Health Division and
Health Service Systems Division Health Services Directorate Health Canada December
- a) Landau, Tammy (March 1998) Synthesis of
Department of Justice Canada Research Findings on Spousal Assault. -- Working Document
(WD 1998-5e); Department of Justice Canada. Research and Statistics Division. Policy
Section. There is a high attrition rate of spousal abuse cases. The Manitoba Tracking
Study indicates that 21% of police dispatches resulted in charges. There was lack of
physical evidence in 54% of the cases and the alleged victim was unwilling to proceed in
18%. 12% of the charges resulted in convictions and 4% resulted in incarceration. Almost
30% of the cases were stayed. In 30% of cases where women were subpoenaed they did not
appear in court (Prairie Research Associates, 1994), there was encouraging evidence
that Emergency Intervention Orders are being issued in cases where there were no criminal
charges and no evidence of assault. According to Ursel (1995) innovative
testimony bargaining enables the Crown Attorney to meet the dual and potentially
conflicting mandates of rigorous prosecution and sensitivity to the victim
This would indicate that most of the
allegations are false. It is unfathomable that the issuing of Emergency Intervention
Orders in cases where there was no evidence of assault would be viewed
as encouraging, a far better word would be frightening as
that is a clear sign of a police state, especially as the evidence in the document
indicates that only 12% of the charges, not reports, resulted in convictions. Considering
the rigorous prosecution and that the rate of wrongful convictions is unknown, we can only
view even those numbers with suspicion.
- b) Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario).
(1998/99) Ontario Government Business Plans 1998-1999. Recent statistics in Ottawa
for February 1998 show that of the 74 domestic assault cases scheduled, 49 were resolved
by way of guilty plea * Three trials were held, resulting in one conviction and two
acquittals. The remaining 22 charges were withdrawn.
*As men are persuaded to plead guilty, often by
questionable methods, the guilty pleas cannot be considered to be a proof of guilt, rather
men will choose to plead guilty in order to avoid a criminal record. Few men have the
means, either financial or psychological, to defend themselves against nebulous
allegations which need not be proven. Considering that two out three trials ended in
acquittals one could say that two thirds of the accusations were false, if we use the
habit of giving percentages rather than real numbers. It is extremely rare to withdraw
this type of charges, therefore, it may have become apparent that in the 22 cases which
were withdrawn the accuser actually was the perpetrator. There is a real need to compile
statistics in this regard.
- In 1993 Elaine Epstein, former president of
the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association wrote a column in the association newsletter
titled "Speaking the Unspeakable,"
In many [divorce] cases,
allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage."
- Sheara Friend, a Needham attorney who
testified before the Massachusetts Legislature in May, concurs. "I don't think
there's a lawyer in domestic relations in this state who doesn't feel there has been abuse
of restraining orders," she says. "It's not politically correct -- lawyers don't
want to be pegged as being anti-abused women, but privately they agree."
There are stories of attorneys explicitly offering
to have restraining orders dropped in exchange for financial concessions. Friend says that
this has happened to her on two occasions; but she believes that more discreet
negotiations are actually far more common.
- U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Statistics in its Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or
Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends NCJ-167237 March 1998 U.S. Department of
Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics Jan M. Chaiken, Ph.D. Director presents the following
The above statement is a contradiction in
itself. In the first part it issues a certain definitive percentage, in the
second part it states that though the figure is definitive, it is based on
speculation. It is not possible to estimate what percentage of females or men were
treated for injuries inflicted by intimates as the figures given are of
relationship to the offender.
Females accounted for 39% of the hospital
emergency department visits for violence-related injuries in 1994 but 84% of the persons
treated for injuries inflicted by intimates. Among those treated for violence-related
injuries and with a known relationship to the offender, about 50% of the
women and 8% of the men had been injured by an intimate.
The Unrecorded relationship for men
is three times as high as that for women. Considering the number of
unrecorded relationships, and further considering the fact that men are more reluctant, as
noted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics itself on various occasions, to report injuries
caused by intimates, the sex-specific data are highly questionable. Also, there are no
victimization surveys targeted at men, and therefore we do not have any corresponding data
for gender comparison. One is inclined to assume that most, if not all, of the
relationships that are not reported by men fit the category of intimate
Women injured by intimates accounted for about 1
in 5 visits to hospital emergency departments for injuries arising from intentional
Number of injury cases due to
violence treated in hospital emergency departments
Note the definitive assertion again: women
Based on these figures, the number of total
victims is: female 513,721, male 814,005. All considered, the maximum number of women who
are victims of intimate violence would be 300,758, men 326,191, or males would be 1.20
times more likely to be victimized by an intimate than females. If we allow that 50% of
the unreported relationships for both men and women are actually intimates, the
corresponding figures would be: women 252,558, men 182,574.5, or females would be 1.38
times more likely than males to be victimized by an intimate. That still is a far cry from
the unqualified 5 to 8 times more as is stated in the next paragraph and in
various other sources.
Here is an example of somewhat more balanced
Though less likely than males to
experience violent crime overall, [females] are 5 to 8 times more likely than males to be
victimized by an intimate.
Among male victims of violence, strangers and
friends or acquaintances accounted for the highest rates of victimization
For female victims of violence, strangers
and friends or acquaintances rather than intimates were responsible for the highest rates
of crime. Intimate violence accounts for about a fifth of all violence against females.
The two categories of violence by friends and acquaintances and violence by strangers are
each over a third of the victimizations. Violence by relatives other than intimates are
less than a 10th of all violence that women, age 12 or older, experience.
For overall injuries receiving medical care in
the U.S. See:
Ernst A.A., et al. (1997) Domestic violence
in an inner-city ED [In: Ann Emerg Med August 1997;30:190-197]. -- Subjects: 516
patients, 233 men and 283 women. On the basis of ISA scoring, 14% of men and 22% of women
had experienced past nonphysical violence, and 28% of men and 33% of women had experienced
past physical violence. Of the 157 men and 207 women with partners at the time of
presentation, 11% of men and 15% of women reported present nonphysical violence,
20% of men and 19% of women reported physical violence.
Vital and Health Statistics. Series 13, no. 134: Ambulatory Care
Visits to Physician Offices, Hospital Outpatients Departments and Emergency Departments:
United States, 1996
To Part 1: Child Abuse and Murder
To Part 3:
Spousal Homicide and Research
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