The following is in response to a RADAR Alert:
"One in four women and one of seven men experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime," according the report your office just released, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). Further, it says intimate partner violence involve 11.5% male victims and 23.6% female victims.
It is my understanding that those findings were calculated based on information provided by various states to CDC’s standard BRFSS core questionnaire. Otherwise, the only way to arrive at those conclusions is to selectively manipulate the ever elastic definition of intimate partner violence (IVP); regardless, including "attempts" or "threats" of violence, and "any unwanted sex" adversely biases the findings. For a more balanced picture should not then other forms of IVP be included that clearly satisfy the CDC definition of IVP, which is:
“Intimate partner violence is abuse that occurs between two people in a close relationship. The term “intimate partner” includes current and former spouses and dating partners. IPV exists along a continuum from a single episode of violence to ongoing battering. IPV includes four types of behavior:
• Physical abuse is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, burning, or other physical force.
• Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent.
• Threats of physical or sexual abuse include the use of words, gestures, weapons, or other means to communicate the intent to cause harm.
• Emotional abuse is threatening a partner or his or her possessions or loved ones, or harming a partner’s sense of self-worth. Examples are stalking, name-calling, intimidation, or not letting a partner see friends and family.
Often, IPV starts with emotional abuse. This behavior can progress to physical or sexual assault. Several types of IPV may occur together.”
1. Men are less likely to report domestic violence which skews crime data creating false conclusions.
2. A plethora of social research consistently shows women initiate domestic violence at least as often as men and men suffer no less than one-third of the resulting serious injuries (see Cal State University Professor Martin Fiebert’s bibliography at www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm).
3. John Hamel, another of the world’s leading domestic violence researchers last year clearly showed that (a.) Most IPV is mutual. Women initiate somewhat more often than men (b) Self-defense is an equally unlikely motive for both genders. Male and female perpetrators are motivated to abuse their partners for various reasons, including a desire to retaliate or to communicate feelings, and there is no convincing evidence that men are significantly more motivated to control and (c) Although women are far more often the victims of sexual coercion, they are just as likely as men to be the perpetrators of most psychological abuse and controlling behaviors, and this includes stalking when broadly defined.
4. As recently as December of last year Harvard Health Publications published a study showing that though men are often blamed for domestic or intimate partner violence, women can be equally responsible. The Harvard Medical School study shows half of heterosexual domestic violence is reciprocal and women initiate most of the reciprocal violence and commit 71 percent of the nonreciprocal violence.
5. Moreover, females commit the majority of child abuse, elder abuse, almost all child murders (not counting abortions), and most bullying in schools – all forms of interpersonal violence.
6. To kill their partners women often hire killers, seduce people to murder, and use poison, the latter often hard to trace while creating the appearance of natural death. These killers seldom show up in domestic violence or murder statistics. Incidentally, the average prison sentence for male murderers is 17 years versus seven for women.
7. Paternity fraud, parental alienation, false accusations, child abuse, and elder abuse satisfy legal definitions of domestic violence, not to mention genital mutilation, including circumcision. Women commit all paternity fraud annually, victimizing millions of people, men and their families of choice. Women commit the overwhelming majority of parental alienation and false accusations. False accusations gain advantage in divorce, child custody and child support disputes. Coupled with false accusations, parental alienation is pure spite. Estimated rates of false accusations run 40 percent to 90 percent, depending upon the type. Recall the Duke Lacrosse Team scandal. One falsely accusing women not held accountable caused the destruction of an unknown number of men and those they love. Last, female caregivers commit the overwhelming majority of elder abuse. All forms of IVP, all of them.
8. Most male domestic-violence-related deaths are suicides. Men kill themselves four times more frequently than women, and 10 to 12 times more frequently when relationships end, because men have nowhere to turn. The military channel show "Around The Services", February 2, 2008 edition had a segment about suicides in the military, which revealed that "Failed intimate relationships are responsible for 2/3 of suicides of service people." In fact, California, like other states, excludes heterosexual men from legally being "victims" for the purposes of receiving funding for related IVP support services, another abuse of males, young and older. How many of those suicides are caused by women perpetrators of IVP?
Intimate partner violence contributes to a long list of economic, cultural, health, personal, political, social, and even environmental ills. Bouncing IVP research from one definition and set of variables to another definition and set of variables is corrupt. The domestic violence industry and related researchers must agree on such definitions rather than continually revise them to satisfy insidious agendas. If the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, then what is ignoring reality over and over expecting half a solution to satisfy a whole problem?
Until organizations generally thought reputable abandon political correctness in favor of reality there can be no viable solution. If political correctness and gender politics had no hand in influencing the deficient IVP definition then what did? Either way, such results give abusers more permission to abuse by encouraging the further entrenchment of highly questionable beliefs.
Please consider revising the BRFSS core questions to solicit from the various states information that will contribute to a more complete picture of IVP. By doing so the states will necessarily have to revise the way they collect related data. To do otherwise is to ignore the true breadth and seriousness of IVP as a national health problem, epidemic or not.
Given the above, there can be no question that men are substantially more seriously and often abused by women than women are by men, at least in westernized cultures. One victim, for sure, is too many; no matter gender or gender politics, the later of which has no business in the safety of our families and relationships.
Please don’t allow the CDC to contribute to the problem by promoting misleading information. The CDC enjoys an admirable reputation. Use your leadership to ensure it stays that way so we as the general public can faithfully rely on your assistance rather than suspect questionable leanings, policies, and practices.
Founder/Director, California Men's Centers
President, National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM)