real life

Domestic violence is about violence NOT gender

On Tuesday night Mamamia Live got feisty.  And for very good reason.

Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis, who was a guest on the show has previously written about domestic violence for Mamamia.

She wrote in part:

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“Every woman you meet is more likely to have experienced physical or sexual violence than to have divorced parents. Than to have been born overseas. Than to have more than two children.

The horrible reality is that nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five women are victims of sexual violence. In any one calendar year nearly half a million Australian women experience physical or sexual violence.

These are shameful, disturbing figures and of course we must make it a priority to reduce the incidence of violence against women and take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of violence. But the best efforts to prevent violence must also be coupled with work to deliver justice for victims and to improve support services.”

Kate reiterated these views on the show.  And that’s when it got feisty.   During the commercial break, Bettina Arndt, social commentator and author of The Sex Diaries, expressed frustration that society ignores the fact that some victims of domestic violence are men. Some of the perpetrators are women. Bettina claimed women as abusers  are ignored by politicians, the media, the police, society in general.

Kate Ellis – Minister for Employment Participation, Childcare and Minister for the Status of Women – defended the concentration of resources and media attention on the women and children who BY A MILE make up the majority of domestic violence victims. It was powerful stuff and I immediately told them to hold it for the show and made a snap decision to return to the subject after the break.

Here’s what happened next:

I am in agreement with Kate on this one – although I do agree that violence against ANYONE is unacceptable. The argument that you can’t take steps to combat violence against women because some men are also victims? A furphy.

Let’s repeat those numbers. The statistics. One in three Australian women experience physical violence.  Almost  one in five women are victims of sexual violence.  Every year  half a million Australian women experience physical or sexual violence.

After the show we received an email from a viewer who shall remain anonymous.  He writes:

“I have been married for 22 years and we have 4 children. I am guilty of hitting my wife and also guilty of pushing her. This has not happened on an ongoing violent way but has happened on a spur of the moment when I have been constantly abused, goaded and shouted and screamed at over a long period of time by an extremely agitated wife. She has said things that would make any person male or female feel extreme emotional pain and anger . We all have feelings after all.

…Everyone on this earth has a breaking point and when things make you emotionally and mentally angry upset and the comments that are being made about you are untrue and extremely hurtful there comes a point where anyone male or female can lose control of there actions and you can then lash out. Its not something you wanted to happen but when you get to that point and it happens Its not your fault . Its the other persons fault for pushing you that far and believe me ladies some of you girls know how to wind a man up the wrong way. DELIBERATELY.

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Yes I can hear the yelling of statistic girl saying its no excuse you cant do it but I will tell you something else, how would you react to me telling you that I have axe marks in my bedroom door from a crazy woman trying to break in?

Listen to me I am not the only male living with an unstable woman but choose to stay because I love my family. I know another man that is the father of my sons school friend that has the same problem with his alcoholic wife that abuses the crap out of him. He is a hard working father and the wife sits at home all day smoking and drinking he comes home to an absolute pigsty and then has to cook for the kids cause the wife is to drunk. You ladies have ABSOLUTELY no idea of how rife this is in the community !!! You trump up the stories of a woman getting hit but as the brave lady that tried to defend the male side said that there are many untold stories from the male side . I am only scratching the surface of this topic . I dont feel guilty about hitting and pushing my wife because I know that for the very few times that I have reacted in this way . There has been a hundred more that I have not responded with any violence at all and i am proud of that.”

Where does one even start with that?

Should the fact that an extremely small percentage of domestic violence victims are men mean that we shouldn’t do anything about violence against women and children? Or that we should somehow neutralise the message so gender is not mentioned? Or should the two things be addressed separately and perhaps with proportionate government funding?

Male domestic violence victims are a statistical rarity. This doesn’t make violence against ANYONE Ok but it shouldn’t derail any form of help for the vast majority of victims – who are female. Thoughts?