The public is convinced that domestic violence is all about aggressive men beating up on defenseless women. While this is in some ways correct, it is only a fraction of the story. The reality is that domestic violence is quite complex and women can be the perpetrators and men can also be the victims. That side of the story though has been deeply buried and ignored.
How did the public come to be so misinformed? It’s a long and involved tale. Activists, clinicians, the media, academics and researchers have all played a part in this. Each group has for many years only told a part of the story, the part about women as victims and men as perpetrators. To get a good sense of this remarkable and lopsided tale you could read a report to Maryland lawmakers written by the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health that tells the story plainly about male victims of domestic violence. It does not pull punches and goes into more detail than this short article.
It’s not hard to imagine how an activist, a clinician or the media might have a strongly biased stance that focused only on women as victims. They are all likely to have a vested interest.
The activist wants more funding for their specific work, the clinician is tied to their patients and their plight, and the media will print whatever sells more papers. Female victims sell papers, male victims don’t. But how about academics and researchers?
How could they play a role in this deception? One might assume that they would have an interest in getting the entire story in the open but that is far from the case. There is no simple answer to this question but there is a fine piece of writing by Murray Straus, a renowned family violence researcher that explains his take on this problem. (the Straus report is briefly referenced in the Maryland Men’s Health Commission report cited above)
The Strauss article describes seven methods used by feminist domestic violence researchers to conceal and distort evidence on symmetry in partner violence.
In other words Strauss tells us how these researchers avoided talking about men as victims and women as perpetrators. The article is a remarkable story of a researcher explaining how his craft has been manipulated to tell only part of the story and therefore create a false perception among the general public, the perception that women are the sole victims of domestic violence. It is a must read for anyone who is baffled by this scenario.
Here are the Seven Methods outlined by Straus:
Method 1 Suppress Evidence
Method 2 Avoid Obtaining Data Inconsistent With the Patriarchal Dominance Theory
Method 3. Cite Only Studies That Show Male Perpetration
Method 4. Conclude That Results Support Feminist Beliefs When They Do Not
Method 5. Create “Evidence” by Citation
Method 6. Obstruct Publication of Articles and Obstruct Funding Research That Might Contradict the Idea that Male Dominance Is the Cause of PV
Method 7. Harass, Threaten, and Penalize Researchers Who Produce Evidence That Contradicts Feminist Beliefs
In this article we will be having a look at Method three which shows how researchers can choose to only cite evidence that shows male perpetration and simply omit any mention to alternatives. Straus explains that their own data may in fact have evidence of male victims but they simply choose to not include it in their studies.They simply ignore it and only promote one side of the story: female victims and male perpetrators.
It is hard to believe that someone invested in the scientific method would stoop to such standards but Straus is 100% correct. This has been done for years both in research and in the keeping of statistics.
In order to understand how this can happen let’s take a recent example that can show us how this works and also give us some insight into the mentality of those who might utilize such tactics.
In September of 2014 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine an article was published titled “Characteristics of Men Who Perpetuate Intimate Partner Violence.” The article, as so many others before it, focused solely on men as perpetrators and women as victims. It estimated that 1 in 5 men admitted to being violent toward their spouse. The media caught wind of this and a flood of articles were published with the headline “1 in 5 men admit to violence toward spouse.”
Here are a couple examples of the types of headlines that were seen:
Seeing these articles motivated me to contact the researcher, Dr Vijay Singh, and ask a few questions. We exchanged numerous emails.
In his defense, I must say that he was very generous with his time and civil in our discussions.
He seems like a very nice chap but he did say some things that will help us in understanding the mentality of researchers who ignore male victims.
Tom Golden, LCSW is an author and psychotherapist who has been writing on issues concerning men, boys, and gynocentrism for many years. Tom has written three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Understanding the Unique World of Boys. He has a blog at Menaregood.com and also has a youtube channel menaregood.