One Sided Research

Written by nfl-tom4 Tom Golden LCSW

In part 1 it was explained that 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.”

One of the first things I asked the researcher was if he had posed the same question to females about their violence towards men.  One of his eventual responses to this is below.

“As I’d like physicians to think about asking men about IPV, a place to start is from the traditional heterosexual model of women as victims, and men as perpetrators. Eventually, physicians may get to a point of asking women about perpetration, and men about victimization. The medical community is not there yet, and may not be there for many years.”

So he is basically saying, doctors are not ready to hear about male victims or female perpetrators.  He would like them to be ready to hear about this but well, they just aren’t there yet.  This is somehow used as an excuse to not focus on male victims and female perpetrators?  It’s as if he is saying, “Maybe we will get to the men someday, maybe years from now.”  Imagine a doctor saying, “We have lots of diabetes deaths and let’s start with the white patients since that is where most physicians are comfortable, maybe someday we will get to the blacks. But let’s not talk about them since doctors may not be ready to hear about them.”  Would that go over very well?  Absolutely not,  It would be seen as hateful and racist but somehow if you do the same thing to men no one really cares.  It is also very clear that he is not willing to  point out to M.D.’s that males are indeed victims or females perpetrators.  That isn’t even on the radar.  Not to mention that the “heterosexual model” he mentioned has nothing to do with female victims and is a complete non sequitur.  (in this researcher’s defense he claims to have published research that points out females as perpetrators)

But Women are More Often the Victims!

This is a very common claim that researchers make in justifying ignoring male victims or in only serving women.  Listen to what this researcher says:

“Though women may report higher rates of perpetration, they receive more injuries from IPV, and women constitute 70% of those killed by an intimate partner. Because of the greater burden of injuries and deaths from IPV, we chose to focus on men as aggressors in our study.”

This is a very common excuse for those who are inclined to tell only half the story.  Let’s examine this just a minute.  Most research tends to show that males are a large percentage of the seriously injured in domestic violence.  The J Archer meta analysis estimated that 38% of the injuries from domestic violence were to males so I think it is safe to take this kind of claim with a grain of salt and understand it is just an excuse, not a good reason to avoid bringing up male victims and female perpetrators.  But look at the stats he quotes.  Women are 70% of those killed by an intimate partner. Yes.  Last I checked that would mean that 30% of those killed were males.  Therefore he is willing to turn his back on nearly a third of those killed each year.  To me this is bizarre and indefensible.  Blacks are 25% of those who die from heart disease. Should we have a “Heart Disease Against Whites, Hispanics and Asians Act?”  It’s an act that funnels money and services to the majority of the victims, right?  By this researcher’s logic that would be just fine.  Or maybe the Cancer Against Heterosexuals Act?  Would that work?

It turns out this researcher was aware of the fact that females reported higher rates of perpetration (we will get to this in just a minute) but he was happy to simply focus on 1 in 5 men being violent in relationship.  The only explanation that comes to my mind is that he is motivated by a gynocentrist attitude that thinks of serving females first and males as an afterthought.  

The Catch 22

This researcher claims that he was reluctant to alert physicians that men were also victims of domestic violence since, as he says, there are no interventions available.  Here’s the quote:

“…There is no effective intervention for male victims of IPV, or female perpetrators of IPV. Without an intervention, physicians don’t want to ask men or women about those behaviors. Your point that many domestic violence service agencies not wanting to work with men also complicates this issue.”

So here is the Catch 22.  Only those who have interventions available get referred and discussed.  Men get omitted since they have no interventions.  But how will men ever get interventions and service if they are not discussed? Seems like a fool proof plan to permanently exclude men and justify focusing only on women.  I do wonder what he would say if I suggested that there was a serious disease or problem where researchers didn’t have adequate services or interventions. Would he want to just keep that quiet since there were not interventions available?  I would bet not.  What we see is a callous disregard for males who have troubles.  He is insulated from any criticism  due to the profound lack of anyone in our culture standing up for the needs of boys and men.

It’s worth noting that it could be said that the interventions for female victims and male perpetrators are far from being proven effective but that doesn’t keep us focusing on women only and spending a billion dollars a year on the problem.

But wait a minute. It gets worse. (part 3)

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.