Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Emotions

Today is Easter Sunday.  Those who do not regularly attend church services sometimes make an exception at either Christmas or Easter.    My recent attendance at church services has been very sporadic.  On Good Friday, my duties as a Rotarian meant that I was on traffic control duties while the Christians of the town held a public silent procession (with someone carrying a symbolic wooden cross at the head).   As they concluded by singing the hymn, ‘When I survey the Wondrous cross,’ on the Market Place, I was emotionally moved.

I felt the need to attend a church service this morning.   I went to a large city church that I have attended intermittently.  There was excitement in the auditorium beforehand. This is one occasion when the children (who usually have their own ‘church’ event running concurrently) joined in and the Children’s team led the main all-age family service.  The music that accompanies the congregational singing is always of the highest order, again something that can’t always be said of church musical groups.  There was encouraged ‘audience participation’ that was celebratory.  Worshippers were encouraged to enjoy themselves, the Easter Sunday bible story was told with humourous photographs appearing on big screens portraying members of the Youth Church re-enacting the Easter story.  To the worshippers, it would have been a moving experience.

And yet, I couldn’t connect.  I was there, but I was an observer.  Being a Christian and living such a lifestyle was all I knew for the majority of my life.  Every step seems to take me further away from having a faith: academically, emotionally, spiritually as the few prayers I now offer always go unheard and unanswered.  Part of me wants to leave the door open, but the Christianity which was my whole life is becoming extremely closed to me.  

Today, my thought went back to Easter Sunday 2010.  This was the last service I conducted as a minister.  I knew it would be my last.  I was being placed on an immediate ‘leave of absence,’ only the church authorities had delayed the imminence because they didn’t want to manage the logistics of fulfilling an Easter programme at my church.  So, knowing full well that my life’s vocation was ending, I was allowed a stay of execution.   At the Maundy Thursday Passover re-enactment meal and the Good Friday service, I was mournful and emotional.   I guess people assumed it was because of the occasion, not realising that there were deeper emotions within me.  On Sunday, I put on my brave face, and led the church in their joyous Easter celebrations.  No-one knew my inner turmoil. 

Afterwards, people were kind enough to comment that I’d conducted really meaningful Easter services for them and had no idea how I managed it considering the vast personal pressure I must have been under.  Actually, it was probably the long established practise I developed from my marriage of leading a Sunday service and pretending all was well that got me through that last Easter Sunday.

Easter speaks to all because it is a celebration of hope and new life.  On Good Friday everything seemed bleak but a few days made all the difference.  Maybe this message is why so many victims of abuse are drawn to religion because of the hope they see in what appears to be a darken depression.  For the non-religious, Easter is a reminder of the new life and hope of Springtime.  In fact, civilisation rejoiced in this cycle of nature before Christians added their slant on the festivities.

My easter festival is about new life and hope breaking through the darkness but not in the  conventional understanding of Christianity.   Walking away from the church on Easter Sunday 2010, I walked away from the darkness of abuse, I’ve found a new life and by speaking out about the Intimate Partner Violence I suffered from, I’m bringing hope to those who felt trapped in abusive relationships.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Finding peace and healing

Helping Men Find Peace and Healing After Domestic Violence


Before we got married, I had not seen the aggressive nature of my partner. The time we spent together gave no indication of the violence I was to experience over the next 17 years. Without any warning – at the flick of an imaginary switch – my partner subjected me to vicious verbal tirades, threw hot drinks over me, smashed meal plates (with food still on) over my head. Why didn’t I leave or speak to someone? I couldn’t. I’m a man. There was nowhere for me to go. There was no one I could speak to. It seemed that plenty of charities were offering to help ‘women and children’ experiencing domestic abuse, but absolutely nothing existed for me.
At first, I tried to encourage my ex-wife to seek external help. When her anger had burnt itself out after a violent episode, I would address the issue only to be met with one of two responses:
  • denial that anything had occurred or
  • she’d say to me “You’re a man, you can handle it!”
I developed my own coping strategies. At first, I made excuses for her unreasonable behaviour. She’d recently experienced family bereavement, childbirth, more bereavement, etc. I tried to be more understanding. I felt like I was always walking on eggshells trying not to do or say anything that might trigger her abusive behaviour. When she attacked me, it was always my fault.
I noticed that she never behaved in an extreme fashion when other people were present and so I tried to invite friends and family around. However, people stopped coming. Only recently did I discover that they stopped visiting because she made them feel so uncomfortable. I was so relieved not being on the receiving end of abuse that I failed to notice the atmosphere.
My main coping strategy was focusing on the children. They were the reason I stayed. Their mother was never physically abusive towards them, but she was verbally. At least with me there I could nurture and protect them. I’d explain their mothers behaviour as “Your mum’s not well, only she doesn’t realise she’s ill, and we must do we can to help her.” Furthermore, as my feelings for my wife died, I dreamt of the day that my children were independent so I could also leave the abuse and start my life again.
I started keeping a journal of the abuse. This was a MAJOR part of me personally finding peace and healing. As I started recording the physical and verbal assaults on me, I also chronicled the historic attacks that I could remember. When I read these back I was horrified and would have been totally shocked if I was reading someone else’s story. And yet, it was my story. I woke up to the reality of my situation. I’d only written about the occasions I could remember, there were many more occurrences I’d forgotten about because they became ‘normal’ behaviour. Around the same time, my youngest child mirrored a violent action he saw his mother perform on me a few days before. He looked totally bemused when I admonished him. I woke up to the reality that I was not protecting my children.

Shortly after all these epiphany moments there was another violent assault and I chose not to return to the marital home. I knew that I could never return.
I shared my journal and spoke with my parents. It felt like the loosening of a tight bottle top finally releasing. Up until then, I had not been able to share with anyone the nature of the abuse I experienced over the previous 17 years. At the time, I thought that no one would understand or that some may minimize the seriousness of it because I am male. I did encounter those attitudes later as I told more people the truth about our joke of a marriage. I needed to offload all the hurt and pain that had built up. My parents knew things had been hard, but not as horrendous as the account they now learnt. If it wasn’t for their understanding, I don’t know what I would have done.
My experiences haven’t turned me into a misogynist and eventually I met a new partner who has helped me learn to love again. Being in a proper relationship, feeling loved and valued for the person you are, brings more healing than you can ever express.
Being able to talk and write about what had happened to me is important and is continually helping me find healing and peace. My journal writing has developed into a blog which is part biographical and part self-help and this has been extremely therapeutic for me.
As a young child, I learnt that life can be tough, and so it’s best to make the best of your particular situation. I thought that I was the only man experiencing domestic abuse. I have discovered that I am far from alone. This has given me a real passion to speak up for men in similar situations and to campaign to raise greater awareness around all areas of domestic violence.
I have been able to speak with and help other men. What I’m also learning is that those support workers available tend to be female and men would prefer to speak to other men that can identify with their experiences. I have also made contact with others similarly motivated. This is bringing me healing and peace: Knowing that I am not alone in my experiences and also addressing the imbalance that currently exists in support services for abuse victims.
Domestic violence awareness campaign on twitter: @SiVictim
Support group for men affected by domestic violence on Facebook: The Men’s Room

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Can an Abusive Ex Change?

Can an abusive ex-partner change?  This is the question I pose myself as we both have moved on into new relationships.  My personal reflections have often examined whether there was something in my own nature that triggered all the violent episodes.   I’m far from perfect, but I couldn’t find anything.  People describe me as calm, placid, gentle but firm when needed, honest and completely open and transparent.  People say they never see me angry.   I’ve also drawn encouragement recently from the work of Dr Denise Hines, one of the very few Psychologist undertaking research into male victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).  This is an extract from a factsheet on  ‘A Closer Look at Men who sustain Intimate Terrorism by Women’ , part of ‘The Men’s Experiences with Partner Aggression Project’  and matches me completely:
The male helpseekers in this study paint a picture of men who are fairly well educated, who 
have professional‐level jobs, and who have children involved in their relationships. They 
report sustaining severe levels of violence at the hands of their partner and have significant 
concerns about whether to leave their partners and what would happen if they did leave. 
Many of these men report loving their partners, hoping that she will change, showing 
commitment to their marriage, and concern about what would happen to the children.  

This has help and reassured me that I’m not to blame for what happened to me.  In my search for answers, I’ve looked to see if I can see some of my abusive ex-wife’s behavioural patterns continuing.

Before and during the marriage, my ex-wife was a compulsive liar.  Of course, I didn’t realise this at the time and had I made this discovery before we got married, my life may have turned out different.  If the falsehoods she told were solitary, you may feel they are inconsequential, but continued untruths paint a different picture.  Whenever she felt threatened or didn’t want to divulge anything, she became very skilled at speaking a plausible sounding lie.

If you have followed my story told here, you will know that we were both church ministers.  My ex-wife remains a church minister.  She trained as a minister before I did, and had an enforced break from that training.  She always told me that the reason was because she originated from one of the offshore islands of the UK, the church authorities felt she needed time to acclimatise to life on mainland England.  There may be some truth in that, I don’t know, why would I initially doubt that. Recently I discovered that she had an issue with her church mentor during this period that resulted in the church instructing her to do an Anger Management course and the church moving her from shared accommodation to a single occupancy flat.

When we first met, we were both having driving lessons.  I took my test and passed.  My ex-wife told me she had a test booked.  When I later enquired about this, I was told that she’d cancelled her test when she had to travel back to her parental home following the illness and death of her mother.  Over twenty years later, she is still having driving lessons but has not sat even one driving examination.  If she had a driving test booked all those years ago, surely she would have taken at least one examination by now?  The ‘evidence’ suggests that there was never a driving test booked.  Another ‘lie’ which she kept up all those years.

Coming from an island environment, my ex-wife always told me she could swim.  On many occasions, before and after we wed, she said she could swim.  I couldn’t swim.  As we planned for a family, we talked about the importance of teaching the children to swim and it was suggested that my ex-wife would take the babies to early year swimming lessons.  This never happened.  Furthermore whenever we went on holidays, my ex-wife never went in the sea or took the opportunity to swim if the apartment complex had their own pool.  Never in twenty years, did I or our children see her swim.  Can she swim?  She says yes.  Do we believe her?  No.

I could cite many other instances during the marriage that formed a consistent pattern of falsehood.   Has this continue since we separated or she said revert to being truthful?

I know that she has lied to cover-up a mistake she made.  As I left the marriage with absolutely nothing, it took me a little while to establish myself again.  At first, all the children stayed with my ex-wife.  I paid child support, and as part of our arrangement, agreed to transport the children wherever they need to go, and also as well as regular access, offered to have the children when my ex-wife needed to attend church seminars that constituted overnight stays.   This was on the proviso that I had plenty of notice so that I could arrange for time off work.  The annual church conference was approaching and she’d asked me if I could look after the children.  I booked the time off work and said I could.  Just a week prior to the conference, she realised she’d made a mistake and given me the wrong dates.  By this time, I couldn’t re-arrange my work schedule and so, I couldn’t change the dates.   Mutual colleagues were soon contacting me because my ex-wife had told her line managers and peers that she couldn’t attend this conference at the last minute because I was being awkward and was refusing to look after the children when I said I would.  I was rather annoyed about this and so I contacted her line managers (who had also been mine before I left the church) and explained what had happened.   The following day, the story she was telling had changed.  She was actually admitting to people that she had made a mistake. 

The situation has changed in that our daughters now live with me.  But she still lies and her falsehoods now concern the children.  This coming weekend is Easter.  This Saturday is the day my daughters are scheduled to stay with her.  She asked that they don’t visit this weekend because  she ‘is very busy with work.’  Okay, she has an extra service to conduct on Good Friday, but is no busier than any other weekend.  My daughters don’t mind because they don’t like staying at their mother’s.   It transpires that the real reason she can’t have them is because she’s attending a wedding on Saturday with her new boyfriend.   Another lie.  The sad thing is, if she had told me the truth I won’t have minded as it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable.  All it does is show to me that she hasn’t changed and is still the compulsive liar I felt she always was.  Can abusive ex-partners change?  I would say No.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Moving On Quandry

Being a victim of Domestic Violence has severely impacted my life.  I ended up losing my home, my job, my life’s vocation, my reputation and good name.  I even ended up losing my faith.  The one thing I was determined not to lose was my children.   

Although a large part of my life was horrendous, by sharing my experiences I am trying to draw greater awareness to the reality of domestic violence and its impact on all genders, INCLUDING men.

I have been rebuilding my life.  My relationship with my ex-wife hasn’t coloured my view of women.  I have been fortunate enough to meet a fantastic woman who really is my soul mate and much, much more.  She makes me realise just what I’d missed out on for all those years.  I am a lucky man to have found such a loving, caring and understanding partner. 

My ex-wife has also moved on.  She has a new boyfriend.   This places me in a little quandary which isn’t motivated by feelings of jealousy.  I don’t know her new man.  We do have mutual  friends though, and they tell me ‘he is a good bloke.’

My difficulty is this:  Do I find some way of warning him about the anger issues that will manifest themselves should their relationship develop or do I let him find out for himself?  Is it fair to him and his children to remain quiet?  I honestly don’t know.  I suspect that were I to make any attempts to give a warning, they would be discarded as coming from an embittered ex-husband.  That is not the case, and to my way of thinking, certain clues already exist such as why have children chosen to live with their father rather than their mother?

I have spoken about my new partner.  She fully understands that the relationship with my children is important and accepts that they need quality time with their father just as much as she does.  I hope that I’m getting the balance right. 

However, in my mind, it also poses another question in new relationships.  Parents should not place their new partner/new partner’s family before their own children no matter how difficult the situation.   I can’t imagine why any parent would do this but I see it happening quite often around me.

Irrespective of my own emotions, I’ve always tried to encourage my children to see and maintain contact with their mother.  If the roles were reversed, and the relationship with my children was fragile, I would like to think that I would do everything possible to mend it.

My ex-wife still lives in what was the matrimonial home.  The children had separate rooms and their own beds which are still there.  When they go there to stay overnight (which is rare and infrequent), they now sleep in the same room and sleep on the floor.  When I found this out, I asked them why they were sleeping like this when there were empty beds available.  The reasoning was that when their mother’s new boyfriend had stayed over, he brought his daughter who was given full use of that bedroom.  They felt that they were being pushed out and were no longer fully welcomed in their mother’s house and they didn't want to use that room.

There are other little things.  Their mother has tried to integrate her boyfriend’s family with her children.  She first introduced him to the children at a church event before the children knew she was seeing him.  He knew who they were, they had no idea who he was.  They did resent their mother for what they saw as an underhand tactic .  Consequently, they refused to speak with him on the telephone when their mother asked them to and refused to co-operate in any plans to meet him and his family. 

My children aim to spend one night alternate weekends staying with their mother.  The last time this was supposed to happen, I was told that their mother couldn’t have them because she’d planned to go away.  It transpired that she was away with her new boyfriend.   What sort of message does that send to her children? Surely, she could have planned a different weekend when her children were not scheduled to stay with her.

If you was in a new relationship, and your new partner was prepared to cancel children’s access in order to spend time with you, would you question that relationship?  I know I would.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Male Victims of Domestic Violence

Today has been a most encouraging day and I have found, not one but two, academic studies concerning male domestic violence victims.  As I read both, it seemed my story was mirrored.  To also identify the journey my emotions, my health, my feeling of helplessness within those articles gave me a greater sense of encouragement.

The first paper was  'A Closer Look at Men Who Sustain Intimate Terrorism by Women (2010 Hines & Douglas)

and the second appears in New Male Studies Volume 2 No.1

Both articles originate from North America and I'm not aware of any work similar to them being produced in England.

I sent an email to all the authors and was absolutely thrilled to receive a reply from all.  The shorter article is
'Male Victims of Domestic Violence'  and both Donald G Dutton and Katherine R. White have kindly allowed me to include in on this blog:


Intimate partner violence (IPV) or domestic violence (DV) is often framed as a “woman’s issue” or
“violence against women” generating the perception of males involved in violent relationships as the
aggressor and more capable of inflicting injury or causing harm to their partner. Due to this set of
beliefs called the “gender paradigm”, male victims are often met with disbelief or suspicion when
they attempt to gain protection from a female partner, or access services. Male victims may also report
difficulty in locating services specific to their needs, as help lines or shelters are targeted exclusively
towards female victims. These issues and the implications for male victims will be discussed.

Key Words: domestic violence, male victims, intimate partner violence, gender paradigm

The child who I saw being hit by his mother is three times more likely to become violent
in intimate relationships than a child who was not hit. The moment that he
hits a woman, it is legislated that he be taken out of the context of his biography and
into an automatic legal process in which he will be held absolutely accountable for
any violence he committed. He will be defined as a product of patriarchy, and his
masculine privilege will account for the sole source of his aggression.
Linda Mills, Insult to Injury (2003, p. 3)

The stereotype invoked when one mentions “domestic violence” is of a bullying, domineering man
who is hyper-reactive to jealousy and has a drinking problem. He threatens, assaults and verbally
intimidates a non-violent woman-victim. If you ask college students for examples of domestic violence
perpetrators, you likely get OJ Simpson or Chris Brown as an answer. Although we may like to
believe that such simplistic stereotypes are held only by the uninformed, alas, it is not true. Academics
who would bristle at any stereotyping of women or minorities adhere to the “gender paradigm”;
that all domestic violence is male perpetrated against hapless female victims, in order to
preserve “patriarchy” -male dominance of women. For examples of such thinking see any work by
Russell or Emerson Dobash (Dobash & Dobash, 1979; 1988), Walter Dekeseredy (Dekeseredy, 2011;
DeKeseredy & Schwartz, 2003) or Mollie Dragiewicz (Dragiewicz, 2008; Dragiewicz & Lindgren,
2009), amongst others. The theory driving this view is a Marxist-feminism perspective developed by
Catherine Mackinnon (MacKinnon, 1989) and posits that “sexuality is to feminism what work is to
marxism (sic)” (p. 3), hence domestic violence in which a man hits a woman is defined as “violence
against women”– plural– a political act. There is no such term for when a woman hits a man and it
is rarely used when a woman hits a woman (e.g., Lie, Schilit, Bush, Montague, & Reyes, 1991). The
latter examples are more likely to be seen as psychologically driven actions. When data began to surface
about female intimate partner violence (IPV) from the national survey data of professor Murray
Straus (Straus, 1980), it was quickly dismissed as inconsequential violence, in Michael Johnson’s
term, “common couple violence” (Johnson, 1995) that was bilateral and where the woman was acting
in self-defence (Saunders, 1986; 1988; 2002). Now we know that women assault non-violent male
partners more frequently than men assault non-violent female partners.
This “gender paradigm” was consistently reinforced by numerous studies on “male perpetrators”
and “female victims”, the former drawn from court-mandated treatment groups (e.g., Dutton,
1995b; Gondolf, 1999; Saunders, 1992) and the latter from women’s shelters (e.g., Johnson, 2008). In
short, samples selected on the basis of their own perpetration or victimization and not representative
of the community (Straus, 1992b). True believers operating within the gender paradigm do not question
the generalizability of such samples; selected by a system that was already operating on the assumption
that men were sole perpetrators and women were victims. Johnson, for example,
concluded that men were the only perpetrators of what he called “intimate terrorism” (Johnson &
Leone, 2005), that is, the use of intimate partner violence (IPV) for instrumental purposes. He came
to that conclusion by interviewing women in shelters, taking their descriptions of violence against
them as veridical and not asking them about their own use of violence. As Johnson put it “I chose
one question to determine whether the husband and/or wife had been violent, as reported by the
wife” (Johnson, 2008, p. 20). The implication of this research choice was that Johnson trusted only
women’s versions of events and based his entire analysis of IPV on this version. Johnson made no
assessment of whether the reports he obtained under these conditions were veridical or self-serving


inflations of victimization or enhanced with stories overheard from other shelter clients. He could
not know. His methodology reinforced the view that women were the sole and passive victims of domestic
violence. Is it any wonder then that “intimate terrorism (IT)” depicted by this sample appears
to be solely male perpetrated, and that female IPV involves “violent resistance” (i.e., self defence) in
women. Women in shelters are a sample that has been selected because of extreme IPV generated
towards them (Straus, 1992b). If you change the sample, however, the conclusion changes. For example,
a study by Graham-Kevan and Archer (2003) found that as the authors put it “...the “maleness”
of intimate terrorism may well be an artifact of the sampling procedure used. Indeed, if the shelter
data is omitted IT shows sexual symmetry” (p. 1261). Eighty percent of the male intimate terrorists
found were reported by the shelter sample, even though it constituted only 17% of the their entire
sample, (i.e., it was not found in other samples). LaRoche (2005) assessed “intimate terrorism” in
the data from the 2004 Canadian National Social Survey, that assessed power dynamics as well as
IPV. In those national data, 4.2% of women and 2.6% of men reported being victimized by intimate
terrorism. A study of men seeking help from IPV victimization (Hines & Douglas, 2010) found IT
patterns were gender reversed for this group compared with a women’s shelter group (more about
this below). Any study that assesses gender prevalence of IT with a non-shelter sample produces
very different results from Johnson. Should it come as a surprise that if you ask only questions about
victimization from a pre-selected victim group, you obtain very skewed and misleading results? As
far back as 1992 Murray Straus had reported (Straus, 1992b) that shelter samples had 11 times the violence
perpetrated against them as did community samples of women.
It is not only a sampling issue however, it is also an issue of not inquiring about women’s violence.
By way of comparison with Johnson’s one sided approach, Renee McDonald and her colleagues
asked about violence both toward and by women in shelters (McDonald, Jouriles, Tart, &
Minze, 2009). When asked about their own use of violence 67% of these women reported using an
act of severe violence themselves against their partner. The women’s own violence was an important
determinant of child behavior problems. As the authors put it “men’s severe IPV seldom occurs in
the absence of other forms of family violence” (p. 94), these other forms included both partner-child
aggression and mother-child aggression. This finding runs counter to the stereotype of wife assault
of a non-violent women because it was a rare study that avoided the “one sided question” issue. We
will return to it below.
The mother’s use of aggression (i.e., physical child abuse) contributed to the child’s externalizing
(i.e.,acting-out) problems, especially if the child was a boy. Furthermore, in a community
sample of 1,615 dual parent households, children were 2.5 times more likely to be exposed to IPV by
their mother than by their father (McDonald, Jouriles, Tart, & Minze, 2009). Also, in the huge U.S.
National Survey on Child Maltreatment (718, 948 investigations of child abuse), the more frequent
perpetrators were biological mothers (58%: Gaudioisi, 2006). Boys are most at risk for physical violence
from their mothers. To paraphrase Linda Mills opening quote, this mother-generated externalizing
heightens the chance of later use of IPV, at which point, the man is now a “batterer” and a
product of patriarchy.

the reporting issue

One reason that intimate partner violence toward men is underestimated is that men are less likely
to view the IPV as a crime or to report it to police. Men have been asked in surveys if they had been
assaulted and if so, had they reported it to police. In a 1985 survey, less than 1% of men who had
been assaulted by their wife had called police (Stets & Straus, 1992). In that same survey men as-

saulted by their wife were less likely to hit back than were wives assaulted by their husband. Men
were also far less likely to call a friend or relative for help (only 2%). As we shall see below, it is not
the case that these assaults were inconsequential. Male socialization diminishes the likelihood of
reaching out for help (Goldberg, 1979). Historically, men who were victims of assault by their wives
were made into objects of social derision (Davidson, 1977), a practice in medieval Europe called
charivari that involved riding the victim around town, seated backwards on a donkey and punching
his genitals (Dutton, 1995a). Men are socialized to bury problems under a private veil (Goldberg,
1979), including being the object of abuse from female partners. It is of note that men’s reports on
surveys of victimization by IPV is less than female reports of perpetration (Desmarais, Reeves,
Nicholls, Telford, & Fiebert, 2012a; 2012b). Either the women are bragging or the men are in denial,
or both.

the one Sided Question issue

We showed above how Johnson’s use of a one-sided type of question (i.e., asking women in shelters
only about violence done to them) led to his erroneous conclusions about “intimate terrorism”. This
problem has also afflicted surveys of IPV that inquire only about victimization. The National Survey
of Violence Against Women (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000) asked a representative US sample about
“crime victimization.” Of course, the use of that filter suppresses reporting because it assumes respondents
will define the abuse as a crime. Straus (1999) has shown that removing this filter by asking
about specific behaviors used in response to conflict increases reporting rates of abuse by a factor of
16, because it asks respondents to simply endorse a specific act (in terms of whether the individual
did it or had it done to them) rather than define the act depicted as abuse. However, it also produces
gender rates of IPV that are identical, leading to criticism of the scale by those who wish to screen
out evidence contradicting the gender paradigm (Straus, 1992a). Apart from filters, there is another
serious problem, with asking one-sided questions about IPV; bilateral IPV is missed.
Bilateral IPV is where both members of the couple use violence. Five large scale surveys that
asked about both victimization and perpetration found that the most common form of IPV was bilateral
(two way IPV), matched for level of severity (see Table 1). Of the remaining unilateral cases,
70% were perpetrated by women, only 30% by men (Stets & Straus, 1989; Whitaker, Haileyesus,
Swahn, & Saltzman, 2007). This finding has the following implication for one sided victimization
surveys; about 75% of the women reporting victimization were also perpetrators. This is easily derived
by taking the number of women who report victimization on a survey as a denominator (i.e., those
who would have reported victimization to a one-sided survey) and those who report bilateral perpetration
as the numerator (i.e., those who reported perpetration as well as victimization). The actual
results produced are 84% for cohabiting couples and 73% for married couples (Stets & Straus, 1989).
That is the percentage of victimized women who were also perpetrators. In the Whittaker et al. survey
(2007), this percentage was 77%. For men in the Stets and Straus study, the corresponding percentages
were 58.5% (married) and 59.6% (co-habiting). It’s less relevant for men because no surveys
have ever solely focused on IPV victimization in men. This recalculation also shows how bilaterality
of IPV was missed by one sided inquiries.


effects on Male Victims

The gender paradigm stereotype also holds that female violence is less serious, only what Johnson
calls “common couple violence” (Johnson, 1995). In fact, the data again say something else. It was
simply that earlier research was driven by a paradigm that avoided asking the right questions of men.
When these questions are asked, the results are surprising. An emergency clinic in Philadelphia
found that 12.6 percent of all male patients over a thirteen-week period (N=866) were victims of domestic
violence (Mechem, Shofer, Reinhard, Horing, & Datner, 1999). These patients reported having
been kicked, bitten, punched, or choked by female intimate partners in 47 percent of cases, and in


37 percent of cases reported a weapon being used against them. The authors observe that the numbers
would have been higher except they had to stop counting after midnight and screened out “major
trauma” cases, which could have upped the proportion injured by female partners. Note that many
emergency clinics ask women but not men about potential domestic violence origins for injuries.
An emergency clinic study in Ohio found that 72 percent of men admitted with injuries from spousal
violence had been stabbed (Vasquez & Falcone, 1997). The authors report that burns obtained in intimate
violence were as frequent for male victims as for female victims.
Coker et al. (2002) reanalyzed data from the NVAW survey (N=6,790 women and 7,122 men)
to assess associations between physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and current and long-term
physical and psychological effects in men and women. Results indicated that psychological and
physical abuse were associated with much the same outcomes and had similar effects for men and
women. The authors cautioned that it is possible that male victims were also perpetrators and their
mental health status resulted from inflicting abuse rather than from being victimized. Interestingly,
they did not present this hypothesis for women.
The reanalysis of the Canadian General Social Survey data by Laroche (2005), based on a
sample of 25,876, also strongly refutes the idea that males do not suffer ill effects from intimate partner
violence. It is of interest that, though not all “victim” data in that survey were available for men,
what was available indicated great similarity in male and female victimization. Laroche (2005) reported
that 83% of men who “feared for their life” did so because they were unilaterally terrorized
by their female partner compared to the 77% of women who were unilaterally terrorized. Of the terrorized
men, 80% reported having their everyday activities disrupted (compared to 74% for terrorized
women), 84% received medical care (the same rate as for terrorized women), and 62% sought psychological
counseling (63% for women: see Table 8, p. 16). Hence, in an immense nationally representative
sample, victim reactions for abused men were virtually identical to those of abused women.
It was simply that earlier research was driven by a paradigm that avoided asking the right questions
of men.
Men who are victims of IPV exhibit negative psychological symptoms, in addition to possible
physical injury (although, on average men are less likely to sustain injury compared to women:
Archer, 2000). In a multi-site study of 3,461 male university students, IPV victimization was associated
with Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) symptoms. With more severe IPV victimization associated with
a greater severity of PTS symptoms (Hines, 2007). Additional support of this finding was reported
in a clinical sample of men. Men who had sustained common couple violence were more likely to
meet the clinical cut-off for PTSD compared to men who had not sustained IPV (8.2%; 2.1%), but
the group with the highest rates of PTSD were men who sustained intimate terrorism (57.9%: Hines
& Douglas, 2011)
After years of studies of battered women drawn from transition houses for women, a set of
studies were finally done on men seeking help for IPV victimization. Using a sample of men contacting
the New Hampshire domestic violence hotline, the only one in North American for men,
Denise Hines (Hines, Brown, & Dunning, 2007) finally provided a view of male victims of IPV. Hines
and Douglas (2010) reported that in this male victim sample, 20% had experienced extreme violence
(e.g., choking, using a knife, burning with scalding water, targeting of their genitals) during attacks,
and that 95% of the female perpetrators used controlling acts consistent with Intimate Terrorism

(e.g., death threats, threats to the family pet, display of weapons, smashing things, threats of using
the criminal justice system–calling the police and lodging a domestic violence complaint, using the
court system to obtain sole custody, etc.). Seventy eight percent of the men were injured (Hines),
2007 sustaining on average eleven injuries. Hines and Douglas (2011) used a community sample as
controls. In the community sample they found that CCV was the most common form of IPV. However,
with the sample of help-seeking men, “a very different picture emerged” (p. 51). Female partners
of these men used 5-6 times the frequency of physical and severe psychological aggression of the
men themselves (by the men’s reports) and 5-6 times the controlling behaviors. Rates of their own
use of IPV by the help seeking men were similar to those reported by shelter women in the few studies
that reported these data (e.g., McDonald et al., 2009; Hines & Douglas, 2010,). They constituted a
virtual mirror image (i.e., gender reversal) of the female victim samples reported by Johnson. When
they sought help from a local DV program, 64% of these abused men were told that they were the
‘’real batterer.” The gender paradigm never acknowledges the existence of male victims, in part, because
shelters for men (and therefore, samples of male victims) have never existed.

the Criminal Justice Solution

Criminal justice practice requires a perpetrator and a victim, that’s how the world is divided, so it is
no surprise that bilaterally violent couples will be divided in this manner by police intervention.
Deborah Capaldi and her colleagues performed the essential study on this matter (Capaldi et al.,
2009). As part of the ongoing Oregon Youth Survey, Capaldi et al. assessed 150 couples in late adolescence
and early adulthood. Bilaterally violent couples whose level of IPV rose during one event,
called the police who then arrested the man (in 85% of cases). It should be pointed out that the
man’s level of aggression was higher on that incident, but the IPV pattern preceding that event had
been mutual and matched for severity. Brown (2004) found that men were more likely than women
to be arrested and prosecuted for IPV. For example, in cases where neither partner sustained injury,
men were over 15 times more likely than females to be charged (61% vs. 3.8%). Henning and Renauer
(2005) found that men were more likely to be arrest compared to women, even when other factors
were controlled (e.g., prior arrests). Men also faced harsher legal ramifications post-arrest, in this
sample 85% of men, but only 53.5% of women who were arrested were prosecuted (Henning & Renauer,
Men that were suspected of being perpetrators of violence are treated more harshly by the
criminal justice system, but so are men who reach out for protection. In reviewing current research,
Russell (2012) found that men were less likely to receive a protection order from their female partner.
This supports the claim that male victimization is not taken as seriously in courts, as these men were
not seen as requiring protection at the same rate as women. Police and criminal justice professionals
are steeped in the gender paradigm, it is part of police training. When these biases are added to the
male reluctance to report IPV, it is easy to see why any research based on criminal justice statistics
is misleading; it underestimates both bilaterality and female perpetration.

Perceptions of Domestic Violence

Studies of lay persons (Sorenson & Taylor, 2005) and psychologists (Follingstad, DeHart, & Green,

2004) reveal that the stereotype created by the gender paradigm is pervasive; both groups view an
identical action when committed by a man as more abusive and more likely to require police intervention.
Male victimization is not viewed to be as serious as female victimization. Regardless of injuries
sustained, or other negative outcomes, society views IPV perpetrated by a women towards a
man as less dangerous and less potentially harmful to the victim (see, White & Dutton, 2013).
Gender stereotypes profoundly affect our perceptions of the seriousness and preferred outcomes
of domestic violence. A random-digit dialed survey of 3, 679 residents of Los Angeles (Sorenson
& Taylor, 2005) found that actions are more likely to be considered abusive by the general public
if performed by males. This was true across all sociodemographic groups and includes what we normally
would call “psychological abuse”, not just physical abuse. Furthermore, respondents deemed
the same action when performed by a man as actionable (i.e., “should be illegal”). This included acts
such as “punch” and “pressure for sex.”
Of perhaps greater concern is that Follingstad et al. (2004) found that this gender bias was
also true of psychologists. Two scenarios describing the context and psychologically abusive behaviors
with the genders reversed were given to 449 clinicians (56% male), with a median age of 52. Psychologists
rated male perpetrated behaviors as more abusive and severe than a female’s use of the
same actions. Contextual factors (e.g., frequency/intent/perception of recipient) did not affect this
tendency. The items rated as significantly more abusive if performed by a man included “made to
account for whereabouts at all times”, “would not allow to look at members of same sex”, “threatened
to have committed to an institution” and “made derogatory comments.” The significance on these
items was independent of the sex of the psychologist. In both the Sorenson and Follingstad studies,
identical behaviors were more likely to be judged as abusive when done by a male to a female.
As Follingstad et al. concluded, “the stereotypical association between physical aggression
and males appears to extend to an association of psychological abuse and males” (p. 447). Unfortunately
this sometimes leads to serious problems. Coontz, Lidz and Mulvey (1994) found that clinical
predictions of dangerousness made in psychiatric emergency rooms consistently underestimated
female dangerousness. Predictions that a male would not be violent were correct 70% of the time,
but for females, they were correct only 55% of the time. Skeem and his colleagues (2005) had 147 clinicians
assess 680 patients in a psychiatric emergency room for risk of future violence. Mental health
professionals of both genders were “particularly limited in their ability to assess female patients’ risk
of future violence” (p. 173). In fact the false negative rate for female patients (i.e., the rate at which
one was judged to be low risk but subsequently re-offended) was double that of male patients. The
criterion for violence was physical violence: the patient had to have been reported to have “laid hands
on another person with the intent to harm him or her, or had threatened someone with a weapon in
hand” (p. 178). This finding was true across all professional groups and was unrelated to type of violence.
That is, the finding occurred for general violence and for severe violence. In the MacArthur
Risk Assessment study of psychiatric patients released into the public, Robins et al. (1987) found
that women were just as likely as men to be violent during the first year after discharge. Robins and
her colleagues attributed the underestimation of women’s violence to it being less visible “since it
occurs disproportionately in the home with family members” (p. 182).
Changes towards societal acceptance of male- and female-perpetrated IPV have moved at a
discrepant rate. Over a 26-year period (from 1968 to 1994) the approval of male-perpetrated violence
towards a female partner decreases significantly, from 20% to 10%, whereas rates of approval of female-
perpetrated IPV remained consistent (at 22%) over this same period of time (Straus, Kaufman
Kantor & Moore, 1997). The authors state that efforts condemning female-perpetrated violence did
not exist to a similar degree as efforts to reduce male-perpetrated violence.


the Custody issue

The gender paradigm has simply played havoc with fairness in custody decisions. In books designed
for custody assessors, men have been portrayed as the only parent requiring assessment for violence
potential to their children, that abusers (who are only men) will lie during these assessments and
that abusive men will be especially litigious in court (Bancroft & Silverman, 2002; Jaffe, Johnston,
Crooks, & Bala, 2008; Jaffe, Lemon, & Poisson, 2003). Jaffe et al. (2003) claim “30-60% of children
whose mothers had experienced abuse were themselves likely to be abuse” (p. 30). The actual overlap
is about 4-6% and that is only when spanking is counted as physical child abuse (Appel & Holden,
1998). Jaffe et al. generalized his conclusions from a women’s shelter sample, Bancroft from a court
mandated group of male perpetrators. Evaluators reading these books will be primed to suspect only
the male and to expect that male to lie. It’s a blueprint for a witch hunt and is not supported by the
data. The present senior author has strongly critiqued these specific papers (Dutton, 2005; 2006;
Dutton, Hamel, & Aaronson, 2010; Dutton & Nicholls, 2005). It is appalling that such a wrongheaded
view should impact on custody decisions. In view of the fact that there is not a shred of scientific evidence
to support the gender paradigm misinformation, these writers should be exhorted to recant
and set the record straight.
A study of 135,573 child maltreatment investigations conducted by Health Canada, and published
by the National Clearing House on Family Violence (Trocme et al., 2001) examined physical
abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional maltreatment and “multiple categories” within the general
population. Cases of alleged abuse were further divided into substantiated, suspected, and unsubstantiated
categories. Substantiation rates did not, in general, vary by gender of perpetrator and
ranged from 52 to 58%. Compared to biological fathers, biological mothers were found more likely
to perpetrate child physical abuse (47% vs. 42%), neglect their children (86% vs. 33%), engage in
emotional maltreatment (61% vs. 55%), and contribute to multiple categories (66% vs. 36%). Biological
fathers are more likely perpetrators of child sexual abuse (15% vs. 5%).
A second study, using an even larger sample of 718,948 reported cases of child abuse, was
conducted by the United States Administration for Children and Families (Gaudioisi, 2006) and reported
that, in 2005, women (58% of the child abuse perpetrators) were upwards of 1.3 times more
likely to abuse their children than were men. When acting alone, biological mothers were twice as
likely to abuse their children as were biological fathers, and biological mothers were the main perpetrators
of child homicide. Also, as described above, McDonald et al. (2006) found that risks of
child exposure to violence were 2.5 times higher for female- (mother-)perpetrated violence than
male- (father-)perpetrated violence. Thus, again, the best research data, from the largest and most
rigorous studies tell a very different story from that related by Jaffe et al. and Bancroft.


Both male victims and male perpetrators have a more difficult experience in the aftermath of IPV.
Male perpetrators receive harsher legal penalties, and are judged as more capable of inflicting injury
or instilling fear in their female partner. This is true even when they have been part of a bilateral IPV
pattern. Male victims also fare worse when attempting to access services, as males are more likely to

be labelled the aggressor and to be treated with suspicion and injuries they have sustained are likely
to be minimized. Custody assessments are misdirected, focusing on the male as the sole source of
threat to children for physical abuse. A major revision of our thinking is required, one that is empirically
based and can to alter an emotionally tinged stereotype.


Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review.
Psychological Bulletin, 126(5), 651-680.
Appel, A. E., & Holden, G. W. (1998). The co-occurence of spouse abuse and physical child abuse:
A review and appraisal. Journal of Family Violence, 12(4), 578-599.
Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2002). The batterer as parent: Addressing the impact of domestic
violence on family dynamics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Brown, G. A. (2004). Gender as a factor in the response of the law-enforcement system to violence
against partners. Sexuality and Culture, 8(3-4), 3-139.
Caetano, R., Vaeth, P. A. C., Ramisetty-Mikler, S. (2008). Intimate partner violence victims and
perpetrator characteristics among couples in the United States. Journal of Family Violence,
23(6), 507-518.
Capaldi, D. M., Wu Shortt, J., Kim, H. K., Wilson, J., Crosby, L., & Tucci, S. (2009). Official incidents
of domestic violence: Types, injury and associations with nonofficial couple aggression.
Violence and Victims, 24(4), 502-519.
Coker, A. L., Davis, K. E., Arias, I., Desai, S., Sanderson, M., Brandt, H. M., Smith, P. H. (2002).
Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American
Journal of Preventative Medicine, 23(4), 260-268.
Coontz, P. D., Lidz, C. W., & Mulvey, E. P. (1994). Gender and the assessment of dangerousness in
the psychiatric emergency room. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 17(4), 369-
Davidson, T. (1977). Wife beating: A recurring phenomenon throughout history. In M. Roy (Ed.),
Battered women: A psychosociological study of domestic violence (pp. 1-23). New York, NY:
Van Nostrand.
Dekeseredy, W. S. (2011). Feminist contributions to understanding woman abuse: Myths, controversies
and realities. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16(4), 297-302.
DeKeseredy, W. S., & Schwartz, M. D. (2003). Backlash and whiplash: A critique of Canada’s General
Social Science Survey on Victimization. Online Journal of Justice Studies, 1(1).
Desmarais, S. L., Reeves, K. A., Nicholls, T. L., Telford, R. P., & Fiebert, M. S. (2012a). Prevalence of
physical violence in intimate relationships, Part 1: Rates of male and female victimization.
Partner Abuse, 3(2), 140-169.
Desmarais, S. L., Reeves, K. A., Nicholls, T. L., Telford, R. P., & Fiebert, M. S. (2012b). Prevalence of
physical violence in intimatre relationships, Part 2: Rates of male and female perpetration
Partner Abuse, 3(2), 170-198.
Dobash, R. E., & Dobash, R. P. (1979). Violence against wives: A case against the patriarchy. New
York, NY: Free Press.
Dobash, R. E., & Dobash, R. P. (1988). Research as social action: The struggle for battered women.
In K. Yllo & M. Bograd (Eds.), Feminist perspectives on wife assault (pp. 51-74). Newbury
Park, CA: Sage.
Dragiewicz, M. (2008). Patriarchy reasserted: Fathers’ rights and anti-VAWA activism. Feminist
Criminology, 3(2), 121-144.
Dragiewicz, M., & Lindgren, Y. (2009). The gendered nature of domestic violence: Statistical data
for lawyers considering equal protection analysis. American Journal of Gender, Social Policy
and the Law 17(2), 229-268.
Dutton, D. G. (1995a). The domestic assault of women. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia
Dutton, D. G. (1995b). Male abusiveness in intimate relationships. Clinical Psychology Review,
15(6), 567-581.
Dutton, D. G. (2005). The domestic abuse paradigm in child custody assessments. Journal of Child
Custody, 2(4), 23-42.
Dutton, D. G. (2006). A briefer reply to Johnson. Journal of Child Custody, 3(1), 28-30.
Dutton, D. G., Hamel, J., & Aaronson, J. (2010). The gender paradigm in family court processes: Rebalancing
the scales of justice from biased social science. Journal of Child Custody, 7(1), 1-31.
Dutton, D. G., & Nicholls, T. L. (2005). The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and
theory: Part 1 –The conflict of theory and data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10(6), 680-
Follingstad, D. R., DeHart, D. D., & Green, E. P. (2004). Psychologists’ judgments of psychologically
aggressive actions when perpetrated by a husband versus a wife. Violence and Victims,
19(4), 435-452.
Gaudioisi, J. A. (2006). Child Maltreatment 2004. Retrieved from
Goldberg, H. (1979). The new male: From self-destruction to self care. New York, NY: William
Gondolf, E. W. (1999). Characteristics of court-mandated batterers in four cities. Violence Against
Women, 5(11), 1277-1293.
Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2003). Intimate terrorism and common couple violence: A test of
Johnson’s predictions in four British samples. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(11), 1247
Henning, K., & Renauer, B. (2005). Prosecution of women arrested for intimate partner abuse. Violence
and Victims, 20(3), 361-376.
Hines, D. A. (2007). Posttraumatic stress symptoms among men who sustain partner violence: An
international multiside study of univeristy students. Psychology of Men & Masculinity,
8(4), 225-239.
Hines, D., Brown, J., & Dunning, E. (2007). Characteristics of callers to the domestic abuse hotline
for men. Journal of Family Violence, 22(2), 63-72.
Hines, D. A. & Douglas, E.M. (2010) A closer look at men who sustain intimate terroism by
women. Partner Abuse, 1(3), 286-313.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2011). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in men who sustain
intimate partner violence: A study of helpseeking and community samples. Psychology
of Men & Masculinity, 12(2), 112-127.
Jaffe, P., Lemon, N., & Poisson, S. E. (2003). Child custody & domestic violence: A call for safety
and accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Jaffe, P. G., Johnston, J. R., Crooks, C. V. & Bala, N. (2008). Custody disputes involving allegations
of domestic violence: Toward a differentiated view of parenting plans. Family Court Review,
46(3), 500-522.
Johnson, M. P. (1995). Patriarchal terrorism and common couple violence: Two forms of violence
against women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(2), 283-294.
Johnson, M. P. (2008). Intimate terrorism, violent resistance and situational couple violence.
Hanover, NH: Northeastern University Press.
Johnson, M. P., & Leone, J. M. (2005). The differential effects of intimate terrorism and situational
couple violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Journal of
Family Issues, 26(3), 322-349.
LaRoche, D. (2005). Aspects of the context and consequences of domestic violence: Situational
couple violence and intimate terrorism in Canada in 1999. Quebec City, QC: Government
of Quebec.
Lie, G., Schilit, R., Bush, J., Montague, M., & Reyes, L. (1991). Lesbians in currently aggressive relationships:
How frequently do they report aggressive past relationships? Violence and Victims,
6(2), 121-135.
MacKinnon, C. (1989). Toward a feminist theory of state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
McDonald, R., Jouriles, E. N., Tart, C. D., & Minze, L. C. (2009). Children’s adjustment problems in
families characterized by men’s severe violence towards women: Does other family violence
matter? Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 94-101.
Mechem, C. C., Shofer, F., Reinhard,S.S., Hornig, S., & Datner, E. (1999). History of domestic violence
among male patients presenting to an urban emergency department. Academic
Emergency Medicine, 6, 786-791.
Mills, L. G. (2003). Insult to Injury: Rethinking our response to intimate abuse. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Morse, B. (1995). Beyond the Conflict Tactics Scale: Assessing gender differences in partner violence.
Violence and Vicrims, 10(4), 251-272.
Robins, L. N., Helzer, J. E., Cottler, L. B., Works, J., Goldring, E., McEvoy, L., et al. (1987). The Diagnostic
Interview Schedule version III-A training manual. St. Louis, MO: Veterans Administration.
Russell, B. L. (2012). Effectiveness, victim safety, characteristics and enforcement of protection
order. Partner Abuse, 3(4), 531-552.
Saunders, D. G. (1986). When battered women use violence: Husband abuse or self-defense? Victims
and Violence, 1(1), 47-70.
Saunders, D. G. (1988). Wife abuse, husband abuse or mutual combat: A feminist perspective on
the empirical findings. In K. Yllo & M. Bograd (Eds.), Feminist perspectives on wife assault
(pp. 90-113). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Saunders, D. G. (1992). A typology of men who batter: Three types derived from cluster analysis.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 62(2), 264-275.
Saunders, D. G. (2002). Are physical assaults by wives and girlfriends a major social problem? A review
of the literature. Violence Against Women, 8(12), 1424-1448.
Skeem, J., Schubert, C., Stowman, S., Beeson, S., Mulvey, E., Gardner, W., & Lidz, C. (2005). Gender
and risk assessment accuracy: Understanding women’s potential violence. Law and
Human Behavior, 29(2), 173-186.
Sorenson, S. B., & Taylor, C. A. (2005). Female aggression toward male intimate partners: An examination
of social norms in a community-based sample. Psychology of Women Quarterly,
29(1), 79-96.
Stets, J. E., & Straus, M. A. (1989). The marriage license as a hitting license: A comparison of assaults
in dating, cohabiting and married couples. Journal of Family Violence, 4(2), 161-180.
Stets, J., & Straus, M. A. (1992). Gender differences in reporting marital violence and its medical
and psychological consequences. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical Violence in
American Families (pp. 151-166). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Straus, M. A. (1980). Victims and aggressors in marital violence. American Behavioral Scientist,
23(5), 681-704.
Straus, M. A. (1992). The Conflict Tactics Scale and its critics: An evaluation and new data on validity
and reliability. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical Violence in American

Families (pp. 49-73). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Straus, M. A. (1992b). Injury and frequency of assault and the “representative sample fallacy” in
measuring wife beating and child aubse. In M. Straus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical Violence
in American Families (pp. 75-91). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Pubclishers.
Straus, M. A. (1999). The controversy over domestic violence by women: A methodological, theoretical
and sociology of science analysis (pp. 17-44). In X. B. Arriaga & S. Oskamp (Eds.),
Violence in intimate relationships (pp. 17-44). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Straus, M. A., Kaufman Kantor, G., & Moore, D. W. (1997). Change in cultural norms of approving
of marital violence from 1968 to 1994. In G. Kaufam Kantor & J. L. Jasinski (Eds.), Out of
the darkness: Contemporary perspectives on family violence (pp. 3-16). Thousand Oaks, CA:
Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Full report of the prevalence, incidence and consequences of
violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.
(No. NCJ- 183781). Washington, DC: US Department of Justice; Office of Justice programs,
National Institute of Justice.
Trocme, N., MacLaurin, B., Fallon, B., Daciuk, J., Billingsley, D., Tourigny, M., et al. (2001). Canadian
incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect (No. H49-151/2000E). Ottawa,
ON: Health Canada.
Vasquez, D., & Falcone, R. (1997). Cross gender violence. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 29(3),
Whitaker, D. J., Haileyesus, T., Swahn, M., & Saltzman, L. (2007). Differences in frequency of violence
and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and non-reciprocal intimate
partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, 97(5), 941-947.
White, K. R. & Dutton, D. G. (2013). Perceptions of female perpetrators. In B. L. Russell (Ed.), Perceptions
of female offenders: How stereotypes and social norms affect criminal justice responses
(pp. 101-116). New York, NY: Springer.
Williams, S. L., & Frieze, I. H. (2005). Patterns of violent relationships, psychological distress, and
marital satisfaction in a national sample of men and women. Sex Roles, 52(11/12), 771-784.

Don Dutton is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
Canada. He may be reached at dondutton@

Katherine White is a student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
Canada. She may be reached at

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Mother's Day reflections

Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days all over the world.  Its origins are unclear with some sources dating the concept back to the spring celebrations of the Ancient Greeks in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.  Today’s festival pays tribute to all mothers and children at school and in churches honour their mums.

We have just ‘celebrated’ Mother’s Day in England.  As far as my ex-wife is concerned, I cast aside my own personal feelings and have tried to encourage my daughters to  build bridges with their mother.  After all, they will only ever have one mother whatever her failings.
My ex-wife asked if our daughters could spend part of Mother’s Day with her this year.  I left the decision entirely to them but I did encourage them that this day should be one when all parties made an effort to get on together.

Within 2 hours of leaving my house, my daughters had returned home upset.  I was extremely surprised to see them home so soon.  I asked what had happened.

The girls had brought their mother a gift: a necklace mounted on cardboard and held in place by soft wire.  To unfasten, the wire required twisting.   However, if you have followed my story, you may realise that patience and concentration are not virtues my ex-wife was blessed with.  She told the girls that, instead of taking the time to twist the wire, she would get some scissors and cut through to release the necklace.  My daughters warned her that by doing this she may cut through the necklace instead.   She assured them that she would take care and that would not happen.  Well, you can guess just what happened next!   Yes, the necklace was cut straight through.   One of my daughters noticed this had happened and challenged her mother about it.

“No, I haven’t” said their mother trying to disguise the accidental cut by holding the necklace up with the break hidden to show the girls, “it’s lovely.”

It may sound a small incident but what upset my daughters most was that they had warned their mother of the likely outcome of using scissors and when it happened she lied, denied and tried to cover-up that the gift had been broken.

When they returned home and shared this with me, my mind went back to the last Mother’s day I spent in the matrimonial home.  I’d brought her a card and a book as a gift, and as soon as I presented them to her, she tore them both up.  That act clearly wasn’t accidental.

My youngest daughter has found solace in a church, however she choose not to attend the Mother’s Day service.   She told me later that during the service, the members of the congregation were asked to raise their hands if ‘they had the best mum in the world’.  “That would have be very awkward for me, Dad.”  Her sister then remarked, “Dad, do you remember when we were in church and were all asked to say something nice about our mums?   I cried and everyone thought it was so sweet that I was so emotionally overcome.”  She continued, “What people didn’t know was the reason I was crying was because I couldn’t think of anything to say.”

Mother’s day is a day when we acknowledge our gratitude but for a lot of people this day is very difficult.   Some people, including myself, have to be both mother and father to their children and do this often without many people realising.  

On occasions I have had to have conversations with my daughters that a mother should be having and most daughters would probably be embarrassed by their Dads.  I try to be open and honest with them and I think we have a strong bond because of it.

Later in the week, my eldest daughter had ‘found’ an old photograph of me and her.  It was taken during her first summer.  I was asleep cradling her to my chest.  It was hardly a flattering photograph.  “Why have you pulled out that photograph.”   “Well Dad, we have been asked to say who inspires us most at Guides tonight.  You do, and this is the only photograph I have of just me and you.”

I admit it,  my eyes welled up with tears.  That moment makes all the hardship and pain worthwhile.
A few days later I was asked in a job interview ‘what is your greatest accomplishment?’
“Without any shadow of doubt, it’s my children.” 

I would do anything for them and be prepared to lay down my own life for them.  That’s the love we celebrate on Mother’s Day.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Men are victims too

Men are victims of domestic abuse too
Publish in the Hucknall Dispatch  Friday, March 8, 2013

By Jackie Derbyshire   @jcderbyshire

Coronation Street is currently exploring and raising the awareness of domestic violence through the character of Tyrone Dobbs who has been suffering at the hands of his new wife.

It is a shocking picture being painted in the popular soap but it acts to dispel the myth that only women can be victims of domestic violence.

For one Hucknall man, seeing the image of Kirsty physically and emoptionally abuse her partner has brought back to the fore his own experiences.

It is true to say that much of the profile surrounding domestic abuse is based around violence against women but this isn't always the case.

And through a blog, this man is trying to tackle the prejudice and biased attitude that women are the only victims in domestic violence.

"Domestic violence seems high on the political agenda and there have been a number of campaigns in the media recently but it is almost always aimed at tackling violence against women and children by men," said the father of three.

"Statistics show that the gap between the number of incidents against men and women are not representative of the support made available."

According to the Mankind initiative, one in four women  will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime compared to one in six men, figures that most will find surprising.

"I find it quite frustrating witnessing society's preception of this sensitive subject, " added the charity stalward.

"Much of this is because men are seen as physically stronger so how can they become victims?"

The victim was a church minister and worked in different areas of the country during their careers.

But the abuse he suffered travelled with him and it became a part of their marriage.

It was only in 2009 that he made the decision to leave the family home after another outburst by his wife made him realise enough was enough.

"I stayed silent for many reasons and would try and find reasons why it was happening," he remembers.

"I used to put it down to stress and then death in the family or any number of things.   It;s just not that easy to walk out when you have children."

"The image we were portraying to the church and trying to uphold the Christian marriage vows put me under more pressure."

"I was silent to everyone, my family, friends and peers and the silence turned into deceit and lies."

"You never really know what goes on behind closed doors."

"I had a public persona of a God-fearing, honest church minister but I was a fraud as I tried to mask my situation."

He is a very placid, gentle, easy-going person who is now seeking comfort in finding his voice to speak out about the subject and his own experience.

Not only has he found it cathartic to write about his past through a blog but he is helping to raise awareness of domestic violence against men through his contacts in the town.

"It's really helped me to air my emotions and now I've been able to detach myself from what had happened which has helped me move on with my life."

Through the blogs he has offered support and enable other men to feel that they are not a lone voice.

"Domestic violence is not gender specific - it can affect us all."


As I’ve managed to bring my story up-to-date, it’s been harder to post relevant new comment surrounding Domestic Violence.   The abuse I suffered still impacts my life and always will.  I’ve always tried to seek to turn negative experiences into something positive for the common good and this blog has helped me do that.
I’m not too sure that attitudes towards accepting that men can be victims of Domestic Violence are changing.  Although the gap between female and male victims isn’t as wide as most would believe, denial still exists surrounding male victims.   

While providing support for women (and children) is a topic currently high on the political agenda, it also sends out a  message that deeply concerns me.  Virtually all support agencies I’ve encountered are staffed solely by women and offer programmes for women and children only.  This gives out the subconscious implication that only women can be victims while men are the sole perpetrators.  I have actually come across an organisation that makes that very claim and so I take every opportunity to promote the fact that of every REPORTED domestic violence incident in the United Kingdom, every third victim of Domestic Abuse will be a man.  While 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse, 1 in 6 men will also suffer.  Staggering and frightening figures.  Men are also less likely to come forward and acknowledge that they have been abused.  This is because they don’t want to be seen as weak men and because they know that very few people will believe them.  Speaking out is actually the sign of a strong man!  Some women actually exploit this to emotionally control and blackmail their partners.

I will continue to get this message across.  I’m grateful that I have been giving a voice and people are beginning to take notice.  A lot of this has to do with one of the current storylines of the popular soap opera, Coronation Street.  For the last year, viewers have watch Car Mechanic Tyrone Dobbs suffer at the hands of his wife.   The scriptwriters have dealt with this sensitively and seem to be exploring many of the issues involved.  Well done Coronation Street! 

In recent weeks, I’ve managed to hold a meeting with a District Councillor who has the portfolio for Domestic Abuse services and the local newspaper has carried an interview with me. 
Domestic Violence affects ALL genders and there is no excuse, ever.