There is a widespread myth that women are always the ones victimized in domestic assault, the evidence shows that it is not the case. Violence is unacceptable, and disappointing to say the least. If a male character strikes a woman on TV it is seen as assault. But violence by women against men is often portrayed as humourous. Take for instance the 2013 movie called, The Big Wedding, with Robert De Niro, his character gets punched in the face twice. Once by a character who plays his ex-wife, and again by the character who plays his second wife – and it is portrayed as humour. It’s sublime because almost everyone in the theater will laugh when it happens, and laugh louder when it happens the second time. The issue was posed at the Good Men Project Ask a Feminist in part, the response was, “The other thing feminists might point out is that violence committed by men against women is a statistically larger issue than violence committed by women against men.” The key words in that response are larger issue. The fact is – women are more, or as violent with their partner as men. That issue is seldom raised, and it creates a social bias. The myth which needs to be confronted is ‘that only men are responsible for domestic violence’ – false. Evidence shows it’s essentially 50/50.
On the Statistics Canada website, in the Crime and Justice, Family Violence category, a recent report (Feb. 25th, 2013) on Police Reported Victims of Violent Crime, was titled: Violence Against Women – 2011. The total reported crimes were less against men than women, but in the last three age categories men were 9% to 19% more likely to be victims of violent crime. And the data showed that men are 91.5% as likely to be victims of violent crime as women are. Yet not a word was written about that. Is there a bias against men in our society? It is easy to perceive the official narrative as being, always violence against women, unless otherwise specified – full stop.
A search of the Statistics Canada website for Violence against women turns up four reports of 18 that specifically mention violence against women. A search for violence against men, turns up five reports, the first two are titled, Violence against women – there are no reports titled Violence against men. One of the search results for violence against men – turns up a report titled, Women in Canada: The criminal justice system, it states, “In 2009, females reported about 1.6 million incidents of violent crime (that is, physical assault, sexual assault or robbery). Men reported about 1.7 million incidents during the same period.” In this instance there’s about 6% more reported incidents of men being victims, yet the Canadian Government called the report: Women In Canada: The criminal justice system.
When asked why the data for the above graph was titled Violence against Women, Stats Canada media relations responded by writing, “This article looks at all forms of violence against women, including but not limited to spousal violence. For the purpose of this article, Statistics Canada uses the internationally accepted definition of violence against women: “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life (UN 1993). In doing so, it is possible to situate women’s experiences of violence in various contexts, and to illustrate how this violence differs in prevalence, severity, and impact from violence perpetrated against men. Also, while the majority of this article will focus on violence against women aged 15 years and older, it is recognized that violence directed at females often begins before adolescence. Consequently, the article examines the victimization experiences of girls. Within this article, special attention is also paid to the situation of violence against Aboriginal women. Impact and responses to violence against women are also examined.” It is 175 words without answering the question why.
A ‘domestic violence’ search at the Stats Can website turns up two reports, the first is titled Residents of Canada’s shelters for abused women. There are no shelters in Canada for abused men. The only shelter for abused men closed in March of 2013. It was established by Earl Silverman, and was located in his own home in Calgary, Alberta. Silverman received no support from the federal or provincial governments, and because of a lack of funding he had to close it, and sell his home. He funded the project for as long as he could with his own money, and small private donations. Silverman committed suicide a few days after his home was sold.
Under the heading Women and the criminal justice system there is a table of statistics from 2009, titled Severity of Spousal violence reported by female and male victims. The table shows that in terms of gender there is a fairly equal split in terms of spousal abuse with women being 2.7 % less violent. Only 18% of the males required medical attention for the abuse whereas 42% of women were in need of medical attention as a result. Males were 25% more likely to be victims in single incidents of violence than women. In the 2 to 5 incident category, men were victims in 46.2% of spousal violence cases. The evidence in domestic situations seems to show that it ‘takes two to tango’ and women are dishing out violence just as much, if not more than men, but are getting physically injured more often as a result.
When something negatively affects women it’s frequently framed as a social problem, to be resolved by society. On issues that affect men however, society defaults to a narrative on personal responsibility and failure, where the man is expected to change by himself.