We need to take taunting and instigation more seriously.

Taunting is recognized as an aggressive action. Take for instance a recent editorial, in the small northern newspaper of Saskatoon, you could read the words that, “most people understand there is nothing innocent in taunting, teasing, [or] humiliating[…]” Society knows it is wrong.

Provocation and taunting is a destabilizing act, intended to undermine the power of restraint in the taunted target. It is a penalty in both the NFL and NHL. Society knows it’s wrong.

There are men’s groups who feel defensive and argue that power is an illusion for most men, since women are the actual bearers of power. Take for instance one BC man who was assaulted by his wife during an argument, “[…]she punched me in the face, […] So, I phoned the cops. A woman and a man cop showed up at the door. I walked outside and they were ready to cuff me. I said, hang on a second, I called you guys.” Confused, the officer said, “What?” At which point the male victim said, “I showed them the bruise on my face and she [the female officer] goes, Oh, now what do we do?” As it turned out, the police talked the male victim out of having his wife charged and taken away for the night. That is an example of a ‘investigated’ crime in which there was no written record, no evidence, no ‘proof.’ –  Yet in Canada, all a woman has to do is call the police and claim that her partner hit her, or laid a hand on her, and the partner is handcuffed and hauled away to jail. That’s power. Is it any wonder that there is a defensive reaction from men’s groups when domestic violence statistics are paraded out, over and over and over?

The executive director of the Ending Violence Association of B.C. spoke earlier in the summer in the Canadian  House of Parliament and said, “We’ve increased funding now to the women’s program to its highest level ever. As you have seen in the main estimates, we are maintaining this level of funding.” That seems to be a fairly powerful position, there are no men’s groups speaking in the House of Parliament, the funding ratio is about 100:1 for women’s centers in Canada. That’s power.

Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, is a provincial non-profit NGO that works on behalf of 240 anti-violence programs in the province of B.C. What they all have in common is that they respond to sexual and domestic violence, child abuse, and criminal harassment. In the 10 minute speech to the House of Parliament, the Director of the Ending Violence NGO, referenced men once, boys not at all, girls once, and women were mentioned 46 times in ten minutes.

The conclusion was that there needs to be a more holistic approach. Agreed! Let’s treat the other half of the (Domestic Violence), DV disease.

In cases of DV I’ve seen in court, the system repeatedly treats only half the disease, they send one party, usually men, to complete an Anger Management course, but the other half of the disease is left untreated. Women should be required in all DV cases to attend courses on Instigation and Taunting, and taught to realize it is an act of aggression that society will not tolerate. Sure there are rotten men that just beat up women, and they should be thrown in jail, no mercy. But they’re a small minority.

The Canadian courts look at provocation as an aggravating factor. Here are some Supreme Court excerpts related to instigation and taunting. “it was a senseless murder of a young man who did nothing to provoke or interact with [the assailant].” Not that any kind of taunting would warrant murder, the quote is an excerpt from a larger case.

Another recent excerpt, “Mr. Alhedaib’s actions provoked [the actions were verbal] and led to the tragic event which unfolded which was him getting hit in the head with a pool cue,” which resulted in permanent nerve damage and three surgeries and months of confinement in hospital. The assailant lost, not because the judge didn’t take the provocation into account, but because, the law requires that the force used by the accused be no more than necessary.

“Under s. 36 of the Code, “provocation” for purposes for s. 34(1) includes provocation by blows, words, or gestures. Provocation is conduct by the accused intended by his or her[sic] to provoke a response of assault, so the question for the trier[sic] of fact is not whether the accused actually provoked the victim into committing an assault, but whether the accused intended to provoke the assault:”

And again, a recent Supreme Court of BC decision, “However, he mentioned it only in his consideration of whether Mr. Osmond struck Mr. Barrett first or whether Mr. Barrett initiated the altercation by pushing Mr. Osmond and therefore could not be said to be an innocent victim who has been assaulted without having provoked the assault.” Again we can see that provocation is an aggravating factor, as is being an innocent victim…

We really do need to take a holistic approach, and treat taunting and instigation as the serious aggravating factors they are. There needs to be courses for women involved in DV cases, in order to reduce the impact DV has on society – using a more holistic approach.