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Truth, Lies and Domestic Abuse In The Guardian
December 2, 2003
by George Rolph

A Letter to the Editor:

While I support the Guardian for it's drive against domestic violence as in its recent story (11/27/03) I have to wonder why the paper refuses to look at the real facts instead of perpetrating the myths and the false figures which are used to constantly undermine the help that both male and elderly victims need. The question I need to ask the Guardian is: Why? I cannot believe that the reporter who wrote the piece below has not actually checked out these figures or even thought a little more deeply about them that appears to be the case here.

Lets take these "facts" one by one.

"Up to one woman in four is affected by domestic violence at some stage in their life."

Where does this figure come from? It certainly does not come from any domestic violence study ever done in this country unless it was one carried out by the notorious Betsy Stanko, who uses appalling methodology and dubious sources for her information. In fact, the only large scale domestic violence study carried out in the UK (HOS 191) was in 1996. That study found that 4.2% of men and 4.2% of women suffer domestic violence. All the other studies usually reported by sections of the press, politicians and women's groups, rely on reported crime figures. The problem with reported crime figures is that they are not studies of domestic violence, they are studies of reported crimes. If women's groups had relied on reported crime figures in the 1960`s they would never had received any recognition of the problem they faced from brutal husbands because women back then did not report their abuse, as men do not report their abuse today.

"More than 500,000 women are affected each year."

This is yet another inaccurate figure. If we rely on the largest domestic survey ever carried out in Gt. Britain instead of the unreliable reported crime figures then the figure that is most accurate is closer to 3.3 million women suffering domestic violence every year. However, 3.3 million men also suffer according to that study.

"Domestic violence results in the murder of more than a hundred women each year."

This figure may well be accurate for women. However, no one really knows how many men are murdered in this country by their wives because the police do not keep accurate statistics on the matter. Women who employ hit men to kill their husbands, or get family members or friends to it for them do not appear in the domestic violence statistics. Also, females often use poison to kill which is difficult to detect. Furthermore, a woman who kills a man these days need only claim he abused her and she is almost certain to get off in court. This fact alone should deeply worry any man thinking of going out with a woman who shows even the slightest sign of being a little unstable. If she kills you and claims abuse then it will be your family name that is shamed and not hers. You will be too dead to defend yourself. It will be her claimed abuse that appears in the domestic violence figures and not yours!

"Violence within same sex relationships and from women to men is not unheard of, but the vast majority of domestic violence (estimated at over 80%) is perpetrated by men on women."

This is another "factoid" that is totally misleading and utterly false. In fact, lesbian on lesbian violence occurs statistically more often than any other form of domestic violence. The statement that "the vast majority of domestic violence (estimated at over 80% .... Estimated by whom and on what research? ED) is perpetrated by men on women" is a lie. What is more, I suspect that either the reporter who wrote this knows it is a lie or is disturbingly short on knowledge of this subject.

"The police receive an estimated 360,000 999 phone calls each year connected with domestic violence by men against women."

In my own survey of 400 men who called my help line over a six month period (Mine is just one help line for men out of many) I found that 74% reported that the police refused to act or charge the female perpetrator when they suffered domestic abuse. In some cases the police openly laughed at men calling them for help. In other cases they police arrested the victims. In one particularly horrendous case they failed to act even after the female ran the man over in her car before reversing back over him. Two weeks later she poured a kettle of boiling water over his head in front of several witnesses and a few weeks after that incident he was found hanging in his home. With police attitudes like this it is impossible to say how many male victims call the police each year because there is a concerted effort by the boys in blue to ignore male victims. This is an attitude that can only be political in its nature. If it is not political then the Home Secretary should be acting swiftly to end this prejudice within the police force under his control.

"Domestic violence occurs across all ages, ethnic groups and social classes."

While this "factoid" is almost correct it is missing one vital piece of information and one has to wonder why. The "factoid" would become a fact if it said: Domestic violence occurs across all ages, ethnic groups, GENDERS and social classes.

"54,000 women and children are given protection in refuges each year."

About 4 men are given protection in refuges each year because the government refuses to fund a single refuge for men. Instead they spend over 28 million pounds per year on female refuges and nothing at all for male victims. This reveals the extent of the prejudice against male victims in this government and shows appalling double standards. If they really do care about abuse, why do they not care about ALL abuse victims? Do 50% of the population not matter? Instead, the governments answer to my questions concerning the absence of refuges for men is that males can go to hostels. When I asked if the government felt that sending a man, who may have left the home with a couple of frightened kids, to a hostel full of homeless people, drunks and drug addicts and run by people with no knowledge of, or expertise in domestic abuse was appropriate, there was a deafening silence. Surely this cannot be because there is an anti male agenda at work, can it? There are also other facts that need to be taken into account. For example. A women I know who once ran a refuge for women in Kent told me that "refuge hopping" is common and that some women move from refuge to refuge yet each refuge will book her in as a unique victim. On the Kilroy show recently (last week) I saw a women say she entered a battered womens refuge because she was homeless. Unless we know how common these things are we cannot accurately know how close this figure is to reality.

"Despite the number of incidents reported, according to the latest figures prosecutions undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service only numbered 13,000."

This "factoid" which aims to frighten us all and is probably appearing here to prepare us for the next set of draconian laws being made ready to go before parliament, is actually nothing to worry about too much. If we look at the number of reported crimes in almost any area of crime and then check the prosecution figures for those areas we would find this trend repeated right across the board. Sometimes, even reported domestic violence has no basis in either fact or enough evidence to continue on to court. Many domestic violence calls to the police are spurious and unnecessary. What the government wants to bring into law is a situation where a simple allegation is enough to put a man in jail and remove him from his home and kids. As we are already seeing in family court actions, many women are spiteful enough to deprive a father of seeing his children (Another form of both adult and child abuse) simply because they want revenge for a relationship break up. Imagine what women like these will do if such legislation is allowed to pass through parliament!

"This number represents only about 15% of the estimated arrests in suspected cases of domestic violence."

Could this be because only 15% of the arrests actually warrant further action?

"Disabled women are twice as likely to suffer domestic violence and more likely to endure abuse."

I would like to know the source of the study that revealed this "factoid" if indeed it is one. Unattributed remarks like this are not helpful unless they can be checked. Given the inaccuracy of the rest of this report I am inclined to treat this statement with a huge pinch of salt until it can be shown where this figure came from.

The Guardian is, in my view, being totally disingenuous in the manner in which they report domestic violence generally and certainly in this instance. For a journalist or an editor to allow these inaccurate "factoids" to replace reality is not only a dereliction of their duty to research and print the truth, it also amounts to a concerted effort to mislead the British people. In terms of the effects on male and elderly victims of abuse it amounts to a despicable parody of the painful, fear ridden and soul destroying abuse that is really going on behind closed doors in this land. Any newspaper printing these false stories should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and any reporter too lazy to discover the real truth about domestic violence should be fired for gross negligence and incompetence.

Domestic abuse is wrong.......Full stop! The gender of the victim is not what is important and niether are the figures important either. What IS important is that we treat ALL victims of domestic violence with compassion and an equal level of care. That this government and sections of the press seem unable to do that is something we all must concider before we offer them our patronage or votes.

George Rolph is webmaster of Man2Man

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