Regrettably, the problem has been politicized. The discussion of IPV is based much more on ideology (primarily the idea that men — and only men — seek power and control over their partners) than on science. Some domestic violence advocates are beating the Shield of protection for women into the Sword of disempowerment against men. Social work plays a major role in this social injustice.
Government officials will do well to ensure that the services they fund are mitigating the problem rather than harnessing it for ideological purposes.
This post will discuss three main points we need to recognize about IPV:
- Women perpetrate IPV as often or more often than men do.
- Social Work’s treatment of male victims of IPV is often shameful and unethical.
- False allegations of IPV against men often and easily hijack the system of protections for IPV victims and turn them against innocent men.
Women perpetrate IPV as often or more often than men do.
It is true that when IPV results in serious physical injury women are more likely than men to be injured. But IPV taking the form of a dominant man unilaterally and repeatedly battering a helpless woman is perhaps, according to Donald Dutton, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, the least common form. Most IPV is bilateral, mutual combat. And women are more likely to initiate physical altercations than are men. An annotated bibliography compiled by Martin Fiebert at Cal State-Long Beach, “examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.”
Social Work’s treatment of male victims of IPV is often shameful and unethical.
Perhaps because IPV so easily meshes with the sweeping social work ideology of men as “oppressors,” social work largely ignores and perverts the science of IPV. A prime example is found on the website of the Social Work Policy Institute. Here is a relevant excerpt; the actual page is here.
Dobash and Dobash did their work in Scotland. Ironically, in 2009, using scientific sampling, a Scottish government study reported, “A similar percentage of males and females experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months (both five per cent)… A similar percentage of women (73%) and men (71%) who experienced any form of partner abuse since the age of 16 said they had experienced at least one form of physical abuse since the age of 16. The main types of physical abuse experienced since the age of 16 included a partner throwing something at them (50%); kicking, biting or hitting them (36%) or pushing or holding them down (33%).”
Denial of the science of IPV is common in social work literature and pedagogy; biases, prejudices and sexist groupthink substitute for facts. The result is that male victims of IPV often receive shoddy and unethical treatment from social workers, as shown in these slides by Hines and Douglas from their study of 611 male victims of IPV who sought help from IPV agencies.
False allegations of IPV against men can easily hijack the system of protections for IPV victims and turn them against innocent men.
Some will say that false allegations of gender-related crimes are rare and they will cite studies to support their claim. Other studies report the opposite finding. But whether rare or common, the effect of a false allegation of IPV against a man is often swift and irreversible, providing power-and-control-seeking women with precisely the power and control they seek.
False allegations waste public money and workers’ time. They make services less available to men and women who need them.
If you are a government official who funds a Public Defender agency, court system or jail, you would do well to investigate whether the waste of public resources detailed in the following interview in Baltimore is also happening in your jurisdiction.
November 7, 2013
shorter version 1:41
longer version 10:14
not as an employee of the State of Maryland
nor as a representative of the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender.
As Attorney General Janet Reno said during her Senate confirmation hearings in 1993, “Unless we address violence in the family we are going to continue to have violence in the streets.”