Before you start reading this blog, watch the following clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtVHnZX8E50. It is a social experiment titled ‘Extreme Domestic Abuse in Public’. Pay careful attention to when it gets to 2:09. [Also remember when Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s sister) physically assaulted Jay Z – here’s the link if you don’t remember https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUKEbMDIR08.]
Food for thought: If you saw a man attacking a woman physically in public would you intervene? Most likely you would. Now would you intervene if you saw a woman attacking a man? Really?
Domestic violence is often seen as a purely female victim/ male perpetrator problem but the evidence demonstrates that this is a false picture. Feminism controls the narrative of domestic violence and focuses only on the females, but this is a blog for global gender justice so let’s have a look at the male perspective.
What is gender-based violence? “GBV is the term used to capture violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between the two genders, within the context of a specific society.”
What is domestic violence? “The abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner.”
Let’s take a look at some statistics:
- Men constitute 2/5 of the victims of domestic violence
- “The Home Office Statistical Bulletin of 2009/10 estimates that among adults (aged between 16 and 59) 15.8% of men and 29.4% of women have been victims of domestic violence since the age of 16. It estimates that this represents around 2.6 million men and around 4.8 million women.”
- In 2014, over 54,000 men were convicted of domestic violence compared with 3700 women. See http://voteprint.co.uk/mankind/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Convictions-200405-to-201314.pdf
** it must be noted that the statistics above underrepresent the level of domestic abuse for both men and women, many cases go unreported.
Important things to acknowledge and understand:
- Institutional sexism – the British government has never run a public campaign or made a specific statement about helping male victims of domestic violence. <– Is this not in breach of the Gender Equality Duty? The reason I say this is because there isn’t a funding stream available for male victims of domestic violence from the government. All of the charities that help male victims of domestic violence do so via their own funding streams, for example Mankind Initiative and Men’s Advice Line.
- There is a lack of recognition in the media and society about about male victims of domestic violence. Nearly all the cases are male on female domestic abuse. This is not to say that some reports or materials aren’t gender neutral, it is just that the media still only features women as victims.
- Male culture is a problem. Society expects men to make money, win, be physically strong, fix things and get it up. Men also see themselves in this way. Male culture is still resistant to men as victims (we see this in the case of rape and the case of child sexual abuse) – they are afraid that they cannot discuss it without being laughed at.
There is no simplistic paradigm when it comes to gender based violence. It is not always the case where the male perpetrator attacks the female victim or vice versa, sometimes the case is that a dysfunctional and violent household exists whereby both partners are the aggressors in their own rights.
The data and statistics miss out on a lot of vital data tat will help us get the bigger picture and aid us into creating a fight to end domestic violence regardless of where in the gender and sexuality circle you fall into. I would love to further look into the breakdown and comparison between of heterosexual male victims of domestic violence, gay and bi male victims of domestic violence, frontline workers and male domestic violence workers and male victims of forced marriage. These are all areas that statistics do not break down and are rarely spoken about in the public arena.
I do not mean to deny any man’s reality of gender based violence, but it has to be noted that denying the woman’s much greater suffering as victims is a political act. Contrary to the statement I made at the beginning about it is the feminists agenda to only show domestic violence story as the women as the victim, I believe that whilst maintaining a feminist agenda we can and will end gender based violence, domestic violence or otherwise. No woman, child or man deserves to be a victim of any kind of abuse.
 Bloom, Shelah (2008), Violence against Women and Girls: A Compendium of Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators. (Bloom) 2008, p. 14.