Male victims of domestic violence exist, too
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2006
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 835,000 men are assaulted by their intimate partners every year. But when those men seek help, they are often re-victimized by a system that refuses to even acknowledge their very existence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In his annual proclamation, President George W. Bush recently recognized that men are also harmed by this national crisis. “Domestic violence has no place in our society, and we have a moral obligation to help prevent it. The terrible tragedies that result from it destroy lives and insult the dignity of women, men, and children,” Bush said.
Earlier this year RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) reported on the problems that abused men face.
“VAWA Programs Discriminate Against Male Victims” reveals that discrimination against men is widespread, systematic, and overt.
One survey of California shelters revealed that most shelters do not admit males. One woman who directed a shelter admitted, “Whenever I speak of male abuse, I am met with disbelief and, even worse, laughter.”
Law enforcement efforts are afflicted with bias, as well. In Iowa, the Attorney General's Crime Victim Assistance Division recently admitted that the “prosecutors we fund are prohibited from prosecuting female cases.” And VAWA-funded legal programs frequently deny male victims assistance.
“I have represented both female and male victims of domestic violence, but the system rarely acknowledges that men need protection, too,” according to Lisa Scott, family law attorney in Washington State. “Even severely battered men are presumed to be guilty of domestic violence, not victims of it.”
Reliable research shows that men and women are equally likely to engage in partner aggression, and 38 percent of persons injured by domestic violence are male. This has been shown in over 100 studies conducted in both the United States and abroad.
The U.S. Congress has mandated that domestic violence services be made available to victims of both sexes. According to RADAR, despite that requirement, the DOJ Office of Violence Against Women has instructed that “states must fund only programs that focus on violence against women.”
RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to assure that the problem of domestic violence is treated in a balanced and effective manner. For more information, please visit www.mediaradar.org.