Domestic Violence Is A Human Problem

© 2000 Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.
Equal Justice Foundation


Originally published in The Voice Magazine, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
November and December, 2000, vol. 3, nos. 2 and 3.

Those who abuse and batter their lovers and children come in every shape and size, from every income level and social strata, of either sex, and irrespective of sexual orientation. But when people involved in intimate partner violence are examined certain characteristics are commonly found. Such people tend to have been abused as children, raised in a single-parent home, have substance abuse problems, live in poverty, have prior criminal convictions, or suffer from mental or physical health conditions, and a few other identifiable conditions.

These characteristics are, of course, human problems, and have nothing to do with gender or sexual orientation of the abusers. In fact, the most common form (~50%) of domestic violence (DV) involves mutual combat between the partners. Nor is intimate partner violence limited to heterosexual couples. Research suggests that lesbian couples may, on average, be the most violent relationships of all. While gay couples appear to abuse each other at about the same rate as heterosexual couples the sample sizes in the studies for both gay and lesbian couples are small and the likely errors correspondingly large.

Specific causes of intimate partner violence have been proposed. For example, Prof. Donald Dutton at the Univ. of British Columbia, among others, has suggested that men who batter commonly suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is estimated that about 2% of the population suffer from BPD and 75% of the diagnosed cases are women. Other examples abound and, try as one might, no gender-specific cause for domestic violence can be found.

Despite feminist dogma, no relationship has been found between domestic violence and the patriarchy. In fact, domestic violence appears to be more common in matriarchal societies.

There are major difficulties in obtaining reliable statistics in this area but mental health studies consistently show that in heterosexual couples only about 25% of the time is domestic violence solely male-on-female. The same studies show that 25-30% of the time the violence is exclusively female-on-male, with the remainder mutual combat. However, one agreeable result emerges from these studies: The safest place for a woman is in her home with the biological father of her children.

The rational approach suggested by these results would be to deal with violence between intimates as a human problem and treat the underlying causes.

If we are to treat the underlying causes, a fundamental issue is the lack of consistent definitions, used in a standard fashion, defining violence between intimate partners. Before we can attempt to solve any problem we must first define it.

Violence is defined in general as an act carried out with the intention, or perceived intention, of causing physical injury or pain to another person. Accidents, play, sleep disorders, nightmares (often a problem with combat veterans), and self-inflicted injuries all fall outside the definition of violence.

In any relationship, some level of violence must be considered normal. In a family environment that encompasses the commonplace slaps, pushes, shoves, and spankings that are usually considered an acceptable part of raising children or interacting with a spouse. Injuries such as bites, scratches, and bruises inflicted during extremes of passion are normal violence as well. Also, about 10-15% of couples engage in some mutually-acceptable level of S&M and that too falls within 'normal' levels of violence. Couples who engage in games of bondage and domination probably fall within this range as well.

Between normal and abusive violence lies those areas where violence against one's partner may be justified. Such acts would include self-defense, e.g., alcohol might cause loss of control in either partner; to prevent harm to others, e.g., the children; and to prevent harm to one's partner, e.g., they may be delusional and attempting to jump out of a window.

On a more dangerous level, abusive, or severe violence is defined as acts that have a high potential for injuring the person being attacked. Included in this definition are punches, kicks, bites, chokings, beatings, shootings, stabbings, or attempted shootings or stabbings.

Such physical acts do not include emotional abuse: the denigration, lies, slander, and degradation generally conceded to be the most common form of abuse used by women. But men are by no means adverse to using emotional abuse as well. Domestic abuse seems to always include emotional abuse and may, or may not, include physical abuse. Continued emotional abuse may escalate to include physical abuse.

If emotional and physical abuse are combined and continue over time it is regarded as battering. Battering does not refer to a single argument, nor does it mean the occasional conflicts that many couples have that may grow to yelling at each other and some pushing or shoving. Rather, battering involves beating and verbally abusing an intimate partner over a long period of time.

If the above definitions are accepted then it is possible to begin some quantitative measure of intimate partner violence. The most extensive and respected analysis is the National Family Violence Survey (NFVS) whose first results were published in 1975. Those surveys are based on the Conflict Tactics Scale, now considered the standard for evaluating family violence. The NFVS results have been replicated in over 100 independent studies.

As measured by the NFVS, the frequency for overall violence in relationships during 1992 in the U.S. was 8-12% for male-on-female, and 9-10% for female-on-male violence. For severe violence, about 2% of couples reported male-on-female, and 3-6% reported female-on-male violence. As noted above, about half of this violence is mutual combat. Mental health surveys in Canada produce similar results and consistently show slightly higher female-on-male violence.

Note, however, that criminal justice surveys produce markedly different results for reasons beyond the scope of this article.

The NFVS surveys also show that, except for severe female-on-male attacks, domestic violence decreased significantly between 1975 and 1992. In general violence in the home has been decreasing for centuries.

Clearly, either or both partners may engage in violent behavior in a relationship, either during an isolated incident, or as battering. In most cases such behavior is outside the range of what can be dealt with under colour of law. Realistically, only severe violence can be controlled by action of the State. For example, the most effective approach to mutually-combative couples is therapy. Problems such as BPD, and other physical and mental problems, are best dealt with by appropriate medical treatment rather than by the police and courts.

If the violence between partners is an isolated incident it would seem best to let the couple work it out themselves without the adversarial arena of a court. One of the primary findings of the 1995-96 National Violence Against Women survey made in the U.S. was "...that most victims of intimate partner violence do not consider the justice system an appropriate vehicle for resolving conflicts with intimates."

Despite the understanding summarized above, in pursuing their political agenda gender feminists have succeeded in polarizing the public understanding of the issue as male 'batterers' and female 'victims.' In the name of protecting women, ideologically-motivated laws have been put in place over the past two decades that have transformed the issue of domestic violence into a social-engineering experiment of epic and dangerous proportions.

Efforts by the State to combat abusive violence and battering are most certainly justified within Constitutional limits that preserve the civil liberties of all. But ideology has been craftily used to gain political power and public funding to stop "Violence Against Women." And with the concept of "zero tolerance" the laws make any violence, or even arguing, between partners a crime.

Under colour of law, in the nightmare world of today's State-sanctioned war on domestic violence, arrests are made without any pretense of a warrant and these mandatory arrests are often based on nothing more than hearsay. Unresisting citizens are bludgeoned and Mace'd within their homes after police force their way in. Accused are assumed guilty until proven innocent. Citizens are forced from their residence and children with nothing more than the clothes on their back. Police searches of their homes are made without warrant or consent. Children are taken in the dark reaches of the night by State authorities and parents have little hope of ever getting them back. Property is seized without redress. The right to confront the accuser and obtain witnesses in one's defense is denied. Hearsay is admissible as evidence. Punishment and imprisonment occur before a trial or without one. Citizens are publicly censured for crimes they have not committed. And these are not limited actions nor are they limited to males as I know of lesbians in my community subjected to this same treatment because of their 'deviant' lifestyle.

Even official statistics show this is being done to hundreds of thousands of men and women every year. The recent National Violence Against Women (NVAW) survey sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates that 1.1 million restraining orders are issued in the United States every year for intimate partner violence and stalking. The actual number certainly exceeds 500,000.

These are acts of a police state and the policies of tyrants. And such actions do nothing to solve the problems of domestic violence. In fact, the underlying causes are totally ignored as they don't fit the ideologic foundation used to justify such tyranny.

However, such draconian laws do provide powerful weapons of vengeance for women seeking to drive the male in their life away. Charges of domestic violence, often combined with allegations of child physical and sexual abuse, have become the weapon of choice for women in divorce and custody battles. Despite the fact that a great majority of these charges are false, women are rewarded with the house, kids, child support, and often alimony for making such statements, and face no penalty in court for their false accusations.

Where I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, restraining orders claiming domestic abuse are issued at three times the state average. Simple demographic analysis shows that over 5,000 men are being thrown into the streets here every year without cause or redress.

Correspondingly, 72% of all marriages in my community end in divorce, also the highest in the state. Is it any wonder that there is credible evidence that restraining orders actually increase the violence in many cases? And the NVAW survey suggests that nearly two-thirds of such restraining orders are violated so they provide virtually no protection to those who may need it. In cases of women stalking men, restraining orders are violated in nine out of ten cases.

In bringing such false allegations many women with children have found themselves under scrutiny by child protective services. As the parents challenge each other with charges, both false and real, of domestic violence and abuse, and physical and sexual abuse of the children to gain advantage in a divorce or custody battle, all too frequently their children are being taken from both of them. In Colorado Springs, once the Dept. of Human Services remove children from the home, the parents only have about a 25% chance of getting them back.

Thus, the real domestic violence is perpetrated by these draconian laws, and families are the principal victims of the State's tyranny.

Who are the real victims of domestic violence?

We all are as the laws destroy families by the hundreds of thousands and drive fathers from their children. Both men and women become more afraid of the State than they ever were of their partner. The supposed 'cures' offered by the State often place the real victims in more danger than they were to begin with.

And as surely as night follows day, such tyranny will beget domestic violence throughout our society as the State continues to destroy its foundations in families. This in a land charged in the Preamble to its Constitution " insure domestic tranquility..."