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
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
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
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
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
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
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 "...to insure