Women have low levels of Domestic Violence
The Campbell Live report on the Christchurch Health and Development Study findings that men and woman initiate domestic violence about equally missed an opportunity to inform New Zealanders about this important issue. Right from the opening sequence of photographs showing women with bruised arms and faces, followed by scenes from the recent Women’s Refuge fund-raising advertisements, the “spin” was obvious.
“This year roughly 10,000 women and 7000 children will seek shelter in the Women’s Refuge — shelter from men.”
“In terms of violent domestic assaults, serious injury and sheer physical terror, the perpetrators are nearly always men and the victims are nearly always women and children.”
Campbell again, just before the reporter begins:
“Now lest we forget: men are bigger and stronger than woman and severe domestic violence is still overwhelmingly male to female. We ought to be stopping that.”
Campbell at the end:
“Let us remind ourselves that in terms of severe domestic violence men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators and woman are overwhelmingly the victims.”
And finally, a long advertisement for a Women’s Refuge sister organisation!
“The organisation Preventing Violence in the Home exists to help you. Do call – this is the number… we’ll put it on our website.”
The second thing that annoyed me, was that Campbell seemed very keen to push the idea that female violence is a new phenomenon, which is not at all true and not what the study reports. For example:
” At low levels men and woman are now equally violent towards the partners. In other words, rather than the culture of domestic violence diminishing in this country, men seemed to be keeping it up and at low levels woman appear to be joining in.”
“We seem to be creating a whole new template – that’s what this research suggests.”
“Violence seems to be jumping the gender gap. Children are now growing up in households where BOTH parents are violent.”
The program did contain interviews with women who had been violent, and some comments from Professor David Ferguson, the study’s lead author. They also included an interview with my wife Felicity – who incidentally has not been police doctor for some years now, despite the programme’s claim.
Some believe female aggression and the role that can play in the home is too frequently ignored.
Police Doctor Felicity Goodyear-Smith has dealt with many men and women caught up in domestic disputes. She says failure to recognise women as initiators of conflict is a failure to address a very real problem.
“In fact what happens is that she doesn’t get help. Her out-of-control behaviour, her anger isn’t being helped by situation where all violence is defined as male violence against women.”
“We have a double standard in this country in that we have a law that says ‘man assaults women’, but there is no equivalent law of ‘woman assaults man'”
“In one case I know of a man who call the police and his wife had stabbed him in the arm with a knife. When police arrived he was the one who was arrested!”