MENZ Issues July 1999: Volume 4 Issue 6
Turning the Light on Domestic Violence Behind Closed Doors Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC), the main NZ promoters of the now discredited Recovered Memory Therapy, are hitching their wagon to the domestic violence gravy train. On 25th and 26th June DSAC presented a seminar at AIT on the North Shore…
Attack on Positive Partners Course: "Address power and control issues" A letter from two of the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ presenters attacking our Positive Partners Strong Families course was published in the NZ Doctor 26th May 99.
Inter-partner Violence: a Relationship, not a ‘Power and Control’ Issue Dr Goodyear-Smith replied: "Contrary to feminist theory, women do not only resort to violence as a pre-emptive strike or in self-defence…"
Women’s Violence "Although women’s violence should be seen to be as much of a social problem as men’s violence, instead it is trivialised…"
Family Advocacy Approach "by ignoring or devaluing women’s violence towards men, we are saying to women that it doesn’t matter what they do… "
How DSAC Deals With Opposition Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith tells how she was expelled from this organisation in 1997 for raising concerns about their teachings.
Fuelling Hysteria The list of speakers brought to NZ by DSAC in the last decade shows a complete lack of concern for the problem of false accusations of sexual abuse: It is as if they are saying that sexual abuse must be stamped out regardless of the possible consequences of many men being falsely accused…
Who’s Failing the Family? Erin Pizzey, founder of the world’s first shelter for battered women, stars in a recently released BBC documentary. She explains how the radical feminist takeover of her movement has harmed families.
Complaint about Living Without Violence Course "I cannot resolve these issues with A… Our counsellor-client relationship has completely broken down into mutual abuse. Please, can you do something…"
Picture: Posed Publicity Picture used in the North Shore Times Advertiser to promote Living Without Violence.
Turning the Light on Domestic Violence Behind Closed Doors
The good news, as reported in the final COSA (Casualties Of Sexual Allegations) newsletter last month, is that the number of people contacting them with complaints of false accusations has dropped substantially. From a peak of 40 – 50 per month in the mid 90’s, there have been less than half a dozen per month in recent years.
As Associate Law Professor Mark Henaghan observed at the Wellington Father’s Conference, many professionals went ‘too far’ in their efforts to uncover sexual abuse. It is clear that some of the most dangerous ‘theraputic’ practices have been discontinued. Increasingly, American memory recovery therapists are being successfully sued by their clients for damages.
There seem to be fewer fathers accused of sexual abuse in custody disputes since the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act in 1996, which has become the new weapon-of-choice for those embittered wives who want to use the system to punish their husbands.
The bad news is that Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC), the main NZ promoters of the now discredited Recovered Memory Therapy, are hitching their wagon to the domestic violence gravy train.
On 25th and 26th June DSAC is presenting a seminar at AIT on the North Shore called: ‘Behind Closed Doors: Turning the light on Domestic Violence’. The presenters (listed next page) include everybody who is anybody in the DV industry. Our concern is that far from turning the light on domestic violence, this group of mostly women doctors will continue their long tradition of promoting the radical feminist side of the debate, and actively working to suppress and exclude any opposition.
In this issue, my wife Felicity tells how she was ousted from DSAC when she publicly challenged some of their teachings. Readers of July 1998 MENZ Issues, where we discussed the North Harbour Family Violence Prevention Project move to ban us from their meetings, may find this an uncannily familiar story.
Also this month, a COSA member discusses some of the many ‘sexual abuse experts‘ that DSAC has brought to NZ over the years to teach professionals. As he points out, there is no problem in presenting controversial research to social service workers, provided it is balanced with other points of view.
The stories of Suzanne Steinmetz and Erin Pizzey demonstrate that threats and harassment by radical feminists towards domestic violence workers and researchers who question the party line has been an on-going feature of this debate. The willingness of some organisations to use violence themselves to enforce ideological compliance is particularly disturbing.
Finally, there is a letter of complaint that one man wrote when he felt badly treated by a Living Without Violence counsellor. After approaching the Court, he was told that they could find no evidence that the counsellor had been abusive or unprofessional. Incredibly, he was told that he had been allocated a new counsellor and that he would have to begin the programme again. He was threatened with prosecution if he did not attend.
If the result of complaints means that agencies simply pick up extra work, it certainly doesn’t give them much incentive to get it right! In the end, this particular man was fortunate enough to visit another counsellor who recognised that he was deeply depressed, and who was able to organise his release from the programme.
The other question raised by this incident is that of informed consent. With any other professional treatment, we are entitled to a full explanation of the services on offer. It was not until after the written complaint was made that material about the programme was forthcoming.
Many men tell us that they feel bashed over the head with feminist propaganda at these courses. Recently in Auckland one man committed suicide while being ‘re-educated’ on a stopping violence programme. The information received by our member from Living Without Violence states:
"Social Analysts, [ie: radical feminists] in identifying the ‘male system’ as mirroring other structural and institutional forms of oppression and control such as racism and classism, add a perspective which has encouraged the development of a significant education component in Living Without Violence programmes."
The document also reveals that the courses "draw significantly on the work and educational curriculum developed in Duluth, Minnesota by Ellen Pence……" (see box pg 7)
Men’s activist Bert H. Hoff points out what’s wrong with the ‘Duluth Model’ on his website: www.batteredmen.com/
"Blame and shame, not help. Ideology, not science. It ignores drinking, drugs and pathology. Only one cause, only one solution. There’s no real evidence it works. It ignores domestic violence by women. Women who need help can’t get it. It’s taught by ‘wounded healers.’ Its gender-polarizing perpetrates the battle of the sexes".
The presenters at the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ seminar are:
- Peter Adams, PhD Clinical Psychologist, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences, University of Auckland
- Roma Balzer, Coordinator, Hamilton Abuse Intervention Project
- Graeme Barnes, Coordinator, Zero Tolerance to Family Violence, Hamilton
- Professor Ruth Busch, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Waikato
- Dr Faye Clark, GP, Otara, Auckland
- Chris Connolly, Social Worker, Capital Coast Health Care, Wellington
- Keita Dawson, Coordinator (Maori), Age Concern Abuse & Neglect, Auckland
- Dr Dawn Elder, Paediatrician, Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics,Wellington School of Medicine
- Jo Elvidge, Public Health Promotion Advisor, Auckland Healthcare
- Janet Fanslow, PhD Behavioural Scientist, Serious Injury Prevention Research Centre, Department of Community Health, University of Auckland
- Prue Fisher, Clinical Psych, Nat. Women’s Hospital, Nth Shore Women’s Refuge Advocate
- Jeanette Ford, Nth Harbour Family Violence Prevention Project
- Chris Frew, Coordinator (non-Maori), Age Concern Abuse & Neglect Auckland
- Dr Selina Green, GP, Pukekohe, President DSAC
- Reese Helmondollar, Nth Harbour Family Violence Prevention Project
- Dr Patrick Kelly Paediatrician, Whakaruruhau, Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland
- Marion Kirker Psychologist, CYPFA Specialist Services Unit, South Auckland
- Gill Regan Nurse Practitioner, Newton Union Health Service, Wellington
- Neville Robertson, Senior Lecturer, Community Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Waikato
- Sgt JJ Taylor, National Coordinator, Family Violence Project, NZ Police
- Alison Towns, PhD Clinical Psychologist, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland
- Mary Watts, Supervisor, Family Start, Auckland
"Address power and control issues"
The following letter from two of the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ presenters attacking our Positive Partners Strong Families course was published in the NZ Doctor 26th May 99.
We are writing to express our concerns regarding Felicity Goodyear’s pilot programme to train couples at risk of abuse in their relationship to communicate better (New Zealand Doctor, 31 March). It is acknowledged that abuse in relationships is, in the main, an issue of power and control – it is not one of not knowing how to deal with disagreements.
The domestic violence legislation is based on this knowledge. It is well documented that unless the issues of power are addressed the perpetrator uses any new tool to continue the abuse.
Statistically it is women who are the most likely to be the recipients of abusive behaviour in relationships. The experience of workers in this area has shown these women frequently take considerable responsibility for their partner’s abusive behaviours. The women often comment that they have felt re-abused in counselling and learning programmes if they attend with their partners.
The challenge of working with the male perpetrator is to avoid colluding and to motivate them to accept responsibility for their behaviour and then to change those inappropriate behaviours.
While we acknowledge that the programme is to prevent abuse, we would suggest that by the time couples have come to the notice of a GP, as being in need of a ‘preventative abuse programme’, it is already too late.
Specialist training and supervision has been put in place for workers in this area for very good reasons – it is stressful and difficult and the safety, and emotional and physical wellbeing of all concerned are paramount.
We would support general communication courses for couples but have grave concerns if these were targeted towards couples who appear at risk of abusive behaviours, unless the power and control issues had been addressed.
Gill Regan, Chris Connolly
Newtown Union Health Service
Inter-partner Violence: A Relationship, not a ‘Power and Control’ Issue
Workers in the domestic violence field claim that ‘abuse in relationships is, in the main, an issue of power and control – it is not one of not knowing how to deal with disagreements’ (Regan & Connolly, 1999). People following this feminist model say that violence is a tool of the patriarchy, and men beating women is supported and reinforced by our social institutions. (Kurtz, 1993; North Harbour Living without Violence Collective Inc Programme aims) Women are seen as powerless in heterosexual relationships, and men use violence to control them. Any violence that occurs within marriages stems from this male dominance, with man the aggressor and woman the victim. Even though over a hundred competent studies show that men and women engage in violent acts about equally in their relationships, feminists argue that women engage in violence only in self-defence, as a last resort from a position of powerlessness. Furthermore, they argue, women’s violence differs from men’s in its severity (women do not hit as hard as men), intention (women do not intend to hurt men), motivational context (women just want to stop men hitting them) and consequences (men cause more injuries)(Dobash & Dobash, 1978).
This perspective is based on feminist ideology but I know of no reputable scientific research which supports it.
Firstly, while traditionally western societies have endorsed male violence against other men (in the context of war with other nations) there is a strong social taboo against men hitting women, and traditionally men have been socialised to protect rather than assault their wives.
Data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study indicates that men who are poorly educated, unemployed, and who lack social supports are more likely to assault their female partners than men from a higher social strata (Magdol et al., 1997), suggesting the latter’s values restrain them from hitting women. It can be seen that the use of violence is not the act of a powerful man, but rather the act of one who finds himself relatively powerless. Violence against his spouse is often the reaction of a man who feels socially impotent and who has few resources to cope with stress. He lashes out as the only way he knows to deal with anger and frustration.
On the other hand, the Dunedin study found that women from all social strata were liable to be violent. Our society covertly tolerates women hitting men in certain circumstances. The media portray a woman slapping a man on the cheek if he says something she finds insulting, or does something that offends her, as an acceptable or even desirable reaction on her part.
The data indicates that most men are socialised not to hit women, and many do not retaliate physically even when women attack them. A large number of studies indicate that women initiate physical violence at least as often as men (Bland & Orne, 1986; Gelles & Straus, 1988). A study of over 2000 nationally representative US families found that in 25% of cases only the woman had been violent; in 25% of cases only the man; and in 50% the violence had been mutual (Straus & Gelles, 1986). In another survey conducted for the Kentucky Commission on Women it was found that among violent couples, 38% of attacks were by women on men who had not attacked them. (Hornung et al., 1981) While men are socialised to restrain violence against those who are weaker than themselves, recognising that violence against their partner might result in her injury or their own prosecution, women may anticipate that few men will hit back and the likelihood of their being prosecuted is extremely low.
It has also been shown that violence is more likely to occur in relationships where the woman has more social power than the man. An American study of the jobs and education of over 1500 couples found the greatest risk of violence when the woman was more educated than the man, and when she had a higher status occupation(managerial or professional) than him. (Hornung et al., 1981).
Feminist doctrine claims that all heterosexual relationships are male-dominated (Walker,1989; Dobash & Dobash, 1978). Studies of relationships have however revealed that there are a variety of power relations within marriages: they may be male-dominated, female-dominated, power-divided (husband or wife responsible for decisions on different issues) or egalitarian (decisions are made jointly). In one study of over 2000 American couples it was found that about 9% of relationships were male-dominant; 7.5% were female-dominant; and the majority were either egalitarian or power-divided (Coleman & Straus, 1986).
There are different ways of measuring who holds the power within a marriage:
- who has access to resources (for example, income or education);
- power processes (for example, who has the most talking time);
- who determines the outcome in decision-making (who has the final say) (Gray-Little et al., 1996).
Not surprisingly, it has been found that there is a lower incidence of violence in marriages where the power is spread equally between husband and wife (egalitarian) than in either husband- or wife-dominant marriages. This supports the idea that helping couples to be equal partners will reduce violence and strengthen the family.
Interestingly, whether or not the couple agree to the way power was distributed in their relationship was a major factor in whether or not violence occurred. In about a quarter of husband-dominant relationships, both the husband and the wife agreed that the man should hold the power (have the final say in their decisions) and these relationships proved low in violence. While a male-dominant relationship might be unacceptable to the feminist perspective, it does not explain relationship violence.
Studies show that American women hold much more power in relationships than women from some other (non-Western) countries, where male-domination is closer to the norm. Feminist theory would predict that in these patriarchal societies there would be more male partner violence, but research has shown that this is not the case. In a large study of nearly 2000 people, it was found that Mexican-born Hispanics beat their wives at only half the rate that white men beat theirs (Sorenson & Telles, 1991). Another study found more physical violence in American families than in Japanese and Indian families (Kumagai & Straus, 1983).
Studies show that violence in relationships may be more a case of abusive relationships than abusive individuals (Brinkerhoff & Lupri, 1988; Billingham & Sack, 1986; Laner & Thompson, 1982). While some people might beat their partners in a serial fashion, or chose partners who are violent towards them, there are also cases where it is the specific combination of two people which leads to the violence, and that neither of these people engage in violent activities in other relationships or with other partners. In the abusive relationship, certain behaviours or responses in one partner provoke a violent reaction in the other.
Contrary to feminist theory, women do not only resort to violence as a pre-emptive strike or in self-defence. A study of dating relationships of over 600 university students found that the majority of violence was reciprocal, with males and females equally responsible for ‘starting’ the fight, and that as one partner became more violent, there was a greater likelihood that the other partner would reciprocate the violence. These results suggest that the roots of the violent behaviour lie within the couple ‘relationship’ rather than within individuals (Cate et al., 1982).
The high level of violence found in lesbian relationships also refutes the theory that inter-partner violence is a direct result of the patriarchy and male dominance over women. Battering in lesbian relationships is found to be at least as frequent as in heterosexual relationships (Dutton, 1994; Brand & Kidd, 1986). One study found that 90% on lesbians in relationships had been subjected to verbal aggression by their [partners over the previous twelve months, and about 33% reported physical abuse (Lockhart et al., 1994). In a survey of over 1000 lesbians, more than 50% reported that they had been abused by a female partner (Lie et al., 1991). In a further study, 31% of lesbians reported being victims of coercive sex by their current or most recent partners (Waterman et al., 1989).
No direct relationship exists between power and violence within lesbian couples, and clearly this is also true in heterosexual relationships. One lesbian study found that the feminist model of power and control of victim by perpetrator was not applicable, as the roles of ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ were blurred (Marrujo & Kreger, 1996). The researchers designated a third role, that of the ‘participant’. This is consistent with the finding that in heterosexual relationships also, conflict and violence are frequently mutual with both people actively participating. Another researcher has found that the two most important contributors to lesbian violence are jealousy and dependency (Renzetti, 1992), and these have also been identified as key factors in heterosexual violence (Dutton, et al., 1994).
Dr Felicity A Goodyear-Smith, MB ChB, MGP, FRNZCGP
When people think about domestic violence, they normally conjure up images of battered women and children. But there is an issue of domestic violence that is overlooked by society, and that is women’s violence. Although women’s violence should be seen to be as much of a social problem as men’s violence, instead it is trivialised. The media, the public, community and professional organisations ignore or downplay the seriousness of women’s violence, to the detriment of the victims who are involved. Even though women usually do not cause as much damage to men as the reverse, children however can, and have, sustained very serious injuries from women caregivers. So, as a society have we the right to ignore women’s abuse? Is it not arguable, that men and children may suffer just as much from women’s violence, as women and children do from men’s violence?
It is this issue and its possible implications for social work which will be examined within this essay.
DEFINING WOMENS VIOLENCE
It may be difficult for the general public to recognise that women’s violence is an issue that should be addressed in our society. If such violence happened frequently, surely we would hear about it more in the media? Is it possible for a man to be taken seriously when he complains about being abused by a woman?
In 1996 a movie screened on television called ‘Men Don’t Tell’ told the true story of a man who was physically and psychologically abused by his wife (Dominion, 13-3-96). After the movie, Television New Zealand informed their viewers that if they identified with any of the issues raised in the movie, to contact the Men’s Centre North Shore. Martin Lewis the coordinator for the centre was unprepared for the one hundred calls that came in. Lewis states that some of the callers were tearful when expressing their relief that they were no longer alone. One caller told of being arrested and charged with assault when he sought police help, despite the fact that his children told the police it was their mother who had attacked their father and them as well.
According to Dr Greg Newbold, a senior lecturer in sociology at Canterbury University, because of the fact men are not taken seriously by the police, this is the very reason why men do not frequently report violence inflicted upon them by their partners (Revell, 1997). Newbold further argues that when a man receives a black eye from a woman, he may be subjected to ridicule, while a woman who receives a black eye from a man is shown pity. However Maria Bradshaw, spokeswoman for the National Collective of Independent Refuges, argues that men do not call the police when they are abused, because men are not in fear of their lives (Dekker, 1996).
Bradshaw rejects the argument that feminist theorists do not acknowledge the existence of female perpetrators, but insists that in her experience men are the major perpetrators. Clifton Flynn, however, argues that feminists, in particular, fear that acknowledging battered men, will impede attempts to battle the issue of abused women (Flynn, 1990). Newbold’s response is that the only effective way to deal with women’s violence, is not to treat it as a gender issue (Revell, 1997). Violence does not always mean flesh -on -flesh contact, and that if a woman throws an object which causes injury, this is considered an assault in the Crimes Act, he says.
Ken McMaster, a social worker who deals with men who are violent, argues that men’s violence is more destructive and dangerous than violence which is inflicted by women (McMaster, Swain, 1989). American studies have however shown, that women’s violence, although physical injuries may not be as substantial, can be just as damaging in other ways (Cook, 1997). Men who have been victims of ongoing domestic violence suffer grave damage to their self-esteem, which results in reducing their potential as productive citizens. The current writer has interviewed a number of men (who wish to remain nameless), who have been victims of women’s violence, and a similar conclusion has resulted. All the men have suffered low self-esteem from the abuse, combined with a genuine fear of women, that has discouraged them from feeling confident in seeking out new relationships with women. And according to Philip Cook, domestic violence also contributes to alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness, and depression among men.
Women’s violence may not be reported on a regular basis, but over the last ten years women’s violent offending has almost trebled (Revell, 1997). Newbold states that New Zealand statistics on crime have shown a major increase in women’s violence. Between 1986 and 1995 violence by women has increased 197%, and in 1996 women made up 14% of all violent offenders. Senior Constable Doug Agnew who is based at Auckland Central Police Station, states that women in the 31-50 age group, who are picked-up for violent offending has trebled since. He also says that it is the same for younger women in the 17-20 age group, where their figures have doubled by 50% compared to male offenders with an increase of only 25.
Women’s violence, according to Newbold, is different from men’s in that it tends to be more emotionally directed. Women perpetrators nearly always aim their violence towards their children, partners, or their partners’ lovers, argues Newbold. McMaster would also argue, that this is where women’s violence is different from men’s, but according to McMaster the only area where a close comparison can be made is physical assaults on children (McMaster, Swain, 1989). McMaster argues that as women are generally the primary caregivers, it is therefore surprising that only 50% of neglect and physical abuse towards children, is inflicted by women. However, Newbold disputes this figure, and argues that it is 61% of women caregivers who abuse their children (Newbold, 1992). According to Newbold, women’s offending is invisible, therefore the true extent of women’s violence towards children is unknown, as a huge proportion of abuse goes unreported. There has to be proof of abuse, and physical evidence before the welfare agencies or the courts will intervene against perpetrators, and this can prove to be difficult to establish.
THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGISLATION
In 1982 the Domestic Protection Act was first established. The primary focus of the act was to provide protection for married or de facto partners and their children from violence and molestation (Adams, Kearns, 1996). The definition of violence within this act was assumed to be physical. The terms ‘domestic violence’ or ‘molestation’ were not defined. Due to this and other significant deficiencies in 1995 the act was repealed and replaced by the Domestic Violence Act 1995.
Unlike the old act, the new act places the observer into the picture, as in one way or another we may all be affected by the social problem of domestic violence. Whether it be as members of the community which will bear the costs, or by the continued affect of abuse. Under Section Three of the new Act, domestic violence is defined to include physical, sexual, or psychological abuse the definition of psychological abuse is extended to include, intimidation, harassment, damage to property or threats of physical, sexual or psychological abuse.
The intention of The Domestic Violence Act is not simply just to abate the effects of domestic violence, but also to protect the victims from further abuse. An object of the act is that domestic violence is not considered acceptable behaviour, in any form. It seeks to ensure that there is effective legal protection, for complainants and appropriate programmes for victims and perpetrators alike.
POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORKERS
While the current writer was gathering information for this section of the essay from various professional individuals and agencies, one particular theme became consistent. This was that men being abused appeared to be regarded as a bit of a joke. Or if men’s abuse was taken seriously, women perpetrators were viewed to be the victims of male oppression and dominance, thus minimising the plight of the male victims.
During the search for individual social workers and agencies that deal with women’s violence, the current writer has discovered that there are very few programmes that deal with this particular issue. The Family Court has an individual programme for violent women, and women are referred to this programme by the court. The cost for the counselling is paid also by the court, but, oddly, there are no social workers attached to the programme.
The implications of this are that since the Domestic Violence Act makes no distinction between men’s and women’s violence, and as the fact of women’s violence becomes clearer, more violent women are likely to come before the courts. This tendency will be enhanced by the inclusion within the definition of domestic violence, psychological or emotional abuse. Women arguably, are at least good at this form of violence as men are, and possibly even better. Perhaps, therefore, we will see more women in courts on this account alone.
For effective treatment and prevention programmes to work, professionals and the general public must first acknowledge the problem of relationship violence involving women (Flynn, 1990.) The current denial of women’s violence is evident by the virtual absence of programmes for abusive women and battered men. This might well explain why women’s violence has increased over the last ten years.
Social workers will have to recognise the importance of social forces and cultural norms that reinforce and harbour violent attitudes, and try and re-educate society and individuals into accepting that violence is not to be tolerated by either gender. While abused women have varied needs, like the safety of their children and themselves, the needs of the abused man are much more limited. Most men have the available resources to leave a relationship, therefore the social worker will need to know that the primary need for a man is legal and psychological, rather than material intervention.
[Men’s Centre strongly disputes this assertion – it may be true of some men, but for the majority of those who contact us it is simply not correct. To our knowledge there are no publicly funded support services for men when their relationship fails.]
Social workers need to approach women’s violence in an objective manner. They should no longer assume that the man is primarily the offender, and the woman the victim. Social workers must not only recognise the use of violence by women, they must also acknowledge the phenomenon as a serious issue requiring caring and sensitive intervention, and treatment.
Available research indicates that one of the most important implications for the social worker will be the ability to help their clients to realise that violence, especially relationship abuse, is a mutual problem, in which each party needs to accept responsibility for their own actions.
Contrary to the traditional view that women’s violence is of trivial insignificance, this essay has argued that violence by women is a far more serious problem than has previously been recognised. Society needs to acknowledge women’s violence as a major social problem, before we can intervene with effective counselling and treatment. Domestic violence needs to be seen as a mutual problem, whereby each party accepts responsibility for their own actions. Women perpetrators need to realise this important fact, instead of continually pleading victimisation, and minimising their own violent behaviour. The implication for social workers is to acknowledge the seriousness of women’s violence and the plight of the abused male victims who are involved. But until appropriate programmes are established for the perpetrators and the victims, women’s violence will continue to be downplayed within our society.
Social Work student,
Suzanne Steinmetz Ph.D is chair of the Sociology Dept and director of the Family Research Institute at Indiana / Purdue University. In 1974 she coedited ‘Violence in the Family’, and in 1975 was one of the primary researchers on the National Family Violence Survey. She says:
"to my amazement, I discovered that husband-to-wife and wife-to-husband violence were virtually equal." Her doctoral dissertation was published that year as ‘The Cycle of Violence’, and in 1978 she published an article called ‘Battered Husband Syndrome’ in the journal Victimology.
In his book ‘Good Will Towards Men’, Jack Kammer asked her if she was criticised for upsetting the worldview held by a lot of people. She told him that a speech she gave for the American Civil Liberties Union received bomb threats, and she began getting calls at home from women saying "If you don’t stop talking about battered men, something’s going to happen to your children and it won’t be safe for you to go out". All the female staff at the university she worked at were contacted by these women and urged to work against Steinmetz when it came to promotion and tenure.
They followed up the study in 1985 after the development of wife-abuse prevention programmes and intervention strategies, and found that husband-to-wife violence had decreased by almost 30%. Wife-to-husband violence on the other hand, was at the same high rate as before. Steinmetz says:
"It is important to pay attention to violence against men for two reasons that might not be obvious. First, you cannot hope to eliminate family violence until you attack it from all sides. Second, by ignoring or devaluing women’s violence towards men, we are saying to women that it doesn’t matter what they do…. Not only are programmes and support groups lacking for violent women, these women are made to think the problem lies in their head – they are imagining that they are violent…. I have had women tell me that they call shelters and other services and explain that they are feeling out of control, have been slugging their husbands, do not like feeling this way and need some help. They’re essentially told ‘oh you can’t do him any harm, don’t worry about it’ – statements that devalue their concerns and fears".
Asked why women hit men, Steinmetz replied:
"I think the causes of women’s violence are very similar to the factors that produce men’s violence: inadequate resources, stress, lack of ability to properly care for one’s family, and unemployment.
When we looked at these factors 25 years ago, we saw them as the reason why men were frustrated and lashed out. Now virtually every woman has to work. Stress and rates of alcoholism among women are increasing. Women lose their jobs or have a problem on the job and they come home and take it out on the family. These are the same indicators we saw with men. Equality has its down side you know."
Kammer asked why nonviolent men stay in abusive relationships, and Steinmetz answered:
"Their reasons are similar to those given by women. They hope that the violence will subside. They are attached to their home, community and family. They believe that a two parent home will be better and they are concerned that if they leave, the mother may become violent towards the children. Sometimes they do leave and then they have to fight for custody of their children".
Steinmetz suggests: "Indianapolis is doing something that I think might be a model for the country. They have consolidated all domestic-violence-related agencies for child abuse, elder abuse, marital abuse under one agency – called Family Advocacy – which provides a range of services. They don’t look at the problem as battered women, abused children, elder abuse. They view it as a family problem and provide services to the entire family. It’s a more comprehensive approach that is much more likely to reduce family violence."
“Domestic violence against men is just not a social problem” Ellen Pence, founder of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. New York Times 20th April 1992.
In this article from the Jan 1998 COSA newsletter, Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith tells how she was expelled from this organisation in 1997 for publicly raising concerns about their teachings.
When Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) was set up in 1988, I was made an honorary foundation member in recognition of my pioneering work in the field. However DSAC’s support of the ideology of always believing women and children who make allegations; their denial in regard to the rising number of false allegations; and their sponsoring of visiting speakers to NZ who are proponents of recovered memories, represent clear divergence from my perspective.
My attempts to carry out a professional public debate with them on my concerns have been unsuccessful. Over the past few years, DSAC have conducted a very active campaign to prevent my debating the issues, to have my speaking engagements cancelled, to stop editors from publishing my work. They made written objection to the Post-Graduate Medical Foundation when I was awarded the Glaxo Foundation Fellowship. A DSAC member has even attempted (unsuccessfully) to have my medical registration revoked.
At the DSAC AGM in October 1996, a new rule was proposed: that Associate or Honorary membership be rescinded or suspended by a 75% majority of the Executive Committee with "no reason needed to be given for such rescission or suspension" and no "rights of review or appeal" by the affected member.
I attended the AGM to support the existing rule and object to the proposed change for the following reasons:
- Adequate provision already existed for suspension or expulsion of any member who broke DSAC’s rules or was guilty of professional or public misdemeanour;
- Should the Executive Committee believe that a member has transgressed in some way, it is in everyone’s best interest that that transgression is expressed openly;
- It is normal for professional bodies to accord its members the right to be heard: to state their case and address possible sources of misinformation;
- Democratic institutions usually offer their members the opportunity for decisions involving them to be reviewed or appealed.
In my view, expelling or suspending members without any reason given; denying them an opportunity to be heard and removing their rights for review and appeal are not regulations becoming of a professional body. These actions of censorship, secrecy and suppression are counter to the principles of transparency and open exchange of information which should be guiding standards for organisations such as DSAC, a society dedicated to education, empowerment and healing.
However, mine was the sole objection and the amended rule was voted in. Over a year later (5 Nov 1997), I received the following letter:
"Dear Dr Goodyear-Smith, this is to inform you that at its recent meeting the DSAC executive voted to rescind your honorary membership of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care. This is effective immediately. Yours sincerely, Dr Selina Green, President, Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care."
Under their new rules, of course, DSAC do not have to give any reason for such action. However, when asked by a newspaper reporter about the issue, Dr Green is quoted as saying that ‘Dr Goodyear-Smith’s philosophies implied that sexual abuse might not be harmful to children, but the group believed it was’. This implies, of course, that I consider it acceptable to sexually abuse children. I wish to emphasise (as I have said on countless occasions in the past) that I do not condone sexual activity between adults and children in any way. However, because both international and NZ research indicates that a significant number of children who are sexually abused do not suffer any psychological consequences from this event, it is important that psychological treatment focuses on dealing with specific problems if and when they occur, rather than providing ‘sexual abuse counselling’ for everyone who has had the misfortune to have such an experience in childhood. In other words, ‘IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT’.
I appreciate that DSAC do not agree with my views, and may indeed believe that they have valid reasons to evict me from their professional organisation. What I find particularly alarming, however, is their denial of my right to be heard and make a reply. I wonder why the Executive Committee felt they had to take the extraordinary step of changing their constitution, so that they could avoid discussing their concerns with me in person at their meeting.
I believe in the freedom of speech and the right to open debate. DSAC’s covert acts of censorship are not actions I expect from a democratic professional body.
Some background information on the approach of the organisation presenting the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ seminar was posted on the internet last year during the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect conference in Auckland. Here are some extracts:
I’ve just been given a list of overseas "experts" that have been sponsored to New Zealand by DSAC over the past few years. This choir of experts have dribbled across here one by one since 1989.
- 1989 Astrid Heger
- 1991 Astrid Heger
- 1991 Dick Sosbey
- 1992 Astrid Heger
- 1992 Dick Sosbey
- 1992 Lucy Berliner
- 1992 Ingrid van Beek
- 1993 Judith Myers-Avis
- 1993 Toni Cavanagh Johnson
- 1993 Jonathan Ross
- 1994 Roland Summit
- 1994 Jon Conte
- 1994 Michael O’Brien
- 1995 Judith Herman
- 1995 John Briere
- 1995 Astrid Heger
- 1995 Arno & Marianne Bentovin
- 1996 Toni Cavanagh Johnson
- 1996 Mary Koss
- 1996 Marlene Young
- 1996 William Fredrich
- 1996 Bessell van der Kolk
- 1996 Astrid Heger
- 1997 Bruce Perry
- 1997 Christine Courtois
- 1997 John Briere
- 1998 Constance Dalenberg
The problem is not any particular person. The problem is more associated with the fact that DSAC have an obvious bias, associated with a topic that is within the field of psychology extremely controversial.
I would expect a group like DSAC to bring a range of speakers who can present all sides of controversy, so that participants in these series of seminars can make up their own minds.
But I am extremely unhappy that the list of people does not fairly represent, if it represents at all, other professionals who are critics of some of the theories and practices of people who are listed. An international controversy is raging. It is concerned about practices that have led to terrible injustices for many men such as Peter Ellis, the Christchurch Creche worker.
And DSAC thumbs its nose at professionals who disagree with their official policies. Is it any wonder, that counsellors in New Zealand, who are not being exposed sufficiently to professional and scientific developments overseas, are continuing to do harm to many of their clients, and to promote a rash of false accusations?
DSAC should be promoting the efforts of Felicity Goodyear-Smith, and not trying to discredit her. As well as their favourite speakers, they should be balancing the list with speakers such as Felicity, and international authorities on memory (such as Elizabeth Loftus), the head of organisations that speak for the falsely accused (such as Peter Freyd), people who have dealt with both the truly abused and the accused (such as Hollida Wakefield), people who have spoken up about psychiatric testimony (such as Margaret Hagen), retractors who have come to realise that their so called memories of sexual abuse were only a fantasy (such as Donna Anderson), and so on.
DSAC’s favorite ‘expert’ is Astrid Hegar. They have brought her out from the United States to NZ six times in the last decade. Heger is deeply implicated in the first Californian day care sexual abuse fiasco: the infamous McMartin Day Care case of 1983 to 1990. Along with Kee MacFarlane, she worked for Children’s Institute International (CII), which was responsible for the interviewing of about 350 children.
From ‘Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the making of a Modern American Witchhunt’ by Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedecker 1995:
"Dr Heger told the McMartin jury that "children cannot be led to disclose having been sexually abused if it didn’t happen".
Coercive interviewing? Heger was a master. Examining a girl who repeatedly denies being abused, Heger tells the child:
"I don’t want to hear any more ‘no’s. No, no! Detective Dog and we are going to figure this out. Every little boy and girl in the whole school got touched like that …and some of them were hurt. And some were afraid to tell… And they were afraid to tell because they thought…. Ray (the accused teacher) might come and hurt their parents or hurt them…. I think there is something to tell me about touching."
Heger’s expertise came directly from McMartin. The biggest botchup investigation that spawned many other similar copycat fiascos, such as the Christchurch Creche, from which Peter Ellis is still suffering an unjust imprisonment. So, did she slide into the background in shame and embarrassment? Not at all:
"Heger’s career, too, took off dramatically. Before she examined the McMartin children, she had never testified as a child sex-abuse expert; afterward, she was deluged by requests to testify in court for prosecutors and to make media appearances. She also began travelling throughout California, the United States, and Canada to address sex-abuse congresses, give professional trainings, deliver lectures, and to participate in committee reviews."
Not everyone agreed with her methods. In ‘Suggestions of Abuse’ (1994), Michael Yapko writes:
"The necessity of having to recover every detail of every abusive memory may actually lead to greater confabulation and greater traumatisation, as in the questioning of the… now infamous McMartin preschool case."
Peter Ellis’s fate has been determined by the influence of such American expertise. Let’s please trust our own judgements for once. We have been brave enough to thumb our noses at the Americans for their demands that we embrace their nuclear strategy. Heger and Co, are just as dangerous as any atomic weapon.
Another of DSAC’s ‘experts’ is Jon Conte. His pedigree takes us back to early radical feminism. In ‘Return of the Furies: An investigation into Recovered Memory Therapy’ by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager (1994) the authors write:
"The radical feminist perspective maintaining that sexual abuse is inherent in a patriarchal society where males connect sexuality and violence was first articulated then (early 80’s) ref: Conte J.R. 1982, ‘Sexual Abuse of Children: Enduring Issues for Social Work’ Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality"
It would not be long before Conte became linked to groups firmly believing in ritual abuse. David Corwin, a psychiatrist with the dubious distinction of having worked under Roland Summit, and also with the dubious distinction of having done therapy with the McMartin children, was instrumental in setting up a group of like-minded colleagues who would work under the banner of APSAC (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children).
Again quoting from ‘Satan’s Silence’: "From its inception, the APSAC leadership roster was a veritable directory of ritual abuse architects. Kee MacFarlane was an at-large director, Roland Summit (brought to NZ by DSAC in 1994) was on the board. So were David Finkelhor, Ann Burgess, and Bruce Woodling. Second Vice President was David Corwin. President was Jon Conte, the Chicago social worker who earlier had called a ritual-abuse conference, whom ‘Believe the Children’ listed in its directory of helpful resources, and who rejected the possibility that children making the charges were prompted by adults.
Instead of squarely owning up to its history of sordid involvement in fomenting ritual abuse panic, the child protection profession remains officially silent. This is primarily because many of its leading figures were so involved in bolstering ritual-abuse theory and prosecutions that to correct themselves would damage their reputations, and worse, threaten their own self image.
To realise how much power these leaders wield, and how much they stand to lose by admitting their mistakes, one only has to look at the board of the country’s most influential child protection professional association, the American Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)"
‘Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria’ by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters published 1994:
"In a paper titled ‘Self Reported Amnesia for Abuse in Adults Molested as Children’ (Journal of Traumatic Stress); researchers John Briere and Jon Conte more directly attempt to prove the existence of repression. The pair located 450 therapy patients who identified themselves as abuse victims and asked them whether there had ever been a time before their 18th birthday when they "could not remember" their abuse. Answering this Yes or No question, 59% of the subjects reported that they had experienced such a time. From this result the two researchers concluded: "Amnesia for Abuse … appears to be a common phenomenon among clinical sexual abuse survivors"
As to how their empirical conclusions should be applied to the clinical setting, Briere and Conte write that "it is likely that some significant portion of psychotherapy clients who deny a history of childhood victimisation are, nevertheless, suffering from sexual abuse trauma…. Thus the clinician who has some reason to believe that his or her client was molested as a child … may well be advised to continue to entertain that hypothesis during treatment, even in the absence of specific abuse memories."
Ofshe and Watters conclude: "It doesn’t take a social scientist to see that the survey question Briere and Conte used to draw their far reaching conclusion is flawed at its premise."
In ‘Second Thoughts: Understanding the False Memory Crisis and how it could affect you’ Dr Paul Simpson (1996) writes:
"What are the problems of this study? First the question is confusing – it means different things to different people. Second, it is purely anecdotal, with no independent confirmation of the described abuse. Most importantly, the study uses a classic form of circular reasoning. A subject was identified as being a victim of abuse because she had hypnotic images of abuse. But how do we know that such images are real? Because she is a victim of abuse.
This is the same technique used for space alien abductions. ‘We know that this person was abducted by aliens because he repressed the trauma. He repressed the trauma because aliens forced it from his mind’. or ‘She was tortured by the satanic cult, and they hypnotised her into forgetting all the trauma. We know this is true because she now has recovered memories of them doing these things’.
What we know from this study is that 60% of people responding to a poorly worded questionnaire claim they were abused because they have had traumatic hypnotic images. It is just as likely an indicator of the extent of false memories as it is evidence for repression."
DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care) have admirable aims to help prevent sexual abuse, and to care for victims of sexual abuse. But they show themselves in their true colours with this completely biased list of speakers. This list implies a complete lack of concern for the problem of false accusations of sexual abuse: It is as if they are saying that sexual abuse must be stamped out regardless of the possible consequences of many men being falsely accused.
In dedication to Peter Ellis – there are those who care.
Erin Pizzey, founder of the world’s first shelter for battered women, stars in a recently released BBC documentary titled ‘Who’s Failing the Family?’ Men’s Centre North Shore and other groups are currently arranging screenings for people interested in keeping up with the play in this area of social policy.
Pizzey explains how the radical feminist takeover of her movement has harmed families. She is the author of the groundbreaking 1982 book ‘Prone to Violence’, which was totally withdrawn from bookstores and libraries after feminist objections.
In the video, she talks with her daughters about a visit at home by the police bomb squad following threats against her family. She also talks to some of the UK’s leading authorities on domestic violence, and exposes some of the self-serving misinformation disseminated by feminist ideologues. She says:
"The tragedy of the last 25 years is that the feminist movement was allowed to say anything they liked, to throw figures around that were wrong, to accuse men of all sorts of bad behaviour and to try and destroy marriage and family life and now after all this time the curtains are beginning to open and we’re going to realise that it was a big lie and that many people’s lives, particularly men, have been destroyed by this huge lie."
Among those who talk to Erin Pizzey in this video are:
Dr Malcolm George, Neuroscientist, University of London who says:
"Figures like one in four, or one in five women having suffered a physical assault …..is not the picture for all women. The problem with this kind of research is that it is done from a preconceived point of view, ie: that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims, and then progresses from there to try and prove the case….But it is fundamentally flawed, and in fact quite disreputable."
Professor John Archer, University of Central Lancaster, author of ‘Male Violence’ has recently reviewed all the available research on domestic violence around the world. He says:
"We simply asked ‘of those who got hurt, what percentage were women?’. It would be 95% to 100% if the feminist researchers are correct that there really isn’t a problem with men getting injured. What we found was that overall it is about 65%, so while it is true that of those who are injured the majority are women, there is a substantial minority; over a third, who are men."
Adrian Wilson, Social Work Childcare Team Manager, Cardiff, responded to a newspaper article by Pizzey where she wrote that the feminist climate was intimidating people from telling the truth about domestic violence. He says:
"Within my own profession of social work, there is a dominant ideology of feminism which is deeply prejudiced against men, and it plants the seeds of a climate of fear right from the very training….Men should start fighting back against this almost prevailing philosophy that men and fathers are expendable components of family life, which is absolutely wrong…. It is leading us down a blind alley. We’ve got to work at stopping violence, not demonising men."
Melanie Phillips, journalist and author:
"There has been a ‘long march’ through the institutions by what I would call the Marxist feminists, that type of person is upper middle class, they’re career women, they’re generally very well educated, they’re quite often relatively well-off , they are usually women who are very assertive, they are usually women who can afford very good child care and who basically can’t imagine that anyone could not be like them. I think that is one of the most obnoxious features of contemporary feminism, that it is a deeply patronising class-based ideology. It has succeeded in large measure, because it is embodied by women who are in positions of great power in our culture."
Patricia Morgan, sociologist and author of ‘Farewell to the Family’: says:
"What began as a counter-culture explosion in the 60’s and the particular form of Marxist feminism that emerged from that, has generated this anti-family movement".
Fay Weldon, feminist author, also agrees with Pizzey:
"You look at the world as it is now and you talk about it, and you’re absolutely right – what is going on is monstrous."
If you want to borrow this video to show to your group or organisation, contact Men’s Centre.
TO: THE SUPERVISOR
This is the fourth time I have been to A… for counselling. Each time, A… has been late for our appointment. One time when I took time from work A… cancelled.
I have asked for goals to be set for my counselling – no goals have been set. I have asked for the process which I am to go through to be described. A… declines to do that.
I have asked for the philosophy behind the counselling to be stated. A… declines to do that.
I have asked that the psychological damage I have received from sexual violation and mental abuse be addressed. That hasn’t occurred.
I have asked for my ex-partner to be asked if she will be present at a counselling session. A… has refused.
I have been very keen to participate in my own healing process. I have supplied full and intimate details about myself.
My confidence and trust in A… as a counsellor has broken down. Writing to you, whoever you are, is my only way of expressing my concerns, which are:
- That the counsellor treats the client as if he were not an equal partner in his own healing and so this client feels he has entered another abusive relationship.
- That the secrecy that surrounds the philosophy, goals and the process that the client is to go through are surprising. Surely if they are good, both client and counsellor should be proud and enlightened to have worked with them.
- That after four sessions I have not received any counselling for anything and my inability to cope and survive the abuse I received from my ex-partner is hampering the closure of the relationship that the Court requested.
Every time I attend counselling I feel more desperate to achieve closure and more frustrated that I can’t. I cannot resolve these issues with A… Our counsellor-client relationship has completely broken down into mutual abuse.
Please, can you do something.
Yours sincerely, [name withheld].
References for "Power and Control" article:
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- Bland R & Orne H (1986). Family violence and psychiatric disorder, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31: 129-137.
- Brand, P., & Kidd, A. (1986). Frequency of physical aggression in heterosexual and female homosexual dyads. Psychological Reports, 59, 1307-1313.
- Brinkerhoff M & Lupri E (1988). Interspousal violence, Canadian Journal of Sociology, (4), 407-434.
- Cate R, Henton J, Koval J, Christopher S, Lloyd S (1982). Premarital abuse, Journal of Family Issues, 4, 467-482.
- Coleman, D. H., & Straus, M. A. (1986). Marital power, conflict, and violence in a nationally representative sample of American couples. Violence & Victims, 1(2), 141-157.
- Dobash, R. E., & Dobash, R. P. (1978). Wives: the ‘appropriate’ victims of marital violence. Victimology, 2(3-4), 426-442
- Dutton DG (1994). Patriarchy and wife assault: The ecological fallacy. Violence & Victims, 9(2) 167-182.
- Dutton, D. G., Saunders, K., Staronski, A., & Bartholomew, K. (1994). Intimacy-anger and insecure attachment as precursors of abuse in intimate relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(15), 1367-1386.
- Gelles RJ & Straus MA (1988). Intimate violence: the causes and consequences of abuse in the American family, Simon & Schuster, New York.
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- Kumagai, F., & Straus, M. A. (1983). Conflict resolution tactics in Japan, India, and the USA. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 14(3), 377-392.
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- Laner M & Thompson J (1982). Abuse and aggression in courting couples, Deviant Behavior: an Interdisciplinary Journal, 3, 229-244.
- Lie, G-Y., & Gentlewarrier, S. (1991). Intimate violence in lesbian relationships: Discussion of survey findings and practice implications. Journal of Social Service Research, 15(1-2), 41-59.
- Lockhart, L., White, B., Causby, V., & Isaac, A. (1994). Letting out the secret: Violence in lesbian relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9(4), 469-492.
- North Harbour Living Without Violence Collective Inc (1998) Programme aims
- Magdol L, Moffitt T, Caspi A, Newman D, Fagan J & Silva P (1997). ‘Gender differences in partner violence in a birth cohort of 21-year-olds: bridging the gap between clinical and epidemiological approaches’, Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 65 (1), 68-78.
- Marrujo, B. & Kreger, M. (1996). Definition of Roles in Abusive Lesbian Relationships. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 4(1), 23-33.
- Regan & Connolly, Letter to Editor, NZ Doctor 26 May 1999, p8
- Renzetti, CM (1992). Violent betrayal: partner abuse in lesbian relationships. Newbury park, CA: Sage.
- Sorenson S & Telles C (1991). Self-reports of spousal violence in a Mexican-American and non-Hispanic white population, Violence & Victims, 6 (1): 3-15.
- Straus M & Gelles R (Aug 1986). Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys, Journal of Marriage & the Family, 465-479.
- Walker, L. E. A. (1989). Psychology and violence against women. American Psychologist, 44(4), 695-702.
- Waterman, C., LJ, L. D., & Bologna, M. (1989). Sexual Coercion in Gay Male and Lesbian Relationships: Predictors and Implications for Support Services. Journal of Sex Research, 26(1), 118-124.
References for ‘Women’s Violence’ article
- Adams, Judge J., Kearns, L. 1996, Domestic Violence Legislation. New Zealand Law Society.
- Cook Philip. W., 1997. Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence Connecticut, Praqer PubIishers.
- Dominion, 1996. Battered Men Call for Help , Wellington, March 13th,
- Revell, F., 1997 Wild Women, Auckland, Next Magazine.
- Flynn, C., 1990. Relationship Violence by Women Issues and Implications- Family Relations, vol.39, pp 194-198. University of South Carolina
- Dekker, D 1996. Women Who Dole Abuse Evening Post
- McMaster. K.-J., Swain, P., 1989. A Private Affair: Stopping Mens Violence to Women Wellington, G. P. Books.
- Newbold, Greg~, 1992. Crime and Deviance, Auckland, Oxford University Press.