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Oct 27, 2005
When we speak about domestic violence it's 99.9% exclusively male physical and sexual violence against women we speak about. Some keep asserting that men are natural born abusers of women, and that women are 99.9% natural born victims of male violence. This attitude is unfair to both men and women.

I believe that we have to re-define what constitutes violence, in order to be fair to both genders. Violence is more than just someone using physical means to abuse. We don't count verbal, emotional, social, spiritual, financial, intellectual means to abuse as violence - this means that most women who abuse get away with 'murder' in some cases. Unless we start seeing women's non-physical violence as just as much violence as men's physical violence - we are not addressing the issue of domestic violence in it's entirety.

I like to divide abusers into two categories: Control abusers - they abuse by any means available for the sake of power and control, they abuse without prior provocation, without any other reason that the fact that they like the feeling of power; and Affect abusers - they abuse in self defence in a state of affect from a position of feeling powerless.
I believe that the number of control abusers are more or less constant, and relatively small. There are also about as many female as male control abusers - the reason we do not see this reflected in statistics is because we do not reckognize the female control abuser.

She will use physical violence only as a last resort, but before that she has gone through a wide range of methods to get her 'kicks' - verbal and emotional - name calling, belittleing, sarcasms, ironies, 'silent treatment' constant nagging and disapproval, re-doing household chores after her husband/son has already done them, claiming that 'it wasn't good enough' - spiritual - constant 'preaching', demands that husband/children adopt her belief and accompany her to church, synagogue, temple etc; social - 'keeping tabs' on her husbands friends and colleges and either demand that he doesn't socialize with them or ridicule his social network, his social activities, his family, his hobbies and his social interests; financial - excessive demands on her husband's work performance, demanding that he be promoted, 'get in with the right crowd' in order to make more money or get better 'status', demand that he turn his wage over to her bank account, paying him a small 'allowance' if anything at all, subjecting him to 'the third degree' about who he met, talked to, saw and socialized with, this includes searching his clothes and belongings for evidence that he is unfaithful to her; sexual - withholding sex, demanding sex, using sex as a matter of trade-off, ridiculing her husband's/sons' sexuality, belittleing his performance, physique, desires etc; threaten to leave him for other men, using pregnancy/abortion as a means to get what she wants.The methods are plethora. These are all things we already reckognize from the male control abuser. So it is not that hard actually - the difference is that those methods seldom sends the victim to hospital. On occasion the female control abuser will use physical violence, especially in relation to children and young adults.

If we start reckognizing the female control abuser and start acknowledging the above methods of violence as VIOLENCE and abuse, we will realize that the female control abuser is just as common as her male counterpart.

The Affect abuser uses violence as a reaction to something that takes place in interaction with the other spouse. Men are more likely to use physical violence in these situations, than women are, but on the other hand - women are more likely to use verbal/emotional violence in these situations. His physical attack often on or two slaps often stops at one or two slaps, because the only thing he wants is for the source of the provocation to be silent and the same thing with the female affect abuser - she uses her verbal advantage in a stressful situation to silence him - both are acting from a position of feeling powerless and from a sense of self-defence. While his physical violence often leaves tangible evidence, her verbal and emotional violence doesn't, which is why we see more male violence in the statistics.

I am certain that if we let a married couple where there have been incidents of domestic violence in the past, keep a log book over any incidents of such violence, without any legal repercussions for a year - we'd see how the affect abusers are two in the same pair, and that it is in fact a dance, where both play a major role.

As long as we do not accept that women do abuse on par with men, only differently, we are NEVER going to erradicate domestic violence.

Dov/Shadow Bear Cubsaver

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Posted: Oct 27, 2005 1:33pm
Oct 20, 2005
By Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., and Judith Sherven, Ph.D.

Domestic violence has at least two sides. One is visceral, physical, impulsive and vicious. When that level kicks in the only response is to take whatever means necessary to stop it.

However, the recently heightened debate has remained fixated on the urgency of the violence. That keeps our national focus on punishment - of the abuser who is almost exclusively and, therefore erroneously, viewed as the male.

The other side, which receives almost no serious attention, is prevention and ultimate resolution. It receives almost no serious attention, because the roots of domestic violence can only be found in the co-created, interpersonal relationship dynamics between both people that foster the violence. Solutions will emerge only from an unbiased look at how the two people are participating in a situation of ongoing brutality. That, however, is politically incorrect, and the denial surrounding co-responsibility is enormous.

There are those who claim that domestic violence "occurs unexpectedly, with little warning, even for people who are in long term relationships and supposedly 'know' one another." That is simply not the case. According to Lenore Walker, Ph.D., a feminist psychologist who made the idea of "learned helplessness" part of the diagnosis of the woman's role in domestic violence, women interviewed in shelters describe a process that has three distinct stages: 1) the tension building stage where both persons sense the oncoming eruption; 2) the battering incident when the violence erupts; 3) the remorseful stage in which both parties express sorrow for what took place. There is an entire phase of warning, especially for the people who have tuned their awareness and responses to the violence. Furthermore, in most cases, the violence is present during the courtship, although not as severe as it later becomes.

We have been asked, "Do men and women marry people knowing full well that they may wind up beaten or killed?" The answer is yes. The proof is in the recidivism rates for both men and women who either return to the abusive relationship or leave it only to resume the violence with a new partner.

Some women take the position that "hope springs eternal" for people in love and they shouldn't be held accountable for the abusive spousal choices they make. That is precisely the kind of romantic notion that men and women cling to and use to seduce themselves into staying in relationships in which there is abundant evidence that they should leave. Often friends and parents try to intervene, but, when "hope springs eternal" obvious dangers are overlooked, denied and women tell themselves something like, "If I just love him enough, he'll change." By the way, battered men say exactly the same kinds of things. What is needed in situations of verbal and physical abuse and danger is not romantic fantasy but a critical and self- protective assessment of the facts followed by a decision based on those facts.

To avoid confronting evidence of women's violence against men, many women's advocates argue that men are stronger and do more damage. Although there are many men who are not stronger, generally men are taller and stronger than women. The facts are, however, that women initiate violence against men in roughly equal numbers (women 24% and men 27%) with both sexes mutually the rest of the time. To offset men's larger physiques, women more often use weapons than do men (82% of women, 25% of men). A woman with a knife, scissors, gun, lamp, frying pan and the like can be very dangerous and damaging.

We suggest that you, the reader, ask your friends and acquaintances. How many of them know situations in which women have battered men? Even though verbal and psychological abuse can inflict a deep wound, if not deeper, than some physical violence (if you have been emotionally wounded in your life, you know what we are talking about), keep your inquiry based on physical violence. We would like to know what you discover.

The belief that "men are more likely to act out their anger in a physically violent way" is a cliche. Women, more and more women during the last thirty years, are just as capable of acting out physically. In fact, when they do, most men, who have been taught "never to hit a woman" are rendered powerless because they must retrain themselves. Our culture teaches boys and young men that to be a "real man" they have to be able to take it, and especially take it from a woman. Multiple studies obtain statistics that support the fact that women act out their anger in a physically violent way frequently and especially with family members. For example:

  • 55% of son/daughter murders involved a female killer;
  • 41% of spousal murders involved a female killer;
  • 33% of family murders involved a female killer;
  • 18% of parent murders involved a female killer;
  • 15% of sibling murders involved a female killer.

The media continues to attribute control and domination solely to men. If we are honest with ourselves we all know that women are just as controlling and dominating in their ways as are men. Yet, what is it in our society, for women and men alike, that continues to protect women and our national awareness from the truth about woman's dark side?

Another myth would have us believe that abusive men are treated more leniently by the courts. Everyone has at least one horror story on both sides of this issue. Most often, those cases have a National Enquirer flavor and make all the news broadcasts. The fact is that many women get off just as frequently. One reason is that, as a culture, we have a deep commitment to the belief that women are helpless and innocent (which, by the way, victimizes and infantalizes them) and, as a consequence, police admit they are less likely to believe that women can be violent and almost always look to the man, regardless of the actual circumstances.

Domestic violence is a two way street. As long as women refuse to take responsibility for their participation, they will remain disempowered and completely dependent upon men to change. Is that what women really want?

Domestic violence should not be tolerated. It must be faced and prevented. We must look clearly and fearlessly at the dance women and men create that allows for and sustains that violence. Male bashing and protection of women's innocence only perpetuate the problem.

Sadly, we are a long way from teaching and learning the lesson of co-responsibility, co-accountability, and the mutuality of all long-term relationships, whatever their dynamics. And that is what is needed to prevent domestic violence.


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Posted: Oct 20, 2005 1:23am


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