Cycle of Violence
November is Women Abuse Awareness Month in Canada, and already I am receiving news releases from social service agencies, police forces and community groups.(Note that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the US.)
Of course, men are occasionally the victims of violence by their partners but the latest statistics prove once again that women by far are the victims, and are at much greater risk of being killed or seriously injured by their partners.
True, 65 Ontario men died between 2002-2007 in domestic violence incidents -- but the vast majority killed themselves after killing their partners and, sometimes, their children.
The irony is that, as some UK research shows, men abuse more but women are more likely to be arrested.
Men were significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, harassment and to damage the women’s property, while the women were more likely to damage their own. Men’s violence tended to create a context of fear and control, whereas women were more likely to use verbal abuse or some physical violence. However, women were more likely to use a weapon, although this was at times in order to stop further violence from their partners.
In terms of arrests, there were more arrests overall of men than of women. All cases with seven or more incidents, most of which involved men, led to arrest although women were three times more likely to be arrested. During the six-year period men were arrested once in every ten incidents and women arrested once in every three incidents.
Cases involving men as sole perpetrators were those most likely to result in intense fear and control of partners, while many cases where women were recorded as sole perpetrators were characterised by the police as the women being alcoholic or possibly as mentally ill.
Canadian spousal violence stats also show that women were more like to commit ''major assault'' than men but, given the absolute numbers, nearly three times as many women were victims of ''major assault'' than men.
With the current economic situation affecting so many jobs held by men, the risks for women are increased. Research indicate that men who are depressed are more likely to lash out, especially if their partners are leaving or threatening to leave them.
This is not a knock on men, although some readers will see it that way. I acknowledge that only a teeny tiny fraction of men in North America think it's acceptable to hit women and probably even fewer do. And sure, there have been many false charges of abuse. But that doesn't diminish the reality of the situation.
Ultimately, this would cause a shift in male culture such that some men’s sexist abuse of women and girls would be regarded – by other men -- not only as distasteful but as utterly unacceptable. In this new climate, individuals would be strongly discouraged from acting out in abusive ways because of the anticipated negative consequences: loss of respect, friends, and status, and greater likelihood of facing both legal and non-legal sanctions. In fact, if men’s violence against women truly carried a significant stigma in male culture, it is possible that most incidents of sexist abuse would never happen. This is because contrary to popular myth, the vast majority of boys and men who assault, harass and bully girls and women are not sociopaths. They are average guys. Many of them see the sexist treatment of women as normal. They behave toward women the way they think men are supposed to. If the example and the expectations of the men around them changed, they would be likely to adjust their behavior accordingly.
A 15-year-old girl leaving early from the homecoming dance at Richmond High School was enticed into a darkened alley just off campus to hang out with as many as a dozen young men who were drinking.
When the girl joined in and became drunk herself, police say, the men attacked her.
One after another, as many as six men raped the girl, police said Monday. Others watched. For more than two hours, no one tried to stop the attacks, and no one called police.
"What's shocking about it is there were so many people willing to involve themselves in such a serious crime," police Lt. Mark Gagan said.
Equally shocking, he said, was "the number of people who witnessed it and who were in the area of it occurring who did not take steps to stop it, report it or help our victim."
Isn't there something really really wrong with the culture when 15 boys stand around and do nothing but gawk? How many of them had cell phones? How many of them could easily walked away and called 911?
Finally, just to show that I am an equal opportunity basher, I was surprised but not thrilled to see what Joan did to her boorish husband-rapist on the most recent episode of Mad Men.
After Greg, or Dr. Blockhead as I've come to think of him, the thumb-fingered surgeon who wants to be a shrink, blows his psychiatry interview despite Joan's shrewd advice, he's breaks out his bottle of whine.
"Stop acting like you know everything. You don't know. You don't know what it's like to want something your whole life, and to plan for it and count on it and not get it."
Since she most definitely does, she bashes her very own Exhibit A over the head with a vase of flowers.
But I was disappointed for all the reasons Deeply Problematic outlined.
Joan has been a victim of this man's violence, and that complicates this act. What Joan did to Greg was nowhere near the same; Greg's act of violence and entitlement was one of the most horrific scenes of the entire series, barely approached by any other acts of violence or cruelty on the show. I can understand that urge to applaud her for kicking his ass - it's delayed justice. But she actually hasn't gotten justice from one awesome scene, and Joan being kickass doesn't mean that it's okay for her to be physically violent to Greg (outside of of self-defense, of course). And this is particularly striking and unsettling because of Mad Men's habit of ignoring this serious, contemporary (in the sense of 1960s and today) issue.
So, what else is new?
As Dammit Janet! notes, it received little notice in the corporate media. That's because it wasn't about so-called ''honour killings.''
Woman abuse. Ho-hum. Old news.
We're all waiting for the inevitable cell phone videos to turn up online.