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since June 19, 2001

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YWCA — Week Without Violence booklet (2001 edition)

Critique and corrections by Eeva Sodhi

Eeva Sodhi
RR 1 McDonald's Corners
Ontario, K0G 1M0
Thursday, 14 February 2002

Re: Week Without Violence Booklet

Mobina Jaffer
YWCA of Canada
590 Jarvis Street, 5th floor
Toronto, On, M4Y 2J4

Dear Ms. Jaffer,

As the purpose of the YWCA’s "Week Without Violence" (WWV) booklet is to distribute public information, I wish to draw your attention to some inaccuracies that are presented in the 2001 edition.

Though it is beyond the scope of this letter to touch every erroneous statement in the above mentioned document, I will attempt to update the most pertinent information to the currently available official Canadian data that are correlated by research findings from other countries.

The first two noteworthy anomalies in the above publication are the headings:

"Confronting Violence Against Women" (p. 19) and "Facing Violence Among Men" (p. 21).

In its "Gender-based Analysis Policy" Health Canada describes double standard to be: "Assessing the same or essentially the same situation, trait or behaviour differently on the basis of sex" (Source: "Moving Toward Equality: Improving the Health of Canada's People, Recognising and Eliminating Gender Bias in Health") [in Health Canada's Gender-based Analysis Policy, p. 16]

Further misleading and/or false pronouncements:

"90,000 women and children used shelter services in Canada in 1999". (p. 14)

Alberta Family And Social Service Office For The Prevention Of Family Violence in its "Statistical Summary Provincial Total - Shelter & Satellite 1995 & 1997" acknowledges that: "… these are the number of admissions and not the number of "unique" women and children served in the year, as some clients return for safe accommodation more than once."

Furthermore, for perceived safety reasons clients are at times moved between different shelters and each admission to a new shelter counts as a new admission for statistical purposes.

Statistics Canada data: "There were 96,359 admissions (note: not individuals) of women and dependent children reported from April 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000 …81% (2,281) of women residing in shelters on April 17, 2000 were victims of abuse and the remainder were admitted for reasons other than abuse, such as housing problems.(In: 1999-2000 "Transition Home Survey " by Statistics Canada) 

The report also documents that one of the main services offered by the homes is advocacy.

Children ... living in poverty, poor housing ... are more likely to become involved in youth delinquency and adult criminal activity" [p. 15]

The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth documents that in low-income families, 34% of children with a single mother had behavioural problems, compared with 21% of children with two parents. In non-low-income families, there was a comparable difference: 28% for children with a single mother and 18% for those with two parents. ("Growing up in Canada, 1994/95") Therefore, poverty per se is not the problem.

Children in poor immigrant families do not fit the picture either. "… more than 30 percent of new immigrant families were poor in comparison with 13.2 percent of native-born Canadian families. Nevertheless, new immigrant children had lower rates of mental health problems than children in the national population." (In: "Growing Up Canadian - A Study of New Immigrant Children" by Morton Beiser, Feng Hou, Ilene Hyman and Michel Tousignant. W-98-24E, Human Resources Development Canada, October 1998)

As there are no relevant Canadian data, I use The U.S. Department of Justice for the following:. In it’s paper "What Can the Federal Government Do To Decrease Crime and Revitalize Communities. Trend Four: There is an Increase in the Number of Fatherless Children, Who Are More Prone to Delinquency and Other Social Pathologies" (January 5-7, 1998), there is a warning: "Unless community revitalization and crime reduction programs begin to address the need for father engagement programs and services, the cycle of poverty and crime could continue virtually unabated."

"At least two million children witnessed violence against their mothers in 1993" (p. 16)

That figure is debatable and anecdotal. The GSS and the VAWS are victimization surveys that ask a random sample of adults (men and women in the case of the GSS and women only in the case of the VAWS) about their experiences of spousal violence and whether their children witnessed the violence. In the NLSCY, a random sample of children are selected and the person most knowledgeable about the child responds to a wide range of questions about the child and the household, including whether the child sees adults or teenagers in the home physically fighting, hitting or otherwise trying to hurt others. (In: "Children witnessing family violence" (Juristat) Stats Can. catalogue number 85-002-XPE, vol.21 no.6). Thus, the data are not bias free as they are based on subjective reports by an adult who may have a personal agenda in mind.

"…Based on the mothers' responses, the researchers subjectively determined the probability that any particular child had been physically abused... Studies often involve convenience or opportunity samples of mothers and children recruited from women's shelters or social service agencies." (In: "Comparing violent and non-violent female offenders on risk and need" by Kelley Blanchette. Research Branch, Correctional Service of Canada) The above finding is as valid for child witnesses as well.

See also: "Children's Eyewitness Reports After Exposure to Misinformation From Parents" Debra Ann Poole, Central Michigan University

"In 1999 it was reported that family members victimized girls more frequently than boys. In 1999 girls represented four-fifths (79) of victims of sexual assault cases and over one-half (55%) victims of physical assaults" (p. 16)

The "Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect" documents that boys rather than girls are the main victims by a large margin in all categories except in sexual abuse. More cases involving boys than girls were investigated, and more of these cases were substantiated in all age groups, the greatest difference being in the 12-15 year category: 818,150 cases involving boys and 775,220 involving girls were investigated, 51% and 46% (respectively) were substantiated. Only in the sexual abuse category were girls the predominant victims. This finding is correlated by official U.S. government reports.

At least 51% of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence as defined under the Criminal Code, since the age of 16." (p. 19)

"Violence" as defined in the one time survey called "Violence Against Women Survey" is so broad that almost any human interaction that the respondent feels uncomfortable about can be interpreted to constitute "violence". This survey was conducted by Statistics Canada from February 1993 to the end of June 1993 by using the Random Digit Dialing method of contacting households. All interviewing took place using centralized telephone facilities in Regional Headquarters office. From the approximately 19,000 eligible households contacted, 12,300 interviews were obtained, a response rate of 54%.  

Due to the low response rate, the sample can not be seen to be representative of the population, as those who took the survey could be seen to be motivated for personal reasons.

According to the year 2000 edition of "Family Violence in Canada", 3% of women reported violence by current spouse in 1993 (no data available for men), in 1999 3% of women and 2% of men reported violence by the current spouse (p. 52). In 1993, reporting on the past five years, 21% of the 3% of women reported having received medical attention and 26% reported not having received medical attention. 81% of the violence by a current spouse, and 86% by a former spouse, was minor: "pushed, grabbed, shoved" (p. 52), 53% of the alleged female victims reported that there was no physical injury (p. 53) Since there is hardly a person who has not been "pushed, grabbed or shoved" for what ever reason, all Canadians, men, women and children, could be seen to be victimized. When the father of Randal Dooley was heard to yell at his wife to stop abusing the child or she would end in jail, he could be seen to have abused her verbally as well as having threatened her. To quote Justice Canada in its "Abuse is Wrong in any Language": "Nothing that you say or do gives the other person a right to abuse you". This phrase, as well as "there is no excuse for abuse" and "The victim [meaning "woman"] never causes the violence. A man's violence is a matter of personal choice", is a standard sentence seen in all of the literature that is distributed by the advocacy services provided by transition homes and YWCA, as well as other similar organizations. A woman’s violence is also a matter of personal choice. Countless children suffer horrible abuse, often fatal, just like Randal Dooley because we perceive that only men can be abusive. YWCA would be far better off starting a PACT: "Parents Against Child Torture." An ideology that turns a blind eye to its own shortcomings is an embarrassment to its members. Just like the death of Jordan Heikamp. Or Matthew Vaudreuil. Or …

According the Statistics Canada publication called "Family Violence in Canada: a statistical profile 2000" Cat. no. 85-224, 7% of men and 8% of women reported that they had experienced some sort of violence by a current or former intimate partner during the previous five years. Though the claim is that "those in current unions reported equal (4%) rates of violence" a subsequent table indicates that more men (303,000) than women (259,000) reported having been victimized by a current spouse during past five years.

"Open House/Information Displays- Have displays at local malls with information about services in your community for women in abusive relationships." (p. 19)

Considering the extent of public advocacy by various community and women’s groups, such as the United Way’s "Education Wife Assault", most women are familiar with the feminist concept of "woman abuse". No similar service is provided to men.

Anger Focus Workshop -- allow women to direct the anger that often comes with being the victim/survivor of abuse" (p. 19)

Men’s anger is described as "aggression" for which they are accountable. Women, on the other hand, are told that anger is a positive feeling as it reduces tension. On July 5-7, 1995, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) held a brainstorming session on women’s anger. As a result, a detailed program manual, called "Pathways", was written and completed in March 1996 by five of the community experts who participated in the brainstorming session. The recommendations, however, were not accepted: "As CSC continued to learn more about the behaviour and needs of women who use aggression instrumentally [i.e. without provocation] and persistently, it became clear that this program could not meet their needs, as it required women to be ready to assume responsibility for their actions". Unless we can assume responsibility, we cannot demand any rights.

"Increasing number of men are realizing that they have to take responsibility for what they do. There are currently over 2,000 programs for men who have assaulted their partners". (p. 21)

Men have always realized that they have to take responsibility. How else could we interpret the fact that they work long hours, often in dangerous and dirty conditions, in order to provide for their wives and children, without whom the need would not be there?

In order to access those services after they have been accused, men have to first "acknowledge the ownership of violence" and plead guilty, based on biology alone, even if they are the victims.

The following document by Tammy Landau (March 1998) "Synthesis of Department of Justice Canada Research Findings on Spousal Assault". Working Document (WD 1998-5e), Department of Justice Canada. Research and Statistics Division. Policy, gives us a glimpse into the scope of false allegations. The Manitoba Tracking Study indicates that 21% of police dispatches resulted in charges. There was lack of physical evidence in 54% of the cases and the alleged victim was unwilling to proceed in 18%. 12% of the charges resulted in convictions and 4% resulted in incarceration. Almost 30% of the cases were stayed. In 30% of cases where women were subpoenaed they did not appear in court (Prairie Research Associates, 1994), "there was encouraging evidence that Emergency Intervention Orders are being issued in cases where there were no criminal charges and no evidence of assault". According to Ursel (1995) "innovative testimony bargaining enables the Crown Attorney to meet the dual and potentially conflicting mandates of rigorous prosecution and sensitivity to the victim"

Innovations have no place in the courts of law. Even Kafka would not have been able to dream a more contrived plot.

Considering the "zero tolerance" policies and relevant judicial training, the data as presented by Ms. Landau would indicate that most of the allegations are false. It is beyond belief that the issuing of "Emergency Intervention Orders" in cases where there was no evidence of assault would be viewed as "encouraging", a far better word would be "frightening". The wrongful issuing of these orders might well backfire causing the very violence that was falsely alleged. At least it will lead to fear, as the accuser will be afraid of possible revenge.

Another document, this one by the Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario), called "Ontario Government Business Plans 1998-1999" makes a brief reference to statistics in Ottawa for February 1998. These show that of the 74 domestic assault cases scheduled, 49 were resolved by way of "guilty" plea. Three trials were held, resulting in one conviction and two acquittals. The remaining 22 charges were withdrawn.

As men are persuaded to plead guilty, often by questionable methods, the guilty pleas cannot be considered to be a proof of guilt, rather men will choose to plead guilty in order to avoid lengthy and costly litigation and potential criminal record. (see the "Domestic Violence Courts Project"by Vivian Green, Metro Woman Abuse Council in the EWA Newsletter V.8 #1 - Spring 1997: The Impact of Funding Cutbacks on assaulted Women: "If an individual before the court on abuse charges agrees to plead guilty, and assuming his partner is agreeable, the court will accept the guilty plea. …The orders will be Bail Conditions which will include mandated attendance at an intervention program for batterers. His Bail orders will also be changed to allow him to reside with his partner [the carrot to plead guilty though may be innocent] It is specified that if his partner feels threatened or afraid she should contact Police immediately and the Bail condition can be changed to get him out of the house. Once all of the women have had an opportunity to identify what they want, the full court reconvenes. At this point those charged who are willing to plead guilty and enter the program appear before the judge and are mandated to attend the already identified intervention program."). Absolute power and control through fear of losing everything. Innovative, indeed. And we wonder why some men crack under the stress and take justice into their own hands. That so few do it is a miracle.

Few men have the means, either financial or psychological, to defend themselves against nebulous allegations which need not be proven. Considering that two out three trials in Ottawa ended in acquittals one could say that two thirds of the accusations were false, if we use the habit of giving percentages rather than real numbers. As described above, the courts use "innovative" methods in order to secure a conviction. Thus, it is extremely rare to withdraw this type of a charge unless it had become apparent that the accuser was the perpetrator. Anecdotal evidence shows that in many instances where the man agreed to plead guilty, his female partner was actually the instigator or the sole perpetrator. There is a real need to compile statistics in this regard.

In 1993 Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association wrote a column in the association newsletter titled "Speaking the Unspeakable" "…In many [divorce] cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage."

There are no programs for men who have been assaulted by their intimate female partners. Nor are there any programs for women who have assaulted their partners or children, though all reputable research show that women are more likely to instigate spousal assault and are the main perpetrators of child abuse, often fatal.

The "Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect" documents that biological mothers are the main perpetrators of all types of abuse and neglect, except sexual abuse.

The statistics about perpetrators of child homicide are somewhat murky, as many deaths due to abuse and neglect are not recorded as homicides. Furthermore, a vast number of infant deaths are due to "unknown" causes. In 1997 there were 206 such deaths, in 1991 the number was 382 (FVC 2000, p. 44) Therefore, the official perpetrator statistics are anything but reliable.

Alberta Family and Social Service Office for the Prevention of Family Violence "Statistical summary provincial total - shelter & satellite 01/01/1997 to 31/12/1997" (print date: 13/03/1998) gives the following statistics about child abuse: Abused by mother: 300 (4.8%), by father 226 (3.7%), gender of abusers defined: 36.41% male, 5.60% female, 57.99% undefined.

Wakefield and Underwager, in their research project called "Techniques for Interviewing Children in Sexual Abuse Cases" found that allegations about child sexual abuse during divorce and custody proceedings are false in 77% of the cases. They further documented in their "Personality characteristics of parents making false accusations of sexual abuse in custody disputes" that mothers formed the majority of the false accusers.

Prof. Nicholas Bala in a paper presented in January 2002, called: "Sexual Abuse Allegation When Parents Have Separated:Social Context & Evidentiary Issues", provides the following data:

  1. "Bala and Schuman identified 196 reported judicial decisions on the Quicklaw databases in Canada in the 1990 - 1998 period that dealt with sexual and physical abuse allegations in the context of parental separation. (Source: Bala & Schuman, "Allegations of Sexual Abuse When Parents Have Separated" (2000), 17 Can. Fam. L.Q. 191- 241.) In 89 cases (45%) the judge made a finding that the allegation was unfounded. In 45 of the 150 cases (30% of the unfounded cases) where abuse was not proven, the judge believed that it was an intentionally false allegation."

  2. "Based on 1998 Canada wide child protection agency data, 11% (1, 568) of all child sexual abuse investigations arose in the context of a parental custody or access disputes. N. Trocme et al, "Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, Final Report" Health Canada, 2001. Only 9% of these cases were considered substantiated by the protection workers involved, while 22% were classified as "suspected", and 69% were unsubstantiated."

  3. "The 1993 Ontario Incidence of Study of Child Abuse revealed that 9% of the 42,000 physical and sexual abuse and neglect allegations involved separated parents. Mothers made two thirds of those allegations, while fathers made a third of the allegations. Trocme, "Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect" (Toronto, Ont: Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 1994) Of the allegations made by custodial mothers against noncustodial fathers, 23% were considered substantiated by the child protection workers, 27% suspected and 50% unfounded. However, even where the allegation is considered unfounded, the incidence of deliberate fabrication or lying is relatively low, in the range of 3% to 30% [too wide a rage to have any statistical value] of unfounded allegations."

  4. "Violent men are three times as likely to have witnessed spousal violence in childhood" [p. 21]

Yes, indeed.

  1. Walker (1984) In her study of over 400 battered wives, 29% of the wives and 35% of the battering husbands had witnessed their mother inflicting violence upon their father during childhood.

  2. Sommer, R. (1994) Male and female partner abuse: Testing a diathesis-stress model. (Unpublished). 34.8% of men and 40.1% of women reported observing their mothers hitting their fathers.

  3. Marshall & Rose (1988) surveyed a sample of 330 undergraduate witnesses and victims of violence in childhood using a modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale. 40% reported that they saw their fathers hit their mothers, 40.6% reported seeing mothers hit fathers.

  4. "Facts: One in five men living with a woman admits assaulting her" [p. 21]

The following study by Kwong, Bartholomew, & Dutton. (1999). "Gender Differences in Patterns of Relationship Violence in Alberta". Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, Vol. 31, No. 3, July 1999. pp. 150-160) presents the other side of the coin: A smaller proportion of women reported male only violence (13%) compared to female only violence (35%), and fewer women reported male initiation of violence (26%) than female initiation of violence (67%). With these data, the use of severe violence by females was not in reaction to male violence or as a preemptive strike, since the female partner in each couple reported only minor violence from her male partner despite using severe violence herself. Similarly, couples where only the female was violent were significantly more common (39.4% of dating couples, 26.9% of cohabiting couples, 28.6% of married couples) than couples where only the male was violent (10.5% of dating couples, 20.7% of cohabiting couples, 23.2% of married couples). What is experienced, especially in intimate relationships, is the power advantage women appear to have in their ability to introspect, analyze and describe feelings and process. Hence, assaultive males report feeling powerless in respect to their intimate partners. The above findings are correlated by several international studies.

"Fathers were the majority of reported offenders in cases of assaults against male and female children and youth, regardless of the type of abuse or the children’s age. In 1997, in incidents involving parents, fathers were accused in 97% of sexual assault and 71% of physical assault" [p. 21]

An article in vol., 17, no. 11 of the Juristat by Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, November 1997, called "Assaults Against Children and Youth in the Family" states that: "Girls are more often the victims of both physical and sexual assaults by family members than boys and are the victims in 80% of sexual assaults. Fathers represent 80% of parents accused of assaulting their children, accounting for 98% of sexual assault complaints and 73% of physical assault complaints to police. Girls were the victims in 88% of incidents in which fathers were accused of sexual assault.

An accusation does not make a finding. Until the first "Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect", published by Health Canada in 2001 and compiled under the tutelage of Dr. Nico Trocme, there were no national statistics about child abuse in Canada. The national study and its precursor, the "Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect", also compiled by Dr. Trocme and issued in 1994, do not support the above claim. Both of these studies document that biological mothers (66% investigated, 59% were substantiated, 25% remained suspected and 16% were unsubstantiated) are the main perpetrators of child abuse and neglect, including physical abuse, but excluding sexual abuse. Biological mothers were investigated in 5% (681) of sexual assault cases, with the substantiation rate of 21% (143), 27% (183.87) remained suspected, 52% (354.12) were unsubstantiated. natural fathers were investigated in 36% of all categories, with 60% substantiated, 21% suspected, 19% were unsubstantiated. In the sexual assault category natural fathers were investigated in 15% (2,101) of the cases, with 20% (420.2%) substantiation rate, 20% (420.2) remained suspected, 60% (1,260.6) were unsubstantiated. Thus, considering that the incidences are so few, percentages make the difference appear greater than what the actual numerical difference between fathers (420.2) and mothers (143) is.

See also above data presented by Prof. Bala.

"Discrimination is often a hidden thing .. such as… sexism" [p. 23]

There is a need for a proper understanding as to what constitutes domestic violence and who are the "victims". In a booklet called "Do You Know a Woman Who Is Being Abused? : A Legal Rights Handbook" the Community Legal Education, Ontario. defines it as (p. 5): " If your partner does any of the following things, you may be a victim of abuse. He may: read your mail …"

Quick now, which one of us, especially women, does not read our partner’s mail???

The above example is not an isolated one of the many non-violent behaviours which are included in the public "gender education" campaigns. These information booklets are distributed to schools, health centres and social service organizations. As a rule they are inflammatory and induce fear: "Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or death." [In: Education Wife Assault questionnaire "Are You Emotionally Abused? Questions for Women in Heterosexual Relationships"]

As an equality seeking woman, I find it troubling that the YWCA would allow itself to be used as an advocacy tool for a certain destructive ideology by distributing such falsehoods as is presented in this publication.

The "WWV" fits the definition of sexism, just like all ideological material which present only one side of the mutually destructive behaviour of intimate violence. The tragic reality of child abuse in the hands of their mothers or other female caregivers is ignored, or if that is not possible, somehow justified like in the Matthew Vaudreuil case. The following callous comment by Jill Hightower is beyond human understanding: " … It failed to consider the kind of person Matthew might have become had he survived". http://www.bcifv.org/winter97/nf_perspectives2.html

After an accusation has been made, the accuser, who, if female, is immediately referred to as "victim", no matter how false and ill thought her allegation. Having made the allegation, she no longer is allowed to recant, she has lost her right to act according to her conscience. She has also become a victim of the system which self perpetuates its own prophesies by suppressing the truth and failing to see women as equal partners to men, capable of good and bad.

It is a sad testament to feminism that we women now have to be ashamed of our sex.

The YWCA would serve the young women and girls of Canada far better if it abandoned such programs as WWV and began PACT (Parents Against Child Torture). Else we will also find ourselves caught in the web of deceit. We cannot demand respect unless we earn it.


Eeva Sodhi

See also:

Feminism For Male College Students A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry Harry (Off-Site)

Video on violent women

whiterose.gif (6796 bytes)The White Rose
Thoughts are Free

Posted 2002 01 05
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College Students)