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Family Violence in Canada 2000 — An Alternative Approach, Part. 2, Spousal Violence

This document contains critical comments by Eeva Sodhi, pointing out flaws in the method of presentation and in the statistics contained in:

Statistics Canada pub. “Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2000
Cat. no. 85-224

The comments by Eeva Sodhi contain as well excerpts from comparable studies and sources that differ widely in quality from the deplorable quality of the information produced by Statistics Canada in their report.

This page contains the second part of comments provided by Eeva Sodhi in three parts.
Parts of Critique
  1. Child Abuse and Murder
  2. Spousal Violence
  3. Spousal Homicide and Research

Family Violence in Canada 2000 — An Alternative Approach, Part. 2

Spousal Violence

FVC 2000, as did the previous ones, ignores the entire spectrum of indirect violence [1]   which allows one spouse, usually the female, to use the law enforcement agencies and judicial systems as a proxy. Those agencies in turn use the data from this publication to justify their draconian measures. The vicious circle has been completed, once more.

FVC 2000 places considerable importance on incidents which are not reported to the law enforcement authorities. The British Home Office Research Study 191 explains the reasons for not reporting succinctly: “Most of the incidents were not considered to be crimes by their victims: only 17% overall. Virtually no male victims defined their experience as a crime. 64% of the respondents said that it was “just something that happens” [p.50]”. In all honesty, if each and every incident defined as violence or potential violence by the feminist literature which is  distributed through schools, workplaces and community centres was reported, every adult Canadian, irrespective of sex, would be a perpetrator as well as a victim. [2]

Because of the extensive publicity that is given to the gender based perception of “violence against women”, women are becoming increasingly sophisticated in this area and are more likely to report any domestic incident, no matter how small. As men are not targeted by similar public education, they lag behind women in their readiness to address certain subjects in the questionnaires from the same angle. Notably absent are questions that men would be more attuned to answer, such as: “Has your partner ever used, or threatened to use, the zero tolerance policies to make you to agree with her/him?”

Though the British Home Office Research Study 191 could be considered to be the first official government publication to attempt non-biased bi-directional research in violence, it also has not been able to shake off the vestiges of bias. [3]

One of the best examples of feminist bias can be found on p. 62 of the above study: “An important issue not addressed here is the extent to which men and women have the option of leaving violent relationships: on the balance men are more likely to have the necessary financial resources and to be less constraint by family responsibilities”.

Most divorces/separations are initiated by women. It is a generally acknowledged fact that those who have the most to gain are the ones to initiate divorce. Men have become increasingly wary of the authorities and the heavy penalties imposed on them as a result of divorce or separation. Therefore, they are more likely to remain in an abusive relationship out of fear of legal and financial consequences. Women, on the other hand, can expect to receive many benefits. One of the main attractions is sole custody, which translates to absolute power over their children, with accompanying support payments and exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This alone is a sufficient incentive to initiate divorce/separation proceedings, often with allegations of abuse, or fear of abuse.[4]   A British study found that men lose 50%, women gain 50%.

Some other examples of the speculative and biased editorial comments found in the latest edition of the “Family Violence in Canada”: 

On p.11: “While this survey indicates that relatively equal proportions of women and men report spousal violence, it also indicates that women are abused more severely than men. For example, women are more likely to be subjected to severe forms of violence (e.g. beaten, choked, sexually assaulted), are three times more likely to suffer injury, five times as likely to receive medical attention, and five times more likely to fear for their lives as a result of the violence”. In other words, the severity and the impact of spousal violence on women and men have different outcomes and consequences.” 

The available research results do not show any such trends. [5]

On p. 14: “…number of cases in which violence was the cause of separation or divorce (Johnson, 1996) All of these factors could partially explain why women and men are more likely to report violence in previous relationships than in current relationships.” [6]

“Public education” campaigns which exhort women to see certain occurrences as potentially violent acts may be the major reason for the, at times, irrational feeling of fear.

Further on page 14 (Family Violence in Canada, 2000) “Nature and severity of violence in marriages”: Again, the author puts her own spin on the facts. 

As has been pointed out in the British Home Office Research Study no. 191, among others, men are more likely to forget past incidents. The leading editorial in “Multiple victimizations” is unnecessary. See the comment above. The readers should be credited with a level of intelligence needed to decipher the statistics. 

On the same page: “Physical injury and medical attention”: The fact that there are no corroborative data available in this regard has been dealt with above. 

“Fear” has become an integral element in “violence against women” questionnaires as more results of bi-directional surveys are published and women are found to be at least as aggressive as men. There are at least three different approaches to the feeling of fear. Real fear is not difficult to detect; there are tell-tale physiological signs which cannot be masked. Then there is the feigned fear which is used to gain sympathy or any other positive feedback, the nature of which depends on the intended audience. Thirdly, we have the irrational, instigated fear. This may occur as an end result of feeling guilty, or as the fear that is created by the advocacy movement: “Do you feel that there is something wrong with your relationship (mate or life) but cannot put your finger on it? Remember that emotional abuse may lead to physical abuse or even murder.”

Though the actual numbers of assaults have increased, the most serious forms of assault show decrease.[7]   Drawing upon communications theory, Kasperson and his colleagues (1988) have presented a model of the social amplification of risk. At its simplest level, the amplification (or attenuation) of the perception of risk depends not only on what the message is, but also upon who transmits the message and how the receiver decodes and evaluates the message.

Women’s advocates cash on the statistics of the total reported incidents. They also equate fear of violence with actual violence. That women have become more fearful is due to the advocacy literature directed at them in every conceivable manner. Women are told that “violence against women” has been identified as an important problem requiring change in Canada, and violence against women by their intimate partners is touted to be one of the most serious threats to Canadian women's physical and psychological well-being (e.g., Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women, 1993). Women are told that violence by their intimate partners may begin very early in young women's relationships (e.g., Smith & Williams, 1992). That young women are victims of dating violence is a social concern in its own right (e.g., Currie & McLean, 1993; Phaneuf, 1990), and the patterns established in early intimate relationships may also contribute to later violence in the lives of adult women (e.g., Roscoe & Benaske, 1985) 

Considering all the advocacy, it is no wonder that women are growing increasingly afraid of every gesture or look that their male partners make. During a GSS like this one, even the most innocuous questions take a new meaning when seen from the advocacy perspective. As no such data are directed towards men, they tend to take the questions at face value and respond accordingly. 

The available data also shows that men are more reluctant to admit fear of, or actual assault by, their partner. 

P.15: Risk factors of spousal violence: “It is only with respect to previous partners that the differences between female and male rates of violence is evident.”

See the above for advocacy role in forming motivations, memories and perception, as well as the male tendency to downplay and forget past ills. The subjects affecting men, such as the proxy use of law enforcement authorities and domestic violence courts are not included in the questionnaires.

P. 16: The generational cycle of violence 

This is yet another editorial with no merit, which is based on the doctrine of “What kind of men are abusive -- why women abuse.”[8]   Dr. Jaffe’s data and research is unidirectional and highly biased as it side-steps the female-male and female-child violence.[9]

FVC 2000 p. 17: Presence of emotional and financial abuse[10]: “Research in the area of family violence has indicated that some women find emotional abuse to be more disturbing than physical assaults, … reportedly, the deleterious effects of emotional abuse can leave women …”

Considering that emotional abuse is as damaging to everyone, irrespective of age or sex, this paragraph is a most interesting bit of speculative advocacy. The recent focus on female v. male violence has revealed that females are more likely to resort to indirect violence [see note 7], which often manifests itself as emotional aggression/violence or financial abuse, often done by proxy. Based on this fact alone, we can only conclude that men may be suffering from a more virulent form of abuse, with longer lasting consequences, than women. This is supported by the ever increasing numbers of young men who take their own lives.[11]

P. 18: Consequences of spousal violence: 

The writer goes to extreme lengths to describe how the consequences are more palpable to women than to men. Yet she chooses to ignore the statistics on male suicide. Suicide is the culmination of despair, and therefore the most accurate indicator of victimization. The evidence seems to suggest that when women attempt suicide they often do it in order to gain sympathy without actually intending to succeed. 

Further on p. 18-19: Use of Support Services: Various types of social services are available to women and men.

To the best of my knowledge, all the men’s support services, with one or two exceptions country wide, are related to abusive men. Leslie Tutty, a prominent feminist advocate, recommends that abused husband use the services provided to abusers: “A number [of agencies for abusive men] noted that they would include male victims in their regular men’s perpetrator groups, as the focus is on taking responsibility for one’s behaviour and assuring safety.”[12]   To ask an allegedly abused woman to attend a program designed for anger control and to take responsibility for her behaviour is unmentionable.

FVC p.19: Reporting to police. “… to increase charging by the police and prosecution by the Crown in cases of wife assault.” 

Though the departments of the provincial and federal attorneys general keep no statistics of false allegation, they subscribe to the belief that spousal/family violence is synonymous with violence against women, no questions asked, no explanations allowed. Leslie Tutty in her: “Husband Abuse: An overview of research and perspectives” downplays the importance of husband abuse and states that the “current research [does not] support the changing the wording of family violence material from being specific to women victims to being gender neutral”. Bolstered by this attitude, women are becoming increasingly aware that to get rid of their male partner, for whatever reasons, all that is needed is to cry ”abuse” or “fear of abuse”. The dictum at the specialized family violence courts is that men must plead guilty. [13]

P.20: reasons for reporting: “In addition, women were more likely to report the incident to the police so the abuser would be arrested or punished. … Again, this is likely due to the relatively more severe violence experienced by women.”

The guesswork by the author is speculative and clearly unethical. There is no evidence to support the assertion that women experience more severe violence. There is no question that while men on average are bigger and stronger than women, they may be able to do more damage in a fistfight. However according to Professors R.L. McNeely and Cormae Richey Mann, "the average man's size and strength are neutralized by guns and knives, boiling water, bricks, fireplace pokers and baseball bats." Let us not forget cars and trucks.

A 1984 study of 6,200 cases found that 86% of female-on-male violence involved weapons, contrasted with 25% in cases of male-on-female violence. [McLeod, Justice Quarterly (2) 1984 pp. 171-193] 

The ever increasing numbers of reported incidents by women could also be due to the desire to gain the upper hand in the divorce and custody battle as expressed by Madame Justice Benotto. There is little to fear in terms of penalties for false allegations, family court judges seldom consider them worth a mention. Too much space and energy is devoted to this type of advocacy, financed by the Canadian taxpayer. If the writers wish, they are free to expound their ideas in a separate, non-official publication.

P. 21: “But victims (should be “alleged victims” as the data is based on subjective, uncorroborated data) of more recent cases were slightly more likely to fear that their lives were in danger from a violent spouse.”

This fear could be the result of the public education campaigns by advocacy groups. Their pamphlets and posters are prominently displayed in schools, workplaces, community centres, hospitals and physicians’ offices. They have launched effective media campaigns and they hold information sessions in schools and community centres, as well as in the work place. Using Statistics Canada surveys as justification, physicians, and even dentists, are asked to routinely treat all female patients as potential victims of wife assault.[14]   All this is designed to instill fear and paranoia.

P. 21: Police-reported spousal violence. “Women were more than 6 times as likely to be the victims of these offences than men …”

As this is a statistic of reported, not proven, incidents,[15]  there can only be alleged victims. As noted above, there are no statistics about false allegations, either intentional or unintentional. However, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that women are encouraged to allege abuse during divorce and custody proceedings. False allegations themselves constitute a form of indirect violence as they can lead to loss of one’s reputation, home and children, bankruptcy, imprisonment, suicide and, in rare cases, even to murder.

P. 25: International Comparisons of Spousal Violence. “Women were also more likely than men to require medical attention …” 

There are no data available in Canada as yet in this regard. A close examination of the data in the U.S. does not support this claim.[16]


  1. Indirect aggression refers to a form of social manipulation where the target is attacked circuitously and the aggressor can therefore remain unidentified. It involves acts such as shunning, stigmatising and gossiping. Girls are more likely to exclude newcomers than are boys (Feshbach 1969), to destroy their adversary's property or tell tales on them (Brodzinsky, Messer & Tew 1979) and to use tactics of ostracising and manipulating public opinion (Cairns, Cairns, Neckerman, Ferguson & Gariepy 1989). Girls are significantly higher than boys on becoming friendly with someone else as revenge, gossiping and suggesting shunning of another (Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz & Kaukiainen 1992; Crick & Grotpeter 1995). Studies of school bullying also report that girls preferentially employ indirect strategies (Ahmad & Smith 1994). Female use of indirect aggression continues into adulthood. Bjorkqvist, Osterman and Lagerspetz (1994), investigating victimisation in the workplace, found that women more than men used indirect forms such as spreading false rumours and not speaking. The tendency for girls and women to employ indirect means is not associated with greater condemnation of the use of direct physical and verbal aggression by females (Osterman, Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, Kaukiainen, Huesmann & Fraczek 1994). 

    One of the earliest recorded examples of indirect aggression by women is the story of Medea. When Jason deserted her for another woman, Medea, in revenge, planned and performed the murder of their two sons. Medea mused that the most cruel way to hurt her husband Jason was to kill their children. In pledging her maid to silence about this deed, Medea revealed the malaise of indirect aggression: “Say nothing of the plans I have prepared; don't say a word, if you are loyal to your mistress and loyal to the race of woman!”

    One modern day example of this loyalty to the “race of women” is the callous response by women’s groups to the torture and death of Matthew Vaudreuil in B.C.

“In a broad sense, relationships between parents and children are not time limited. The impact of our experiences as parents and children extends beyond the years during which we are parenting or being parented. And our ability to behave as responsible parents is mitigated by those experiences. 

When the tragic case of Verna and Matthew Vaudreuil was in the news, for example, a great deal of attention was paid to mother as villain, son as victim. This narrow perspective, however, failed to address the victimizing, childhood experiences that made Verna Vaudreuil into the abusive mother she became. It failed to consider the kind of person Matthew might have become had he survived.” [Jill Hightower, Executive Directive of the BC Institute on Family Violence Andrea Kowaz, Ph.D., R. Psychologist and Lynne Melcombe, freelance writer]

In other words, the torture and killing of a child can be justified as long as the deed is done by the mother and a doubt about what kind of a man would the victim grow into if allowed to live is planted into the readers’ minds.

Another example is the treatment afforded by the media to the recent murder suicides and/or attempts. The style of reporting is damning, if a male is the perpetrator, or understanding, if the deed is done by a female.

The reaction by FREDA was in similar vein, though not as blunt. It simply ignored Matthew and dwelled on the abuse that the mother had allegedly suffered.

The anticipated swift reaction to this edition of the FVC by the feminist groups is similar. McLean’s ( Aug. 7, 2000) published a bloodcurdling article about the fictitious male “murder gene”. Yet, though the FCV 2000 gives us a glimpse to the real gender culpability, it nevertheless is nothing more than another feminist apologia. 

Larceny / theft, a crime that women commit most commonly, is a manifestation of indirect aggression. It includes appropriation of others' resources without direct physical confrontation and subsumes credit-card and welfare fraud, shoplifting, writing bad cheques, non-payment of bills and surreptitious taking of others' property. (Campbell, A. 19--)
  1. a) “Do You Know a Woman Who Is Being Abused? : A Legal Rights Handbook” by Community Legal Education, Ontario. P. 5:

“If your partner does any of the following things, you may be a victim of abuse. He may: … read your mail …”

As mutual letter reading is considered to be one the most pleasant family activities, every member of a normal family would be both a perpetrator and a victim. Furthermore, we women, due to our more inquisitive, not to say suspicious, nature tend to be keener to read everyone else’s mail. What does that make us?  http://www.cleo.on.ca/PDF/DoYouKnowaWoman.pdf

  1. b) The advocates also tend to embrace extremely broad and vague definitions of abuse that have also found their way into official domestic violence intervention programs -- not only physical assaults but verbal putdowns, "criticizing you for small things," "making you feel bad about yourself," "threatening to leave" "denying you sex."

    In 1993, "The incidence and prevalence of woman abuse in Canadian University and College Dating Relationships," prepared by W. DeKeseredy and K. Kelly for Health Canada, reported that 76% of men admit to abusing women. 

    Statistics Canada's Violence Against Women Survey found that 51 percent of women over the age of 16 have been abused. 

    Both studies used the US researcher Mary Koss's Conflict Tactics Scale, which allows advocate-researchers to inflate victimization levels as it classifies all unwelcome emotional interaction (insult, swear, put down) as indicative of abuse", even if the respondent didn't so classify the incident. (Edwina Taborsky; Reena Sommer)

    The DeKeseredy study equates “flirting with another woman" with rape at gunpoint. "Insults or swearing," doing something out of "spite" and "flirtation" account for more than 80 per cent of the reported incidents. Less than five per cent involve "physical violence against the partner." And most of this five per cent constitutes of pushing, shoving and grabbing.
  2. c) Ontario Superior Court Justice, Mary Lou Benotto, wrote the following in 1995:

Domestic abuse is abhorrent. I have never found a judicial officer who treated physical cruelty with anything but the seriousness it deserves. However, the term ”abuse” has been diluted beyond all proportion. There is scarcely a separated spouse who does not believe that he or she was in an abusive relationship. Abuse is a powerful term. But it is routinely used to describe shouting, badgering, voice raising, walking away when angry. Think for a minute about your private relationship. So as not to raise a bald allegation, the particulars given of the marital discord become very detailed. [Justice Mary Lou Benotto, Ethics in Family Law: Is Family Law Advocacy a Contradiction in Terms?, Presented to the Advocates’ Society Conference in Nassau, Bahamas, 2 December 1995] 

  1. British Home office Research Study 191: [p. 61-62] “Are men, then, equally victims? The findings would tend to suggest not…. Men were less upset by their experience, considerably less frightened, less often injured, and less likely to seek medical help (see the U.S. survey, where men are less likely to disclose the relationship) It is not possible to determine from the survey why this is so. Possible explanations are

men were more willing within the context of a crime survey to report “trivial” incidents that women felt inappropriate to mention.

The report itself discounts this.

the prevalence of assault is relatively equal but the outcomes tend to be less serious for men because of their, on the average, greater physical strength 

Considering that women are more likely to use a weapon, such as a gun, a motor vehicle or a frying pan, to give the extremes, the physical strength cannot be considered to be a factor. Also, women are more predisposed to violence by proxy, with the generous support by the authorities.  A more likely explanation is that injured men who seek medical help do not disclose the origin of the injury, or the relationship to the assailant. This has been noted by various sources, including the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics and the British Home Office itself in this very same publication.

male victims are less likely to admit, for reasons of shame, embarrassment, or machismo, the true seriousness of outcomes of assaults by women.

Document after document seems to consider this to be the most likely reason.
  1. 4)
  1. a) Child Custody Policies and Divorce Rates in the US, by Richard Kuhn, Children's Rights Council Washington, D.C. John Guidubaldi, D.Ed., John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH) and Kent State University (Kent, OH) 11th Annual Conference of the Children's Rights Council October 23-26, 1997. Washington, D.C. Copyright 1997, Children's Rights Council. 
    "This paper compares divorce rate trends in the United States in states that encourage joint physical custody (shared parenting) with those in states that favor sole custody. States with high levels of joint physical custody awards (over 30%) in 1989 and 1990 have shown significantly greater declines in divorce rates in following years through 1995, compared with other states. Divorce rates declined nearly four times faster in high joint custody states, compared with states where joint physical custody is rare. As a result, the states with high levels of joint custody now have significantly lower divorce rates on average than other states. States that favored sole custody also had more divorces involving children. These findings indicate that public policies promoting sole custody may be contributing to the high divorce rate. Both social and economic factors are considered to explain these results. 

...high levels of child support associated with sole custody may encourage divorce, because custody of children represents an asset for the custodial parent to the extent that child support payments exceed the cost of raising a child (Muhtaseb, 1995). 

State divorce rates and other vital statistics are maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  A 1995 NCHS report (Clarke, 1995) gives data on physical custody awards for 19 participating states for the years 1989 and 1990. This NCHS report is the first of its kind to report figures for physical custody of children.

If one investigates the simple question, "who initiates divorce," we find from the Monthly Vital Statistics Report May 21, 1991 (NCHS, 1991), that from 1975 to 1988, in families with children present, wives file for divorce in approximately 2/3 of the cases each year. In 1975, 71.4% of the cases were filed by women, and in 1988, 65% were filed by women. ... If women can anticipate a clear gender bias in the courts regarding custody, they can expect to be the primary residential parent for the children. If they can anticipate enforcement of financial child support by the courts, they can expect a high probability of support monies without the need to account for their expenditures. Clearly they can also anticipate maintaining the marital residence, receiving half of all marital property, and gaining total freedom to establish new social relationships. 

States that favor sole custody in divorce may thus expect to see more divorce than states that encourage joint custody. On a practical level, joint physical custody makes it less likely that a parent can move to another city to eliminate interaction with the other parent. Because both parents provide for the child directly, child support payments may be somewhat lower with joint custody, reducing financial motives for divorce. Perhaps most significant, joint custody also removes the capacity for one spouse to hurt the other by denying participation in raising the children. The correlation between joint custody and reduced divorce may have a simple explanation. If a parent considering a divorce is told by an attorney that a judge will probably not permit him or her to relocate with the children, and that the other parent will continue to be involved, he or she may decide that it is easier to work out problems and remain married."

  1. Marriage for Men : Violations of Articles 12, 5 of Protocol 7, & 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by the United Kingdom (UK) The Cheltenham Group, September 1999

    The significant differences between cohabitation and marriage are: 
  • married men usually receive much abuse and degrading treatment during a legal divorce process, this is less applicable to cohabiting men 
  • married men lose assets at divorce with an average value of about 20,000, while married women gain with an average value of about 20,000 
  • women who remarry usually have additional unearned income over her previously married situation, and over a ‘normal’ married woman 
  • a married man whose wife had no income, at the time of divorce and after, will be forced to pay ex-spouse maintenance with an average value of 5,400 pa 
  • the woman will usually continue to receive child benefit of typically 1,042.60 pa while the man will usually receive no share of this, and will pay extra taxes to cover this benefit. 

Marriage carries very significant benefits at divorce for the woman: 

  • a gain in assets with an average value of about 20,000 
  • possibility of ex-spouse maintenance with an average value of 5,400 pa. 

Marriage carries very significant damages at divorce for the man: 

  • much abuse and degrading treatment, especially over children 
  • a loss in assets with an average value of about 20,000 
  • possibility of being forced to pay ex-spouse maintenance with an average value of 5,400 pa. 
  • Women are likely to gain by being married at the time of separation, while men are likely to lose significantly. 

For those couples who separate, with children: 

  • Marriage is of very significant benefit for women. Marriage is very significantly damaging to men.
  • Women: Marriage usually ensures a greater share of assets at divorce than that contributed. 
  • Men: Marriage usually ensures a lesser share of assets at divorce than that contributed.
  1. It is becoming increasingly evident that women are at least as aggressive as men. Therefore, in order to continue the portrayal of women as the victims of male aggression, new and innovative ways had to be developed. “Women’s fear” has become one of those. In focusing upon higher levels of female fear in response to prospective aggression, we are in a better position to account for results from human experimental work. In a meta-analysis of 127 laboratory studies it was found that women estimated the danger of the same aggressive encounter to be higher than did males (Eagly and Steffen (1986) and Bettencourt and Miller (1996))
  2. A 1984 study of 6,200 cases found that 86% of female-on-male violence involved weapons, contrasted with 25% in cases of male-on-female violence. (McLeod, Justice Quarterly (2) 1984 pp. 171-193 ) 

    A motor vehicle is a weapon, as is a knife or anything in between. Therefore, the speculation about severity as expressed in this context is a purely personal one and has no validity.
  3. A 1996 Health Canada report found that “it is as difficult for men and boys as for women and girls to admit that they are abused and more difficult to find help”. However, other sources, including this issue, acknowledge that males find it more difficult to admit that they have been assaulted.
  4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in a report titled National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary: "... It may be that because of cultural norms, men are reluctant to disclose that they were assaulted by a female partner..."
  5. British Home Office Research Study 191, p. 39: “One cannot discount, of course, the possibility that men may have been more reluctant to admit emotional distress”; On the whole, the study points to the fact that men are more reluctant to report the incidents and to talk about them. Men also find that they are not taken seriously if they tell being assaulted by their female partners.
  6. Leslie Tutty, in Husband abuse: an overview of research and perspectives, p. 20: “… men feel a stigma about being seen as a victim and that creates a barrier to their asking for and receiving services. When men do ask for assistance, they not only fear being mocked, they also report having been laughed at by some service providers such as police officers. …The idea that men are often reluctant to seek professional help, feeling stigmatized as failures if they admit to problems is supported in the clinical literature (Gill & Tutty, in press; Williams and Myer, 1992)
  7. As yet, no scientific data in this regard is available in Canada. Health Canada has a program in place which will begin the relevant data collection in September. However, seeking medical help may be influenced by other factors as well, notably the need to create a “history” of abuse for divorce/custody proceedings. 
  8. The British Home Office Research Study 191, p. 38: “half of the women who saw a doctor or went to hospital said that it was wholly or partly for emotional or other reasons.
  9. Women also exhibit greater concern with their health than do men. The strongest predictor of preventive health care is gender (Harris & Guten 1979). 
  10. Women rate the importance of health higher than men, know more about health issues and are more likely to track the status of their health (Umberson 1992; Waldron 1988) 
  11. Holly Johnson, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics: “One of the ironies of crime in Canada is that those who express the greatest fear of crime are often the least victimized.” [Statistics Canada Survey, Patterns of Criminal Victimization in Canada
  12. One cannot discount the possibility that men are not as ready to admit this …” [British Home Office Research Study 191, p. 39]
  13. Despite the fact that men are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than women, women are more fearful (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 1997), 
  14. Women report higher levels of fear of crime (LaGrange & Ferrero 1989). 
  15. Sex differences in fear appear in childhood and fear is trait-like in its stability over time (Gullone & King 1997). 
  16. Females show higher levels of concern with survival than do males and …fear is a plausible proximal mechanism for this sex difference (Campbell, Staying Alive: Evolution, culture and women's intra-sexual aggression, 19--)
  17. Advocacy literature may play a significant role in this regard: 
  1. CAPRO Overview: “ ...Have you ever heard of the figure that one in four women have [sic] experienced abuse in their lifetime?...” CAPRO is sponsored by the Ontario Farm Women's Network and funded by The Trillium Foundation. 
  2. Rather than presenting accurate findings about incidents of violence, the feminist writers emphasize women’s perception of it. Women are taught to view their perceptions in a social, rather than personal context. The social context being that men, on the whole, are the perpetrators and women always are the helpless victims. Women’s personal histories become intertwined with those of other women, and in the final analysis fiction becomes fact. The advocates in women’s shelters and transition houses impress on women that they have personally been assaulted, or that they should be afraid of being assaulted, in a fashion that is common to all “victims” (“victim” always meaning female) of domestic violence. “... [and the problem to overcome:] They [women] are not in a position to perceive their problem from a socio-political perspective and stick to personal analysis” [in: Training Social Workers in Feminist Approach to Conjugal Violence : Summary of the action-research, National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, c. 1992  page 10]
  3. Education Wife Assault, by the United Way: “Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or death.” http://www.ftp.on.ca/resources.htm
  4. According to Marilyn French: “The knowledge that some men do [abuse women] suffices to threaten all women." 
  5. According to Gloria Steinem, "patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself . . . The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home."
Interestingly, Melanie Phillips notes: “…far from assuming that men are violent, women take men's non-aggression for granted”. [Melanie Phillips, The Sex Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male, (1999), published by Social Market Foundation.]
  1. 6)
  1. An equally valid observation would be that research indicates that men are more likely to forget previous incidents. Women are more inclined to dwell, and to inflate, past infractions. “…someone who reported frequent shoves and pushes will be classified as a chronic victim of domestic assault” [British Home Office Research Study no. 191, p. 23] 
  2. Black (1983) views violence as a means of informal justice used to remedy personal affronts and injustices by those who lack access to formal institutions of legal process.
Therefore, one could conclude that the prevailing pro-feminist law enforcement and justice system actually increases male-female violence rather than reduces it as frustrated men may eventually resort to the kind of violence that they have been charged with.  Often these charges are levelled for the sole reason of material benefits during divorce proceedings. Indirect aggression produces payoffs whether they be extrinsic (material or social benefits, i.e. exclusive possession of the matrimonial home, support payments, etc.) or intrinsic (the gratification of power for its own sake, restraining orders, sole custody and thus decision making about children, imprisonment and humiliation of the male partner, etc.). Therefore, to ignore the role that indirect aggression plays in family violence is to ignore the major reason that lead to direct violence as well. 
  1. 7)

    Level 1 assaults (no physical injury), the most common form of assault, has shown the largest rate increase (60%) since 1983. In contrast, level 3 assaults, the least common but most serious form of assault involving significant physical injury, have shown a 12% decrease in rates (CCJS, 1990a). As we noted earlier, a similar pattern can be seen with sexual assaults. The least serious forms of sexual assaults have risen since 1983 while the most serious sexual assaults (aggravated sexual assault) has shown no change. Fear of violence will remain disproportionate to the actual probabilities of violence. Striking a more equitable and reasonable balance between perceptions of risk and the actual probabilities of risk requires a careful analysis of all the variables that contribute to the public's fear of violence.  [Gauging The Risk For Violence: Measurement, Impact And Strategies For Change 1994-09, James Bonta, R. Karl Hanson, Corrections Research, Solicitor General Canada, 30 May 1994]

  2. Women use violence for a variety of reasons, but a common one is to defend themselves. Men typically use violence to control their female partners [DeKeseredy, Saunders, Schwartz, & Alvi, 1997; Ellis & Stuckless, 1996] 
  3. If this paragraph was deemed necessary, the following data would have been as pertinent:
  1. a) 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. b) 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. c) 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.
  1. The concept of emotional abuse is highly subjective. Feminist literature defines it being whatever a woman feels uncomfortable with. 

    Considering the extent of public education by various community and women’s groups, such as the United Way’s “Education Wife Assault”, in community service centres, schools and workplaces, most women are familiar with the feminist concept of “woman abuse”, including the definition of “financial abuse”. Accordingly, men are perceived as being financially abusive if they ask their female partners to account for their expenses. They are also perceived to be abusive unless they account for their expenses, whether they are for the family or for personal use. Clearly, this sends a contradictory message: Women are not accountable but men are. This, as well as other feminist victimization definitions, are indirect cues to women how to perceive normal family interactions as being potentially abusive. This perception can have a direct influence on women’s responses to surveys like the ones conducted by Statistics Canada. It also influences public opinion.

    "In Britain, the public reaction to the Home Office research was almost complete silence. The government, too, appeared impervious to its implications. Shortly after it was published, the Home Secretary opened a domestic violence court in Leeds that was founded on the explicit assumption that only men were violent. 

    In June 1999, the Cabinet Office women's unit launched a campaign to "change the culture" that presented domestic violence as almost exclusively a problem of male crime.

    In November 1998, the women's unit announced a new initiative. Children were urged to report violence against mothers and sisters. There was no mention of abuse against fathers. Instead, a television advertisement showed a husband berating his wife when she told him dinner would be late. That was the violence. It was followed by a helpline number for children to call if a woman in their house had been abused. 

    This fictional scenario illuminated some remarkable thinking by civil servants and ministers. It had become acceptable, it thus appeared, for children to inform on their fathers to teachers or "helplines" simply for shouting at their mothers. Shouting was now to be classified as domestic violence. If that is the case, then violence happens with enormous frequency in families. Don't women sometimes shout at men?” [ Melanie Phillips 1999 Extracted from The Sex Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male, by Melanie Phillips,  published by Social Market Foundation.]

  2. BBC Monday, 17 April, 2000, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK Young Men and Suicide, Dr. Ian Banks, Men's Health Forum, Three times as many young men as young women take their own lives - a total of 3,640 in 1996, up 2% on 1982. The number of women committing suicide fell by 41% during the same period. Men are known to be far less likely than women to ask for help if they have problems.

    According to Statistics Canada, men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide.  
    (See Canadian Suicides —WHS)
  3. In order to access those services men have to first “acknowledge the ownership of violence” and plead guilty, based on biology alone, even if they are the victims. Though Ms. Tutty hides behind the backs of service providers (this is a manifestation of indirect aggression, proved to be a female characteristic), there is no doubt about her personal sentiment as expressed in her: Husband Abuse: An Overview of Research and Perspectives.

    Though Dr. DeKeseredy is cited twice, his documentation is of no scientific value. The Incidence and Prevalence of Woman Abuse in Canadian University and College Dating Relationships: results from a National Survey, by Walter S. DeKeseredy and Katharine Kelly.  Data on violence toward males by females for this survey had been gathered but the results were completely omitted from the government report. 

    Ms. Tutty includes a suggested reading list of two types of publications: one “In support of the serious and widespread nature of husband abuse," which is very limited, and two: “Questioning the serious and widespread nature of husband abuse.” It is unheard of to have such a division of subject matter in any publication about violence against women. DeKeseredy’s work figures prominently in her list of references which is drawn from the major feminist resource lists. All in all, though ostensibly documenting husband abuse, Ms. Tutty was more preoccupied with presenting the document as a justification of female-male violence. 
  1. a) The Hon. Dianne Cunnigham, Ontario Women’s Directorate on Domestic Violence Court Pilot Project: “...The offender must plead guilty and is required to participate in a ‘male batterer’s program’. [Note that Ms. Cunningham assumes that the alleged offender is a male in every case. She does not use the word ‘alleged’ though there can be only ‘alleged’ offenders before a guilty verdict. Furthermore, if a guilty verdict is obtained by coercion, it is hardly an indication of guilt]
  2. b) 'Mandatory Arrest/Charging' policy refers to guidelines that require police officers to lay criminal charges against the abusive partner in all cases of wife assault where there are "reasonable grounds" [Ontario. Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services. Policing Standards Manual. (Ontario: Ministry of Solicitor General and Correctional Services, 1994), 0217.01, 0217.04]
  3. c) The project targets first time offenders where there is no significant /visible injury to the person abused. 

Cases are screened by the Crown Attorneys, who identify those eligible for the Pilot Court. Women victims are given information cards by the police which urge the woman to contact the Victim Witness Assistance Program at the Courthouse. [Note: there can be no victim if there are no signs of abuse and the accused has not yet appeared in front of the judge]

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. His plea will be entered and he will get a series of court orders from the judge. 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 he 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 [aggression by proxy: you do what I tell or you will get a criminal record]. 

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. [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

In conclusion, men are left with no option but to plead guilty if they have no financial and/or mental resources to contest the charges, even if they are innocent. It would be of benefit if Statistics Canada made an in-depth statistical survey on the practises of the “Domestic Violence Courts” which may be the worst expression of family violence by proxy.

  1. a) Violence Issues: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum Guide For Health Professionals
    Prepared by Lee Ann Hoff, Ph.D. Faculty of Health Sciences University of Ottawa For Mental Health Division Health Services Directorate Health Canada August 1994 
  2. b) A Handbook Dealing With Woman Abuse And The Canadian Criminal Justice System: Guidelines For Physicians, prepared by Lorraine E. Ferris, Asifa Nurani and Laura Silver for the Family Violence Prevention Unit, Health Canada. 
  3. c) Family Violence Handbook for the Dental Community, Prepared by Donna Denham and Joan Gillespie For Mental Health Division and Health Service Systems Division Health Services Directorate Health Canada December 1994 
  1. 15)
  1. a) Landau, Tammy (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 Section. There is a high attrition rate of spousal abuse cases. 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” 

    This would indicate that most of the allegations are false. It is unfathomable 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” as that is a clear sign of a police state, especially as the evidence in the document indicates that only 12% of the charges, not reports, resulted in convictions. Considering the rigorous prosecution and that the rate of wrongful convictions is unknown, we can only view even those numbers with suspicion.
  2. b) Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario). (1998/99) Ontario Government Business Plans 1998-1999. Recent statistics in Ottawa for February 1998 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 a criminal record. 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 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. It is extremely rare to withdraw this type of charges, therefore, it may have become apparent that in the 22 cases which were withdrawn the accuser actually was the perpetrator. There is a real need to compile statistics in this regard. 
  1. 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."
  2. Sheara Friend, a Needham attorney who testified before the Massachusetts Legislature in May, concurs. "I don't think there's a lawyer in domestic relations in this state who doesn't feel there has been abuse of restraining orders," she says. "It's not politically correct -- lawyers don't want to be pegged as being anti-abused women, but privately they agree."
    There are stories of attorneys explicitly offering to have restraining orders dropped in exchange for financial concessions. Friend says that this has happened to her on two occasions; but she believes that more discreet negotiations are actually far more common.
  1. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics in its Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends NCJ-167237 March 1998 U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics Jan M. Chaiken, Ph.D. Director presents the following data:

Females accounted for 39% of the hospital emergency department visits for violence-related injuries in 1994 but 84% of the persons treated for injuries inflicted by intimates. Among those treated for violence-related injuries and with a known relationship to the offender, about 50% of the women and 8% of the men had been injured by an intimate.

The above statement is a contradiction in itself. In the first part it issues a certain definitive percentage, in the second part it states that though the figure is definitive, it is based on speculation. It is not possible to estimate what percentage of females or men were treated for injuries inflicted by intimates as the figures given are of known relationship to the offender.

The “Unrecorded relationship” for men is three times as high as that for women. Considering the number of unrecorded relationships, and further considering the fact that men are more reluctant, as noted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics itself on various occasions, to report injuries caused by intimates, the sex-specific data are highly questionable. Also, there are no victimization surveys targeted at men, and therefore we do not have any corresponding data for gender comparison. One is inclined to assume that most, if not all, of the relationships that are not reported by men fit the category of “intimate violence.”

Women injured by intimates accounted for about 1 in 5 visits to hospital emergency departments for injuries arising from intentional violence. 

Number of injury cases due to violence treated in hospital emergency departments

Other Types
of Violence
Total 243,316 700,777 383,633
Males 38,958 487,814 287,233
Females 204,358 212,963 96,400

Note the definitive assertion again: “women ... accounted.”

Based on these figures, the number of total victims is: female 513,721, male 814,005. All considered, the maximum number of women who are victims of intimate violence would be 300,758, men 326,191, or males would be 1.20 times more likely to be victimized by an intimate than females. If we allow that 50% of the unreported relationships for both men and women are actually intimates, the corresponding figures would be: women 252,558, men 182,574.5, or females would be 1.38 times more likely than males to be victimized by an intimate. That still is a far cry from the unqualified “5 to 8 times more” as is stated in the next paragraph and in various other sources.

“Though less likely than males to experience violent crime overall, [females] are 5 to 8 times more likely than males to be victimized by an intimate. 

Among male victims of violence, strangers and friends or acquaintances  accounted for the highest rates of victimization

For female victims of violence, strangers and friends or acquaintances rather than intimates were responsible for the highest rates of crime. Intimate violence accounts for about a fifth of all violence against females. The two categories of violence by friends and acquaintances and violence by strangers are each over a third of the victimizations. Violence by relatives other than intimates are less than a 10th of all violence that women, age 12 or older, experience.”

Here is an example of somewhat more balanced research:

Ernst A.A., et al. (1997) Domestic violence in an inner-city ED [In: Ann Emerg Med August 1997;30:190-197]. -- Subjects: 516 patients, 233 men and 283 women. On the basis of ISA scoring, 14% of men and 22% of women had experienced past nonphysical violence, and 28% of men and 33% of women had experienced past physical violence. Of the 157 men and 207 women with partners at the time of presentation, 11% of men and 15% of women reported present nonphysical violence, and 20% of men and 19% of women reported physical violence.

For overall injuries receiving medical care in the U.S. See: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/pdf/13134t9.pdf

Source document: Vital and Health Statistics. Series 13, no. 134: Ambulatory Care Visits to Physician Offices, Hospital Outpatients Departments and Emergency Departments: United States, 1996

To Part 1: Child Abuse and Murder
To Part 3: Spousal Homicide and Research

Posted 2000 09 05
2001 03 26 (format changes)