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since June 19, 2001


Violence and Divorce: A Father's Story

The situation related in the following is unfortunately only too common.  The father wrote in response to a message I had posted.  That message is appended after his commentary.  --WHS

Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 00:26:54 +1000
From: [e-mail address not shown]  

AMEN to the points you have made!!!

As a father I tried my very best to provide a loving home, ever improving living conditions, the "nicer" things in life, a strong parenting team, guidance, support, and all of the many other elements of "fathering". I was loyal and faithful to my wife since I was 19--now 47. It wasn't until a grueling four hour deposition by my wife's attorney that I truly realized that the dream I had been living never existed. I was left with the only possible conclusion that I had thrown away my life and a career as a great photographer with state awards and a cover on LIFE at the age of 21 to enter the corporate world and follow in the mold stamped out by my wife's family. Everything that I did or tried to do from then on was thoroughly trashed by my wife and her attorney as it was made all too clear that my only value to her was as a sperm donor, the source of the large biweekly checks, the ever larger houses, and the steadily improving standard of living . . . . until the checks stopped.

For years I tolerated extreme abuse of every kind. I taught IBM classes with a bloodied swollen face. I had my cars purposely destroyed. Living at home was a living hell as I was the scapegoat, enemy, and target of all hostility and resentment. But, I wanted to preserve the family and I loved my wife . . . too much. In the last three years, with the onset of menopause, violent mood swings, my wife's depression, major inheritances, parental deaths, the children leaving, and a psychologist selling his belief that people live too long to stay married to one person, the need for individuation and self actualization, I watched as my wife became the "strong" all-consuming black widow. The daily hurt and pain was too much.

After she consulted with her attorney and began implementing a concerted plan to destroy me while retaining everything, I fell neatly into her web, to be destroyed by the careful machinations of a legal system totally weighted in favor of women. This was MY mistake, but I did very much love my wife, so I continued to stay and hoped that we could make it through these changes. By staying I ALLOWED myself to be destroyed while clinging to false hopes and dreams that were never real. When the daily doses of insult, humiliation, degradation, and blatant manipulation became so great that I was desperately clinging to the last vestiges of self-esteem. I tried to numb the pain with alcohol. Alcohol didn't work. Other actions to destroy the self I so loathed didn't work. Finally, as a dog beaten into a corner, I said the wrong things and the final trap was sprung.

I have now lost everything and still face an uncertain future of charges of "terrorist threats" and divorce. All jointly held stocks had been sold, all accounts emptied, and a court order bars me from my home. I was cast onto the streets penniless with no possibility of communication or reconciliation. For me, now there is only the watching and waiting as the wheels of "JUSTICE" consume everything...my life, my family, and all that I once believed in.

Abuse is alive and well in this country, but who hears or cares about father abuse or husband abuse? What courts or judges care about the fathers and husbands who quietly suffer all while trying to "do the right thing"? Do criminal courts care what drives a man over the brink? Do laws of marital assets, inheritance, or "EQUITABLE" distribution even consider the gross inequities served the male in our society? Women's groups and the liberal bent of today's society have powerfully and skilfully dominated "the system" so that the chances for successful marriages, families, and traditional roles have little chance for success.

As long as one single man can be subjected to this, the role of men's groups and organizations whether national or international will receive little respect and the role of the male even less. Is this the legacy for the next millennium?

[name not shown -- as requested]

The man's situation is described in general terms, but exhaustively, in Erin Pizzey's discussion paper Working with violent Women.

His story was told in response to the following exchange of messages.

Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 01:51:08
From: "Walter H. Schneider" < >
Subject: [NSPA] It's not possible to win! 

Thanks everyone for the effort in response to Lucille Gelinas' letter to
the Edmonton Sun.

My Letter to the Editor, in response to the misinformed comments that were made when Lucille's letter was published in the Edmonton Sun, was published in yesterday's edition of the Edmonton Sun.  I know of a few people who have sent off responses to the atrocious remarks made by the editor.  Here is my letter once more:

The Edmonton Sun, Editorial Section, 1997 12 14



 RE: NOVEMBER is Domestic Violence Month, Nov. 27 letter. It was encouraging to see Lucille Gelinas' letter showing concern about the distortion of the truth in the media and the public's perception resulting from that. 

It is good that Patricia Pearson, one of the increasing number of people who try to correct the distortions that we are subjected to by many of the sectors of the media, in her book When She Was Bad explains what it is that women are capable of with respect to violence. 

However it is disappointing that the good effort that was made by Gelinas in her letter became so terribly diluted by the comments that you offered.  It appears to show that you too, like many other people who don't follow the news carefully, have a very short memory for incidents of violence perpetrated by women.  In that way you have become a prime example of the bias that is inherent in these issues, namely that society is eager to gloss over that more than half of domestic inter-spousal violence perpetrated by women. 

The considerable number of incidents must be added to those which involve violence against children, in which cases women, primarily biological mothers, comprise by far the majority of the perpetrators.  Canadian figures are extremely difficult to obtain, but that should not offer a ready excuse for ignoring sources of information which are considerably less biased than those which you apparently used to derive the concerns that you expressed in your comments. 

Cathy Young, from the Women's Freedom Network, issued a press release that provides some statistics that are far more conducive to promote the truth than the obviously self-serving sources from which you derived your information. That press release indicates that men comprise not just "very few" of the fatal victims of domestic violence as you would have the public believe, but rather a full 41% in the case of inter-spousal violence alone.

Ignoring the truth, based on whatever organization, will not solve the epidemic of domestic violence that has had our society in its tightening grip for the last 20 years. If you are truly opposing "all forms of domestic violence," and to avoid accusations of shoddy journalism against your paper, a retraction and correction of your comments is in order.

Walter H. Schneider
 National Shared Parenting Assoc.

[The formatting of the letter was considerably different from what I had mailed to them, although he text is complete.  They deleted all paragraph marks and italics.  The following is the remark that the editor appended. ]

All genders are victimized by family violence. But let's not forget that it is men who most often abandon their families, leaving the care of their children to mom. So the abuse statistics show mom as the culprit, not the father who bailed out on his family.

[—Tom Elsworthy]

That remark too is ill-informed or, if not that, a deliberate lie.  The vast majority of divorces are being filed for by women.  The proportion of divorces filed for by women ranges from just under 70% (in Germany) to over 85% (in England).  The figures for Canada are accessible in Child Support, Divorce, Custody, Access & Government Policies and are in the range of 75 percent.

Here is Lucille Gelinas' letter once more:

NOVEMBER IS domestic violence month and once again the media have turned the public's attention to the grossly exaggerated belief that violence is perpetrated by men only. Legitimate scientific studies on domestic violence show that it is at least as likely to be done by women as men. Unbiased researchers have found that many of the women who claim to be abused are themselves batterers. Most abused fathers fail to leave their abusive wives for fear of losing their children. They know the court system believes a woman's claims of abuse without proof. The "zero tolerance" attitude exists for women, but not for men. Because of this great harm has been done to innocent fathers and their children. Many homicides and/or suicides by fathers driven to despair by false accusations of domestic violence or rape on their own kids go unreported. The media write little about these accusations in custody disputes. So many children are growing up fatherless  because of judges who prefer to stay ignorant about the fact that men are being abused too. The media should address this problem with objectivity, and not close one eye on a two-sided issue.
> Lucille Gelinas

And here goes the ignorant, uninformed editor again:

Fact: Men are not as likely to be battered as women. We oppose all forms of domestic violence. But remember, many women pay with their lives, very few men do.

The preceding comment was provided by Tom Elsworthy, Associate Editor of The Edmonton Sun.  The "fact" is not as Tom Elsworthy wrote.  It is that men are as or even slightly more likely than women are to be hurt in domestic violence incidents, and that children are nine times as likely to be killed by their natural mothers than to be killed by their natural fathers. 
   As to the erroneous claim that "many women pay with their lives, very few men do," murders of men in domestic violence incidents are often plea-bargained down to manslaughter or even to self-defence.  In such cases the victim is not around to defend himself and unlikely to be counted as a domestic violence murder victim.   However, even according to the distorted and twisted Canadian justice statistics, one quarter of all partners killed in "domestic violence" incidents are men.
   Still, according to Statistics Canada, the total number of annual domestic violence victims that become fatalities — men and women only, children don't seem to matter as far as DV goes in the minds of the ideologues wanting to destroy what's left of the institution of marriage — has been steadily dropping for a good number of years and is now under 70, although it was hardly ever much higher than 70 by more than just a few.  Considering that close to 30,000 Canadians die each year as a result of medical maltreatment or receiving the wrong prescription drugs for their medical conditions, about one woman per week being killed in a domestic violence incident hardly qualifies as a rampant epidemic that requires to tar all Canadian men with the same broad brush.
   Moreover, the insidious aspect of the alleged DV epidemic is the ostensibly inescapable conclusion that marriages are bad for women, while the opposite is true.   Marriage is the safest and most benevolent circumstance of all for women to be in (men too).  It would be more accurate to call domestic violence "extramarital violence" or EV. —WHS

Tom Elsworthy's e-mail address is: "Att: Tom Elsworthy" <sun.letters@ccinet.ab.ca>

He appears to need a little educating. Can you help out a bit? It would help to send a copy of your comments to "Att: Paul Stanway"  <edmonton.sun@ccinet.ab.ca>, he is the Editor-in-Chief.

See also:

Last updated:
1999 06 04
2001 01 29 (format changes)
2002 02 17 (elaborated on my response to Tom Elsworthy's comments)