Domestic Violence Forum

This is the complete Public Forum piece ( )

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month to raise awareness about the high level of violence prevalent in our family system today.

You are probably already aware that domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both other-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, coworkers, other witnesses, and the community at large.

You may have been aware of some or all of this. However, whatever awareness you may have gained from the media during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I doubt if any of it made you aware of any of the following.

Are you aware that, according to the US Justice Department and the Centers for Prevention & Disease control, in over 1/3 of all reported cases, the batterers were wives or girlfriends? (1) And we believe that all domestic violence is underreported, especially by men.

Are you aware that other reports by the U.S. Justice Department showed that "out of 8,000 men surveyed, 9.7% of male domestic violence victims took out restraining orders. Out of 8,000 women surveyed, 68% violated restraining orders."

Are you aware that a large scale study of Domestic Violence published recently in the American Journal of Public Health (1) found that, according to both men's and women's accounts, 50% of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal involving both parties. In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70% of the time.

Are you aware that a further study of women who were in battered women's shelters revealed that 67% of them reported severe violence toward their partner in the past year. Of all of the scenarios - violence by him only, violence by her only, violence by both with him initiating, and violence by both with her initiating, the most likely to result in future injury to women is when she initiates violence against him and he responds. (1)

Are you aware that 75% of the domestic violence homicides were women. That is the only point ever made. What is seldom talked about is that the remaining 25% represents women who killed the man. Women do kill. (2)

This kind of reporting is rampant. In the October/November 2010 report from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it had a story "Safety plan for a friend, relative or coworker who is being abused by an intimate partner." The headline sounds pretty neutral. However, there was well over a hundred notations where gender was specified and in every case, the female was the victim and the male was the batterer. Even in Oregon's own "Child Welfare Practices for Cases with Domestic Violence", every time the woman or man is specified, the victim is always seen as the woman and the perpetrator is always seen as the man. The sad thing is that there are very few alternative to violence programs available for these female batterers and their male victims.

At first glance, the notion that this could be a widespread or serious problem strikes most people as ridiculous - including some who have been personally affected. Fifteen years ago, some researchers studying female violence were subjected to harassment that ranged from heckling at their appearances to ugly rumors about their personal lives to death threats. Despite growing evidence that violence in the home often involves female aggression or mutual combat, resistance to the view of domestic violence as a two-way street remains strong. Domestic violence organizations have proclaimed a "backlash" against women and others warn that if more attention is paid to female violence, women's shelters may lose support as public concern and resources and that battered women will find less sympathy when they go to the police or to court. This is not to say that the conventional image is never accurate. All too many women are battered and terrorized by abusive husbands. But it's only one part of the story.

Are you aware that there were 55 cases of domestic violence in Curry County of which only 2 involved a female batterer. (3) The idea of battered men evokes comic-strip images of the wife wielding a rolling pin. Many men are inclined to find it amusing when the "little woman" lashes out at them. They believe that it must be their fault. They are not even aware that they are in an abusive relationship.

With only 4% of domestic violence cases in Curry County involving men as the victim, you might take this as an indication that women in Curry County don't follow the national averages. I believe that it's actually related more to the hard working men we have in the county. Many of them have grown up in a culture that says, if a woman hits you, you must have deserved it - so deal with it. What would clearly be seen in other communities as domestic violence is seen as normal. This represents a total lack of awareness about what constitutes domestic violence. Most men aren't even aware that they are in an abusive relationship. No one has the right to be abusive in relationship. Men, answer these questions yes or no:

  • Does she have mood swings, where one moment she's feel loving and affectionate, and the next moment angry and threatening?
  • Has she humiliated you in front of others?
  • Does she anger easily when drinking or on drugs?
  • During conflict does she often threaten or ignore you, destroy personal property or sentimental items, slam doors, or leave?
  • Has she threaten to hurt you or the children?
  • Has she ever used physical violence (scream at, slap, punch, hit, kick, grab, shove, shake, choke, bite or otherwise abuse) you, the children or any past partners?
  • Has she used or threaten to use a weapon against you?
  • Is she a very jealous person?
  • Does she regularly accuse you of being unfaithful?
  • Does she "track" all of your time?
  • Does she try to control how you think, dress, who you see, how you spend your time, how you spend your money?
  • Does she try to discourage you from seeing your family or friends?
  • Does she get angry or resentful when you are successful in a job or hobby?
  • Does she prevent you from working or attending school?
  • Does her conversation ever escalate into threats of separation or divorce?
  • Does she ever threaten to hurt you, herself, or others, if you talk about leaving her?
  • Does she criticize you for little things?
  • Does she do or say things that are designed to make you feel "incompetent", "crazy" or "stupid"?
  • Does she blame alcohol, drugs, stress, the children, others, especially you, or other life events for her behavior?
  • Does she feel guilty after aggressive behavior and strive for your forgiveness?
  • Does she think that she could never live without you, yet other times wants you out?
  • Does she force you to have sex against your will?
  • Does she use sex or other favors as a way to "make up" after conflict?
  • Does she control all finances and force you to account in detail for what you spend?
  • Are you sometimes afraid of her?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in a potentially abusive relationship. Violence that seems harmless at first usually escalates. Men must take any violence seriously. The first time she hits or slaps you, tell her that if there's a second time, you'll report it to the police, then act on it.

What can male survivors do to protect themselves and their children? ( ) I say survivors not victims because most men have a difficult time, under any circumstances, seeing themselves as victims.

If it happens, don't keep it a secret. Let someone know. Overcome your embarrassment. Call the police, talk to a counselor, social services (especially if children are getting abused), a therapist, your doctor, minister or friend or the advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233.

Realize that you are not alone, there are hundreds of thousands of other men who are being abused by their wives or girl friends. Know that you simply don't deserve to be treated like that.

And neither do your children! Children who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime? Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.

In the article I referred to above there has a line that read "...most people who abuse their partners are not good parents and that many of them physically or sexually abuse their children..."

Unless you are in the Child Abuse movement, you probably aren't aware that almost two-thirds of the perpetrators of child maltreatment are women and that 68% of these women are younger than 30. Women lead in five of the six categories: Physical abuse - 52%, neglect - 74%, medical neglect - 82%, psychological abuse - 52%, and other abuse - 57% and represent 63% of the perpetrators of child fatalities. This is not to hide the fact that there are a substantial number of male perpetrators and that men represent 74% of the perpetrators of sexual abuse. However, in this category, parents are the perpetrators in 50% of all cases with mothers as the perpetrator in over 27% of cases, fathers in over 35% of cases, less than an 8% difference. ( ) I find it curious that the government stopped breaking down this information by gender in 2001.

Something else you can do is speak out about your experience as a survivor of abuse. If just the men who were being abused spoke out, the press, schools, law enforcement and the medical profession couldn't ignore it any longer and maybe we as a society would finally realize that domestic violence is not about "patriarchy" but about human imperfection; that it is not a gender issue but a human issue. Maybe then we will stop the blame game and look for ways to make our society less violent.

Gordon Clay

(1) American Journal of Public Health. May 2007 pages 941-947 or

(2) Adjusted with updated information from Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.

(3) Everett Dial, Curry County DA

Reference Sources as backup but not presented above:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Substantial increase of arrests of women for offenses against the family from 9.1% in 1963 to 20.8% in 1994.
Source: Adapted from Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, annual: 1963-1994). Total Arrests, Distribution by Sex.)

A woman's perpetration of violence was the strongest predictor of her being a victim of partner violence.
Source: Stith, SM, Smith DB, Pen CE, Ward DC, Tritt D. Aggress Violent Behav, 2004;10:65-98

Rights of battered men -

Domestic Violence General -

Child Maltreatment -

Child Maltreatment Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Important Book: A Typology of Domestic Violence, Intimate terrorism, violent resistance, and situational couple violence Michael Johnson 2008

Other Books on DV:

Resources on DV:

Child Welfare Practices for Cases with Domestic Violence

Web based resources

Making the Link: Promoting Safety of Battered Women and Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse

Family Violence Prevention Fund

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

“How to File a Restraining Order” video

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s Treatment Improvement Protocol #25 Substance Abuse Treatment and Domestic Violence: go to the SAMHSA Web site and select “Treatment Improvement Protocols” under SAMHSA publications:

Oregon Department of Human Services domestic violence pages in the Abuse and Neglect section has links to list of domestic violence service providers in Oregon

Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Oregon Family Law Resources through Oregon Judicial Department

Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence publications

  • Domestic violence and sexual assault material
  • Domestic violence and sexual assault