There was an interesting case in the Washington courts about seven years ago. The participants will be kept anonymous but permission has been received to simply share the story. The case involved child custody and domestic violence. Both the man and the woman, or father and mother, were claiming to be the victims of domestic violence. The innocent party had spent years actually hiding the violence and not calling the police except for once. So there was very little evidence. The court was left in the unenviable position of dealing with a basically “he said, she said” case and making their decision. It does sound like the court had a hard road in deciding.
It would also seem, however, that there was circumstantial evidence that could be used. The man was small – he stood at 5’1” and was about 160 pounds. He was also cripplingly arthritic and had no police record at all. The woman was substantially larger – she stood at 5’11” and was about 300 pounds. She also had a history of diagnosed mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and had needed to be institutionalized twice, once for a suicide attempt and once for violent acts. The court chose to believe the woman. The man could not believe it. He himself asked later, “Even if I was capable of violence, which I don’t think I am, what chance would I possibly have against her? She could easily overpower me without using violence at all!” It does seem odd. But she had this going for her – she was the woman. It is getting better but the courts still have a hard time seeing the possibility that the man can be the victim in a domestic violence case.
This prejudice can be seen in many ways. When the federal government worked to curb domestic violence they named their law the Violence Against Women Act. When someone googles the term domestic violence it will pop up several statistics. Two of the more common statistics that are found are: “1.3 million women are the victims of domestic violence annually” and “85% of domestic violence victims are women”. Many hotlines or centers that are doing what they can to help the victims of domestic violence have “for Women” somewhere in their title; if a man calls to see what help he can get he will quite often be referred to a hotline or counseling center that strives to help people quit abusive behavior. He will even get this referral if the reason he was calling was because he believes himself a victim and was seeking the kind of help the domestic violence shelter offers.
Is domestic violence against women a horrible thing? Yes, it is. Should the courts, police, federal government and others do what they can to stop it? Yes, of course they should. This article is not trying to say otherwise.
This article is trying to ask another question though. Is domestic violence against men nonexistent as sometimes seemed to be implied? No, it is not. Examine the two statistics given above. When it is said that 1.3 million women are victims it should cause two questions. The first question is, “What can be done?” But the second question is, “How many men are victims?” If the answer is sought on the internet it will be found that it is debatable. The answer is usually given as 585,000 but sometimes as high as 3.2 million. It depends on the study you read. The point is that no one who takes the time to research the issue comes up with the answer of zero. Think about the other statistic about the 85% of victims being women. Two things need to be pointed out. First this statistic is currently being debated and some studies seem to indicate that the ratio is closer to 50/50. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, is that even if this statistic is completely accurate then it needs to be pointed out that 15, even though smaller than 85, is still a significant number of victims not being helped. What is done to help victims of domestic violence should be available to all victims, regardless of gender.
Women can hit, kick, punch. Women can use knives, blunt objects and guns. It is not a one gender issue and should not be treated as such.
One sad result of the known societal prejudice is many women abusers have used it to successfully falsely accuse men that were actually the victims, like the case mentioned above. If you are in this situation or in any situation regarding an accusation of domestic violence you need the defense attorneys at Smith & White, PLLC, located in Pierce County (Tacoma) and King County (Vashon) Washington. Call or e-mail The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.