Domestic violence, family violence, interpersonal violence, abuse, battery… these are all terms used to describe violence toward or physical abuse of one’s spouse or domestic partner. Prevalent through out history and society, ours and others, is the abuse and battery of domestic partners. Most often emphasis is put on the abuse of women by their husband or boyfriend, but there are other types of domestic abuse that are talked about less often than these because of the social stigma and pressure put on the victims to keep silent.
There are men who are abused by their wives nd girlfriends, as well as gay men and lesbian women who are abused by their partners. Often these abuse victims are not sympathized with as much as the typical battered woman is sympathized with; they are seen as not needing as much help as women. On the contrary, battered men and battered homosexuals in as much need as battered women and they are much less likely to find it.
In the text Society In Focus, the short paragraph contributed towards domestic violence talks almost solely about battered women and has only one sentence even referencing battered men, “A recent study found that domestic iolence has ‘a more serious impact on women’s sense of well-being and control than it does on men in similar violent domestic relationships (Umberson et al. , 1998:449). ” According to Philip W. Cook , journalist, lecturer, and author of Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, battered men are in just as much need, if not more, then battered women.
Cooks points out that “male victims are stuck in a time warp; they find themselves in the same position women were in twenty years ago… their problem is viewed as of little consequence, or they are somehow seen to be at blame for it,” (Roleff 26). The lack of concern for battered men in the text Society In Focus as evidenced above just proves Cook’s point that the seriousness of violence against men by their domestic partners is not taken seriously. Cook estimates that a man is severely (domestically) assaulted every 15 seconds, as opposed to every 18 seconds for a woman (Roleff 27).
It is conceded in the article that most domestic violence is mutual with women openly admitting in sociological surveys that they initiate the abuse approximately half the time (Roleff 28). This leads to mutual combat between the couple with the woman hitting, biting, scratching, or otherwise enerally assaulting the man, and the man assaulting the woman back. In general men tend to be more physically able to inflict more serious harm than a woman, so battered women would show more visible signs of domestic abuse than battered men.
Due to ridicule and isolation, men are much less likely than women to speak out when they are being abused. Battered men have no where to turn to when they need to get out of an abusive relationship, because there are no “Men’s Shelters” and when men attempted to involve the police or even their families they run the risk of being laughed at or even blamed for the abuse. Trapped by social stigma to be “manly” and the masculine macho attitude that society pressures males to conform to all contribute to the silence and oppression of battered men.
In order to alleviate men’s suffering Cook suggests that expanding already existing abuse support programs to include battered men, instead of creating an entire new system, is not all that difficult of a goal to achieve. Cook also points out that “a big impediment to these small efforts [battered men’s shelters etc]… is the Federal Violence Against Women Act, which apparently prohibits funds from being used to serve male victims,” (Roleff 32). The seriousness of domestic violence should not be solely attributed to battered women, but should be extended to include all victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Domestic violence in same sex relationships is also a largely ignored and socially decriminalized issue. Steve Friess, writer for the Advocate, a homosexual newsmagazine, addresses the seriousness of domestic abuse among same sex couples in his article in Domestic Violence: Opposing Viewpoints. Battered gays and lesbians face a similar plight to that of battered heterosexual men. Friess tells the story of Dana, a battered lesbian who eeks sanctuary at a local Women’s Shelter only to have her severely abusive lesbian partner check into the same shelter, no questions asked, because she, too, is a woman (Roleff 42).
Mike Royko, late nationally syndicated columnist, is a prime example of someone who simplifies the seriousness of domestic abuse with gay relationships. Royko asserts that he is “pro-choice” as in “by pro-choice, I mean if a guy – or 500,000 guys – choose to live with mentally unhinged ‘partners’ who beat them up, that is their choice… ” and he goes on to say, “It should be easier for a man to alk away from an abusive relationship than for a woman since men don’t get pregnant and have babies,” (Roleff 48-9).
The ignorance of Royko’s assertions is astounding, since if he had even looked at the reasons why battered women stay in abusive relationships he would see that it doesn’t always have to do with pregnancy and babies. There are many childless women who stay in abusive relationships, as well as gay men, for many different reasons. Homosexual women and especially homosexual men are explicitly barred from attending various support groups aimed at helping abusers stop busing, the stated reason being “homophobia” that would be aggravated in the “recovering” straight abusers (Roleff 43).
According to several unscientific surveys, as many as one in four or 25 percent of gay and lesbian partners are victims of domestic violence (Roleff 44). With virtually no one to turn to, no where to go, and nothing to help support the battered homosexual, there is much progress to be made. Battered gay men, especially, are in dire need of some kind of support to end their abusive relationships, and societal values need to be reevaluated in order for this to happen.
Since the majority of resources and studies on domestic violence center on men abusing women, it is easiest to see patterns of abuse as well as to get accurate statistical data about the prevalence of this type of domestic abuse. Society In Focus points out that “Currently, less than half of all nations have enacted laws and penalties for violence against women and girls including child abuse, sexual harassment, marital rape, and many other crimes that continue to be defined as private, domestic, and family matters (Viano, 1992),” (Thompson 359).
That is an astounding lack of basic rotection of women’s civil rights throughout the world. Domestic abuse of a spouse or partner also contributes to other detrimental social ills, such as child abuse. Husbands who grow up in households with violent parents are much more likely to assault their wives than men who grow up in households with nonviolent parents (Rein 50). Also, violent tensions between parents can lead to negativity towards the children of the family.
It is shown that “abusive parents talk to their children less, and when they do, it is often in a negative manner… They also touch their children less,” (Rein 50). Also, while many children who re abused during childhood grow up to be competent parents, there is empirical evidence which shows that the majority of abusive parents where themselves abused as children (Rapp-Paglicci). Even verbal abuse between spouses can have grave detrimental effects on children. Parents who verbally abuse each other are much more likely to verbally abuse their children (Rein 50).
Also, National Family Violence surveys find that in households that men abuse their wives the child abuse rate goes up from 8 percent in households that men do not abuse their wives to 22. 3 percent. In households that women abuse their husbands the rate goes up from 9. percent in households that women do not abuse their husbands to 22. 9 percent (Rein 50). That is an alarming rate of inflation from households without spousal abuse to households with spousal abuse in which child abuse occurs.
Research also shows that children who merely witness spousal abuse are likely to have the same symptoms as a child who is directly abused (Rein 52). Domestic violence and child abuse are not separate social issues, with separate causes in all cases. Many times the domestic violence and child abuse perpetuate each other, with child abuse victims becoming he perpetrators of domestic violence, and domestic violence leading to abuse of the children in the household. Domestic violence is a powerful social ill, its origin dating back to the beginning of time, and throughout all the advances of modern societies, it still exists.
The difficulty is finding a cure or deterrent for abusers, and educating the abused so that they are better equipped to recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship. It is also imperative to let the abused know that it is never too late, that there is always a way out of the abusive relationship, always hope, especially when children are nvolved. Ann W. Burgess and Albert R. Roberts assert that “arrest, in replication studies, has been shown to not be an effective deterrent; … it may… increase the incidence of domestic violence… (Rapp-Paglicci 20).
So if arrest is not enough of a deterrent and even perpetuates the problem, what can be done to alleviate and end the abuse of the victim of the domestic violence? For battered heterosexual women and their children there are shelters they can go to, a safe haven for women to sort out their broken lives and put all the pieces back together before moving on to a new and better life. But for battered men, gays, and lesbians it is a different story. There is no safe haven for them to pick up the pieces of their puzzled lives.
Society needs to seriously consider putting aside petty stereotypes of masculinity and opinions on the “morality” of same sex relationships, and focus on the larger issue of the violence being perpetrated at least every 15 seconds between people who are supposed to love each other. If it is okay to hurt the people to whom one is supposedly committed to and cares for, what is to stop that same individual from perpetrating violent acts towards others in society whom they care less about? Nothing.