Letter distorted violence realities

Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2000

A recent Letter to the Editor entitled ``Assault Numbers Questioned'' (Feb. 28) argued that domestic violence statistics are being distorted by our local police department, Bartlett Hospital, the Juneau Empire and the AWARE Shelter. The letter criticized Bartlett hospital's recent participation in the Ten State Initiative, a nationwide effort to train medical staff to screen patients for possible, and very likely, domestic violence abuse.

According to Paul Wescott, the effort is ``drivel.'' The real issue is the concealment of actual numbers of male victims, having himself discovered a discrepancy between Centers for Disease Control statistics and a statement quoted in a video ``The War at Home.'' Wescott argues that numbers are being ``falsified'' despite his own claim that findings are ``based on our own police reports.'' The letter demonstrates how far one man will go to deny the effects of domestic violence in this community. His argument is weak and misguided and illustrates thriving misconceptions in this community with regard to male violence and AWARE's role and vision for domestic peace.

Wescott suggests that AWARE and the Juneau Empire should be ashamed of distorting numbers of victims. Nonsense. The notion that feminists are luring women and families to their shelter, or having to distort violence statistics, is ridiculous and unfounded. In reality, husbands and boyfriends are driving women and children from their homes through outright physical violence and intimidation, psychological and financial abuse. Therein lies the shame. Don't be fooled by Mr. Wescott's focus on an insignificant statistical disparity. He is avoiding responsibility where it is due.

It is precisely this type of denial and ignorance which threatens the achievement of otherwise equal, free, peace-loving communities. Wake up, Mr. Wescott. Your accusations are inappropriate and misinformed. Regardless of what ``actual'' numbers are, congratulations are due to the Ten State Initiative and to those who worked tirelessly to eradicate domestic violence. This community cares about domestic violence, and that is not drivel.

Chris Joy



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