Abused men: dis-information or real problem?

My turn

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2001

After reading Bryan Clark's My Turn rebuttal (attack) of June 19, I promptly licked my wounds and ran for my dictionary to look up all of those big words that Mr. Clark used. I thought, of course, that since he used all of those wonderful words that he must certainly have been right and that I must have been all wet with my interpretation of the study and the problems it alludes to.

Upon further consideration, I am reminded of a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860): "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Well, if that's the case then I suppose we're making some progress here. In fact, the positive comments I received on this topic outnumbered the negatives about 3-to-1.

Domestic abuse, especially partner abuse, is certainly a hotly debated issue. It's a debate loaded with mistrust between the genders, with activists on each side seeing the issue as a prime example of the other sex grabbing for power, either by inflating the suffering of men or ignoring it.

One thing that most experts can agree on is that men are often abused. It's the "how often" question that gets folks upset. And it's a touchy subject in part because of the huge cash cow that domestic abuse programs have become. Millions of dollars each year flow into the gender-biased domestic abuse shelter programs in this country .... but if a man needs help, there is nowhere to turn.

Thank goodness that national organizations like SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) are out there advocating for help for ALL victims, not just female victims. The philosophy of SAFE is that "both males and females are victims or perpetrators of domestic violence to such a degree that serious outreach efforts and supportive resources for both genders are warranted." Phillip W. Cook, co-founder of Safe, writes an excellent resource book on the subject: Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, Praeger Publishers 1997, Westport, CT ISBN: 0-275-95862-0.

Unfortunately, in Juneau, as in much of the country, the only services available are for female victims. To quote the director of Juneau's only domestic abuse shelter, "AWARE does not directly provide services to men. AWARE provides referral services only." More than 10 calls went un-returned at both of the referral numbers given by the AWARE shelter. Currently, no male victim program exists in Juneau. Furthermore, my repeated requests (nine requests over the past 10 months) to attend Juneau's "Domestic Violence Task Force" meetings, which ought to adhere to the public meetings laws, have been ignored and/or denied by the task force. Apparently, the meetings change times and/or locations too often for me to be notified.

I noticed that both the Anchorage Daily News and the Seattle Times picked up on the subject last week, reprinting an article from New York on June 16, 2001 by David Crary of The Associated Press. While Mr. Crary does not take sides on the issue, he does admit that: a "major survey released last year by the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1.5 million American women and 835,000 men are assaulted annually by an 'intimate partner' - a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, including partners of the same sex".

A great website: http://www.vix.com/menmag/battered.htm offers links to Bert H. Hoff's "A re-look at NVAW survey data." offering information on the National Violence Against Women survey (National Institute of Justice/CDC) which shows that assaults by women are also dangerous, stating that assaulted men are more likely than women to be knifed or hit with an object. Another valuable resource link from this site: Dr. Martin Fiebert examines 190 studies, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in relationships. Aggregate sample size: over 60,000.

The bottom line: It's a problem. Mr. Clark's vicious attack of my perspective helps nobody. And regarding the "pain this article must have caused to domestic violence survivors," I have these comments: 1) Male domestic abuse survivors deserve equal attention to their pain and 2) A man falsely accused and destroyed by those false allegation is a much a victim as one who has been abused.

Jim Scholz is a long-time resident of Juneau and of the national organization SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone).

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