Dr. Phil has dedicated the ninth season of his talk show to breaking the silence of domestic violence. How noble. We have all heard the famous tag line “I want you to get real about your life.” Well, Dr. Phil, when are you going to get real?
On January 10, 2011 an episode of the Dr. Phil show aired entitled “I Am Afraid of my Husband.” A husband and wife were featured who both admitted to abusive behaviors toward each other. The husband admitted to behaviors that included kicking his wife in the stomach, and, while she was pregnant, restraining her and pinning her down to the floor. She also admitted to slapping, kicking, spitting on her husband, calling him names, breaking his laptop twice, and destroying other house hold furniture.
Now, we (women) are taught our entire life by social workers, teachers, clergy, public service announcements and the like that if men exhibit these behaviors toward us they are unacceptable and that no one should have to live with these behaviors in their life. They are correct. No one should be abused in any way shape or form. It does not take a degree in psychology or a rocket scientist to see that the above behaviors are unacceptable. The problem with the Dr. Phil lies in this simple question, “What are we teaching people about abusive behaviors, and what message are we sending them about men’s value and worth in society, and in their families?”
The husband in this case tried to explain to Dr. Phil that his wife is not the innocent victim she claims to be. That she is just as responsible for attacking him and that in certain situations he had acted in self-defense; that in other cases she had him running down stairs and going in a closet, holding the closet door shut with his feet to get away from her. He also stated that she provoked some of his behaviors with her disrespectful attitude.
Of course a disrespectful attitude, while a force to be reckoned with, is no excuse for abusing someone. It is a good reason to leave the relationship perhaps, but not to abuse. When we resort to violence we have lost all logic and reasoning capabilities. We are not animals. We are supposed to have a higher level of rationality than that.
Self-defense is a reasonable case if you are protecting yourself from abusive behavior. He was portrayed by Dr. Phil as a control freak because he used the words, “She disrespects my authority,” as if Dr. Phil believes a man has no authority over his children or over certain aspects in his home. This couple does have children, and the “controlling” behaviors the wife was trying to address were the husband deciding when or what the children should eat and when they go to the park; as if fathers have no right to make a call on such things.
And how were this man’s concerns addressed?
At one point in this episode, Dr. Phil had both partners stand up. He then pointed out how much bigger the husband was than his wife. Dr. Phil then drove the point home to this man and to America that this imbalance in size led to an imbalance of power in the relationship. Dr. Phil has made this point on his show many times before. Since the man supposedly has more power, it is his responsibility to never react with violence and also his responsibility to stop said violence even if just by walking away and leaving.
This is basically saying that men are responsible for the violence directed toward them in their relationships, and that they are also the ones responsible for stopping it, but they are absolutely in no circumstance allowed to defend themselves.
Men’s concerns about their partner’s behaviors are invalidated, belittled, and simply ignored, or else they are made responsible for it. Not to mention the men who have been told that since they are the stronger ones both physically and emotionally they need to ‘suck it up, and take it like a man’ or find a way out of it themselves with no help. Is it at all possible to make our men feel any less valuable to our society? I want to scream it from the roof tops, “America, what is wrong with us? Why can’t we see that this is a huge injustice?”
Dr. Phil was not shy about calling this man’s behaviors abusive, while at the same time, with kid gloves on, labeled the wife’s behavior as a “relationship issue.”
How embarrassing. How belittling. Not only for men who are completely invalidated as to their concerns, but for women as well. Men are taught that they are perpetrators even if they are victims, while women are treated like children who are too weak to be held accountable for their actions.
In fact, we cannot even say they are being treated like children because we hold children to a higher standard of accountability than we do grown women.
What child does not get into some kind of trouble for hitting another child? Yet we make excuses for women and label them a victim even while they are committing the crime.
This is all about equality correct? Common sense should tell us that a gun, or knife, or a partner waiting until you fall asleep to attack, or poisoning your food, or hiring someone to make a hit on you more than makes up for any size discrepancy that may exist between partners.
We know from testimonies of men who have been abused that there are women who are not afraid to go after a man much bigger than they are. Some women have no fear of men, and why would they? They hear Dr. Phil tell them that a man is never to hit them under any circumstance. They watch police officers arrest their husbands after the husband called the police to stop his wife’s violent behavior.
Women are getting the message loud and clear that protect and serve does not apply if you have a penis. Women know that they can just say, “If you go to the police I will bring false charges against you”, and they know it’s all over for their husband if they do.
We also know that men who divorce their abusive wives, even if the wife pleads guilty to battery or is convicted, will still more than likely lose custody of his children to his wife at the whim of a divorce court judge thereby giving more power to the abuser and further dehumanizing the abused.
Not to mention the continued suffering of children in such situations.
Murray Straus, a co-director of the University of New Hampshire Family Research Laboratory, had been at the center of controversy in regards to a conflict survey where he found that women initiate violence in relationships as often as men. He says the difference between his findings and others is due to the fact that other studies focus on crime reports, which are filed mostly by women.
According to a 1998 US DoJ report, every year in the United States of America, 834,732 men are victims of physical violence by an intimate. That means that every 37.8 seconds in America a man is battered. Of the 834,732 men who are battered, 90,241 men will be knifed, 180,483 threatened by a knife, 360,965 hit with an object, 67,681 beaten up and 620,049 slapped or hit. And those numbers were revealed in a survey conducted about violence – against women.
You will never hear these statistics on the Dr. Phil show. In fact, they can be difficult to find anywhere because they are ignored under pressure by feminist groups. In fact, a report released on Jan 18, 2011 by SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) shows us that 90% of federally funded domestic violence education programs lack accuracy. At most only one in ten domestic violence training, education, and public awareness materials are accurate.
So we can see who really suffers from silence where domestic violence is concerned. It is not women. There were 1,500 domestic violence shelters for women in America in 1996 alone. Federal funds for female victims of domestic violence in 2008 were appropriated at 125 million dollars. There are no domestic violence shelters specifically for men in the United States. In fact, some domestic violence shelters have a policy that if a woman comes to them fleeing her environment and has a son that has reached a certain age, her son is not allowed to stay there with her.
Is that not sexism of the worst kind?
They shoot themselves in the foot, not to mention the most vulnerable victims, with such policies. If a woman is truly abused and needs shelter but must leave her son behind where does she go? And why are older boys not the concern of women’s groups? There are no federal funds appropriated for male victims to be able to form their own advocacy groups or their own shelters.
I am not saying that women are not victims of domestic violence. I am not saying that women are the only ones at fault. I am not saying that men do not abuse women. I am not saying that women should not have the help fleeing these situations that they do have. Before you think that I do not understand the plight of a woman in a violent relationship I will tell you that I do. I have been in a violent relationship myself, and I am grateful for the assistance I had to get out of that situation. I had that help because I am female. I cannot and will not sit by silent while men go through the same things I did, but also suffer in true silence and are ignored. My heart goes out to them.
Dr. Phil and the rest of America need to get real when it comes to male victims of domestic violence. They also need to get real about the fact that women are perpetrators.
Dr Phil, even the women on your message boards are saying you blew it for this husband and wife who is “afraid of her husband.” Women who have not swallowed your poison do not want to continue to see our fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, uncles or friends suffer in silence any longer. We do not want to have to see our men have nowhere to turn when they need help. We do not want to see women treated as children when they are adults.
It is insulting.
We want them held accountable for their actions and we want them to truly have the opportunity to do the hard work and change their behavior. You of all people should know that this type of change does not come from excusing the behavior.
You portrayed yourself in the beginning of your public career as a tough guy who isn’t afraid to say it like it is. I admired that about you when I first watched you on Oprah nine years ago, when I still watched Oprah. I have seen you give very good advice before. You have helped me potty train my children, and have given me some fairly good advice in other parenting issues. You even helped me overcome my fear of the dark. I suspect that personally you are probably not a bad guy. Yet you seriously miss the mark when it comes to domestic violence victims.
I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the one thing that makes this world go around is the almighty dollar. You and I both know you have a target audience. This audience has a childish, knight in shining armor mentality when it comes to men; that or they just think men are inferior to women.
Either way, if you put enough alleged scumbags on your show, you can cash in on beating them up verbally. It’s sad to see you have become a sellout. Perhaps you always were. I once had respect for you. But now that I am educated about the problem of domestic violence it leaves me forced to believe you are a common mangina who furthers the entitlement of women over men.
Since when were you afraid to speak up Dr. Phil? Since when did “Breaking the Silence” on an issue mean that you remain silent about half the people that suffer from it?
*If you are a man who is being abused, visit this site for advice on what steps to take, visit here.