Real Victim

Domestic violence: The real victims

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many of the old timers here will remember when I had a debate on DV before this site enjoyed the traffic it does today. I wrote a piece after that debate that I want to resurrect as my contribution to help raise awareness of the issue. We have so little of that these days. I am trusting some of you may not yet have read it, so I am hoping it will provide some food for thought, and something to pass on to other venues this month. PE

For those of you who have read my short bio, you know that I became involved in men’s activism because of misandry in the mental health field, where I worked as an addictions counselor for 20 years.  The recent DV debate hosted on this site took me back a few years to some very familiar arguments that were commonplace with my peers when I was counseling.

That feminist I debated with reminded me of the ideologues with which I used to work. What he does not know, and doesn’t want to know about the subject could fill Lake Superior.  And despite his allegations of indifference, even sadistic enjoyment on my part about violence against women, his knowledge about me is equally lacking.

In the world of drug addicts and alcoholics, violence in the home is as common as lost jobs, DUI’s and a litany of other life problems.  And my experience in dealing with it leaves an impression in my mind vastly different than you see broadcast in public service announcements, and what you hear from gender activists that make their bread and butter from the problem.

Somewhere in all of us, I think, by virtue of systematic brainwashing, is the idea that domestic violence is epitomized by a frail and battered woman, quietly weeping and huddled in a dark corner. We have been trained, through the hypnotic repetition of misinformation, to conjure the image of male monster driven by the insatiable need for control, pummeling his wife or girlfriend because her independence threatens him.

Do such monsters exist? Certainly. I have spoken with many of them. Some are guilt ridden over their actions, some are sociopathic and unrepentant, rationalizing that their misdeeds are justified. All of them are wrong.

But of course to be fair, and more importantly truthful, my memory has no shortage of women who also fill the bill.  I have dealt with many who slapped, punched, kicked and clawed their partners out of anger and frustration, and just like a few of the men, out of the sick desire for dominance.  The only real difference between the two is that I found significantly less remorse in the women.  I have always attributed that to the fact that their violence was never taken as seriously as the men’s, and never as stigmatized by social taboo.  It didn’t make any of them less wrong.

But here’s the rub. The use of violence as a premeditated, ongoing tool to maintain primacy in a relationship was always an infinitesimally small percentage of what I saw in the people I worked with.  It was the extreme exception that somehow (read feminism) achieved inculcation into public consciousness as the norm, with a male in the role of perpetrator.

From working with countless families affected by the problem, I can tell you what domestic violence really is.  It’s a couple, one or both of them drunk, escalating a fight till it gets physical.  It’s two desperate, our of control people, clawing at each other out of fear and rage.  It’s impulse, reckless dysfunction that as many times as not has the two people in the bedroom enjoying make up sex not long after it is over, and then building the tension between them till it happens again.

It is people who cannot or will not manage conflict in a way that is peaceful, and it does not belong to one sex over the other any more than it belongs to one hair color over the other.

In fact, if you want to understand who is at most risk for violence in the home, take an equally hard look at poverty and drugs, especially alcohol. Looking at anything else first, especially the sex of perpetrators and victims, is fruitless. Unless, of course, there happens to be a buck in it for you or you have a political ax to grind.

In fact, if you want to know the real truth, we have screwed up the whole concept of perpetrators and victims when it comes to domestic violence.  What I witnessed over two decades of dealing with the realities on the ground gave me a completely different view than you find in coffee house conversations.

When it comes to domestic violence, the real perpetrators are adults and the real victims are children.

And until we start to understand this, and act on it in good faith, we will achieve nothing more than further pitting men and women against each other, and leaving more children devastated in the wake of their battles.

Children who witness violence between their parents are traumatized by it.  And I mean that in the literal sense. I have spoken with countless couples that recounted their battles with each other, sometimes sadly, but often as dispassionately as two people talking about playing checkers.  They even laughed, together, at the absurdity of their actions.  And let’s face it, rather than being there to arrange escape and protection plans, they were there trying to figure out how to stay together and solve problems.

Talking to their children was vastly different.  That is where I saw the most, and the most genuine, tears.  Usually, all it took was a question.

“What is it like for you when Mom and Dad fight?”

Many of them, when hearing this simple question, which neither parent had likely ever asked, were overcome in a swell of raw, unyielding pain. They often struggled to steady their quivering lips, and fight back tears as they talked. Others just walled off, keeping their eyes down, shrugging their shoulders and forbidding me to enter the world of their pain.

Many of them, though, did tell me their stories.  I got to hear how they covered their heads with pillows at night, trying to block out the noise.  Others learned to escape in their own minds, retreating into fantasy. Still others tried to intervene, to become the only adult in the house, and to protect one parent from the other.   And yes, they were often trying to protect their fathers.

As I did my job and dug into their lives, I found the real legacy of their parent’s actions. It came in the form of school failure, fighting, drug use, thoughts of suicide, social withdrawal, hopelessness, despair, anger and fear.

Fear.

And it was an fear they were destined to carry with them; baggage to be hefted and lugged into their adult lives, tainting their image of themselves and others; wrecking their chances to trust the likes of love or put stock in the notion of family. A gift from Mom and Dad in the form of scars.

I didn’t blame them for being afraid, or for being angry.  When I heard their stories I was angry, too. Sometimes I wanted to grab both parents and smack them myself. But mostly I just sat and watched as they pointed at each other and cast blame.

You know, we put a lot of effort into finding a solution to domestic violence.  And we put a great deal of energy into supposedly helping the victims of this social malady.  As well we should.

It is the contention of many MRA’s, and we are right to think so, that we need to de-gender the problem.  We point to the fact that women are, as often as men, the initiators of violence. We lament the fact that social services all but deny the existence of male victims. Again, rightfully so.

But if we are ever to understand and redress the difficulties we face over this problem, I contend that we need to take a more somber and sober look at who is really paying the price for all of it.

And we need to understand that parents with children who have repeated violence in the home are abusing them, literally wrecking their futures, regardless of anything as trivial as who hit who first, or who got the biggest bruise.

What we have now is a system that only takes the petty squabble between two immature people and elevates it to the national level.  We have turned our collective understanding of domestic violence into a macrocosm of a childish, vindictive, marital spat, ever seeking someone to blame for being the real problem.

And it underscores the importance of organizations like S.A.V.E. and DAHMW, run by people who are more interested in solving the problem than in simply pointing fingers.

I hope, and I certainly encourage other MRA’s, that as we continue quest of cutting though all the garbage science and concocted factoids about domestic violence, that we make it a point to remind people that we are not engaged in a pissing match with women, or even necessarily with feminists. We are really trying to educate a woefully ignorant public about who pays the price for all these lies.  I know that wrongly accused men do pay, and it is a horrible injustice, but the real sacrificial lambs are our sons and daughters. They never asked for any of this.

And as I read back through the debate, I found myself at fault for failing to more adequately bring that to the table.  If there was ever any doubt about whether or not the debate was worth it in my mind, at least that much has been resolved.

I won’t make the same mistake again.

 

About Paul Elam

Paul Elam is the founder and publisher of A Voice for Men, the founder of A Voice for Men Radio, the AVfM YouTube Channel, and appears weekly on AVFM Intelligence Report, Going Mental with Dr. Tara Palmatier and weekly on MANstream Media with Warren Farrell and Tom Golden.

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  • Jay

    Thanks for the repost Paul. I would say that in modern society everywhere there is violence against men, in the media, in films, in porn, in advertising, it is very pervasive. Sure, there is some violence against women too, but we’re basically seeing it about 50 times more prevalent against males in the mediums I described above. The view that violence against men does not matter is perpetuated everywhere. From white ribbon campaigns to domestic violence advertisements which always paint the picture as innocent females being victimized by brutal males. To the little concern society has when males are physically assualted or raped. Everyone swallows the bullsh*t, and no one cares about violence against males. Until society actually gives some kindness and compassion to males – even a fraction that it gives to females – I don’t think anything will change. Indeed, unfortunately I see the situation getting worse, and that’s mainly due to manginas and white knights.

    • MrScruffles

      I’d actually say it’s getting better, in no small part thanks to MRA’s. The system is still biased against men, but a women can and are arrested for attacking men now.

  • bowspearer

    Paul, while I appreciate the end goal and agree with it completely as an eventuality (the piece actually gave me a flashback to when I was 3 and not a nice one either), you’re jumping ahead slightly here.

    What we need to ensure, before jumping to a platform of “the real victims are children” is to ensure that violence against men is taken as seriously as women.

    If that fails to happen, then what you wind up with (and I’ve personally witnessed this online) are arguments that manipulate “the best interests of the children” into a shield for misandrist attitudes towards female bad behaviour and the bloodied and battered men it leaves in theiir wake.

    I’d love nothing more than to see the agendas move to that place, but doing so to hastily will be doing so at our peril.

    • https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Voice-for-Men/102001393188684 Paul Elam

      I hear what you are saying, but I don’t see any reason we can’t do both. I don’t think we need to wait for society to acknowledge one reality before we acknowledge another.

      Public ignorance about male victims aside, the picture I painted of the DV I worked with was accurate. I think we have to deal with any truth we encounter as it comes into view.

      • Tawil

        @Paul: “I don’t think we need to wait for society to acknowledge one reality before we acknowledge another.”

        [Joseph Campbell]: “The modern hero… cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. “Live,” Nietzsche says, “Live as though the day were here.” It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse.”

      • bowspearer

        That’s fair enough Paul, but it does mean though that there needs to be a preemptive factoring in of that feminist tactic if you were to tackle this simultaneously on both fronts.

        • https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Voice-for-Men/102001393188684 Paul Elam

          I see it differently. Addressing male victims and addressing the reality of who is actually most victimized overall (children) both eviscerate feminist dogma.

          No strategy needed. Just truth.

          • Tawil

            Interesting, you are the first person i have heard saying violence against kids should be emphasised. I’ve been banging on about this for years to deaf ears to both the MRM and feminist camps. Kids have no voice, and they are overlooked in the rush to fund campaigns for adult women…. many of whom are child abusers.

            Thanks for mentioning the kids.

          • bowspearer

            On the contrary Paul, where propaganda is concerned, you always need strategy (as propaganda always plays on the powerful emotion of fear). For example statistics such as the fact that women are twice as likely to abuse children shoot feminism down in flames, but they are things we need to bear in mind when dealing with them. You are right that truth will eviscerate dogma, but like all weapons, the flaming sword of truth must be properly wielded.

          • https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Voice-for-Men/102001393188684 Paul Elam

            As happens many times in life, we find that many of us have different ideas on what is proper. As it should be.

          • Bev

            Australian DV legislation already includes the fact that DV committed where children are in the house is a compounding factor. Feminists insisted it be included but it is used to further punish fathers. When orders are issued they include orders that ban him from seeing his children (fathers have been sent to prison for sending a birthday card to one of their children). In any divorce it becomes a weapon to totally ban fathers access to their children until they are 18 years of age.
            Feminist in OZ are one step ahead but their interest is not in the children.

          • bowspearer

            And that Bev, is exactly why I made the point I did.

          • Primal

            Absolutely. The truth and an altogether proper focus on the most serious suffering first. Child abuse is the last great civil rights war that needs to be fought. By comparison, adult men have very little to complain about even under the heel of feminist bigots…men can make informed choices to marry or not marry whilst the children have no choice in the evil brought down on them by their parents. The damage to children is also far more serious because they have little power with which to protect themselves, because they suffer complex (rather than simple) trauma thanks to the developmental damage done, and because they have no voice in the wider society. The day we see A Voice for Children, written by and for children, with the kind of clout that AVFM has created so far is the day we can begin to bypass child abuse. Some states make it a felony to commit (misdemeanor) domestic violence with children as witnesses. Kudos to you for banging so solidly on this drum.

            To those who have a problem with addressing child victims, I’d say if we don’t follow the truth, differentiate the petty from the truly serious, and focus on first things first we will rapidly resemble our feminist ‘friends’. That’s no good…and is proving ineffective for them in the long run. We can do better.

        • http://shiningpearlsofsomething.blogspot.com Suz

          Bowspearer,
          I’m glad you brought up propaganda because it addresses the issue of public perceptions. Good (and morally correct) propaganda must tell the truth in ways that appeal to people viscerally. It is true and moral to point out that men are victims of domestic violence, but the reaction of the brainwashed public tends to be, “So what? Men are supposed to be strong, so they can walk away.” Our society simply does not see men as victims, so this approach alone will not appeal to the emotions of many people. Even though it is true and right, talking about men’s welfare, apart from children’s welfare, instantly cuts our receptive audience down to almost nothing. It becomes preaching to the choir.

          Closely linking men’s welfare with children’s welfare is also true and right, and it appeals emotionally to a much larger audience – people who are vaguely aware that something’s amiss in the current system, but haven’t yet figured out precisely what it is. An article like this will appeal to people who may be open to the idea that the current paradigm has proven itself ineffective, and who are willing to try to look at the bigger picture in search of a solution.

          “Men’s rights are children’s rights” is a radical concept, and there are plenty of men who wouldn’t bother to use their rights to benefit children, but underlying all of this is the undeniable fact that that children’s rights will never be realized as long as men don’t have the right to protect children. You can have men’s rights without children’s rights, but you can’t have children’s rights without men’s rights.

          Does it sound like a compromise wherein men are riding children’s coattails into relevance? Perhaps it is, but I would point out that feminism did this exact same thing, very very successfully.

          • bowspearer

            I’m not opposed too this at all, however it is something that would require a very well thought out and targeted strategy to work – to the point where strategies and counter-strategies had been meticulously planned.

  • Roland3337

    Damn, Paul. Sometimes you post something that should be in graduate psych/counseling text books.

  • Aimee McGee

    Thank you Paul.
    My SOs daughters were the reason he stayed so long, thinking he was protecting them. After separation, just over a year ago, his 14 year old daughter physically assaults him. He is now living with the guilt that his staying taught her she could resolve things via physical violence. Although she is now a perpetrator (who is being shielded by the family courts from addressing the issues because she is ‘old enough to decide she wants to live full time with her mother’, she is ultimately a victim.

    • Aimee McGee

      Oh and in case anyone thinks it wasn’t a serious attack, he had two distinct bite marks, multiple bruises and it is only thanks to his quick reflexes she didn’t connect a foot with a groin. It only stopped because she broke a window and cut herself badly enough to need stitches.

  • Kimski

    Sort of OT, but do you guys want to see something really really weird?

    A woman can beat her kids senseless and remain in custody.
    She can even kill them and still get away with it.
    This is what happens if she does the same thing to a dog:

    http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2012/10/woman-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison-for-beating-her-in-laws-dog-to-death/

    There is something fundamentally wrong with the world we live in, when a dog’s life is valued above a child’s.

    • TPH

      That is because the concept of “In the Best Interest of the Child” has become a defacto argument for ownership of the children.

      The mother “owns” them because she gave birth to them. Current laws have reduced children to objects, not human beings. For all the clamor about children’s rights, the mother still tends to use children as a weapon ( an object) against their father when a dispute or divorce occurs. The courts allow this abuse to occur and don’t do a god damn thing about it because they don’t want to piss off the feminists.

    • http://shiningpearlsofsomething.blogspot.com Suz

      We like to believe that an abusive mother who has custody, is the lesser of two evils – if the court gave her custody, the father must be much worse. We figure that “Mom” is the best deal the kids can get, and if we can just teach her (poor dear) to be a better mother, the abuse will surely end. In the mean time, we must accommodate her slow progress and her children will just have to be patient and deal with it. And of course we can help them cope.

      It’s not so much that we value a dog’s life over a child’s, but that we can’t ignore animal abuse the way we can ignore child abuse. Society sees children as the sadly necessary collateral damage of a woman’s journey toward self-actualization (and we know that journey ALWAYS gets top priority.) Therefore we’re no longer shocked by child abuse – it’s part of the process.

      However, beating a helpless animal to death shocks the hell out of us, because it indicates genuine undeniable malice; we can’t invent ways to justify or rationalize it. Nobody calls an animal abuser a “victim.”

  • napocapo69

    wonderful article, despite the harsh topic…

  • Primal

    There’s one elephant in the living room here. That is domestic vice…or the use of sex, lies and incestuous cross-generational relational abuse to damage or destroy the other partner. Love, sex and relationship are every bit as dangerous weapons as are the tools that violent men and women bring to domestic violence battles yet female forms of domestic warfare are almost totally ignored. Children, in particular, find sorting through the cunning, covert and ugly (read cute) female forms of aggression almost impossible. Nevertheless the damage done to the child internally often lasts lifetimes.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Voice-for-Men/102001393188684 Paul Elam

    @ Bev

    “Feminist in OZ are one step ahead but their interest is not in the children.”

    Of course they are. They have owned the floor on the discourse as long or longer than many of us have been alive.

    This to me does not suggest that because they have the lead it means we have to settle.

    What I infer from Bowspearer is that we somehow have to surrender this discussion on children victims to feminists. At the very least he seems to point in the direction that we have to contain ourselves to being male centric, even to the point of avoiding reality. Personally, I think that is a really bad idea.

    We must inject counter-theory into every pocket of their influence. Where we can inject perspective and reason into their twisted propaganda, we should.

    Shying away from any of this because of feminist hegemony has never served our ends, I think.

    • Bev

      Shying away from any of this because of feminist hegemony has never served our ends, I think.

      I agree. It is however difficult (doesn’t mean we should not try). I can only speak about what I see in OZ and the here the feminist message is simple and relentless.
      Child abuse is divided into two main categories in OZ. Physical abuse and neglect (85%) and sexual abuse (15%). The former covers everything that is not sexual abuse and 82% (70% of total abuse) is committed by mothers. Sexual abuse is mostly committed by men (a small percentage by biological fathers). The published stats don’t break this down implying that it is fathers doing the abusing. Before 2003 the physical abuse/neglect stats were broken down into categories (mothers,fathers and others) but are now published as parents and others. Almost any article etc you see talks almost exclusively about sexual abuse (committed by men). While if other abuse is mentioned it is by parents. The association is simple in the public mind. Men commit sexual abuse (fathers) so men must be perpetrating the majority of other parental abuse as well. This is backed up by the media in that abuse by fathers get major coverage while abuse by women is down played. The end result is “fathers are bad for children”. With this perception firmly fixed in peoples minds it is then easy in a DV situation to say all we have to do is get rid of dad and support mum and hey presto problem solved. It will be extremely difficult to break down this perception.

      • Bev

        This means that perhaps in a round about way raising awareness of DV against men helps children. This because then you can get across the perception that these men are fathers and because they are suffering their children are too. Feminist created these tactics but perhaps it can be a two edged sword if used properly.

        • Bev

          A slogan perhaps:
          ” DV against dad gives his kids a black eye too”

      • John A

        Bev, I’d agree except that sexual abuse by women is under reported. I’ve seen plenty of young mothers in action and the way they talk about their sons’ penises made me wince. Imagine fathers talking about their daughters genitals in the same way. If we continue to believe that most women are incapable of sexual abuse then mothers will sexually abuse their babies and toddlers without even realizing they are doing it.

    • bowspearer

      That’s not what I’m saying at all. In fact what I’m saying is that because the discussion has been so heavily hijacked by feminists; that we have to make sure that our response is targeted to debunk that hijacking.

      Running a “children are the real victims of Domestic Violence” campaign without debunking the feminist hijacking, will only play further into their hands and see us merely reinforcing feminist dogma.

      For anyone reading this and thinking I’m being alarmist, think again – here in Australia, as Bev as correctly pointed out, that is the reality.

      Does that mean we shy away from raising awareness about children? Hell no, however if you’re going to go for a simultaneous approach to Domestic Violence, then you need to employ a great deal of strategy or else it will only backfire on battered men who are already victimised and held in contempt at almost every corner of society.

      • Darryl X

        I think I understand what you’re saying. Either that or I’m just going to put words in your mouth and am just giving my perspective.

        I don’t want to get kids involved in any discussion about domestic violence because it’s like an argument with a wife/mother which encourages her to abuse the children more. If she wants to involve the kids in an altercation, that’s her business. I can’t stop her. But I can refuse to participate in the altercation when she has dragged the children in as a shield or a hostage.

        Getting the children involved in a discussion like this amplifies the complex nature of it by orders of magnitude and makes the message that much more difficult to communicate. And it encourages more abuse of the children and hostage-taking. That’s my two cents.

        Maybe I’m off the rails but when my wife picked arguments with me, the only time there was any trouble is when she dragged the children in as hostages. The best response to that development was to walk away. Lousy choice but it’s the better of two evils.

        I don’t want to see the MRM getting involved in a custody battle with feminists over children concerning domestic violence. They are definitely victims of feminists no doubt but it is a battle to be fought another day. And I as a man can’t help my own children let alone anyone else’s if I can’t help myself first. And I can’t get other men to help me if I can’t help them first either. My concern is with the men. Not the children.

        Not to sound cold or anything but I don’t negotiate with hostage-takers. I get rid of them. And I don’t waste time concerning myself with the children. Once they become a concern, then it’s a battle you can’t win. And yes I do feel profoundly guilty about that decision but then again there aren’t any real good choices here. Hope I didn’t screw this discussion up too much.

      • Darryl X

        From my last post…

        Women and feminists are much more likely to abuse children when they think they can manipulate a man by abusing them. When they realize that abusing the children is not a successful way to manipulate a man, they usually stop. At least with the acute stuff. The chronic stuff is another story.

    • John A

      The feminist indifference to child abuse is their weakness. Their model of DV prohibits child abuse as being other than caused by patriarchal oppression. If child abuse is caused by domestic tensions escalating into violence, then IPV could arise in the same way. Well, we couldn’t have that, could we?

      Your approach is spot on, not only is combating child abuse a good thing in itself, it exposes the flaws in the feminist model of DV.

  • Clem Burke

    This article is what I was looking for for my FB debate with some one.

  • Dazza

    Great article Paul.

    I agree that the children are the real victims, but that the domestic violence they witness and experience is not just physical. I think it was Erin Pizzey who said that women are often ‘subterranean’ with their actions, therefore ‘physical violence’ would probably not be their weapon of choice in most cases. I think women dominate when it comes to non-physical forms of violence especially when it comes to emotional abuse.

    Domestic violence, as you have quite rightly said, is mostly seen as ‘the battered woman in the corner’, but feminism would suffer some damage if other forms of violence that fit within the definition of ‘domestic violence’ were to be acknowledged, because women dominate in the areas of non-physical violence.

  • http://www.avoiceformen.com/activism-page/karma/ KARMA MRA MGTOW

    Derryn is at it again doing his best pussy begging act.

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  • MGTOW-man

    Being a latecomer to this thread, let me say that after reading these comments, perhaps the best approach to solving the issue of “Real Victims” of DV is to concentrate on both—men and children, equally. Helping men helps men and boys—which helps everyone. Helping children helps them, and brings the best attention to really stopping DV, despite feminism tampering and scheming to make it all about men against women. What is wrong with doing both simultaneously?