Domestic violence and the demonization of men
It has been an interesting exercise challenging the current witch hunt on domestic violence. As my article, silent victims, in the Weekend Australian points out, the zealots controlling debate on this issue are successfully demonizing men and white-washing women’s role in family violence.
The reality is very different from the picture constantly presented of dangerous men terrorizing their families. Over 1700 articles in peer-reviewed journals conclude show domestic violence is not a gender issue, both women and men are actively involved in most violence in the home, women often initiate violence, and it isn’t simply self-defence. Even though physical violence by women causes fewer injuries, it is by no means harmless with women more likely to use weapons and men sustaining a third of the injuries from partner violence.
Most children growing up in violent homes are cowering not just from their fathers but their mothers as well – all available Australian data clearly shows women are the major abusers of children. So what are these children to conclude from current public discussion of this issue –that only Dad’s violence matters? That only Dad can be held responsible for the terror these children experience? Surely this does nothing to break the cycle of violence putting future generations at risk.
What’s scary is the constant stream of lies and misinformation being promoted in the current cultural dialogue, deliberate use of wrong statistics designed to promote men as the only villains. There are men working very hard to try to correct this misinformation, attempting to correct the record by contacting the politicians, bureaucrats and media commentators who persist in using deliberately inaccurate statistics. It is horrifying to see how often these efforts are totally ignored.
Amongst the main offenders is the ABC where most journalists, broadcasters and producers skew debate over true nature of violence in the home. I’ve seen correspondence with the culprits, who continue to use misleading statistics despite being presented with evidence from our key data collection bodies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showing they are using wrong information. Many make their personal prejudices on this issue abundantly clear – in her ABC breakfast show Virginia Trioli recently sneered at the possibility that men could be victims of domestic violence.
In the last week I have appeared on commercial radio programmes across the country discussing this issue – but almost all the key ABC programmes refused to touch it. The exception was Steve Austin, Brisbane’s morning presenter, who gave the issue his customary intelligent, open-minded consideration. See this link to listen to his interview.
When Mark Scott was appointed to his current position, I wrote to him pointing out that the real bias in the ABC has nothing to do with giving equal time to politicians from opposing parties but rather the refusal of most of the organization to touch topics which challenge the ABC’s current orthodoxy on any number of social issues. Domestic violence is a classic example and the ABC is true to form, showing total allegiance to the views promoted by the domestic violence lobby groups.
Care and Protection for all.
The current Domestic Violence policy framework is broken and defective. It does not protect those it was designed to protect and is easily abused by anyone who wish to use the system to cause harm to others.
Its also often puts victims at significantly increased risks to their personal safety just by applying for an AVO or DVO, falsely thinking they will be protected by a useless piece of paper.
I’m appalled by the current ineffective policies in this area over many years by successive labor/green and liberal ACT Governments. It’s a patchwork of measures, which in the end of the day, when the rubber hits the road, does not protect those who need protecting.
Recent tragic events clearly prove this important protection process is defective and simply failing to look after those that need protecting. How can waving a piece of paper protect you from harm…?
Under the current system anyone can apply for an AVO or DVO and with little to no valid reason and no evidence or proof required to be submitted. Those on the receiving end often have to wait months before they get their chance to respond and often after considerable damage has been done to an innocent part, the applicant withdraws, on or just before the court hearing date.
Its not hard to see that front line services get a little immune after seeing so many non-genuine cases. This detracts heavily against those cases of genuine need. Its my view that the system is clogged with to many malicious applications and this is putting those in real need of protection at increased risk.
I would like to see the domestic violence policy frame work completely redesigned in order to do what its intended to do and not put anyone at any further risk of abuse.
Canberra can and should be a world leader in tackling this problem.
In order to do this I would propose the following two pronged approach.
1. Restore faith and integrity in this process.
2. Properly protect those at risk from harm.
In order for this system to be taken seriously and to weed out false applications, so its imperative that there be stiff penalties in place for false and malicious claims and applications. We can't allow this system to be misused by those seeking to cause harm and abuse to others.
That should someone be found to have made a false claim against another person or persons they be held accountable for not only any direct or indirect costs to the other party or parties, but that there be compensation and penalties imposed.
All applications for domestic violence protection must be professionally assessed in a similar way to a hospital triage sytem, against a risk assessment matrix specifically designed to ensure this system works. Not by some fresh out of school want to be lawyer working court files for Legal Aide.
That this assessment will then give a clear determination of a persons risk and if found to be in high risk they are immediately given high level priority protection, which includes being given a personal protection (panic) alert button, which if activated will immediately send out a police rapid response unit to the persons GPS location.
This means that this person does not have to go through some call Centre with lengthy explanations of their location or situation to some operator and that the details of their protection matter is already in the system.
There should be specially trained domestic violence units within the police to handle DV cases and ensure persons are protected 24-7.
The penalties for those found to have committed domestic violence must also be increased and I believe our community expects much tougher sentences for these crimes.
Their also needs to be a much better non-gendered long term public education strategy put into place to breed abusers out of the our society.