There’s a meme that does the rounds on facebook and other social media claiming that men make up 40% of domestic violence victims. It is a figure frequently bandied about to silence feminists, or discussions of male violence. I am an avid watcher of forensic detective television shows, not the CSI drama type, but the actual gory, documentary style, real crime shows. From watching these I have noticed one thing. The victims of violent domestic assaults, or rape and murder are predominantly women.
This is not to suggest that men are never the victims of domestic violence, or other violent crimes, because of course they are, but the majority of victims are women. Even if the 40% figure is right, if 60% of domestic violence victims are women, then that is a clear and undeniable majority. It seems to me that sharing this meme serves one purpose and one purpose alone. All it does is create a distraction, it takes the focus off women as victims and men as perpetrators. It makes people worry about the safety of men, and gives the impression that “all the effort” we put in to protecting women, is somehow throwing men under the bus.
Out of curiosity I decided, whilst watching the Crime and Investigation channel, to count how many shows in a row had female victims the other night. There were twenty three female victims in eight shows, and one male death.
Now just to be clear about this, twelve were victims of the serial killers Fred and Rose West, so a woman participated in killing just over half of them, but if the serial killer show had been about Ted Bundy instead, the victim tally would have been twenty-nine women, one man, and not a single female perpetrator. If it had been about Gary Ridgeway (The Green River killer) the tally would have been sixty women, one man, and all male perpetrators.
Conversely, if the serial killer show had been about Jeffrey Dahmer, then the tally would have been 18 male deaths, and 9 female. There would have been no women arrested for any of these murders. As it stands there was one woman arrested (Rose West) and 7 men. That one serial killer show really threw my count off track though, and as we all know, the majority of serial killers are men. In the US it is estimated that 8% of serial killers are women and 70% of the victims of serial killers are women, or girls. Women are under represented as the killers, and once again, over represented in the victims.
But serial killers are the exception to the rule aren’t they. Looking at those figures doesn’t show much in terms of the lives of average people around the world because most murders are committed by someone who is known to the perpetrator. So let’s take a closer look at what the figures say. Do they really support the 40 / 60 stats?
- Violence is a leading contributor of death, disability, and illness in Australian women aged 15 to 44 according to a report put out by the Victorian Government.
- Uniting Care Australia claims that 87% of victims are women, and 98% of perpetrators are men.
- Figures from the US show that the cost of emergency room / hospital care for male victims of domestic violence is on average $387, whereas for women the cost is an average of $948.
- The World health Organisation (WHO) calls violence against women a “Global health problem of epidemic proportions.”
- In 2009 the US Department of Justice reported 552,000 cases of non-fatal violent attacks against women by an intimate partner, and 101,000 against men (81.8% of victims were women – or more than 8 in 10)
- In Australia two women a week a murdered, and every three hours one woman is hospitalised due to violence.
As we continue to gather information from varying reputable, frontline sources around the world, we can see clearly that they all claim that women are more likely to be victims than men and in fact the now retired, Victorian Police Commissioner, Ken Lay, made a now famous statement about it.
“Our culture is filled with men who hold an indecent sense of entitlement towards women. Our culture is heavy with warped and misspent masculinity. And every single day the casual groping and lewd comments that go unchallenged erode our standards.”
That’s right, the former head of police in Victoria states that the problem is male violence, he did not mention female violence once, he talked entirely about the abhorrent behaviour of men. Perhaps he’s just a misandrist who hates his own sex, perhaps he’s been hoodwinked into thinking that during his extensive career in the police force, he saw more female victims than male. Perhaps it’s the same for WHO, the Department of Justice, The Victorian Government, and multiple charities. All claim that women are far more likely to be the victims of violence, and none of their figures even remotely match the 40% figure. My own time in front of the television doesn’t match the figure – perhaps the cable television company is in on this crazy feminist conspiracy too.
Many people go further than the 40% statistic though. They claim the rate of female to male domestic violence is even higher, and that men are too ashamed to come forward to report it. Many sources debunk this theory though. All victims of domestic violence are ashamed of what has happened, and multiple sources suggest that men are more likely to press charges than women, they also show that the assaults they press charges over are frequently less serious than the ones women press charges for. In fact one report showed that a high number of abusive men were likely to press charges against women that had harmed them in retaliation, or who had injured them in self-defence.
There are so many ways to debunk the 40 / 60 statistics, that it would take a much longer article than this to showcase them all, but at the end of the day, it might be better to stop debating the truth of such claims and instead try debating the reasoning behind them. Why must we discuss the violence men experience in the home at every turn? Can we not, for one moment in history, talk about the safety of women? Not one single voice in this debate is suggesting that it is acceptable for a woman to harm a man. Why are so many people so hell bent on avoiding the uncomfortable subject of male violence and its staggering toll on women? And for how much longer will the wife beaters and murderers, the rapists and child abusers, be able to hide behind the wall of false statistics, knowing that so long as we are arguing about who is more violent, they are safe in their ivory towers. There is no giant conspiracy against men here, the reason that most sources state that men are the majority of perpetrators is because the cold hard truth is that THEY ARE!