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Domestic Violence research and the effective misuse of propaganda.

The issue of domestic violence is a tool used throughout the Western World according to many to give the mother an advantage in divorce/ custody proceedings. The misuse of research to inform Government policies certainly seems to fulfil the reasoning given.

In the UK there is the new domestic violence bill portrayed by Harriet Harman as a bill to stop men abusing women, yet she makes the gender difference in the media in order to make the public and the ‘professionals’ aware of her stance e.g.

Whilst the research carried out in a non-gender biased way and randomly shows virtually 50/ 50 male to female violence and vice versa, the women’s aid and others are organised for a gender biased on-slaught.

Relevant research from the UK:

NSPCC report shows that fathers are 'less violent' than mothers in their disciplining of children. 'Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom', published in November 2000 by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Summary of Family Abuse ( ref. British Crime Survey 1996 ) 4.2% of Women and 4.2% of Men said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the last year.5.9% of Women and 4.9% of Men had experienced physical assault and/or frightening threats. 23% of Women and 15% of Men aged 16 to 59 said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner at some time. The inclusion of frightening threats increased these figures to 26% (1:4) and 17% (1:6) respectively.

The assaults included pushing, shoving and grabbing but also included kicking, slapping and hitting with fists which took place in nearly half the incidents. The victim was injured in 41% of the incidents with Women being injured 47%to Men being injured 31%. Violence was at its peak in the 16 to 24 age range. 16 - 19 was 10.1% Women and 7.0% Men: 20 - 24 9.2% for both sexes. Thereafter Men tend to be on the receiving end.

Married couples - married couples were at the lowest risk being 2% for Women and 3% for Men. Co-habiting Men were at greater risk being 8% whilst Women were 3%. Divorced figures were 6% for Women and 5% for Men (source: www.homeoffice.gov.uk (html) (pdf)).

Home Office Research Study 191
This report presents the findings of a new computerised self-completion component on domestic violence, included as part of the 1996 British Crime Survey. The questionnaire was designed to maximise victims’ willingness to report domestic assaults and threats to the survey. It therefore provides the most reliable findings to date on the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales, and shows it to be prevalent.

The 1996 British Crime Survey included a new computerised self-completion questionnaire designed to give the most reliable findings to date on the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales. The self-completion questionnaire increased respondents’ willingness to report incidents by maximising anonymity and confidentiality. It also encouraged reporting of incidents victims did not define as ‘crimes’. The questionnaire covered physical assaults and frightening threats committed by current and former partners against men and women aged 16 to 59.

Current levels of domestic violence
• 4.2% of women and 4.2% of men said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the last year. 4.9% of men and 5.9% of women had experienced physical assault and/or frightening threats. These levels are considerably higher than figures from other BCS measures.
• Women were twice as likely as men to have been injured by a partner in the last year, and three times as likely to have suffered frightening threats. They were also more likely to have been assaulted three or more times.
• In total it is estimated that there were about 6.6 million incidents of domestic physical assault in 1995. 2.9 million of these involved injury. In addition, there were about 7 million frightening threats.

Life-time experience
• Women were far more likely to say they had experienced domestic assault at some time in their lives: 23% of women and 15% of men aged 16 to 59 said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner at some time. The inclusion of frightening threats increases these figures to 26% and 17% respectively.
• At least 12% of women and 5% of men had been assaulted on three or more occasions. They were termed chronic victims.
• Young women aged 20 to 24 reported the highest levels of domestic violence to the survey: 28% said that they had been assaulted by a partner at some time, and 34% had been threatened or assaulted.

Although the higher risk for young people tends to suggest domestic violence is increasing, it may also reflect a greater reluctance on the part of older victims to mention domestic assaults to the survey, or that incidents longer ago are less likely to be recalled in the survey context.

The victims
• Amongst women, risks of physical assault in 1995 were highest for those who were: aged 16 to 24; separated from their spouse; council tenants; in poor health; and/or, in financial difficulties.
• Amongst men, victimisation levels were highest for 16- to 24-yearolds; cohabiters; the unemployed; and again those in financial difficulties.

The assaults
• Pushing, shoving and grabbing are the most common type of assault. But kicking, slapping and hitting with fists took place in nearly half of incidents.
• The victim was injured in 41% of incidents. Women were more likely to be injured (47%) than men 31%). Although injury was usually restricted to bruising, 9% of incidents resulted in cuts and 2% in broken bones.
• Nearly all victims admitted they were upset by the experience, with women more likely to say so than men. The majority of female victims said they had been very frightened, compared to a minority of men.
• Of victims who had children in the household, about a third said the children had been aware of the last assault they had experienced.
• Chronic victims experienced more serious types of attack: they were more likely to be physically injured and were more emotionally affected by their experience. Three-quarters of the chronic victims were women

The assailants
Virtually all incidents against women reported to the survey were committed by men (99%). 95% of those against men were committed by women.
• The assailant was said to be under the influence of alcohol in 32% of incidents, and of drugs in 5%.
• Half of life-time incidents were committed by a current or former spouse compared to 43% of last-year incidents, probably reflecting
lower rates of marriage amongst the younger age groups.
• The majority of life-time victims were living with their assailant at the time of the most recent assault: older victims more often so than younger ones.
• A half of those who were living with their assailant were still doing so at the time of the BCS interview. Women were less likely to still be living with their assailant than men, and chronic victims less likely than intermittent.

Victims’ perceptions of their experiences
Although the questions asked about incidents that would meet the legal definition of an assault, only 17% of incidents counted by the survey were considered to be crimes by their victims. Virtually no male victims defined their experience as a crime, while only four in ten chronic female victims did so.
• Victims were more likely to agree their experience made them “a victim of domestic violence” than a victim of a crime - overall, one third did so. Women, and in particular chronic female victims, were much more likely to say so than men.

Defining domestic violence
The term ‘domestic violence’ can encompass a wide range of experiences. The measures used in research vary considerably as to the type of relationship they count as ‘domestic’ and the types of experience that are deemed ‘violence’.

What is ‘domestic’?
Clearly, the wider the definition of domestic relationships, the higher are the estimates of domestic violence. The narrowest definition restricts domestic violence to that between people currently living together as couples, and often only as heterosexual couples. Estimates can vary on whether they classify incidents as ‘domestic’ that occur between people in the early stages of a relationship who do not know each other well, and those where there is no longer an intimate relationship but there has been at sometime in the past. The definition used in the CASI questionnaire encompasses all intimate relationships, whether or not there is, or has been, co-habitation. The police, however, tend to take somewhat broader criteria, describing incidents as ‘domestic’ that involve people who are related in any way or who live in the same household. This might include assaults on children by parents and vice versa.

What is ‘violence’?
Deciding what constitutes violence is not straightforward either. One option is to include all forms of physical assault and attempted assault, however minor and for whatever reason they were committed. Some commentators, though, suggest violent acts are only those where there is an intent to cause some harm, in particular pain or injury (Gelles, 1997).1 By only questioning victims, though, it is not possible to know for sure the intention of the assailant. The victim’s judgement of whether the force used is acceptable may also be relevant. However, it would be dangerous to assume that just because the recipient judges the behaviour as normal and acceptable, society would generally agree.

Physical violence is not the only way to inflict harm against a partner. A wider definition of violence would include bullying, psychologically controlling and emotionally abusive behaviour. The effects of these can be as great, if not greater (Straus and Sweet, 1992).

Presently, Domestic violence has been extended to include all acts which many would not consider as violent. It may soon be ‘One shout and you’re out.’

Martin Fiebert, PhD: (source) compiled the largest ever study on domestic violence on 107,000 people and there are 149 scholarly investigations: 121 empirical studies and 28 reviews and/or analyses that I can send you, which all demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partner.

So why are men being targeted by the Domestic violence industry at the expense of the proper research? As Kevin Browne Professor of family and forensic psychology at Birmingham University has shown current methodology are promulgating inter-generational abuse. This may explain this recent article at www.ctv.ca.

The gender abuse of the system and the facts may be found within www.un.org.

An incident of domestic violence takes place in the UK every 6 to 20 seconds. This would mean that between one in 20 and one in 38 are victims of DV per year, yet how many do you know?

Please note the industry is self-serving and biased in its approach to domestic violence www.homeoffice.gov.uk
A Violence against Women initiative is part of the £250 million Crime Reduction Programme. www.domesticviolencedata.org

• in any given police service, from 1.1 to 4.9 percent of ALL calls to police for assistance by the public are for domestic violence 10
• this is an average of just under 3% of ALL calls to police for assistance.
Yet we are currently being told in the media that up to 25% of all crime is domestic violence! The Women’s groups have even linked Domestic violence to contact arrangements and in divorce proceedings example 1 and example 2.

Such is the concern from the women’s groups and the Government against all the facts that even if found innocent men will be treated as if guilty, see

How many of these are false allegations to get advantage in divorce proceedings or to control the fathers contact, to punish him or even facets of personality disorders/ manic depressive disorder etc?

Finally unless the research distinguishes between married, co-habitating, lesbian, gay, and ex-partner with only evidenced domestic violence or large-scale independent empirical surveys then the facts and figures are simply not worth the paper they are printed on. These are the views of the Author and not necessarily those of FLINT.

Shaun O'Connell

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