Stanko gets knocked flat

by Robert Whiston FRSA  May 21st 2013

Betsy Stanko, as a relative newcomer to our shores, has rapidly made more than a healthy living in the last 30 years from a very singular view of society. She has risen up among academia and acquired a seat of influence at the round table where policy is made for the entire UK. Feminists, posturing as if the voice of all women have claimed a monopoly on interpersonal abuse for several decades. Now an authoritative publication has blown that concept (and her reputation) asunder.

Domestic violence and the industry that has grown up around it has been a ‘one way street’ since day one. Rarely does the other side of the coin get a mention – that of men abused and stabbed by their female partners and spouses. However, that did happen on April 14th this year when the ‘Independent’ featured a large article by Emily Dugan on the topic. [1]

She wrote of a man willing to tell his story; of him suffering 2 years of abuse at the hands of his girlfriend; and of being too embarrassed (and loyal to her) to report her to the police. In the end he had to sleep in his car for weeks before speaking to his local council, who found him a place at a men’s refuge.

All of this is very much ‘run of the mill’ for those small organisations trying to cope with the weekly avalanche of DV calls from men, but it would appear Table_4.08novel – even faintly absurd – to everyone else.

But in an ONS publication released in recent months (Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12) the truth has finally been acknowledged, namely, that men can suffer as much DV as women, especially married men as Table 4.08 shows.

Vindication

American import Betsy Stanko, who has risen through the ranks to be at one time DV advisor to London’s Metropolitan Police, has since 1999 (see ‘Counting the Cost’) maintained the ‘1 in 4 women are DV victims’ figure. She and a host of other alleged researchers now stand rebuffed and refuted by the new ONS data. Together with ‘Women’s Aid’ acting in concert with ‘Refuge’ they have suppressed the numbers of men suffering the same DV experience. Women’s Aid have known about the problem of male victims and funding for many years.

In 1992 Sandra Horley, the director of the Chiswick Family Refuge, was quoted by Isabel Wolff, as saying;

  • “Refuges for women are struggling to survive, and if we put across this idea that the abuse of men is as great as the abuse of women, then it could seriously affect our funding”. (‘Domestic Violence: the other side’, – by Isabel Wolff, The Spectator, 28 Nov 1992, p 24).

Vindication, if ever one were needed, of the validity of the stance adopted by fathers’ and civil rights groups has thus finally occurred. But the  confession was immediately lost to history.

The situation today

The fact is that last year an estimated 7,000 + calls are made each year by men seeking advice or even protection. The problem is that those 7,000 calls were handled by unfunded men’s charities and there is the problem of no funding for them on the horizon. For over 10 years Whitehall has repeatedly denied fathers’ and men’s groups access to the millions of pounds made available to women’s groups. As a result women’s groups are well-funded and can cater for what is required of them but men’s and fathers group have one of these advantages. Women’s groups can offer a Rolls Royce service that men’s and father’s groups can only dream about. Of the puny amount of money earmarked by government for male victims of DV all is sent to women’s groups to administer.

The resulting  provision of refuges for victims is clearly visible and amounts to overt ‘gender supremicism’ (see below).  Sex discrimination has allowed  the funding of over 7,500 refuges for women but no government finance has been made available for one to cater for  men and fathers.

provision

More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male according to campaign group ‘Parity’ which reveals in a  report that  claims of assaults by wives and girlfriends are often ignored by police and media.

In our culture – and within how our present society is constructed – it is easy to make the case for female victims and for everyone to be prompted into being sympathetic. It presses all our chivalric buttons.

But as a man it’s very difficult to say you’ve been attacked and injured (beaten up, I suspect is Emily’s journalistic florid flourish). Had a male victim of DV gone to any police station 10 years ago and he would have been told to ‘pull himself together’ and or ‘stop wasting their valuable time’. Maybe things are different now ?

Nicola Graham-Kevan, an expert in partner violence at Central Lancashire University,is right when she says:

  • “Society is blind to women’s aggression. The biggest disparity is women’s ability to seek help which makes men very vulnerable to false allegations. People often won’t believe that men are victims. Men have to be seen as passive, obvious victims with clear injuries, whereas, if a woman makes allegations, they are believed much more easily.”

This women, Dr Graham-Kevan knows her onions. She believes, and rightly, that the system needs to adjust to make it safer for male victims and their children. Why ? Because too easily false allegations made by a mother can result in custody being given to a dangerously abusive mother.

  • “The biggest thing for me as a parent is that children are being placed in significant positions of harm. It sounds anti-feminist, but I think we’re allowing women too many rights in the family court, because courts assume that the women are the best parent as a starting position, rather than looking at it equally.”

We all know that some fathers can be dangerously abusive and the system acknowledges this and takes stops to avoid the occurrence – but what procedures are their in place to prevent dangerously abusive women being put in charge of children’s lives ? None.

As one would expect the Home Office does not like to be seen as actively being gender racist in its approach. Ten years after repeated request to Whitehall and personal letters to Baroness Scotland, then in change of DV funding, the Home Office claims that:

  • “We recognise that men are victims of domestic violence, too, and they deserve protection.. . . and set up the Male Victims Fund to support front-line organisations working with male victims of sexual and domestic violence. We also fund the Male Advice (and Enquiry) Line.”

It’s just a pity that the organisations concerned are so unsuccessful in receiving central funding that one wonders just how magnanimous is the Home Office really. Is this yet more “spin.”

In all probability it is, the £150,000 given by government to a men’s helpline is, in fact, a sub-division of Refuge and run by Women’s Aid. It is these funded but politicised charities that then have the temerity to pass on some of its cases to the unfunded sector, i.e. to fathers’ and men’s charity helplines.

Funding withdrawn

Funding for male victims has never occurred – not even in the 1990s when the Merton based “MALE” male helpline was the only one in existence. MALE’s helpline and services were dependent on excess funds from Merton’s Women’s Aid of about £5,000 pa. When Merton’s Women’s Aid found their Table_4.08budget reduced in 2000, they stopped financing MALE’s helpline. This is not to criticise Merton’ actions but to highlight their equality approach, their recognition of an unmet demand and their gender neutrality given the funding restrictions. Table 4.08 is once again depicted here as it shows that not only ‘marreid men’ but cohabiting men endure  comparable levels of DV as are claimed for women, and even single men endure higher levels than they are usually credited.

Validation at last

So why all the fuss this time around ? the answer is simple  For a generation or more the mantra has been that DV is a gender problem faced by al women regardless of class social standing or income.  The actual analysis has clearly shown that this is untrue and that those who are disadvantaged by class, social housing, low-income or unmarried women are far more likely to become victims. This has been the view propagated by the men’s movement throughout that time.

PrevalenceNow there is statically analysis from the Home Office verifying that very position. Indeed, it goes further and says married men are assaulted more often that married women – remember only a few years ago the government line and that of Whitehall was that  while a few male victims did exist they amounted to only about 10% of all cases.

Well, the BCS of 10 years ago knocked that claim on the head with the revelation that 1 in every 3 DV cases reported was of a male victim.

New broom

ONS which has undergone a management shake up of late following continued criticism by some statisticians of its performance  and reliability published “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” in  Feb of this year (2013). [2] It is this publication that has ruffled feathers.

While Table 4.06 is interesting (“Estimated number of victims of intimate violence in the last year, by headline categories, 2004/05 to 2011/12 CSEW”), it is Table 4.08 that is truly riveting (see below). What grabbed headlines was the revelation that married men suffered more abuse at the hands of their partner than did married women (see emphasis in the Table shown below).

Indeed, the annual abuse rate among cohabiting couples is more or less at a parity of 3.2 and 3.3. This is very much of a surprise given data published earlier which indicated a higher rate of combativeness. in actuality it is high by 50% (e.g. 2.3% v 3.2%) but what is surprising is again the parity among the sexes.

What this table does show most clearly and earlier ones did not was the steep jump in likelihood of abuse when women fell into the single, separated and divorced categories. in these subsets incidences double and treble the rate found between married couples.

This is key since it was established and claimed by the fathers movement that being married was the safest not the most dangerous place for a women to be and yet feminist dogma since the 1970s has claimed he very opposite ,i.e. most dangerous.

The other key finding is that since 2004 violence, within a domestic and partner setting, has fallen by  around 20%. This fall is reflected in North America and the phenomenon commented upon by Prof Steven Pinker of Figure_3.1Harvard. The decade long decline in crime beginning in the 1990s was brought to the Prime Minister’s attention at the time (Tony Blair), started around 3 years later than the US but was just as dramatic.

The graph above (Figure 3.1) depicts the headlong tumble in all types of violent crimes beginning in 1996.                 

Muddied waters

Of the high-impact articles which appear to have light the touch paper on domestic violence this time around, three stand out:

1/.   “Domestic violence: ‘As a man, it’s very difficult to say I’ve been beaten up’, Independent, 14 April 2013.  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/domestic-violence-as-a-man-its-very-difficult-to-say-ive-been-beaten-up-8572143.html

2/. Full Fact, “How many people were victims of domestic violence over the last year ?” July, 2012 http://fullfact.org/factchecks/how_many_people_were_victims_of_domestic_violence_over_the_last_year-27625 

3/. “UK: More Married Men DV Victims than Married Women”, National Parents Organization, April 15th, 2013 by Robert Franklin  http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2013/04/15/uk-more-married-men-dv-victims-than-married-women/ 

Full Fact, by publishing in 2012 did not have the advantage of the latest number but did focus as a site dedicated to “Promoting accuracy in public debate”  on contradictions (the “confusing, seemingly conflicting”) claims that existed at the time with regard the number of DV victims. By way of example it cited The Times, dated 19th  July 2012 

  • “Domestic violence has fallen from a peak of more than one million incidents in 1993 to just under 400,000 last year, the crime survey said.”

It then gave The Guardian, (22nd July 2012) as an example:

  • “The latest statistics from the British Crime Survey show that every year in the UK more than 1 million women suffer domestic abuse.”

And not forgetting Ms. Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge (23rd July 2012), who maintains that there were more than double the number of cases for females alone last year.

  • “We are concerned that the British Crime Survey tells us that there are an estimated 1.2 million women who experience domestic abuse each year in the UK.”

(This sounds like a re-run of Dr Susan Edwards’ scandalous claim for Women’s Aid back in 1995. For those not familiar with The Sunday Times exposé of Edwards in Jan 1995 she was shown to have grossly distorted and manipulated DV data provided by London’s Metropolitan Police).[3] 

If we go back to another year, Sunday Sept 5th 2010 we find Denis Campbell’s article in The Observer, entitled “More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals” and a commentary about the campaign group Parity claiming that assaults by wives and girlfriends are often ignored by police and media.

Fake or fact

How, asks Full Fact, can all 3 be right at the same time ? Well, now we have a more definitive answer in the form of the ONS publication “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” – and, of course, we have always had the motive – securing next years funding.

Firstly, the headline that has attracted most attention of the one portraying married men as more often attacked than married women:

  • More married men (2.3%) suffered from partner abuse last year than married women, according to the latest British Crime Survey [see bar chart above]. Yet help is still much harder to find for men.

Number_ofOn the broader measure of ‘all victims’ the new gap is very small. Based on the 2010/11 British Crime Survey’s (BCS) self-completion module, 7% of women aged 16 to 59 were victims of domestic abuse in the past year compared with 5% of men (see p 62,  and ONS Table 3.01). [4]

As one would expect with family violence and abuse the BCS makes the valid point that despite using a self-completion module (which is acknowledged as by far the more accurate technique to deploy) under-reporting still exists (p. 62). In addition the BCS estimates that:

  • “ . . . . for the proportion of people who were victims of domestic abuse have decreased compared with 2004/05 for both male and female victims, but there have been no statistically significant changes in recent years (Tables 3.02 and 3.03).”

So this would suggest that the real figure for male victims was for many years much higher than acknowledged in the past when it was begrudgedly put as low as 10% of all DV victims.

Looking at the above chart (sourced from Full Facts) one wonders whether the ‘spike’ seen in the years around 1993 – 97 was actual, orchestrated, or a result of hysteria or sections of the public the succumbing to propaganda messages. Given the method used to count DV claims, ie based on phone calls logged, it is open to manipulation. It is surely  remarkable that with a population that has not only grown substantially in 30 years but that has attracted ever more diverse cultures that the level of incident in 2009 should be at the same level as 1981 (see dotted red line). It is true that stretching or compressing a graph can give different impressions so the reader is invited to return to the previous graph above listed as Figure 3.1 and compare.

The problem with DV conversations in latter years is that the numbers have been conflated with sexual offences and the number of personal abuse incidents has fallen. This no doubt is to maintain the revenue stream that some charities have become addicted to. Hence, one arrives at paragraphs like this in official publications, taken from the 2009/10 British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion module on intimate violence: [5]

  • “Women who were separated had the highest risk of both domestic abuse (22.3%) and stalking (11.4%) compared with all other groups by marital status. The pattern was slightly different for sexual assault, with separated women (4.3%) only having a statistically significantly higher risk of being a victim than women who were married (0.9%) or cohabiting (1.4%).”
  • 7% of women and 4% of men reported having experienced any domestic abuse in the past year (Table 3.01 and Figure 3.2), equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female victims of domestic abuse and 700,000 male victims (Table 3.03). [NB in the following year this had become 7% and 5% – RW].

Twenty-nine per cent of women and 16% of men had experienced ‘any’ domestic abuse (any emotional, financial or physical abuse, sexual assault or stalking by a partner or family member) since they were 16. These figures are equivalent to an estimated 4.8 million female victims of domestic abuse and 2.6 million male victims.

And finally

At long last comes the other official concession about the socio-economic implications, lifestyle choices and circumstances dictating or at least being shown as a linkage with personal abuse incidents.

  • Logistic regression shows that those characteristics that contributed most to explaining the risk of domestic abuse were use of any drug in the last year, marital status, having a long-term illness or disability and the respondent’s sex. However, other variables such as household structure, age, tenure, occupation, household income, alcohol consumption and number of visits to a nightclub in the last month were also important (Table 3.08).
  • People who had used any drug in the last year had higher odds of being a victim of domestic abuse compared with those who hadn’t.
  • People who were separated, divorced or widowed had higher odds of being a victim of domestic abuse compared with all other marital status groups.
  • It is interesting to note that no characteristics based on the respondent’s local area were independently associated with the risk of domestic abuse.

On the ManKind Initiative website [6] they have picked out the following as worthy of special mention.

  • 1.1% of men and 1.3% of women were victims of severe force at the hands of their partner during 2011/12. Over a lifetime the figures are 6.1% and 13.2% respectively.
  • More married men (2.3%) suffered from partner abuse in 2011/12 than married women (1.8%)
  • More men in managerial and professional occupations (3.0%) in 2011/12 than women with the same occupation (2.6%)
  • Men with children (3.0%) are as likely to be victims of partner abuse than men without children. The figure is the same for female victims (3.5%)
  • Men in the North West are twice (4.5%) as likely to be a victim of domestic abuse than men in the South West (2.0%) in 2011/12

ONS’s “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” also vindicated this author’s long-held position regarding marital status:

  • Looking at marital status, single people had the highest chance of being a victim (6.6%). The logistic regression analysis carried out on the 2009/10 survey suggests that this reflects a difference from married people who cannot be explained simply by differences in the age profiles of these groups.

The picture gets worse for women who were ‘separated’. They had the highest risk of all for falling foul of domestic abuse in the last year at 21.0%. Likewise married women at 0.8% were the least likely to encounter a sexual assault but for single women it was 6.5%, and for separated women 4.1%.

By contrast single, divorced or separated men were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse (than married men) in the last year at 3.4%.

Full Facts concluded in 2012 that the large discrepancy between the figures quoted in the Times and the Guardian / Ms Horley can be traced to Fig_4_characttwo factors – the different definitions used and the different methods by which the data was gathered. (However, the 2013 ONS data means that conclusion will have to be revisited).

The Guardian’s higher figure is in part because ‘emotional and non-violent coercive factors’ are being considered, due to the more reliable data collection method obtained by self-completion for this particular type of crime. However the Times’s figure, while only referring to domestic ‘violence’, may still underestimate even this given the face-to-face nature by which the figures are gathered.

No more can it be claimed that DV / personal abuse a ‘gender specific’ crime.

No longer is it possible to say it  affects everyone no matter what their walk of life. The Tables above makes that abundantly clear.

Now we await a rebalancing of budget expenditure – a wait it would be unwise to hold one’s breath in anticipation of its arrival.

 E N D

Footnotes: 


[1] “Domestic violence: ‘As a man, it’s very difficult to say I’ve been beaten up’, Independent, 14 April 2013.  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/domestic-violence-as-a-man-its-very-difficult-to-say-ive-been-beaten-up-8572143.html

[3] “Knocked for six: the myth of a nation of wife-batterers”, by Neil Lyndon and Paul Ashton, The Sunday Times,  29/01/95 (Copyright 1995. http://www.eastb.freeserve.co.uk/dv-panl.htm )

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