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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Domestic violence stats show true picture

It is an unfortunate reality working as a family law solicitor that we regularly come across domestic violence. Some individuals suffer in silence for years before finding a way to get away form an abusive partner. Others courageously take a stand the first time an incident happens. Every case is unique – and every one is disturbing, whether it is physical or mental abuse.

Now I chose those words carefully. I didn’t want to statements about whether victims of domestic violence are male or female. However, I would bet the vast majority of people will immediately have assumed that I am talking about female victims. Men aren’t really victims of abuse, surely? Wrong, and after all, abuse is abuse no matter what sex the victim.

A report published recently and covered in the press last week from campaign group Parity shockingly revealed that 40% of all domestic violence victims are male. However, men assaulted by wives or girlfriends are often forgotten victims because people don’t think it happens. They can often be ignored by the police, see their attackers go free and have significantly less support than female victims, according to the report. Convictions of women for domestic violence are rising – from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09 – but still fall shocking short of the total number of incidents. "

I find it encouraging that this often taboo issue is being highlighted in this way. It is way overdue – not just for male victims but for all victims. There should be no gender bias on reporting or the support that victims can get.

Domestic violence accounts for 16% of all crime, has more repeat victims than any other crime and will affect one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime, according to the Crime in England and Wales 2006/07 report. It includes any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (be it physical or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Many victims will feel trapped and that things will be worse if they try and get help. Family lawyers – indeed all professional services linked to divorce and separation – have an important role to play in broadcasting the message that there is help available and they can find a way out.

Everyone has the right to live without fear for their safety. No one has the right to cause harm or threaten an individual, however close to that person they might be.

A solicitor can help by applying for an injunction to help keep a person safe and their partner away from them. They can apply for orders under the Childrens Act to protect any offspring caught in the crossfire. They can also, of course, manage the legal divorce process. I think the slogan goes “Don’t suffer in silence”. We all need to get that message out there to both genders.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce solicitor

Comments and response - Domestic violence stats show true picture

Thanks for sharing this case, Andrew. As you point out litigation is common in the USA and there are often abuses. However, many, many cases are dismissed and most that are not are settled before trial.

By Nick Braak on Wednesday September 15, 2010

Andrew, I mentioned your blog post to my wife this morning over a plate of home baked bread and Turkish mezes. She remarked that she had read recently that a woman was suing a mistress because her husband had committed suicide as a result of the guilt he experienced following a liaison. Neither of use know the outcome of the case or even if it has been heard. The implication of the Turkish case, and also the ones you cite, is that men have no free will. Indeed the a like Barbie’s rather sad and easily tempted boyfriend Ken, (have you seen how he behaves in Toy Story 3?), vain but of no real substance.

By Stephen Bray on Wednesday September 15, 2010

I would just add that some of the saddest victims of DB is the children who witness it and perhaps repeat the pattern as they mature. Also, there is a huge rising tide of elder abuse, which can occur in the home or outside. As I work with DV centers, I too will agree that most believe the vast majority of cases are men against women and many would dispute your figures - but I believe that the figures for men may probably be as high as you imagine, especially if the definition of domestic violence includes emotional and financial abuse. ...

By Jon Probstein on Wednesday September 15, 2010

one relevant issue has to do with the definitions in the statistics are compiled. For example, in some statistics “defensive” physical violence is counted the same as “offensive” physical violence. Further, a slap may be counted the same as a brutal beating. I do not dispute that there are male victims of domestic violence, and I have represented some of them. But when viewed in terms of physical danger and danger against children, the problem is disproportionately male against female versus the other way around. Male violence against women tends to be far more lethal, and male violence directed against children as a means of controlling or punishing the female partner is more prevalent than the other way around. (This is in contrast to non-intimate partner violence against children, where women may well commit more physical child abuse than men, perhaps attributable to the increased time women spend with children, especially as single mothers.)I agree that there should be resources for men who are victims of domestic violence, but in general, men do not face the need for societal protection from intimate partner violence as acutely as women do because they are more likely by virtue of their size, strength, and economic independence, to be able to take protective action themselves for the violence directed against them and are less likely to seek to take their children with them.

The bottom line is that we need to be socializing both genders from an early age that physical violence and emotional abuse are unacceptable means of interpersonal relationships. And, indeed, it is the children who are suffer the most, especially in the unseen forms of domestic violence and from witnessing adult violence. For infants and young children raised in violent homes, we now know through neurobiology that the very structure of those children’s brains is changed by that environment in a way that is difficult or impossible to undo later in life….

By Ann Haralambie on Wednesday September 15, 2010

I think law enforcement would agree that male violence against women tends to be far more lethal and that we cannot go by just what is reported in the press. I would just add that in these economic times, I must admit I am finding more men in all sorts of other family issues (foreclosure, unemployment, eviction, disability, etc.) who do not have “size, strength, and economic independence” - I know of no statistics on this, just my experience. ...

By Jon Probstein on Wednesday September 15, 2010

There are men who are turn situations around to appear as if they are being abused due to the fact they feel so much shame and failure as to how they have treated their wife and kids.  Behaviors that are mentally cruel and truly odd.It is so much easier to blame and blame someone else rather than accept responsibility.These men are simply weak, cruel, boys who cannot face who they really are. Look in the mirro, if you can….

By carolyn ungar on Saturday October 16, 2010

the first commentator paints men as weak beings.  perhaps it is he who is weak as real men can seek help and function well in our society. A real man would never look to hide behind a woman’s behavior to make himself appear like a victim so to absolve himself of responsibility.  Some men just need their own way and will say and do anything to make the situation turn in their favour so they can be pitied.  Pity you bet, wipe your crocodile tears, be a man and accept your failures….

By felicia jones on Monday January 3, 2011

He who complains that he has fallen subject to abuse from his wife asnd that the abuse has fallen upon the children is a liar.  He wants to believe and share this belief with others in order for him to remain blameless in the relationship.  How easy and convenient.  He who did not care nor love his wife and children and showed this in his daily life with them and then they turned on him and wanted to extracate themselves from his life.  For how long can a person live with a husband who needs his own needs met first without caring of the effect it has on his family.  A life where the wife always said oh my husband would not like this or that and had to pass up on all her hopes and desires.  A life where the father enjoyed denying the children as he did not want to spend money even though he was given freebee after freebee.  How convenient to imagine himself to be a victim.  When did that occur, when he had no rent to pay, minimal education to pay, no groceries to pay for, major celebrastions were paid for him, clothing was paid for, transportation, etc. and the list goes on.  How dare he try to make people think he was abused and the kids as well.  Check into his personal life and you will see what his kids think of him, at least the one who will speak with him.!!  I have alot more info where this came from and I think there should be a venue for women to share their pain over emotuionally and sexually abusive husbands and fathers….

By david cunningham on Monday July 18, 2011


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