Today, a war rages over the issue of domestic abuse.
Women’s groups contend that they are the primary victims of domestic abuse and have responded by orchestrating campaigns seeking sympathy for their position. These efforts have been amplified by high-profile cases of alleged abuse by celebrities such as Ike Turner, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, James Brown, and Tommy Lee. These cases and the campaigns the spawn are often the focus of media outlets around the United States. This attention over the past few decades has resulted in increased awareness of domestic abuse against women, and new laws to prevent domestic abuse – some that focus on women specifically. One of today’s most visible examples is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which came up for reauthorization in Congress this year. This gender-specific legislation is one-sided but appeals to sentiment and traditional social mores.
By contrast, until recently, men’s groups have been significantly less vocal. More recent efforts, however, resulted in the House Judiciary Committee adding gender-neutral language to the Violence Against Women Act in July 2005. Nonetheless, abuse against men by women is significantly under-reported for a number of reasons Moreover, men making such claims face a legal system that is significantly less sympathetic in its treatment of men. One thing is certain, compared to women, there are very few social programs or non-profit organizations to provide assistance to male victims of abuse or male victims of false allegations of abuse. Instead, every month seems to spawn new programs, clinics, shelters, advocacy groups, and counseling centers, dedicated to abuse of women issues.
Part of the problem is with statistics. It was once said that there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Vast resources on domestic abuse exist with staggering disparities in the statistics that they cite. Statistics are, by their nature, manipulable and dependent on proper methodology and a vast myriad of societal variables. Some of the reasons cited for under-reported incidents of domestic abuse by women against men include the social stigma attached to it and the systematic bias against such claims by law enforcement personnel and the court system itself that has a chilling effect on reporting.
Regardless of “who did what to whom more often” arguments, the way in which the legal system addresses such claims paves the way for exploitation by participants making false claims of abuse.