?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
13 August 2010 @ 12:42 am
While I'm On The Subject  
One of the other annoying features of any domestic violence discussion is that as soon as you mention it online, the poor neglected men pop up and say "What about us? As many men are abused as women, what about that?"

Lately they've taken to posting links about a particular woman who abused a man, as if we've never heard of such a thing. No one denies that this does happen.

Often in my writing I will add that women can be abusers as well. It gets cumbersome to keep writing in a gender inclusive manner because our language hasn't evolved to handle that well. Some solutions have been used but they don't flow naturally and not everyone understands the new terms.

Those who argue that the numbers are equal are, simply, wrong. But it doesn't matter in terms of the discussion what the respective numbers are.

The existence of male victims doesn't mean we can't talk about female victims. Each victim has his or her own set of particular obstacles to getting help and getting out of the relationship. I think there is room for many conversations about domestic violence. I don't see why it has to be an either-or scenario. I don't see why we aren't supposed to talk about male-on-female domestic violence just because there is also female-on-male domestic violence.

There have also been rants about why there are battered women shelters and not battered men shelters. Why? Because women--often former battered women--started and helped staff and fund those shelters. Any federal or state grant money came later on. Those shelters still operate on a shoestring budget at the best of times. You want men's shelters? I don't know any delicate way to say this: get off your asses and create them! While you're at it, work on removing the biggest impediment to men reporting abuse and using such shelters: the macho culture that says men can't be victims, men can't cry, men can't be vulnerable and men who can't control their woman are "pussies." (And also, stop using terms like pussy, sissy, and so on to describe men who don't meet your standard of male behavior.)

In fact, these social standards play into male victims not reporting and also men not being able to deal with hurt, sad, lonely, and scared feelings except by battering women. Not the same men, obviously. But this facet of male culture is a primary contributor to both problems.

You want federal help in solving the problem of female-on-male violence? Go after it! After you've opened your shelters you can gather solid statistics of the need for more help. That's what we did. We've provided you with a working model. Do we have to do it all for you?

If you want to talk about battered men (and I've known one) please go start your own conversations and lose the whiny, embittered, women victims get all the attention vibe. Some of us might even join in and try to help. But stop attacking us for helping our own first, especially those of us who have been battered.

Finally, in all my years of talking and writing about this issue, I've had many women come forward and admit that they were battered too. I haven't had one man express that he was battered. The one battered man I do know about didn't tell me--only his second wife knew the full story and she shared a bit of it with me. Either there aren't the same numbers or they just aren't talking or a bit of both. I do know that on a bell curve, more men are aggressive than women, with some overlap between the two. Hormones undoubtedly play a role in the intensity of anger needed to overcome normal inhibitions against violence. Alcohol also often plays a role. There are lots of things to study and questions to ask in order to get to the bottom of the true number of male victims. I suspect that women more often verbally and emotionally abuse than physically. But sure, let's find out. Just not on our dime during our conversation about abuse that happens to us. Thank you.
 
 
 
Christinekisekileia on August 13th, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
Great post!
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
W. Lotus: Princesswlotus on August 13th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU!
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :)
Angie: DV: He Married Herxtremeroswellia on August 13th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
Brilliant. I seriously wanted to write something like this but you've said it better than I ever could. May I link to this? I'd love for a lot of people to read it!
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
You are always welcome to link to my public posts. :)

I'm glad you liked it. It was a response to some anonymous person trying to post a link to a specific account of female-on-male violence. I felt I ought to address it because it comes up in comments in every feminist site and everywhere the media has an article about domestic violence that involves men beating women.
Angie: DV: Hands are for holding not hittingxtremeroswellia on August 13th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
Also, thinking more about this topic...we do have services for battered men at the shelter where I work. They can't stay at the shelter (it is for women and children only), but we do have money for motel stays for men, or for when our shelter is full and people need a place to stay for a couple days.

I'm not at all opposed to the idea of extending services for male victims, nor am I opposed to the idea of personally being involved to help battered men's shelters being open, but I do think you are dead on with your comments on society and how males are supposed to act/react, etc. I do believe THAT aspect has to change first, in order to be truly effective, and that men themselves are the ones who will have to do that internally, as a gender.
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
Motels are a good compromise. I see no reason why men can't raise funds for materials and build a shelter should they feel the need for one. :)

Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
male victims (reposted)
Note: I am re-posting this because I preferred to leave out fund-raising links which can be found on the site itself.

The comment:

Tapati,

While I respect your point of view I respectfully disagree with you on some points you made. To be fair, there are factions of both anti women activists and anti men activists that make it difficult for male victims to get services and speak out about being abused. And doesn't the whole, "we women did it for women now you men need to do it for men," premise go against what we as a society are trying to do, end domestic violence?

Also, let's face facts here women are more likely to be nurturers than men. Supporting and working with victims of domestic violence is a very nurturing type profession. IMHO, this is one of the reasons most men do not create non profit agencies that offer support and direct services to abused men. Men and women, when it comes to emotions, are just wired differently. Why shouldn't those experienced in working with victims help both genders? They have the knowledge it just might need to be tweaked a bit to accommodate male victims.

BTW: I write to you as a women who founded the only national non profit agency in the USA that specializes in offering supportive services to men in relationships with abusive women.
After ten years of speaking with thousands of men on our helpline about their abusive wives and girlfriends I think I can speak from experience when I say male victims have much in common with female victims. I can also say that we should not have such a divide in services especially if an agency receives federal and/or state funding. If these agencies can not discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion,disability, sexual orientation etc. then why are they allowed to tell men (gay, straight and transgender) and me "We don't help men?" Isn't this a form of discrimination?

Now I must rush off because I have more promoting to do (see below) but I thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope you don't mind me doing the same.

We are in the Pepsi Refresh Everything challenge this month and we need to get online votes from the public in order to win $250,000 to bring more public awareness and services to male victims. I hope you and your readers will support our efforts.
Sincerely, Jan Elizabeth Brown, Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, www.dahmw.org

P.S. There is some recent research on battered women's shelters and male victims that you might like to review here: http://www.clarku.edu/faculty/dhines/results.htm
Angie: DV: There is no excusextremeroswellia on August 13th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
Also, let's face facts here women are more likely to be nurturers than men. Supporting and working with victims of domestic violence is a very nurturing type profession. IMHO, this is one of the reasons most men do not create non profit agencies that offer support and direct services to abused men. Men and women, when it comes to emotions, are just wired differently.

And that entire argument, to me, seems like a total cop-out.

...so sorry to keep commenting.
(Anonymous) on August 13th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
You may be right about the total cop out...but it didn't come from a man...I am not a man so I can not think like one...I have just been trying to figure it all out myself for years and that is just one thought I had on the subject.
I just know that I support every victims right to services and a listening ear. I work primarily with male victims but I work with female victims also. I wouldn't give lesser services to a woman just because she's a woman. Jan www.dahmw.org
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
You know, men are often accused of being paternalistic but I think women can be maternalistic as well.

I think the definition of co-dependency is doing things for others that they ought to do for themselves.

I think that we do men a disservice when we assume they can't do for themselves. It is disrespectful, in a way. They can nurture, they can work on this problem. Men already run groups for male batterers. Why can't other men run groups for male survivors? With federal money added to the pot, of course. :)

There are many nurturing male therapists, for example. I just don't buy that men are incapable of doing this work.
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
Dear Jan,

I have no problem with federal funds being split between organizations. I DO have a problem with women continuing to do work that men are in fact very capable of doing. Men can be and many are nurturing and act as caretakers. I think playing into the stereotypes perpetuates the gender roles that are part of the problem in the first place. There are slight differences biologically but the major differences come with socialization. From the very beginning we handle boy and girl babies differently and continue that throughout their lives, unconsciously or consciously. That's been well studied and documented.

I watched one day as a Grandpa scolded and shamed his toddler grandson who was bored and started crying while his mom was dealing with the pharmacy staff. Everything his Grandpa said had to do with him being a sissy for crying/only girls cry/etc It was horrible. The mom came back and heard some of it and contradicted Grandpa, but the words had time to sink in before he got there. Things like this shut boys off from the very same emotions we all have. That leads to men who grow up not knowing how to manage emotions--and turning to substances to help tamp them down so they don't have to.

If women CHOOSE to do this work, great. But I am tired of the many men who interrupt our conversations to interject that we are being mean and discriminating against them because we won't divide our meager resources and time and create systems and shelters that they could be working to create. In the same vein, at my community college we had a women's center and women's studies program, re-entry etc. There was money SET ASIDE for men to start a program for themselves, but they would always come to our door, complain that we had these resources (one room on the whole campus) and then, when told that there was money if they wanted to establish something they'd just shrug and walk away.

We're not the mommies. Women already do so much nurturing and care-taking and deferring our needs. Do we have to do it all the time, every time?

Remember the saying, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him once. If you teach him to fish, you've fed him for his whole life?" It's like that. We can keep doing everything for them--or they can watch us, learn, and know how to care for themselves.

(Likewise there are male-assigned skills that we women ought to learn for ourselves, such as finances and basic car care and so on. If men always do it for us we'll never do it ourselves.)

Which is not to say that I don't want men to have services. I do. I'm just tired of our every conversation being hijacked by men. I know men are being abused. I don't believe the numbers are quite equal, but whether or not they are, fine, let's document them as best we can and provide federal money for services. But women's shelters are all barely making it now. You want them to double their numbers? Should we put male victims and female victims, both recently traumatized by the opposite gender, in the same shelter? What about male spouses who've abused posing as male victims to get into the shelter? Are women supposed to raise the extra money to build shelters for men? Just what is the role of men in all of this? Are they to sit back and watch us serve their brothers' needs? Can't they take part in any way? Men, making more money, have a natural advantage in fund-raising. Can't they build their own shelters? Many of them have carpentry skills!

Serving domestic violence victims is a sensitive area and I think that it is the one case in our society where victims should have safe space free of members of the other gender.

Sincerely,

Tapati
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
I know I didn't address gay/lesbian/bi/trans, mainly because that's more complex and I have been awake all night. How to provide safety and security for each group--that needs to be a community-by-community discussion. I know if I had a female partner (I'm bi) and I was battered, I would want to be sure that she can't fake an ID and show up at the shelter where I am. I also wouldn't want bi-phobia to rear its head. I'd want to be sure staff had procedures in place to deal with any bigotry.

In the case of trans folks who are already so vulnerable to violence in society, they may want to be safe from the prejudice and potential violence of any shelter-mates, so perhaps motel vouchers is a safer way to go. I'm sure there is a lot of discussion that can and should go on (and undoubtedly is, somewhere).

Gay men in straight male shelters may also not feel safe if there are homophobic guys there. Certainly traumatized people should not be further traumatized.

So yeah, there is a lot to talk about, and much of it is beyond the scope of my writing projects. (I can't take on every aspect of DV!)

However, I don't see glbt folks hijacking conversations and comment threads all over the net (especially Salon) as straight men who hate feminism do. :) I think we're more polite than that.
(Anonymous) on August 14th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
Interesting how you put a response up (in part) to my reply yet you didn't put my reply up...why is that?
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
This wasn't a response to your response, this was a response to your original post--there is a time lag with anon (non-LJ) comments because I have to unscreen them. (I've received abusive material before in comments.) I was not at my computer to do so until now. I realized before I got offline today that I hadn't addressed glbt issues. Yes I know also that abusive women infiltrate shelters, which is why I suggest that both lesbians and gay men might need alternate spaces to feel safe. Motel vouchers are one way.
(Anonymous) on August 13th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
Please excuse my use of quotes to answer your questions...your response was fairly long and I wanted to make sure I addressed the issues you brought up.

"Which is not to say that I don't want men to have services. I do. I'm just tired of our every conversation being hijacked by men."

I totally understand that. I have my own challenges with some who give lip service and little else.

"I don't believe the numbers are quite equal, but whether or not they are, fine, let's document them as best we can and provide federal money for services."

Personally the numbers don't matter to me...I try to stay out of the stats disputes. I feel that if one man or woman needs support and services then those services should be available to them.

"But women's shelters are all barely making it now. You want them to double their numbers?"

No I want them to work on the "first come, first serve" basis.

"Should we put male victims and female victims, both recently traumatized by the opposite gender, in the same shelter?"

Do we put lesbians and gay men, both recently traumatized by the same gender together? Heterosexual female and male victims could learn together that not everyone of the opposite sex is abusive and dangerous.

What about male spouses who've abused posing as male victims to get into the shelter?

I am not trying to be sarcastic here but what about female spouses who've abused posing as female victims? It does happen. Just as there are screening tools to prevent abusive gay men and abusive lesbian's from using victims services (GLBT abusers have learned that if they call for services it bars their victims from accessing services) so to should there be one for heterosexual victims.

Are women supposed to raise the extra money to build shelters for men?

If people want to end domestic violence they need to do what is necessary to end all intimate partner violence. Men are now encouraged to raise funds and stop violence against women by "walking a mile in her shoes" and other such fund raising efforts so I don't see why both genders can not work together to raise funds for all victims.

"Serving domestic violence victims is a sensitive area and I think that it is the one case in our society where victims should have safe space free of members of the other gender."

My argument to that is...so how would you propose going about sheltering victims in the GLBT community differently?

Sincerely,
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
LJ supports html tags such as the angle brackets < around i or b (italic or bold) which is a good way to separate quotes that is easy to see. To end the italics use /i between those brackets (or you can call them greater than, lesser than symbols).

You originally seemed to be saying women should continue to do it all, which is why I brought up fund-raising.

I do not agree with the first come, first served basis at all when women are already turned away from shelters. Until I can see a similar level of lethality in domestic violence between the two genders, I am going to continue to see women and children as more vulnerable to severe injury or death than men. That's at least one reason I'd like to see men coming forward and working on this issue among themselves, creating their own spaces and funding sources. Then vulnerable women would not have to compete with men for shelter space. My own daughter was denied shelter space so I am not very objective on this issue. I also don't think that co-ed shelters are a good idea for a number of reasons. I just don't see it working well. It's hard enough to run a shelter, why make it more complicated?

I know a woman can use (and often does to equalize things) weapons etc, but I don't see many headlines about the woman who killed her husband and all of her children, not like I do with men. Most documented cases of women killing husbands are connected with male-on-female DV. If a woman is abusing her kids, a report to CPS should be made to help the male spouse get custody.

In any event, what my whole post was trying to say, is these conversations can and should take place--just not always at the same time we are trying to solve violence against women. That is always going to be my first concern and what I, personally, work on. I do support anyone who wants to work on behalf of battered men, I just don't have time and energy to include that in my own work. :)
(Anonymous) on August 15th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Re: male victims (reposted)
Tapati

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that's what makes the world go round :-). I am sorry to hear that your daughter was denied shelter, I know it happens all too much. For example, two of the women we worked with were denied shelter, one because she had more children than the shelter allowed a woman to bring with her (we called around and found a shelter that would take her in another county). The other seemed to be denied because she had a physical condition that limited her mobility (we worked with her caseworker to get her emergency section eight housing and put her up in a hotel for three weeks until she could get into her own apartment).
BTW: There is a shelter in UT that is co-ed (built in 1998 as a co-ed shelter) and one in CA that has operated as a co-ed shelter since it was first established over 20 years ago.
IMHO, whether or not a shelter is co-ed depends more on the philosophy of the program and who is running it more than whether or not female and male victims can co-exist.
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Who says males can't be nurturing? This is from the Gives Me Hope website:

A few weeks ago at my church camp a little girl named Caroline was extremely homesick because she missed her brother. The three oldest boy cabins noticed.

All twenty of them learned the song "Sweet Caroline" and sang it to her. She decided to stay.

Boys who go to great lengths to make a little girl happy GMH.
Starbuck: Garciapips on August 14th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
Absolutely one of the most brilliant pieces of writing I've read. Just brilliant. You are awesome.
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks!