Accusing the police of encouraging domestic violence isn’t something we take lightly. After all, conventional wisdom says the opposite should be true.
Police officers are sworn to “Serve and Protect”, but their hands are often tied, and the statistics aren’t very encouraging.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):
- 1 in 3 women have been slapped, shoved or pushed by an intimate partner
- 1 in 4 have experienced severe physical violence, like beatings, burnings or stranglings
The numbers may be distressing, but they only tell part of the story. Men are increasingly the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) despite being classified as abusers almost exclusively.
To their credit, the NCADV also publishes statistics for men.
- 1 in 4 have been slapped, shoved or pushed by an intimate partner
- 1 in 7 have been victims of severe physical violence
Now consider that domestic violence against men usually goes unreported.
As a psychology lecturer and researcher at the University of Cumbria in the UK, Dr. Elizabeth Bates frequently investigates episodes of IPV against men. She found that male victims rarely report it, because in their own words:
“No one would ever believe me.”
Participants who did call the police or confide in loved ones reported being ridiculed and ostracized. Apparently the popular notion that men are always villains and women are always victims is antiquated and inaccurate.
It bears asking, that if the official statistics for domestic violence against men are so high, how much higher would they be if unreported cases were taken into account? Of course the same is true for women.
Police and Domestic Violence
In the late ‘70s activists and women’s advocates began lobbying politicians and police departments to enact laws and adopt policies that encouraged or required officers responding to domestic violence calls to arrest perpetrators.
Prior to that, arrests were typically reserved for the most egregious cases, and almost never in ones of domestic violence against men. Instead, officers mediated and temporarily removed accused aggressors from the scene.
Below are summaries of California and New York’s mandatory arrest laws from FindLaw.com:
But according to some social scientists like Morton Bard, mandatory arrest laws may actually increase the incidence of domestic violence. His findings indicate that initiating legal proceedings often exacerbates conflict and rarely provides any long-lasting relief.
Nevertheless, by the early ‘90s the vast majority of the country’s police departments and nearly half of states had adopted pro-arrest policies and legislation. Yet the violence continued.
The Duluth Model
According to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs’ (DAIP) website:
“The ‘Duluth Model’ is an ever evolving way of thinking about how a community works together to end domestic violence.”
But as we’ll see, the words ‘against women’ are conspicuously absent from the end of the statement.
DAIP was developed in the ‘80s to reduce violence against women, but detractors claim it may have had the opposite effect. The Duluth Model was largely the brainchild of pioneering feminist Ellen Pence. In her controversial program, men accused of domestic violence were enrolled in mandatory perpetrator rehabilitation programs.
DAIP literature asserts that change is possible for abusive men, if they:
- Accept responsibility for their actions
- Exhibit a willingness to change
- Are given the appropriate tools and guidance
The use of “accused” instead of “convicted” is troubling. One can’t help but wonder whether female offenders were forced to enroll in rehabilitation programs like their male counterparts. It’s doubtful, because in DAIP’s view they can’t be perpetrators, and men can’t be victims.
Police Training and Loaded Terms
Generally accepted notions of victims and abusers are obviously flawed, yet many mainstream organizations with significant political clout insist on using gender-biased language to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes. Scarier yet, they’re often directly involved in training police officials and officers.
According to the North Carolina Batterer Intervention Programs’, A Guide to Achieving Recommended Practices:
“Abuser, perpetrator and batterer are used interchangeably when referring to the individual committing domestic violence.”
No problem there, but things become problematic when they admit to only using male pronouns for batterers, and female ones for victims. It’s as if domestic violence against men is an urban legend.
They even state that:
“We use gender specific terms because the recommended curriculum is for men who batter and battering is not a gender-neutral issue.”
According to dictionary.com, gender-neutral is defined as:
“Noting or relating to a word or phrase that does not refer to one gender only.”
In other words, “farmer” and “doctor” are gender-neutral terms, but according to the North Carolina Batterer Intervention Programs, “batterer”, “abuser”, and “perpetrator” are not.
Let that sink in.
But how can that be, if:
Well, maybe not all forms of domestic violence. Perhaps just those in which women are the victims.
BAIP’s literature also claims that domestic violence abusers are solely responsible for their actions. Finally, something we can all agree on, at least until you realize that using their guidelines, “men” and “domestic violence abusers” may be used interchangeably.
Judges and Law Enforcement Make the Problem Worse
By perpetually classifying women as helpless victims, well-meaning activists, judges and law enforcement officials may embolden aggressive and violent women to become abusive partners. If you know you’ll always be labeled the “victim”, then what do you have to lose?
Especially in places that adhere to Duluth Model principals and have mandatory arrest laws, women are largely free to abuse their intimate male partners and largely get away with it.
Even during disputes in which they’re the aggressors, women may opt to call the police and report that they’re the ones being abused.
Just knowing they’re likely to get away with it may entice violent female domestic violence abusers into committing the very acts of violence organizations advocating on behalf of victims claim to abhor.
In closing, DAIP’s website also states:
Ironically there’s no mention of gender in that first sentence, or tactics women commonly use to gain power over men in troubled relationships like threatening to take their children, psychological abuse, or calling the police when there hasn’t been any domestic violence at all or when they’re the ones who were actually violent.