Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is There a Domestic Violence Double Standard?

After months of investigation MTV's "Teen Mom" star Amber Portwood has finally been arrested and charged with felony domestic battery for her assaults on her now ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley and her toddler daughter. You might ask, "Why did it take so long?" That's a great question given the fact that the police have had documented proof of Portwood's physical attacks (attacks that happened in front of their toddler daughter) on Shirley, that were caught on tape, for months now.

Could there be a double standard when it comes to arresting females vs. arresting males for domestic battery? Let's compare two celebs highly publicized domestic disputes and I will let you be the judge.

The police investigation into Portwood's alleged domestic assaults on Shirley, again caught on tape, began in September 2010. Reportedly there were at least three documented domestic violence incidences where Portwood is said to have assaulted Shirley between July 2009 and August 2010. Numerous viewers of the 'Teen Mom's" tv show were said to have called into the child abuse hotline to report Portwood's mistreatment of toddler daughter and Shirley back in August 2010.

The investigation dragged on leaving Shirley and the baby vulnerable to more of Portwood's rage and violence. Still on the loose, having not been arrested for the previous assaults, Portwood reportedly physically attacked Shirley yet again two weeks ago and threatened his new girlfriend Ashley.

An arrest warrant for domestic battery wasn't issued against Portwood until December 27, 2010 over three months after the start of the investigation. According to news reports Portwood turned herself in yesterday and was charged with two counts of felony domestic battery, one count of misdemeanor domestic battery and one felony count of neglect of a dependent. She was placed on a 24 hour hold in jail (24 hour hold is mandatory for these types of charges in Indiana) and her bail was set at $5,000.00.

Now back in 2009, Chris Brown, a popular R & B singer, age 20 (same as as Portwood), had a domestic dispute in public with his then girlfriend Rihanna. The altercation happened in an automobile and concerned passers by felt compelled to call 911 to report the incident. When the police showed up Brown had left the scene. Within hours an arrest warrant was issued against him for two felony counts, criminal threatening and domestic battery. Brown turned himself in the next day and was arrested. Brown's bail was set at $50,000.00.

I am not sure of what to make of the $45,000 difference in bail costs between Brown's bail and Portwood's. Sentencing and bail costs vary from state to state and given that Brown was in California when arrested and Portwood is in Indiana that could be why bail costs are so vastly different. However, what explains the inertia of the police in arresting Portwood? I find it interesting that the arrest didn't come until after she viciously attacked Shirley in public once again.

If Portwood was a man and Shirley was a woman would the investigation have taken over three months and an additional publicly witnessed physical assault before an arrest was made? If Brown had been a woman and Rihanna a man would Brown have been arrested within hours of the assault on Rihanna? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wait Your Turn Mister!

Right on the heels of Domestic Violence [against women] Awareness Month (October) comes the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov.25th) and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Concurrent with these last two campaigns is the White Ribbon Campaign which is the time for men and women to wear white ribbons and pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Following these two and one-half months of awareness of violence against women January brings National Stalking [against women] Awareness Month, February, the Go Red for Women in National Women's Heart Disease Awareness Month, March is Vulva Awareness Month , April is Sexual Assault [against women] Awareness Month, May is Women's Health Month, August is Child Support Awareness Month, September is National Ovarian Cancer and Menopause Awareness Month and finally we are back to October again with, Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But I digress. Now I'm as much for bringing awareness to serious social and health issues as the next person. However, I have to wonder, have we gone too far with all this awareness when someone feels they have a right to publicly humiliate and minimize another person's pain and suffering? I came across an opinion piece in a Johannesburg newspaper online the other day titled, "Men are victims of violence too, but that's not the point." The writer, Pinky Khoabane, was irate that a whimpering, whining (her words) man had called a radio station to discuss domestic violence perpetrated against him by a former female intimate partner at a time when, according to Ms. Khoabane, the focus should be on violence against women and children. Ms. Khoabane wrote that she found herself screaming into her radio '"Hello, this isn't your day, Mister..."' She was fuming and horrified that others who called into the radio station were empathetic to this man. She asked, '"When did women become such abusers of men for this campaign to literally be hijacked by the cries of men?"' In her written tantrum she went on to say that men need accept and acknowledge that men are mostly the aggressors [of domestic violence], women the victims and that most of womens aggression is in self defense. She ended by telling the abused man who called the radio station that his day will come but that the gender violence referred to during [the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence] is not that perpetrated against him and they aren't interested. Sadly, Ms. Khoabane reflects the same sentiments that I have heard from other women's rights activists (both male and female) here in the US, abused men should just take their lumps and shut up about it already, it's not their time to get attention or services. When will it be "their time?" It's been nearly forty years since the movement to end violence against women began and much progress has been made as evidenced by the number of awareness campaigns, services and the amount of funding that has been put in place to end all forms of violence against women here in the US. How many more years do we need to wait to see attention and like services made available to men (and children) who suffer abuse at the hands of their intimate partners? It's not as if we don't have proof of the need for services for abused men. Research has shown that men with violent partners have most of the same needs as abused women. Will abused men's "time" ever come? I guess we will just have to stop whining and whimpering and wait silently to see. NOT!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We Need to Stop Excusing Women's Violence

For the past few weeks one of the the stars of MTV's hit show, "Teen Mom," Amber Portwood, has been the focus of a whole lot of media attention for her domestically violent behavior caught on tape towards the father of her toddler child Leah and boyfriend, Gary Shirley. Every news outlet from CBS to CNN to TMZ has written or spoken about the on-camera verbal and physical assaults that Amber has directed towards Gary. Gary, to his credit, has never physically retaliated.
Although I don't know Gary personally I know thousands of "Gary's" in similar situations. Gary, like other men in these situations who do not hit women or defend themselves against a woman's violence, know the rules of the game i.e. if a woman hits you stand there in take it because if you defend yourself you're going to jail. There is no excuse for abuse, unless it's a woman doing the abusing.
For years women's violence against men has been ignored, minimized and excused. However, this young women's violence, caught on tape, has been hard to ignore or brush off. Had her violence not been caught on tape it's likely that it would still be going on behind closed doors and no one would be the wiser...men don't tell.
To view a 55 second clip of her physical and verbal abusiveness towards Gary click here And there is a lot more where that came from. One wonders how long the camera crew and producers would have let Gary get away with hitting, slapping, choking and berating Amber before stopping or reporting the domestic violence had roles been reversed.
Still some will choose to make excuses for Amber's verbal and physical violence because Amber is a female and Gary is a male. Nothing new there, those entrenched in domestic violence issues have been making excuses for women's violence for decades.
Take, for instance, Lynn Harris's article for Salon, "Is female-on-male violence on the rise? '"Teen Mom's"' Amber Portwood has turned a spotlight on women who hit. We take a closer look at the supposed trend," (catch the "supposed" innuendo there?). Ms. Harris claims that women use violence out of frustration to get attention i.e. women are weak and needy of attention, while men use violence to assert their power and control over women, i.e. to keep them in their place and subservient to men. However, according to the comments made it seems few viewers of the show agree:

"I live in ambers hometown and...this crazy bit?h is 100 percent real! The stories about her fighting her neighbor over a parking spot, true! Her abusing Gary, true! She is an embarrassment to her entire town...." "...I think Amber and Gary need help, but i defiantly (sic) think Leah is better off with Gary then Amber I do not think she is safe with Amber." "...Gary is far calmer and needs to have custody of Leah...Now she dumped Gary and has a new guy that she's bringing around the baby. Has that new guy seen the show? Cause he might want to buy some protective gear." http://tinyurl.com/25awxz6
"...GREAT JOB GARY 4 putting LEAH first! Amber would love it if u were 2 b sneaky & disobey the laws..thus hurting Leah. Keep that monster AWAY until she is fit & allowed the privilege 2 b a mother again. If it ever even happens!" http://tinyurl.com/25udo6j "I am so happy that the Amber abusive chick is getting what she deserves. Not only does she smack Gary around, but she is a risk for the baby. what if she goes crazy? like the time she locked the baby in the room because she was crying for her daddy. She can snap at any x and at anyone it is scary to have a person like that in your home." http://tinyurl.com/37h2rfm

Bill at Bill's Pro-feminist Blog in his posting on (although not on the subject of Amber's violence but women's violence against men in general), "But women do it to! On acknowledging female violence towards men," also makes excuses for women's violence. He reiterates what Ms. Harris says about women's violence, ""First, we need to understand how women’s violence in relationships is often very different from men’s violence in relationships,"" and then he discusses how, and I'm paraphrasing here, women's violence is less injurious and more about attention seeking while men's is about, "...putting you back in your place, bitch."" Additionally according to Bill men are in full control of their faculties, their use of violence is patriarchal in nature used to dominate and control while women use violence is because (here comes the excuses) they have a mental illness and/or abuse hard drugs i.e. they can't help it. Hello, mental illness and hard drug use is not exclusive to women just as using violence as a means to control and gain power in a relationships is not exclusive to men.

Now back to Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley's (and their toddler who witnessed Amber's abuse of her father) situation, even with hard documented evidence of verbal threats and physical assault it took seven weeks before the police decided to charge Amber with two counts of felony and a misdemeanor. At this writing there has been no arrest because the DA still hasn't even filed the charges yet. I think we can all agree that the investigation might have taken tops 48 hours if Gary was doing the hitting and berating on camera. He would have been arrested and locked up before you could say "Patriarchy." ;-)

Although there are plenty of gray areas when it comes to domestic violence some still choose to continue to look at domestic violence as a black and white phenomonom; men's patriarchy and men as a group are the cause of domestic violence. These same people continue to turn a blind eye to research that doesn't fit their beliefs (see Dr. Daniel Whittaker et al http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941 Dr. Denise Hines http://www.clarku.edu/faculty/dhines/results.htm, and Dr. Murray Straus http://www.unh.edu/news/cj_nr/2006/may/em_060519male.cfm for info on female domestic violence and male victimization) and continue to perpetuate the myth that women's violence should be excused for the most part because it's not as harmful or being used as a means to control and maintain power over an intimate partner. This thinking does a grave disservice to male victims, female perpetrators and the innocent children who are caught in the middle. As long as society continues to view female violence as harmless there will be people who believe that, "...shes not going to hit the baby she hits him because shes frustrated hes a big fat lazy bum I'd hit him too in fact I'd kick him to the curb." http://tinyurl.com/2bk2t9k and male victims and their children will suffer the consequences.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Under Served Victims of Domestic Violence a Lifeline

We are in the Pepsi Refresh Project challenge for the month of November. Please Vote for our Project to win by going to the Pepsi site, signing up and voting daily. Thank You!

Our Project:


  • To raise awareness about the 834,000 male victims of dv annually
  • To educate and empower victims and others with our publications
  • To offer concrete help and support to male victims


The "Men are victims too" project has been in development over the last ten years of listening to and supporting tens of thousands of men in relationships with abusive partners. Research has shown that little information, outreach or supportive services exist for men (and their children) who want to remove themselves from the violence. Yet studies indicate men make up at least 25% of the reported cases of domestic abuse each year. Additionally, abuse against men is highly under reported due to the stigma associated with being a male victim.

We have informational booklets, brochures, and posters for and about male victims that we will make available to those who worked most closely with victims; Emergncy Room personnel and police departments. These materials will be invaluable tools for victims and beneficial to those in a position to assist them. This funding will be used to increase public knowledge of male victims and enhance our ability to offer victims services.

How will the 50K be Used?

Budget Notes: The budget will not cover the cost of printing and mailing add'l materials requested from the original mailings, a social media relations professional donating 100 hrs of his time to help us promote our message on the internet or a Google grant that allows us up to 10K in free advertising a month.
$ 25,000 Printing of approx. 30,000 posters, booklets, & brochures
$ 5,000 Purchase of 2500 large envelopes and postage
$ 2,500 Stipends for volunteers
$ 16,000 Funds for victim services- more public awareness=more helpline callers
$ 1,500 misc.office expenses

Thank you for voting!

Vote for this idea

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Men Do Cry

What a well written, compassionate article about male victims of spousal abuse. Bravo! Real Men Do Cry The hidden pain: domestic abuse targeted toward men

Real men don't hit women, but sometimes women hit them.

Jason Chivers (whose name has been changed to protect his family) is a middle-aged Calgary teacher of average build. At home, his wife would engage in sporadic episodes of violence that Chivers won't talk about even now that he's left the marriage. At the time, despite the violence, he says he didn't want to leave because of his kids.

Research into the area of domestic abuse targeted at men indicates that men fear going to jail on false charges, the loss of their children, and having to pay for both the family house plus an apartment on just their income.

Yet when Chivers and his wife sought help, the counsellor's first advice was to just get a divorce.

"I spent a lot of time in the office, living there . . . for weeks at a time," says Chivers. "Eventually I got the divorce, but not until I had tried everything else first. . . . The whole system is a disaster for men."

Although it's not often talked about, abuse against men happens in households across the city, in numbers and types nearly the same as women: according to StatsCanada, in 2005, seven per cent of women and six per cent of men experienced abuse. The difference is, men don't tell.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Real/3828659/story.html#ixzz15UBYERTg

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don't We All Want the Same Thing - Violence Free Homes

In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month the Co-Directors of DAHMW put together a press release/letter to the editor which read:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout the month domestic violence advocates and the media’s attention will be focused on bringing more public understanding to and promoting the eradication of men’s violence against women. However, not all intimate partner violence (IPV) fits into this neat little package.

IPV against men, especially against men by their female intimate partners, has always been a hot button issue. While domestic violence advocates may know men are victims they insist that their victims service agencies should focus exclusively on ending violence against women by men because women are the most injured and prevalent victims. As a result, serious outreach and services for male victims of IPV are sorely lacking.

Studies indicate that men are victims of assault by their partners in 36% of the reported cases in the U.S. each year. This disparity between the needs of those victims and the services available are large. The gap must be closed.

While resources for men are still scarce, awareness is increasing and hopefully more services will follow. IPV is not a gender issue, it is simply a human issue. The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women envisions a world where services are available to victims and survivors without prejudice.

In the past when we have sent out press releases and letters to the editors there wasn’t much, if any, response from the media. However, such was not the case this time. We asked our advocates who live in States all around the country (because as most know we are a virtually non profit agency) to send the letter to some of their local newspapers. Know that newspapers usually won’t publish letters that don’t have a local contact on them we asked them to send it out with their contact information on it. In hindsight we suppose it would be have been wiser to also include the names of the original writers too. However, just as those who work in battered women’s programs are in unison on their message, mission and philosophy, so to are the advocates of DAHMW. In addition, as we said, past responses being what they were we didn’t think we would get much response.

Were we ever surprised when newspapers in over six State published our letter! Finally, people want to hear our message.

One of the newspaper that published our letter was in the immediate area of a blogger named Suzie Siegel. Suzie is friends with the executive director of the local battered women’s shelter program, Linda Odmundson. I guess our letter touched a nerve because it prompted a call from Suzie to DAHMW.

Ms. Odsmundson, it seems from what Suzie said, was more than a little miffed by our letter. She claims she does help men at the program she operates. We understand that Ms. Odsmundson wrote a letter to the editor in reply to ours to the newspaper but we have not seen it.

A snippet of Suzie’s blog entry and the link to the rest is below.

To give you a little background information on why Suzie and Ms. Odmundson were so upset by our letter;

Over the years since the battered women’s/women’s rights movement began two camps have formed; the women’s rights camp and the men’s rights camp. For the few of us who are in the “middle of the road” camp there are no camp fires, marshmallows on sticks, sleeping bags or tents to sleep in. According to those in the women’s rights camp you are either with them or against them, there is no “middle camp.” You either believe what we believe, that domestic violence solely exists due to men’s patriarchal need to dominate, oppress and control women or you are in the men’s rights camp.

But what if you are a nonprofit agency that specializes in supportive services for male victims and also helps all other victims equally without prejudice? You don’t really fit in either the women’s or men’s rights camp. Still by some you are relegated to be part of that (what they consider) evil mens rights camp where all men who hate women congregate.

There has never been an agency quite like ours so no matter what we do, to some, we can never be seen as that middle of the road camp. We are an anomaly in the domestic violence service area, an organization to be criticized and then summarily dismissed as (in the words of some women’s rights advocates) just another men’s right group that is trying to send women back to the days when women were men’s chattels.

So the fact that we have emergency sheltered a homeless female victim, taken care of her needs for food and clothing, taken her to doctor and other appointments and helped her to get into her own apartment doesn't matter. The fact that we have called around to other shelters on behalf of female victims (who didn't know where to call and who were not in an area where we could make direct services available to them) who were told that the local battered women's shelter couldn't accommodate them because they had too many children or the shelter was full doesn't matter. The fact that we have worked in conjunction with anti violence programs that specialize in supportive services for LGBTQ victims and survivors doesn't matter. And by the way, our lack of funding is the only thing that holds us back from offering more services. Yes, we have made more services available to male victims and their children. DAHMW was created due to the void left in this service area so it is only natural that we would do this. As comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "I get no respect, I tell ya." All we want is to be respected and accepted for what we are, the middle of the road camp that helps victims of intimate partner violence without prejudice. Why can't we all just get along and work together? After all, we are all after the same thing aren't we, to put an end to domestic violence.

Arguing over men’s rights during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (by Suzie)

Do domestic violence programs ignore men who are victims of women? Your answer may depend on whether you think feminism should focus on a gendered analysis of women in society or feminism must fight all injustices equally. We’ve often discussed these definitions on this blog. Or, perhaps you're a feminist who thinks feminism has gone too far, with society now discriminating against men, at least in some areas. Jan Brown, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, seems to fall into this category. She says she’s a feminist but doesn’t want women to dominate services anymore than she wants men to dominate. Brown says she founded the helpline 10 years ago after a friend, a man abused by a woman, could find little help. Her web site says: “We specialize in offering supportive services to men abused by their female intimate partners.” The site lists resources where male victims can find help, including a lawyer who helps men fight false allegations of abuse and a law firm that has a father’s rights blog and “works hard to offset gender bias that minimizes or trivializes the importance of good men.” read more

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mississippi Domestic Violence

Well, I think it’s great that the state of Mississippi is trying to address domestic violence.   I am saddened, however, to see that they decided to take a one side approach to the subject.

The Division of Public Safety Planning provided the nonprofit Mississippi Center for Police & Sheriffs with a $157,950 grant. Project coordinator Brinda Willis said the grant is to be specifically used for assisting female domestic violence victims.  If a male victim calls, he’ll be referred to other programs for help.

The men in Mississippi have no real options available to them.  

Last I checked, there were less than 10 shelters for male victims of domestic violence in the entire nation.   I personally feel that this might be one of the reasons that suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fifteenth leading cause of death for females in 2007. Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide. Risk factors for suicide attempts by adults include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol and other substance abuse and separation or divorce.

Suicide is a major, preventable, public health problem.  In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.  The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.

When I attempted to take my own life, it was because of a woman who was destroying her life and that of her 4 year old daughter.  I had nowhere to turn.  All I could do was stand by and watch the tragedy unfold before me.  Once it became an issue of the law, I had a right to remain silent and was expected and required to remain silent—never allowed to explain to anyone.  I was told that if I even attempted to impact the situation in any way, I would be arrested.

A man is either a weakling or a liar if he is a victim of domestic violence.  He either needs to “man up” or “grow a pair.”  Nobody wants to hear it, and nobody has any idea of how to deal with it if a man actually ever does become a victim of domestic violence.

According to Hinds County Chief Deputy Steve Pickett of the Mississippi Center for Police & Sheriffs, the program in Mississippi is more than a resource for victims. The program will assist law enforcement, judicial personnel and victim advocates with training to help in domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. 

However, they are spending this money training law enforcement to deal with domestic violence by only showing the woman as the victim. That seems a bit like law enforcement learning self defense about knifes and then being handed a gun and sent out on the streets. Their training might be missing a very important part. Like the facts maybe?

Mississippi ranks fifth in the nation in domestic violence murder. For every 100,000 Mississippi women, two die each year from violence at home. The article fails to mention the number every 100,000 men who die each year from violence at home.

The behavior of The Division of Public Safety Planning is not only dangerous to society as a whole it is discriminatory in every way.