Violence in Society The first reaction to hearing about the topic of battered men, people tend to think of it as being absolutely false or very uncommon. Battered husbands are a topic for jokes because people always assume that it is the women who are battered. One researcher noted that wives were the perpetrators in seventy-three percent of the depictions of domestic violence in newspaper comics. Battered husbands have historically been either ignored or subjected to ridicule and abuse.
Even those of us who like to consider ourselves liberated and open-minded often have a difficult time even imagining that husband battering could take place. Although feminism has opened many of our eyes about the existence of domestic violence, the abuse of husbands is a rarely discussed phenomenon. One reason that husband battering is not investigated is that it is a rare occurrence. Another reason is that because women were seen as weaker and more helpless than men pertaining to sex roles, and men on the other hand were seen as more sturdy and self-reliant. The study of abused husbands is considered to be unimportant.
In 1974, research was done to compare male and female domestic violence. In this study, it was found that forty seven percent of husbands had used physical violence on their wives, and thirty-three percent of wives had used violence on their husbands (G elles 1974). Also in 1974, a study was released showing that the number of murders of women by men was about the same as the number of murders of men by women. Although it had finally been shown that there was violence being perpetrated both by wives and husbands, there was no evidence about the severity or who initiated the abuse and who is acting in self-defense.
The idea of women being violent is a hard thing for many people to believe. It goes against the stereotype of the passive and helpless female. This, in spite of the fact that women are known to be more likely than men to commit child abuse and child murder. Laws about domestic violence is always orientated toward the female victim. Society states that it is the woman who suffer from abuse.
These reasons explain why most abused men, no matter how capable they are of doing so, offer little or no resistance to their partners' physical violence. And many women, well aware of these fears, may actually continue their abuse, knowing they can get away with it. While battered men find few facilities or support, there are a variety of programs (many of which are run by feminist men's groups) to help abusive men deal more effectively with their violence. But for violent women– strangely enough– no comparable treatment programs exist. This fact further illustrates a serious problem: society is simply unwilling– or unable– to acknowledge and deal with violent women. Resources and facilities to combat domestic violence are, unfortunately, in short supply due to cutbacks in almost all social services.
Perhaps some battered women's groups fear that if society recognizes that men are victims too, what little money is available will be diverted. But acknowledging men's victimization in no way involves denying that women are victims. Women's groups that help battered women could also help battered men, while men's groups that counsel abusive men could make their expertise available to violent women as well. Continuing to portray spousal violence solely as a women's issue is not only wrong– it's also counterproductive.
And encouraging such unnecessary fragmentation and divisiveness will ultimately do more harm than good. No one has (or should have) a monopoly on pain and suffering. But until society as a whole confronts its deeply ingrained stereotypes and recognizes all the victims of domestic violence, we will never be able to solve the problem. Domestic violence is a neither a male or a female issue– it's simply a human issue..