... cion by those who see domestic violence as a political issue to be exploited rather than a social problem to be solved. Studies of women who murderCoramae Mann, a criminologist at Indiana University, studied the case records of all murders committed by women between 1979 and 1983 in six major U. S. cities.
Her findings contradicted commonly-held ideas about women who murder, and she was criticized by some people for this. 'They would raise the question, 'Well you have these poor battered women.' I said these weren't poor battered women. Many already had violent criminal records. They weren't weak or dependent. They were angry.' Strauss & Gelles commented in their 1986 report that 'violence by wives has not been an object of public concern...
In fact, our 1975 study was criticized for presenting statistics on violence by wives.' Yet domestic violence is an issue framed in the media and in the political arena as one of male perpetrators and female victims. Violence in gay and lesbian relationships is rarely discussed, and violence against men in heterosexual relationships less so. Battered men wonder where to turn When it is addressed, there is a response. When I became the caretaker of a memorial fund for a male victim of domestic violence, I unexpectedly took on the role of counselor for men calling from all over the country to talk to me at length about their or their father's victimization.
When the subject of battered husbands was raised on British television and the London Times did an article on the subject, hundreds of calls came in from male victims to a special helpline set up by a Women's Aid group (Rooke 1991). The terms 'wife beating' and 'battered women' have become political expressions, rather than descriptions of reality. And because the issue of domestic violence has been substantially taken out of the arena of serious sociological study, and thrust into the political arena, the definitions of spousal abuse, and the proposed remedies to spousal abuse, will be political ones -- not necessarily ones which reflect the reality of the existing problems. In a book on domestic violence, Roger Langley and Richard C. Levy conclude a chapter on battered husbands by saying, 'Husband abuse should not be viewed as merely the opposite side of the coin to wife abuse. Both are part of the same problem, which should be described as one person abusing another person.
The problem must be faced and dealt with not in terms of sex but in terms of humanity' (Langley & Levy 1977, p. 208). Ironically the book in which this quote appears is entitled 'Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis.' Laws favor female victims Legislation about domestic violence is always orientated toward the female victim. For instance, in 1991, Senator Joseph Biden again introduced the 'Violence Against Women Act' which at this writing has passed the senate Judiciary Committee. It has a section called 'Safe homes for Women' which specifically allocates funds to 'women's's heaters (Biden 1991, also see Boxer 1990).
Also note actions like that of Ohio governor Richard F. Celeste who granted clemency to 25 women who were in prison for murdering their husbands. The reason he gave for this was the 'Battered Woman Syndrome' which, obviously, no man can claim as his defense (Wilkerson 1990). There is very little concern shown either for the idea of making spousal abuse a capital crime with the victim as extra-judicial executioner, nor for the idea that perhaps some of the men who murder their spouses might be suffering from an analogous 'Battered Man Syndrome.' A frightening case from Ohio There is only one case I am aware of in which a man was able to use a similar defense. Warren Farrell writes about it in his book Why Men Are the Way They Are (Farrell 1986, p.
231): Betty King had beaten, slashed, stabbed, thrown dry acid on, and shot her husband. Eddie King had not sought prosecution when she slashed his face with a carpet knife, nor when she left him in a parking lot with a blade in his back. Neither of these incidents even made the police records as statistics. She was only arrested twice -- when she stabbed him so severely in the back and so publicly (in a bar) that the incidents had to be reported. All these stabbings, shootings, and acid-throwing's happened during a four-year marriage. During a subsequent shouting match on the porch of a friend's house, Betty King once again reached into her purse.
This time Eddie King shot her. When an investigation led to a verdict of self-defense, there was an outcry of opposition from feminists and the media. Farrell compares this case, in which 'a two-second delay could have meant his death,' to that of the celebrated case made into the television movie The Burning Bed in which the protagonist murdered her husband while he slept. A serious problem In conclusion, I think that the available data show that husband battering is a serious problem, comparable to the problem of wife battering. Even if the statistics collected in the last several years are completely wrong and only one in 14 victims of spousal abuse are men, these are men who are hurting and need services that are currently not available. There is such a strong stigma against being a battered man, carried over from times when the battered man was considered the guilty party, that special attention should be paid to reaching out to these victims.
Simply opening up 'Women's Shelters' to men is not enough. References Biden, Joseph 'Violence Against Women Act of 1990' (S. 15) 1991. Boxer, Barbara 'A Bill to combat violence and crimes against women on the streets and in homes' (H. R.
5468) 101 st Congress, 2 nd Session, August 3, 1990 Curtis, L. A. Criminal violence: National patterns and behavior Lexington Books, Lexington MA, 1974 Daly, M. & Wilson, M. 'Parent-Offspring Homicides in Canada, 1974-1983's cience v. 242, pp.
519-524, 1988 Farrell, Warren Why Men Are the Way They Are McGraw-Hill, New York, 1986, p. 231 Garcia, Jane 'The Cost of Escaping Domestic Violence' Los Angeles Times May 6, 1991 Gelles, R. J. The violent home: A study of physical aggression between husbands and wives Sage, Beverly Hills CA, 1974 Langley, Roger & Levy, Richard C.
Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis Pocket Books, New York 1977 Marriage and Divorce Today 'First Large-Scale Study Reveals Elder Abuse is Primarily by Wives Against Husbands' December 15, 1986 Mercy, J. A. & Saltzman, L. E. 'Fatal violence among spouses in the United States, 1976-85' American Journal of Public Health 79 (5): 595-9 May 1989 Nag i, Saad Child Maltreatment in the United States Columbia University Press, New York, p. 47, 1977 Nisonoff, L.
& Batman, I 'Spouse Abuse: Incidence and Relationship to Selected Demographic Variables' Victim ology 4, 1979, pp. 131-140 O'Leary, K. Daniel; Arias, I lena; Rosenbaum, Alan & Barking, Julian 'Premarital Physical Aggression's tate University of New York at Stony Brook & Syracuse University Rooke, Margaret 'Violence in the Home' Radio Times 16-22 March 1991 p. 8. Sanger, G. 'Male and female relation in the American comic strips' in The funnies: An American idiom M.
White & R. H. Abel editors, The Free Press, Glencoe IL, 1963, p. 219-223 Sexuality Today Newsletter 'Violence in Adolescent Dating Relationships Common, New Survey Reveals' December 22, 1986 (reporting on a report in Social Work contact Karen Brock opp) pp 2-3. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1987 table 277.