By The Australian - Bettina Arndt - Opinion Page 22

“For years now, all the key players in our well-orchestrated domestic violence sector have been singing from the same page, happily accepting government money to promote the idea that domestic violence is all about dangerous men terrorising their partners.

 

Malcolm Turnbull is on record boasting that the government is spending “hundreds of millions” of dollars on domestic violence — a tribute to the grip that this powerful lobby group has on this country. But now a few cracks are appearing.

 

Recently an extraordinary article was published in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, written by Nina Funnell who has built her career on being a sexual abuse “survivor”.

 

In her article, headlined “Why you should never give a cent to White Ribbon”, Funnell took issue with the suggestion that Eddie McGuire should be required to donate $50,000 to White Ribbon as penance for his remarks about Melbourne sports journalist Caroline Wilson.

 

Funnel says she and many other survivors won’t give a cent to White Ribbon because it is just a “fundraising club that made some blokes and a whole lot of politicians feel good”. It’s just a redemption industry, says Funnell.

 

“The reality is that much of White Ribbon’s $3.7 million annual revenue is spent on selfcongratulatory feel-good talkfests and various other empty virtuesignalling initiatives,” she wrote.

 

Very little of White Ribbon’s “sorry money” is spent on services such as domestic violence shelters, says Funnell, who has served on the boards of organisations supporting the shelters.

 

Given that such shelters continue to cry poor, it’s about time someone asked where all Turnbull’s hundreds of millions of dollars are going. The answer is not just White Ribbon but the multitude of government-funded domestic violence organisations such as Our Watch, DV Connect, ANROWS, Domestic Violence Victoria. The list is endless.

 

What started out as a sensible campaign to raise money for an important cause — providing support for battered women — has morphed into a huge propaganda industry determined to promote a simplistic male-blaming perspective on this complex social issue.

 

Support for the shelters gets little attention from the powerful female bureaucrats running these thriving organisations, which downplay statistics demonstrating women’s role in family violence and promote the myth that the only way to tackle domestic violence is through teaching misogynist men (and boys) to behave themselves. Never mind that this flies in the face of the huge body of research showing most family violence involves aggression from both partners and that sexist attitudes are not a major risk factor for domestic violence in Western countries such as Australia.

 

The femocrats face a herculean task denying the reality we see all about us in terms of the real issues that underpin domestic violence in this country — including alcohol abuse, mental illness and poverty. “Violence against women does not discriminate, regardless of ethnicity, social status and geography,” Our Watch chairwoman Natasha Stott Despoja says.

 

Oh, yes, it does, Natasha. Just look at the neat little map produced by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showing prevalence of domestic violence offences across the state (http://bit.ly/1KxZQ9X). The rate of domestic violence offences in Dubbo and Bourke is 60 times higher than in Sydney’s north shore or eastern suburbs.

 

The lobby groups keep themselves busy preparing fudged statistics and cherry-picked research findings to counter evidence produced by the few brave experts who still dare to speak out about the damage being caused by this narrow perspective. Like Jim Ogloff, a world-renowned researcher on violence who’s in charge of research at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health.

 

Ogloff warned the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence that it was misleading to suggest domestic violence was caused by patriarchal attitudes, that at least a third of family violence cases involved violent women, that the literature on family violence showed high levels of violence in both male and female partners and that the message should be that all violence in relationships was unacceptable, irrespective of gender.

 

Ogloff explained that the Victorian family violence sector feared that recognising other potential causes of violence could “cause a shift in funding away from programs directed at gender inequity”, but he stressed it was wrong to focus exclusively on one aspect of abuse “when family violence involves a complex array of behaviours”. Ogloff’s sensible words were drowned out by the flood of propaganda from the industry and naturally sank without a trace in the final report.

 

There’s been an amusing postscript to the Funnell article, with White Ribbon chief executive Libby Davies leaping into print to say White Ribbon is more than a feel-good boys’ club. On the contrary, White Ribbon is in the business of prevention, of “stopping violence before it occurs”, says Davies. And she spells that out very clearly: “Our remit is to stop the violence at the source and the source is men.”

 

That led to a fiery exchange with Tom Elliott on Melbourne radio station 3AW, in which he called her out on her “shameless, offensive lie” that the problem was all men.

 

That’s not the only lie, of course.

 

White Ribbon is notorious for fudging statistics. I wrote last year (http://bit.ly/29CV5zD) about the blatant misrepresentation of research by the group’s head of research and policy, Michael Flood, in particular the claim that 31 per cent of boys thought it not a big deal to hit a girl. In fact, that is the proportion who believe it is not a big deal when a girl hit a guy — almost all young men say males hitting females is unacceptable, as Flood later acknowledged.

 

Funnell’s objection to White Ribbon is that it does nothing to help survivors and allows dangerous men to make amends and excuse their behaviour. The real concern should be that so many good men have been hoodwinked into supporting a male-bashing organisation that shows no interest in addressing the real causes of this social issue.”

 

 

Silent Victims

http://www.bettinaarndt.com.au/wp-content/uploads/silent-victims.pdf

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