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HERE’S some good news that passed unnoticed late last year — our official statistics reveal that for the past decade there’s been no increase in women being abused by their partners. That was the story that dropped through the cracks when the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the results of its 2016 Personal Safety Survey last November.
Most media failed to report that fact, highlighting instead the few areas where violence against women still shows some slight increase — like sexual harassment and abuse.
Somehow it also went unnoticed that the big news in the latest survey results was all about men. The Bureau’s figures reveal that since 2005 the proportion of men reporting violence in the last year from their current partners has risen more than fivefold while those experiencing emotional abuse have more than doubled.
The amount of men reporting violence from their current partners is increasing.
These results emerged despite efforts to encourage more female victims to disclose by using only female interviewers to conduct the latest survey — a move which required Gillian Triggs at the Human Rights Commission to give the nod to this discriminatory move. But surprisingly it ended up revealing the true extent of women’s violence against men.
No one really knows whether more men are being abused or whether men are now more willing to admit to being victims but, as my latest YouTube video shows, women’s role in family violence is emerging more clearly.
Every third victim of intimate partner violence is a male. Almost half the people being emotionally abused by their partners are male. The biggest leap in sexual harassment over the past five years involves men being harassed by women.
The complexities of family violence revealed in these latest statistics fall in line with more than 40 years of international research showing domestic violence isn’t just about dangerous men terrorising their families.
More than 1700 peer reviewed papers show that children growing up in violent homes usually witness their parents having a go at one another rather than dad being the villain.
Men’s strength means violence against their partners is more likely to have serious consequences.
Of course it’s undeniable that men’s strength means violence against their partners is more likely to have serious consequences. It’s shocking that a woman is killed through domestic homicide almost every week in this country and it is critical we make every effort to protect women in those circumstances.
But the latest homicide figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology show that domestic homicide results in one man being killed every 10 days. Women are more likely to use weapons in domestic abuse, hence their violence can also be lethal but few of the 75 males killed in the most recent domestic homicide incidents (2012-2014) attracted the media attention given to female victims.
Naturally police know all about dangerous women. Listen to this member of the Victorian police force who is trying to protect her granddaughter from a violent mother: “Everyone in the job will tell you they see plenty of violent women in the homes we’re called out to; drug addicts, angry drunks, women with mental problems. Kids hiding not just from dads but from vicious mums. Yet often cops will take the woman’s side without question and ignore male victims.”
That’s policy in Australia as we see when politicians talk publicly about domestic violence. Domestic violence is simply about “respect for women” Malcolm Turnbull intones as he boasts of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a one-sided approach to the problem.
Men and boys are being demonised when the issue is much more complex. Picture: file photo
The federal government has recently been re-running that TV campaign showing a boy slamming a door in a girl’s face, advertising which demonises men and boys and denies the complex issues underpinning the problem: poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and children witnessing violence from both parents.
Thousands of bureaucrats are employed to defend the one-eyed policy on this issue. Mention the inconvenient truth revealed in the latest Safety Survey results and they’ll deny that the survey represents the true picture on domestic violence in this country. They’ll offer statistics showing growing numbers of police reports and deny these figures are artificially inflated by women obtaining AVOs to gain strategic advantage in family court battles, as publicly acknowledged by retiring judge David Collier from the Parramatta Family Court. Plus police reports now reflect the ever-expanding definition of domestic violence including threats of abuse and “economic” violence.
Yes, the Personal Safety Survey provides the “most comprehensive data on prevalence of violence” in this country, a squirming bureaucrat told David Leyonhjelm last year in a senate committee. The bureaucrats being questioned by Senator Leyonhjelm have failed to produce any proper evidence that fighting domestic violence is all about “respect for women”.
With official data now there to prove them wrong perhaps it’s time to seriously lobby for help for all victims, including support for men and their children seeking to escape women’s violence.
Bettina Arndt is a social commentator and YouTube vlogger.