Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Snap of Failure and Myth: More on Domestic Violence Awareness

I wrote a post yesterday for my work blog at about failure:

Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark
There's an awkward young shadow that waits in the hall
He's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes
Things that remind him: 'Life has been good'

Twenty-five years
He's worked at the paper
A man's here to take him downstairs
And I'm sorry, Mr. Jones
It's time

--Ben Folds "Fred Jones, Part 2"

There's failure all around us. Traditional media empires are crumbling. The housing market is still a stinking landfill. VC and private equity investments are still pretty constipated. Unemployment is at its highest it's been for decades; there are over 6 unemployed people per current job opening...

This kind of economy takes it's toll on everyone, pushing people to the breaking point. When people can't handle the "snap" of such failure, we imagine many sedating with booze, cigarettes and other drugs of choice, while the propensity for domestic violence increases dramatically.

The unemployment rate for men over age 20 is 10.3 percent, up from 10.1 percent last month. Men were hit particularly hard by job cuts at factories and construction sites.

But the myth that only angry, frustrated, out-of-work, alcoholic, controlling men beat women is just that - a myth. Domestic violence knows no gender, sexual preference, cultural or religious bias. And it is too often misinterpreted.

Research paints a very different reality that what's been filtered to us:

  • One study found Mexican men who valued dominance and independence were less likely to resort to partner aggression.
  • One review concludes, “When comparing men’s and women’s use of controlling behaviors, research using nonselected samples has found that there are no differences in their overall use.”
  • Meta-analyses found no consistent link between traditional gender attitudes and partner assault.
  • A 32-nation survey documented a link between dominance and physical aggression, but the connection turned out to be stronger for female-initiated than male-initiated aggression.

In fact, according to the same report 50 Domestic Violence Myths from RADAR:

  • Nearly 250 scholarly studies show women are at least as likely as men to engage in partner aggression and that partner violence is often mutual.
  • Self-defense accounts for only 10-20% of female partner aggression.
  • Fewer than 5% of domestic violence incidents involve couples in an intact married relationship. Marriage is the safest partner relationship.
  • A need for control is not a common cause of domestic violence, and when it is, women are as likely as men to be controlling.
  • One study found 71% of civil restraining orders were unnecessary or false. Another analysis found over half of restraining orders did not involve even an allegation of violence.
  • There is no good evidence that a draconian criminal justice response deters domestic violence, but a “get tough on crime” approach may in fact place persons at greater risk of victimization.
  • False allegations of sexual abuse in fact appear to be far more common during child custody disputes.

Many of the report's myth-busting statements make you wince in disbelief; these just aren't the factoids we've been served up over the years.

The last statement of the report sums it all up:

Either we continue to disseminate misleading and false information that conforms to a self-serving ideological agenda. Or we move forward in our shared goal to help families become violence-free.

I'm all for that. Let's stop failing these families and start helping them with outreach, education and prevention without regard to gender, sexual preference, cultural or religious biases.

C'mon, fellow daddies, slap on those purple elevate patches to help curb domestic violence. Own it and help your brothers and sisters.


  1. Cant even imagine...but KUDOS to you for bringing it to my attention...and everyones else's!

  2. The facts you cited here are very different that the ones I've been spoon fed over the years. I'm very glad you wrote this post because I feel more enlightened. Thanks. When I read what you wrote, I was amazed. Thanks, again.

    However, I wasn't amazed at "Mr. Jones'" predicament. I saw it happen more than once during the last year I was a journalist. It makes me glad I left under my own steam, even if I was forced out.