It is a fact that the epidemic of domestic and family violence that has seen 78 women killed this year, mostly by their partners or family members, is a gendered issue which – while complex – stems largely from men’s sense of entitlement and ‘ownership’ of their partners.
That violence exists in same-sex couples does not negate this fact. That women, too, are capable of committing violence against partners, children and other family members, does not negate this fact.
Experts, police and people working at the frontlines all agree that the particular type of violence we call ‘domestic abuse’ is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women. Just what this abuse looks like from various angles was compellingly captured by Sarah Ferguson and the team behind ABC’s two-part documentary Hitting Home, which concluded last night.
Nevertheless, there are groups claiming to represent the interests of male victims who have made powerful use of a certain statistic in an effort to derail the conversation about the role played by gender and the intergenerational cycle of trauma wreaked by patriarchal family relationships.
That ‘statistic’ has become a mantra for MRAs – but despite being constantly debunked it continues to seep into mainstream discussions around domestic violence. The claim is that one in three domestic violence victims are male. The implication is that women are just as violent as men (although even if this statistic was correct it doesn’t actually describe a situation of equal violence), that men are being discriminated against in a system that only helps women, and that women are getting too much sympathy and using it to take children away from their fathers.