Category Archives: Male Violence

Whose problem?

In America domestic Violence Awareness Month is drawing to a close.  The Violence Policy Center has just released its annual report on domestic violence homicides. According to the report, about three women are murdered every day in the United States by an intimate partner, which means that during the month of October, at least 93 women lost their lives to domestic violence.

Many of them were murdered after they left, and yet the most common response to abused women is “Why don’t you just leave?” We rarely ask “Why did he do it?” or even “How did we not stop this?”

I recently read an article from a campaigner describing a trip to work with the school system on a program to address teen dating violence. When they arrived at the hotel, they were wearing a pin with photos of the three DV homicide victims North Carolina man Alan Gates had killed (including his daughter).

There were two women behind the desk. The younger woman, who checked me in, asked me if the people on the pin were family members. They told her no, they were victims of a domestic violence triple homicide. She said that her sister was in an abusive marriage. She told me that she had lost a cousin to DV, and that she had experienced it but had managed to get away. Now, she said, she wanted to help her sister escape.

As they were talking, the other woman behind the desk, who was probably in her 60s, listened. The more they talked, the more she leaned in.

She finally said, “I wish I could have found help like this when it happened to me and to my best friend.”

She explained that she grew up in Boston, in a very Catholic Irish family. She was being horribly abused by her husband, and her best friend, who lived in the apartment next door, was being abused by her husband. When she tried to talk about it with her father, he told her that if she broke her vows, he would disown her. Her priest said he would excommunicate her.

She and her friend developed a knock on the wall so that when one of them was about to be beaten, the other one would come get the kids out of the apartment.

They both worked at a hotel in Boston, and they took the bus together to work every day. Finally, they both decided they’d had it, so they stood up for themselves and separated from their husbands. The woman behind the desk told me that she decided she’d rather run the risk of losing her relationship with her father (which she did) than continue to live with the violence.

Shortly after she and her friend left, they were riding to work one morning. Her friend’s estranged husband was waiting at the bus stop. When it stopped, he immediately got on the bus and shot and killed her, right in front of everyone, including the woman I was now talking with.

This is one story of hundreds. Each one of these homicides (or homicide/suicides) represents a massive failure of the systems that could have stopped abusers in their tracks, but sadly, too many states and communities routinely turn their collective backs on their chief source of intelligence: the victim.

Women can predict, with frightening clarity, what the abuser is capable of, and yet often little is done to stop the murderous trajectory.

But many communities across the country have begun to come up with some innovative ways to identify dangerous abusers and place appropriate sanctions on them.

  • The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina has implemented a pretrial release program for domestic violence offenders. The sheriff’s department attaches GPS monitoring devices in certain cases, and multiple, strict requirements are placed on them upon release. Law enforcement officers are highly trained, and the sanctions are strictly enforced. If the abuser violates any of the conditions, he is charged (at the very least) with witness intimidation and his bond is significantly increased.
  • The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, created the Domestic Violence High Risk Team model that brings together community partners (domestic violence advocates, police, probation and corrections officials, health care professionals, prosecutors) and uses the DA-LE (Danger Assessment for Law Enforcement) and the Danger Assessment Tool developed by Jacquelyn Campbell at Johns Hopkins University, to determine which abusers have the potential for lethal violence.
  • Law enforcement agencies across the country have started using a tool called the LAP (Lethality Assessment Protocol), a specialized version of the Danger Assessment, just for first responders, to make determinations on the scene with the domestic violence victim and get her immediately connected with supportive advocacy services, including shelter and help with orders of protection.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department has developed a program called DART (Domestic Abuse Response Team) that sends out two patrol cars to domestic violence calls. The first officers to arrive secure the scene; the second car includes two more officers and domestic violence prevention advocates who start working immediately with the victim. California also has court commissioners on call 24/7 so that officers can get orders of protection issued immediately.
  • In North Carolina, the High Point Police Department has started a program for domestic violence offenders called the Focused Deterrence Program. It was first used to reduce gang violence. “What’s most interesting about the focused deterrence–based High Point model is its emphasis on uncompromising accountability for the offender,” said Susan Scrupski, executive producer of the documentary High Point 10-79. “This philosophy is shared throughout all levels of law enforcement, judicial system, and the local domestic violence prevention program. The message is amplified and reinforced by family social services programs as well as the general public itself. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

It is encouraging to see these and other innovative domestic violence homicide prevention initiatives start up across the country, but any new law or program is only as good as those in charge of their implementation and enforcement. And of course, funding is critical. Domestic violence is a costly crime, not just in terms of the amount of money spent reacting to it, but also in how it disastrously rearranges families for generations.

By members of the criminal justice community need to remember that the victim is the chief source of intelligence while also remembering that domestic violence is a crime that involves a pattern of behavior, homicides and felony-level assaults can be stopped.

By placing the focus where it belongs — on the offender — a crime that has been deeply misunderstood for hundreds of years will finally be appropriately addressed. Abusers choose to be controlling, coercive, abusive, and violent. Domestic violence victims and survivors should not be required to upend their lives, and the lives of their children, to avoid this intimate terrorism.

Whose Problem? Who is the problem?

The recent Weinstein scandal is ricocheting around the world. The UK parliament is caught up with accusations of sexual misconduct and assault floating up to the surface and everyone left wondering where the mud will stick.

Yet the interesting thing about the way this is taking off, is that by it’s nature the story is all about the perpetrators, about who has committed the crime rather than the victims. & in some ways this seems so reasonable. Articles reporting crimes typically focus on the criminal looking at their background and trying to understand the reasons why they’ve turned to crime, or occasionally just demonising them.

Not for sexual crimes though. As a society we focus on the victims of the crime and it’s a short step from focusing on victims to blaming them and erasing the perpetrators from the narrative entirely.

Thus,

  • John beat Mary; becomes,
  • Mary was beaten; and eventually,
  • Mary was a beaten wife.

John is the criminal and is gradually erased from the story with all focus moving onto the person beaten, the passive victim.

& it’s just a little bit ridiculous isn’t it? We don’t talk about theft in terms of the people robbed.

Over time there has been much more discussion about victims of male violence, more research into the type of people who become victims, than there has been research into perpetrators.

But recent research suggests that there are some commonalities between the men who rape. Scientists have been gradually filling out a picture of men who commit sexual assaults.

The most pronounced similarities have little to do with the traditional demographic categories, like race, class and marital status. Rather, other kinds of patterns have emerged: these men begin early, studies find. They may associate with others who also commit sexual violence. They usually deny that they have raped women even as they admit to non-consensual sex.

& obviously focusing on the criminals and understanding why they commit crimes, why they rape and assault women, children and other men, is the most realistic path toward changing behaviors that cause so much pain.

“If you don’t really understand perpetrators, you’re never going to understand sexual violence,” said Sherry Hamby, editor of the journal Psychology of Violence. That may seem obvious, but she said she receives “10 papers on victims” for every one on perpetrators.

This may be partly connected to a tendency to consider sexual assault a women’s issue even though men usually commit the crime. But finding the right subjects also has complicated the research. Early studies relied heavily on convicted rapists. This skewed the data, said Neil Malamuth, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been studying sexual aggression for decades.

Men in prison are often “generalists,” he said: “They would steal your television, your watch, your car. And sometimes they steal sex.”

But men who commit sexual assault, and are not imprisoned because they got away with it, are often “specialists.” There is a strong chance that this is their primary criminal transgression. More recent studies tend to rely on anonymous surveys of college students and other communities, which come with legal language assuring subjects their answers cannot be used against them. The studies avoid using terms such as “rape” and “sexual assault.”

Instead, they ask subjects highly specific questions about their actions and tactics. The focus of most sexual aggression research is acknowledged non-consensual sexual behavior. In questionnaires and in follow-up interviews, subjects are surprisingly open about ignoring consent.

Men who rape tend to start young, in high school or the first couple years of college, likely crossing a line with someone they know, the research suggests. Some of these men commit one or two sexual assaults and then stop. Others — no one can yet say what portion — maintain this behavior or even pick up the pace.

Antonia Abbey, a social psychologist at Wayne State University, has found that young men who expressed remorse were less likely to offend the following year, while those who blamed their victim were more likely to do it again.

One repeat offender put it this way: “I felt I was repaying her for sexually arousing me. There is a heated debate among experts about whether there is a point at which sexual assault becomes an entrenched behavior and what percentage of assaults are committed by serial predators.

Most researchers agree that the line between the occasional and frequent offender is not so clear. The recent work of Kevin Swartout, a professor of psychology and public health at Georgia State University, suggests that low-frequency offenders are more common on college campuses than previously thought.

“It’s a matter of degree, more like dosage,” said Mary P. Koss, a professor of public health at the University of Arizona, who is credited with coining the term “date rape.” Dosage of what? Certain factors — researchers call them “risk factors” while acknowledging that these men are nonetheless responsible for their actions — have an outsize presence among those who commit sexual assaults.

Heavy drinking, perceived pressure to have sex, a belief in “rape myths” — such as the idea that no means yes — are all risk factors among men who have committed sexual assault.

A peer group that uses hostile language to describe women is another one.

Yet there also seem to be personal attributes that have mediating effect on these factors. Men who are highly aroused by rape porn — another risk factor — are less likely to attempt sexual assault if they score highly on measures of empathy, Dr. Malamuth has found. Narcissism seems to work in the other direction, magnifying odds that men will commit sexual assault and rape.

What about the idea that rape is about power over women? Some experts feel that research into hostile attitudes toward women supports this idea.In general, however, researchers say motives are varied and difficult to quantify.

Dr. Malamuth has noticed that repeat offenders often tell similar stories of rejection in high school and of looking on as “jocks and the football players got all the attractive women.” As these once-unpopular, often narcissistic men become more successful, he suspects that “getting back at these women, having power over them, seems to have become a source of arousal.”

Most subjects in these studies freely acknowledge non-consensual sex — but that does not mean they consider it real rape. Researchers encounter this contradiction again and again. Asked “if they had penetrated against their consent,” said Dr. Koss, the subject will say yes. Asked if he did “something like rape,” the answer is almost always no.

Studies of incarcerated rapists — even men who admit to keeping sex slaves in conflict zones — find a similar disconnect. It’s not that they deny sexual assault happens; it’s just that the crime is committed by the monster over there. And this is not a sign that the respondents are psychopaths, said Dr. Hamby, the journal editor. It’s a sign that they are human. “No one thinks they are a bad guy,” she said.

Indeed, experts note one last trait shared by men who have raped: they do not believe they are the problem.

For Goodness Sake

Another day and another terrorist attack, this time some guys in a hired van driving through crowds then picking up knives to go for a rampage. 7 dead according to the latest news.

And the thing that really winds me up (and millions of Brits posting on twitter) is the shameless tweeting of the American president, posting and mis-quoting our mayor Sadiq Khan yet again. WTF.

What is his problem? Does he really think that the situation would have been better if those guys had access to semi-automatic guns rather than carving knives? Is he a total nut job? Does he think it is right or reasonable to try to make political gain from peoples dead relatives?

Why did the American newspapers feel a need to describe the UK as “reeling” (thank you NYT) when we’re basically getting on with the show?

To be lectured on violent crime by Americans is just gob-smackingly unreasonable. In the 3 months to March 2017, 6,000 Americans died as a result of gun crime. In the 12 months to March 2017, around 500 Brits died from any crime, including terrorism. Our streets are significantly safer than most. Maybe Americans should consider relocating over here to improve their life expectancy?

To be told we need to arm up our police force when their excellent response meant the whole incident was over almost before it began is just ridiculous. We have no appetite for routinely armed police. No appetite for the kind of routine shooting of civilians by the police that seems to happen in the States. It’s bad enough that the BAME community is stopped and searched disproportionately; no one wants to add guns into the mix.

To be told that we need to close our borders when inevitably the guys involved will turn out to be home-grown British boys disaffected and cut-off from their families and communities just beggars belief.

There is no other way to say this: Donald Trump is a twat, a dick of the first order and by that I mean small and mean-minded.