February 24, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
One of the forces in society that routinely opposes legislation that would promote shared parenting is the domestic violence establishment. In committee hearings in state capitals from sea to shining sea, representatives of the domestic violence establishment are always in line to testify against fathers having greater roles in their children’s lives post-divorce. Their theory is that fathers are uniquely apt to harm their children and that contact between them and their ex-wives endangers the women. That testimony is invariably contradicted by the known facts about domestic violence that demonstrate women being as likely or more likely to assault their partner as are men.
The Canadian government’s statistical arm, Stats Canada, has just produced this compendium of data on DV and, unsurprisingly, it again supports what we already know.
Some of that is good news.
In 2014, 4% of Canadians in the provinces with a current or former spouse or common-law partner reported having been physically or sexually abused by their spouse during the preceding 5 years, according to the General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization. This represents a drop from a decade earlier, when 7% of respondents reported experiencing spousal violence.
That’s something to celebrate. After all, a drop to 4% from 7% is a decrease of 43% in rates of domestic violence in just ten years. It’s hard to overstate the importance of such a change. In a population of about 36 million people, that represents hundreds of thousands fewer people dealing with abuse in the home. Will the DV establishment join the celebration? I doubt it. Their funding depends to a great degree on there always being a crisis, so for them, all too often, good news is bad news. Perhaps we’ll see.
In 2014, equal proportions of men and women reported being victims of spousal violence during the preceding 5 years (4%, respectively). This translated into about 342,000 women and 418,000 men across the provinces. Similar declines in spousal violence were recorded for both sexes since 2004.
Hmm. For an agency that specializes in statistics, the arithmetic there isn’t too good. Contrary to the assertion, the numbers 342,000 and 418,000 aren’t equal and, more to the point, they aren’t statistically equal. The number of men reporting victimization is in fact 55% of the total with women making up the remaining 45%, a difference of 10 percentage points. That’s not equal by any definition of the word.
But the Stats Canada assertion is actually further from the mark than that. That’s because there are fewer men in the country than women. Specifically, this chart from the agency indicates that, in 2015, there were about 13,748,000 men versus about 14,053,000 women 20 years old or older living in the provinces. So about 3.04% of men and 2.43% of women suffered DV in the previous five years. That’s actually a difference of about 11.15%.
In short, substantially more men than women were victims of DV, not the rough parity Stats Canada claims.
As usual, more women than men reported sustaining injuries in DV incidents.
Just under one-third (31%) of spousal violence victims in the provinces reported sustaining physical injuries as a result of the violence. Women were proportionally more likely than men to have reported physical injuries, with 4 out of 10 (40%) female victims reporting injuries compared to just under a quarter (24%) of male victims.
Again, because there were more male victims, the actual percentages of adults sustaining injuries in DV incidents was about 57.4% female and 42.6% male. The misleading claim that men and women were victimized equally would lead readers to conclude that, if 40% of female victims and 24% of male victims sustained injury, then women made up about 62% of those victims, but that’s not the case.
But then the Stats Canada report makes this claim that’s actually flat wrong: “Women more likely to experience severe spousal violence compared to men.” The statement is followed by a chart showing thepercentages of women and men victimized in various ways, e.g. “hit, choked, threatened with a gun or knife,” etc. But when the percentages are applied to the actual numbers of male and female victims, it turns out that about 422,180 men versus 338,580 women experienced violence defined as severe. There again, men made up about 55.4% of victims. And when we remember that there are significantly fewer adult men than women living in the country, the results become further skewed.
As in years past, Canadians overwhelmingly do not call the police following a DV incident.
According to the 2014 GSS, just under one in five (19%) victims of spousal violence contacted the police themselves to report their victimization. A minority (10%) reported that the police became aware of the violence in some other way. For the majority of spousal violence victims, the police were never made aware of the abuse (70%). Male victims were more likely to state that the spousal violence had not been brought to the attention of police (76% of male victims) than women (64%).
Why do 81% of victims not report the incident to the police?
Among victims of violence by a current partner who did not report the abuse to the police, the most common reason for not reporting was the belief that the abuse was a private or personal matter (cited by 35% of victims). This reason was equally prevalent among women and men. Another 28% perceived that the crime was not important enough to report. Men were twice as likely as women to report this as their main reason for not contacting the police (34% versus 17%E, respectively). Other victims (12%E) who did not report their experience of violence to police cited their belief that no harm had been intended. Note 12 Those who had been abused by a former spouse or partner also indicated that they did not report the violence because they saw the situation as a private or personal matter (29%) or because they didn’t see the violence as being important enough to contact the police (18%E).
That’s the case despite the fact that most of those victims who did call the police reported some satisfaction with the authorities’ response. The takeaway? After some 45 years of the most aggressive marketing of DV as a national scourge that only the police and courts can deal with, Canadians - day after day, year after year – have voted with their feet. They overwhelmingly opt out of the system set up by authorities to deal with domestic violence. They continue to believe that DV is a private matter to be dealt with by the people involved. In that, I suspect they’re far wiser than those who’ve been preaching to them for so long.
But again, the good news is that domestic violence between spouses and intimate partners is much lower than it was ten years ago. Will that translate into increased parenting time for fathers as judges figure out that they’re not the threat to their children the DV establishment would have us believe? I won’t hold my breath, but for the rest of us, good news is still good news and cause not only for rejoicing, but for hope.
I’ll report more on this tomorrow.
Thanks to Dan for the heads-up.
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