Monday, February 11, 2008

CDC Report On Intimate Partner Violence Good Sign Even Though Violence Common

This study on intimate partner violence done by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will unfortunately be dismissed by those who simply don't want to have it be widely accepted that 23.6 percent of women have experienced intimate partner violence -- which includes sexual and non-sexual violence -- at some point in their life.

Many of these people will call reports like this part of a feminist lie. I don't call all of these people disbelievers because too many of them quickly resort to victim blaming which is a backhanded acknowledgment of this violence. If there is no violence then the victim of that violence cannot be at fault. Rampant victim blaming needs to be rightfully seen as evidence that these numbers are not too high.

Their resistance to acknowledging the scope of the problem and their resistance to assigning responsibility for violence onto the violent are huge parts of what keeps this violence going and what stigmatizes victims into unnecessary silence. Revictimization is as real as intimate partner violence and has a direct negative impact on those who have been hurt and by its cumulative effect it has a huge negative impact on public safety.

For too many people the existence of an ongoing personal relationship nullifies legal accountability for acts of violence. This is not only harmful to others, it can easily become harmful to those who want accountability nullified because being dismissive of violence isn't an effective defense against that type of violence. In fact that denial can cause people to willingly go into relationships with people who have exhibited signs of violence or who have been reported to be violent within relationships.

Can anyone imagine going for medical treatment and having the doctor glance at a person with a broken bone and then denying that the bone is broken because they don't immediately see proof of a broken bone? We understand that not all broken bones can be detected with a glance. Too often medical responders who would never dismiss the pain of someone who reported falling out of a tree as fake will be quick to dismiss the report of those who have suffered violence from an intimate partner.

Those who chant, "women lie about rape" and "women lie about abuse" want all responders to let these chants trump professionalism so they will treat most victims of real violence dismissively and strive to be like the doctor who doesn't bother with an x-ray because one glance proved that no bones were broken. Too many responders give the violence deniers exactly what they want. Sloppiness.

If these deniers then latch onto the 11.5 percent of men who reported having been the victim of intimate partner violence that tells me that they only care about violence when men are victims -- or as I see more often --- they don't really care about men who are victims but use those men as a weapon to fight against doing serious and effective violence prevention work. Victim blaming is neither serious nor effective prevention work.

What I find encouraging is that intimate partner violence is starting to be viewed as a public health issue. Understanding different aspects of the problem in a systematic way is an important step toward building more effective responses.

The CDC study also shows that intimate partner violence has serious health effects for the victim. This is something I already knew empirically, but this study shows that the impact is systematic rather than a consequence of a few people with bad coping skills who failed to "get over it already."

Some of the common behaviors of those who have been victims have traditionally been viewed as reasons to condemn people as immoral. This condemnation might might the lecturer feel better but it is counterproductive.

In the UK it was reported that more than a quarter of girls in grade 11 were pressed into sexual activity they didn't want to do. This means that there is a high tolerance for boys who try or succeed at coercing girls into unwanted sexual contact.

Solutions that only focus on strengthening girl's resistance to coercion miss the source of the problem and leave that problem in place. That makes as much sense as leaving sink holes and potholes in place and dealing with these hazards by doing nothing more than telling drivers to stay alert.

Technorati tags:

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:46 AM   0 comments links to this post


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home