By Echo Chambers
The dust is settling around National Football League (NFL) players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy after each man was arrested for separate cases of domestic abuse. Now another prominent athlete is making headlines for similar reasons - female football star Hope Solo.
In June, the US national women's team's star goalkeeper was arrested and charged with two counts of domestic abuse in connection with an assault on her sister and 17-year-old nephew.
She has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in November.
Rice is suspended from the NFL indefinitely and Peterson and Hardy have been benched. But Solo continues to play for two teams, including the US national side.
Nike has publicly ended ties with Rice and Peterson, but nearly three months after Solo's arrest, the company has not said a word about its sponsorship deal with her.
This summer, the US Soccer Federation issued this gentle statement:
"We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment," US Soccer spokesman Neil Bluethe told USA Today.
"At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the national team. While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognise that in the proper way."
Continue reading the main story“Start QuoteThere is a reason why we call it the 'Violence Against Women Act' and not the 'Brawling With Families Act'”
Ta-Nehisi CoatesThe Atlantic
Since then, Solo broke the record to which Mr Bluethe referred - the women's national team record for shutouts.
Some commentators say she should have been sent off the field months ago.
"Solving the problem in the NFL while ignoring the issue elsewhere would accomplish little as a whole," writes John Smallwood for the Philadelphia Daily News. "If we are going to address domestic abuse, let's address it, regardless of the status of the accused perpetrator."
Thousands of young girls flock to stadiums to watch Solo play, he notes.
"How is it OK to showcase Solo to those girl fans - some of whom unfortunately will become victims of the same domestic abuse she is accused of?" he asks.
ESPN's Kate Fagan came out in favour of a strong punishment for Solo. "The issue is about anger and power, about controlling relationships with violence, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator," she wrote. "The US women's national team is sending the wrong message by allowing Solo to continue playing."
But as if to demonstrate the complicated nature of this case, Fagan felt compelled to follow up days later. While she stands firm in her desire to see Solo benched, she says she was uncomfortable with how many people were using Solo's actions as a way to neutralise the discussion of domestic violence within the NFL.
NFL running back Adrian Peterson has been banned from team activities until his legal issues are resolved
"See?" she wrote, summarising the arguments that troubled her. "Women commit domestic violence, too, so let's just call it even and get back to watching some football!"
That approach, she writes, is a mistake.
"The reason the 'NFL and domestic violence' story is so important is because it's holding up a mirror to the rest of society," she writes. "We can get somewhere better by examining the NFL's failures. Every minute we spend talking about Hope Solo is a minute spent walking down a dead end."
On MSNBC's Morning Joe chat show, BBC World News America presenter Katty Kay emphasised that Solo's case, while serious, was not representative of the norm.
"Let's not try and use that as an example to suggest that women are as guilty of domestic violence against their partners, because it is overwhelmingly men who beat their wives," she said.
Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic agrees, citing the main US anti-domestic violence law.
"There is a reason why we call it the 'Violence Against Women Act' and not the 'Brawling With Families Act'," he writes.
For Slate's Amanda Hess, the differences between the NFL and the US Soccer Federation make them difficult to compare.
"Isn't it more likely that the lack of public pressure in Solo's case simply represents the relative lack of attention that women's soccer receives as compared with pro football?"
And unlike the NFL, she writes, US Soccer is not burdened with "a systematic, decades-long history of ignoring the fact that certain players abuse their partners."
Solo herself posted on Facebook and Twitter saying, "Once all the facts come to light and the legal process is concluded, I am confident that I will be fully exonerated."
Officials are waiting to see what the court decides.
"Abuse in all forms is unacceptable," US Olympic Committee chief officer Scott Blackmun said in a recent email to USA Today.
"The allegations involving Ms Solo are disturbing and are inconsistent with our expectations of Olympians. We have had discussions with US Soccer and fully expect them to take action if it is determined that the allegations are true."
While they wait, fans are forming their own opinions - and women's football, never as popular in the US as the NFL, is getting attention for all the wrong reasons.
Written by Kierran Petersen
Brian Alexander NBC News July 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM ET
Girls are the perpetrators of some form of dating violence nearly as often as boys, surprising new studies show.
More girls – 43 percent – than boys – 28 percent – reported committing an act of physical dating violence, said researchers who are presenting their findings beginning Wednesday at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting. Slightly more boys – 23 percent – than girls – 18 percent – reported perpetrating at least one act of sexual violence.
For her study, Dorothy Espelage, professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues conducted a longitudinal study among 625 students starting in grades 5, 6, and 7, and followed them over a period of four years. Researchers interviewed the students at intervals over that time.
The study looked at a spectrum of behaviors, ranging from name calling and expressing anger, spreading rumors, and using controlling behaviors such as keeping track of dating partners, to physical violence such as slapping, hitting and biting, and sexual violence including forced kissing. Taken as a whole, one in three reported being the victim of at least one of the behaviors on that spectrum.
While most of us may not rank name-calling, or bad-mouthing another to their friends as “violence,” the researchers say they included the psychological and relationship tactics because they can have a profound impact.
“We see in other research that the psychological stuff has just as much of a negative impact on health outcomes as the physical and sexual” violence, said Carlos Cuevas, associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, who is also presenting a study on youth dating violence at meeting.
Espelage and her colleagues found that acts of verbal dating violence were common. For example, 31 percent of all study participants admitted deliberately doing something to make a partner angry, and 26 percent used a hostile tone. Physical and sexual violence were less common in the group studied with 10 percent saying they had hit or slapped a dating partner, 11 percent saying they’d bit a partner, and 6 percent saying they had forced a partner to kiss.
The main aim of the study Espelage helped conduct was to illuminate any links between bullying at younger ages and violence as children began dating.
Using self-reports taken at intervals from 2008 through part of 2012, the study showed a very clear and dramatic link. Middle school bullies were seven times more likely to become dating violence perpetrators by high school. This was true for both boys and girls.
“Our data show that for kids who gained self-esteem by dominance in middle school” via verbally or psychologically bullying others, “their need for control spilled over into their relationships four years later.”
It’s not just the Nelson Muntz types, either, Espelage explained. “I’m talking about the popular kids, the high social status kids, too. If you’ve got a nasty, bully girl in junior high, she’s going to have a bad outcome.”
Cuevas’ study of 1,525 teens focused on the influence of cultural factors in dating violence among Latino youth. He found low incidence of self-reported sexual violence – 2.1 percent of boys admitted perpetrating an act of sexual coercion compared to 0.4 percent of girls. Girls were more likely than boys to engage in any instance of physical or psychological dating violence.
Both Cuevas and Espelage stressed that other studies have shown that severe, injury-causing violence is more often male perpetrated, and that girls typically have a greater fear of injury from dating violence.
Before conducting his study, Cuevas anticipated that family bonds and support would help prevent both delinquency and dating violence. But “I was a little surprised… We thought it would be helpful, but it turned out to be very helpful in decreasing all forms of violence we measured, and all forms of delinquency.”
“We think family education is one of the real gateways for intervention and prevention,” he said. “If you are able to educate families and parents around these issues, it provides the first line of defense for helping kids avoid getting into these kinds of behaviors.”
Brian Alexander is a frequent contributor to NBC News and a co-author of “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction.”
From Domestic Violence Resource Center
Due to cultural norms that require men to present a strong façade and that minimize female-perpetrated abuse (Mooney, 2000; Straus et al, 1997; Sorenson & Taylor, 2005), men are less likely to verbalize fear of any kind. (Dutton & Nicholls, 2005; Hines et al, in press)
(Dutton, D., & Nicholls, T. (2005). A critical review of the gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: Part I – Theory and data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 680-714.
Hines, D., Brown, J., & Dunning, E. (in press) Characteristics of callers to the domestic abuse helpline for men. Journal of Family Violence.
Mooney, J. (2000). Gender, violence, and the social order. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Sorenson, S., & Taylor, C. (2005). Female aggression toward male intimate partners: An examination of social norms in a community-based sample. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 78-96.
Straus, M., Kaufman-Kantor, G., & Moore, D. (1997). Change in cultural norms approving marital violence: From 1968 to 1994. In G. Kaufman-Kantor & J. Jasinski (Eds.), Out of the darkness: Contemporary perspectives on family violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.)
Individuals who are controlling of their partners are much more likely to also be physically assaultive, and this holds equally for both male and female perpetrators.
(Felson, R., & Outlaw, M. (2007). The control motive and marital violence. Violence and Victims, 22 (4), 387-407.
Graham-Kevan, N. (2007). Men’s and women’s use of intimate partner violence: Implications for treatment programs. Presented July 9, 2007 at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.)
Societal norms support female-perpetrated abuse in the home. (Straus et al., 1997; Straus, 1999) (Straus, M. (1999). The controversy over domestic violence by women. In X. Arriaga & S. Oskamp (Eds.), Violence in intimate relationships (pp. 17-44).)
Structural power does not necessarily translate to individual power.
(Felson, R. (2002). Violence & gender reexamined. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.)
Surveys find that men and women assault one another and strike the first blow at approximately equal rates.
(Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 126 (5), 651-680.
Dutton, D., Kwong, M., & Bartholomew, K. (1999). Gender differences in patterns of relationship violence in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 31, 150-160
Morse, B. (1995). Beyond the Conflict Tactics Scale: Assessing gender differences in partner violence. Violence and Victims, 10 (4), 251-269.
Straus, M. (1993). Physical assaults by wives: A major social problem. In R. Gelles & D. Loseky (Eds.), Current controversies on family violence (pp. 67-87). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.)
Men and women engage in overall comparable levels of abuse and control, such as diminishing the partner’s self-esteem, isolation and jealousy, using children and economic abuse; however, men engage in higher levels of sexual coercion and can more easily intimidate physically.
(Coker, A, Davis, K., Arias, I., Desai, S., Sanderson, M., Brandt, H., & Smith, P. (2002). Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 23 (4), 260-268.
Hammock, G., & O’Hearn, R. (2002). Psychological aggression in dating relationships: Predictive models for male and females. Violence and Victims, 17, 525-540.)
*Thanks to John Hamel, LCSW, for assistance with this webpage section.
By BRUCE WATSON
Amid the media frenzy over Tiger Woods and Bengals receiver Chris Henry, a key aspect of both stories slipped through the cracks: Like millions of other men, Woods and Henrywere -- allegedly at least -- the victims of domestic violence perpetrated by their wives or girlfriends. Beyond its brutal physical and psychological costs, domestic violence against men exacts a cruel economic toll at the personal, societal and national levels.
For the most part, the media, authorities and average citizens see domestic violence as a crime that is committed by men and victimizes women. Consequently, funding to combat the problem has overwhelmingly been spent on programs that support women.
Widely Ignored Problem
And yet, more than 200 survey-based studies show that domestic violence is just as likely to strike men as women. In fact, the overwhelming mass of evidence indicates that half of all domestic violence cases involve an exchange of blows and the remaining 50% is evenly split between men and women who are brutalized by their partners.
Part of the reason that this problem is widely ignored lies in the notion that battered males are weak or unmanly. A good example of this is the Barry Williams case: Recently, the former Brady Bunch star sought a restraining order against his live-in girlfriend, who had hit him, stolen $29,000 from his bank account, attempted to kick and stab him and had repeatedly threatened his life.
It is hard to imagine a media outlet mocking a battered woman, but E! online took the opportunity to poke fun at Williams, comparing the event to various Brady Bunch episodes. Similarly, when Saturday Night Live ran a segment in which a frightened Tiger Woods was repeatedly brutalized by his wife, the show was roundly attacked -- for being insensitive to musical guest Rihanna, herself a victim of domestic violence.
Lack of Research
Sometimes it is impossible to ignore the problem, but when domestic violence against men turns deadly -- as in the case of actor Phil Hartman -- the focus tends to shift to mental illness. The same can be said of the Andrea Yates case, which many pundits presented as the story of how an insensitive husband can drive a wife to murder.
Much of the information on domestic violence against men is anecdotal, largely because of the lack of funding to study the problem. Although several organizations explore domestic violence, the biggest single resource is the Department of Justice, which administers grants through its Office on Violence Against Women.
For years, the DOJ has explicitly refused to fund studies that investigate domestic violence against men. According to specialists in this field, the DOJ recently agreed to cover this problem -- as long as researchers give equal time to addressing violence against women.
First National Study
Researchers Denise Hines and Emily Douglas recently completed the first national study to scientifically measure the mental and social impact of domestic violence on male victims. Interestingly, their research was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, not the DOJ. Not only does this demonstrate the lack of resources for researchers of this issue, but it also suggests that male battering is perceived as a mental health issue, not a crime.
This decriminalization of domestic violence against men affects research conclusions. While survey-based studies have found that men and women commit domestic violence in equal numbers, crime-based studies show that women are far more likely to be victimized. This inconsistency begins to make sense when one considers that man-on-woman violence tends to be seen through a criminal lens, while woman-on-man violence is viewed more benignly.
A recent 32-nation study revealed that more than 51% of men and 52% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a wife to slap her husband. By comparison, only 26% of men and 21% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a husband to slap his wife. Murray Straus, creator of the Conflict Tactics Scale and one of the authors of the study, explained this discrepancy: "We don't perceive men as victims. We see women as being more vulnerable than men."
Kneed In The Groin
This trend becomes particularly striking when one considers the 1996 case of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Warren Moon, who tried to restrain his wife after she threw a candlestick at his head and kneed him in the groin. Subsequently charged with spousal abuse, he was only acquitted after his wife admitted that she attacked him -- and that her wounds were self-inflicted. Ironically, her admission of fault did not result in charges being brought against her.
While Moon's trial was particularly high profile, his situation is actually very common. In fact, studies have found that a man who calls the police to report domestic violence is three times more likely to be arrested than the woman who is abusing him.
The mainstream perception of domestic violence also impacts the resources that are available to battered men. For example, the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, the only national toll-free hot line that specializes in helping male victims of domestic violence, has faced numerous roadblocks in its search for funding. In Maine, where the helpline is based, the surest route to funding is through membership in the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
On A Shoestring
But, according to Helpline director Jan Brown, the Coalition refused to even issue the program an application for membership, effectively denying it access to funding. Today, 45 Helpline volunteers field 550 calls per month, 80% of which are from men or people who are looking for help on behalf of a man. Operating with a yearly budget of less than $15,000, it provides intensive training to its workers and offers victims housing, food, bus tickets and a host of other services.
The Helpline's sheltering services are informal and ad hoc, largely because its lack of access to funding makes a shelter financially impossible. In fact, of the estimated 1,200 to 1,800 shelters in the U.S., only one -- the Valley Oasis shelter in Antelope Valley, Calif. -- provides a full range of shelter services to men. And, on average, less than 10% of OVW funds allocated to fight domestic violence are used to help men.
For male victims of domestic violence, the legal system can become another tool for abuse. As in the Moon case, battered men are often likely to find themselves arrested, even when they are the ones who call the police. And, even after the arrest, the process of incarceration, restraining orders, divorce court and child custody hearings continue to disadvantage men.
A High Cost
Restraining orders are a particularly difficult hurdle. Radar Services, a watchdog organization, estimates that approximately 85% of the roughly 2 million temporary restraining orders that are issued every year are made against men. In many states, the requirements for an order are exceedingly vague: In Oregon, for example, a "fear" of violence is sufficient for a restraining order, while Michigan issues them to protect family members against "fear of mental harm."
But there's nothing vague about the effect of restraining orders: They often turn men out of their homes, deny them access to children and result in further personal costs as millions of men have to find new places to live, hire lawyers and pay other expenses. For some men, as Hines and Brown point out, the legal system gives abusive wives and girlfriends tools to continue attacks even after their relationships end.
As Straus notes, "The preponderance of [domestic violence] resources should be made available to women. They are injured more often, are more economically vulnerable, and are often responsible for the couple's children. That having been said, more resources need to be made available to men."
There is no doubt that domestic violence against men can be reduced; the domestic violence initiatives of the past 40 years have brought a hidden crime to light and provided protection for millions of women. The next step is to admit that domestic violence is not a male or female problem, but rather a human problem, and that a lasting solution must address the cruelty -- and suffering -- of both sexes.
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A University of Pennsylvania emergency room report found 13% of men reported being assaulted by a female partner in the previous 12 months, of which 50% were choked, kicked, bitten, punched, or had an object thrown at them, 37% involved a weapon, and 14% required medical attention, at Academic of Emergency Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Professor Richard Gelles states: "Contrary to the claim that women only hit in self-defense, we found that women were as likely to initiate the violence as were men. In order to correct for a possible bias in reporting, we reexamined our data looking only at the self-reports of women. The women reported similar rates of female-to-male violence compared to male-to-female, and women also reported they were as likely to initiate the violence as were men," in his article reprinted at The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence