This paper may already have made its rounds through the manosphere, but I stumbled onto it a few months back and I think it is very much worth sharing here. Dr. Dutton is the head of the University of British Columbia Forensic Psychology lab. From the short bio at the end of the paper it is clear that Dr. Dutton has been involved in the domestic violence field since the early 1970s:
In 1974, while on faculty at the University of British Columbia, he began to investigate the criminal justice response to wife assault, preparing a government report that outlined the need for a more aggressive response, and subsequently training police in “domestic disturbance” intervention techniques. After receiving training as a group therapist at Cold Mountain Institute, he co-founded the Assaultive Husbands Project in 1979, a court mandated treatment program for men convicted of wife assault.
The full paper is titled Domestic Abuse Assessment in Child Custody Disputes: Beware the Domestic Violence Research Paradigm. I’ll share some choice quotes but the full paper is really worth reading.
The focus of the paper is specific to how agents of the court are being taught to view domestic violence when considering child custody. To explain the issue he delves into the research and literature which these agents of the court are using to understand domestic violence:
Two recent publications (Jaffe, Lemon & Poisson 2003; and Bancroft & Silverman 2002) have linked domestic violence and custody assessment. Both are written with professional audiences in mind, both cite research studies on domestic violence with a view to expanding the awareness of “professionals, therapists, child protective and court personnel, battered mothers and to anyone else who is in a personal or professional position to touch the lives of children of battered women”.(Bancroft & Silverman p. xiii). Both provide one-sided analyses of domestic violence based on self-selected and non representative samples. It is the purpose of this paper to alert custody assessors to a more accurate data set on domestic violence incidence with a view to improving protection from threats to child safety.
He describes in detail how the whole mindset is stacked against men (emphasis mine):
Jaffe et al. then go on to define abuse, using the “Duluth Power and Control Wheel” that includes “Using Male Privilege” as a part of an octant of abusive strategies used against women. Jaffe et al. then list, under “whom to assess”: Victimized mothers (p.44), Battering fathers (p.46) and “war torn children” (p. 49). Jaffe et al suggest using an Abuse Observation Checklist (Dutton 1992) and asking the victimized woman to describe the “first, worst and last” incident, followed by allowing the “alleged perpetrator an opportunity to respond”. It is not clear what response, apart from denial might be expected from an accused male. Indeed, the authors warn an assessor that (p. 42) the male perpetrator may “minimize their abusive behavior by blaming their victims or proclaiming that the abuse was uncharacteristic”. It seems that, once accused, the male can only use responses that the evaluator is already primed to see as disingenuous.
Not only is this unfair to men, but it is dangerous to the very children the profession is ostensibly protecting:
In addition, this view blinds assessors to another source of threat to children; their mother. As we will see below, severe physical child abuse is more likely to be perpetrated by mothers than fathers.
But abuse by mothers is something the profession all but ignores:
…there is a priming of assessors to look only at the male as the abuse perpetrator, and having done so to suspect his denial of abuse. Denial of abuse will not exonerate him because really abusive men deny abuse as well. Although Jaffe et al tell evaluators to ‘review allegations with each party and give each side an opportunity to explain what happened” (p. 47), or to “have the alleged perpetrator complete a standard inventory about the abuse, to engage him in a discussion about what transpired during the course of the relationship”, they provide this suggestion to a reader who has already been informed that males are the perpetrators and that perpetrators lie. No algorithm is provided through which the truth might mystically emerge. Essentially the authors develop skepticism about male accounts and then advise the evaluator to use a clinical judgment already primed to disbelieve the alleged perpetrator.
The “researchers” don’t even bother to hide their bias behind gender neutral terms:
Both Jaffe et al and Bancroft & Silverman use “he” to refer to perpetrators of abuse and both are convinced that male abuse is by far the more serious. Jaffe et al’s section (p. 46) on battering fathers has no counterpart called “battering mothers”.
Bancroft and Silverman express many of the same concerns about batterers as parents as do Jaffe et al. Both Jaffe and Bancroft are aware of the deleterious effects of a battering personality on vulnerable children, however, throughout both books, the terms “batterer” and “he” and “victim” and “mother” or “she” are used interchangeably. The eventual mindset is that abuse perpetrators are almost always male, and when they are not, the abuse is not serious. What Kahneman & Tversky (1982) call a “representative heuristic” is developed; batterers have the attributes of maleness and they alone pose a risk to the child.
McCloskey et al, despite their claim of examining “different forms of family violence”, go on to say “our study examines domestic violence and psychopathology from the child’s as well as the mothers’ perspective”.
This massive scholarly blind spot results in studies which use demonstrably biased samples:
Another example of the problem in applying the woman as victim paradigm based on shelter samples to the general public can be seen in a paper by Appel & Holden (1998). These authors found, in a review of 31 studies that wife assault and physical abuse of children occurred from 20% to 100% when the sample selection basis was either battered women or abused children (average of 40%). However, in “representative community samples” the overlap was only 6%. In other words, the assumptions drawn from a shelter sample or a male perpetrator sample do not apply to community samples.
Another methodological problem is the gratuitous expansion of the term “abuse”:
Overlap rates diminish when items like physically coerces (as the authors point out, a legal form of punishment) were dropped from the study. The item “pushed, grabbed or shoved” generated the highest overlap followed by “slapped and spanked”. While these actions too, are problematic (Douglas & Straus 2003), they do not constitute “battering” and they inflate overlap rates for apparent abuse. However, they do so by including corporal punishment of children in the equation even though this corporal punishment is not legally or technically abuse (so long as it does not injure the child as is done for correction). As the authors put it “some of the highest rates of overlap came from reports of children of battered women but these reports included slap/spank”. (p 585). This argument creates an erroneous impression that spouse assault is mainly husband to wife and that such assault has a high likelihood of being accompanied by physical child abuse.
The academic blind spot for female initiated violence comes despite solid studies proving they are equally likely to be violent as men (bold text italicized in the original):
The argument is also made by advocates that womens’ violence is self-defensive. However, Stets & Straus (1989, 1992) reporting the results of the 1975 national US incidence survey found a pattern of female severe violence –with a non violent male occurred in 11.8% of 5,768 couples (and 9.6% of married couples), the reverse pattern (male severe violence –female non-violent) occurred in only 4.4% of couples (and 2.4% of married couple).2 For all kinds of violence across relationship types, females were unilaterally more violent than males to nonviolent partners (32% vs. 18%).
He traces the path of the bias in the research as it influences the very system which the next round of academic studies will use as data:
Researchers who focus on women from shelters or batterers groups samples have, unfortunately, had influence on the laws and legal process. The Judicial Council of California has a policy document called Parenting in the Context of Domestic Violence which was written by Edelson (March 2003). This document is available on a government website and although it reads in fine print that the views “do not necessarily” represent the official position of the Judicial Council of California, it is presented as to the public without any contradictory information. It represents a source for the public of information on domestic violence…
In the California Judicial Council report, victims of domestic violence are “battered mothers”, perpetrators of domestic abuse are “controlling and authoritarian compared to that of nonviolent fathers” ( p.3, i.e. perpetrators of abuse are male)…
Edelson cites Bancroft & Silverman (p.5, another court mandated male sample) to support his checklist for continuing risk to the children (from the father ). Edelson does a literature review but raises none of the issues I raise here. Appel & Holden’s (1998) work is cited uncritically and “often the perpetrating male beats the woman, who then abuses the child, or that both parents abuse the child” (p.10). No possibility of female initiated abuse is raised. Victims (who are battered mothers) parenting skills are reviewed (p. 13) and a concern is raised that mothers’ skills may be devalued because of a lack of information about male perpetrators. The male perpetrator- female victim model is now enshrined at the policy level.
A study of police response in Detroit found that when men asked for police assistance in domestic disputes, the incident was trivialized and the men belittled by the officers ((Buzawa, Thomas, Bannon & Jackson 1992). This happened regardless of the degree of injury. “..for example, one male reported requiring hospitalization for being stabbed in the back, with a wound that just missed puncturing his lungs. Despite his request to have the offending woman removed (not even arrested), the officers simply called an ambulance and refused formal sanctions against that women, including her removal.” (p. 265). A similar result was found by Brown (2004). Brown found that women were only arrested and prosecuted on domestic calls when they inflicted high levels of injury on male victims. Women were more likely than men to use weapons, typically a knife. This finding was replicated by Henning & Renauer (in press). It is possible to trace the pathway of disinformation here: unwarranted generalizing from a non- representative sample creates the view that only females are abusers, this becomes enshrined in policy and eventually in practice. Female violence is simply not perceived nor treated comparably to male violence. Hence, basing conclusion on “police statistics” is itself misleading.