During the Super Bowl tomorrow the NFL will be running the following PSA on domestic violence:
Last year’s PSA featured a woman dialing 911 but not being able to tell the 911 operator why she called. She couldn’t speak freely because her abuser was in the room with her to prevent her from communicating in ways he didn’t approve of. This year’s PSA is more ambiguous, but it suggests that the woman being abused during the Super Bowl is the victim of a boyfriend or husband who is “in a mood” and therefore she declines an invitation to a Super Bowl party. At the very least it is implied that the woman in the PSA doesn’t want to provoke an argument with her controlling boyfriend/husband. It might also be that as with the previous year’s PSA, the boyfriend/husband is monitoring her communication and perhaps even physically blocking the abused woman from communicating with her friend (or family) in ways he doesn’t approve of. Her abuser might be physically stopping her from communicating by taking her phone away or pressing cancel before she can hit send.
If we didn’t know that only men are domestic abusers, we might be tempted to point out that the scenario in this year’s PSA is far more likely with the sexes switched. It is far more likely that a man would decline an invitation to a Super Bowl party because his wife or girlfriend was “in a mood”. It is also more likely that a wife/girlfriend would physically stop her husband/boyfriend from communicating with friends or family.
The domestic violence industry tells us repeatedly that domestic violence really isn’t about violence, but about power. This is only partially true. To domestic violence activists, it isn’t about the methods one partner uses to achieve power of the other, but about which partner is in power. This is why being “in a mood” is lumped in with physical violence, and why looking at pornography is considered “sexual abuse”. This is also why there are careful safeguards to prevent women from inadvertently being caught up in the domestic violence machinery. Police are trained to see the man as the abuser, since abuse comes from “male privilege”. They are further trained to see denials of abuse by accused men as proof that they are abusers. Dr. Don Dutton, head of the University of British Columbia Forensic Psychology lab explains how domestic violence activists have trained police and other officers of the court to identify the man as the abuser:
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.
The most commonly used model of defining abuse, the Duluth Model, is very specific that it is men who are the abusers. They make it a point not to create a gender neutral standard for defining abuse, because their primary focus is on who benefits from the way abuse is defined (emphasis mine):
Making the Power and Control Wheel gender neutral would hide the power imbalances in relationships between men and women that reflect power imbalances in society. By naming the power differences, we can more clearly provide advocacy and support for victims, accountability and opportunities for change for offenders, and system and societal changes that end violence against women.
Their fundamental goal is to effect feminist change, not to stop violence or controlling behavior in general:
…change societal conditions that support men’s use of tactics of power and control over women.
As a final safety against having charges of domestic abuse used against women instead of men, domestic violence advocates have created a special category of abuse to apply to men who try to point out that what their wife/girlfriend did to them is abuse. A man using the language of the domestic violence industry is guilty of knowledge abuse.
For an example of how the Kafkaesque rules of domestic violence are applied in real life, we can look at the Idaho Statesman report of Saeed Abedini’s 2007 conviction of domestic violence. Part of the story of course is a he said, she said. But part of the story appears to be agreed to by both Naghmeh and Saeed. According to the Statesman:
The argument came while Saeed, then 27, was speaking with family members. Naghmeh, then 30, got upset at something he told his family and tried to close the laptop computer he was using to talk with them, Saeed told police.
If we take this at face value, Naghmeh did what the Super Bowl PSAs and the whole industry warns us abusers do. She prevented Saeed from communicating with others. She even physically took over his communication device to force him to stop. If the sexes had been reversed, this would have been domestic violence according to the DV advocates.
According to the Statesman report, after she closed his laptop Saeed tried to get Naghmeh out of the room so he could communicate without her monitoring him. The area of dispute is what Saeed did in order to stop her from preventing him from communicating with family. He says he verbally told her to leave the room. She says he pushed her out of the room.
Naghmeh — who was holding her daughter, Rebekka, then 10 months old — told police that her husband “pushed her several times” and forced her out of the room. Naghmeh said Saeed pushed her in the neck and upper chest, and the officer, Erik Tiner, now a sergeant, reported seeing a “slight amount of redness” in that area, according to his report.
“He told me that he told her to get out of the room and made hand gestures indicating that he pushed her,” Tiner wrote. “I asked him if he pushed her and he denied doing so.”
Even if we assume Naghmeh’s account is the accurate one, switch the sexes and Naghmeh would be the abuser. If a husband was physically preventing his wife from talking with her family by closing her laptop and hovering around to make sure she didn’t re establish communication, and the wife responded by pushing her controlling husband out of the room, the husband would still be the abuser. This is, again, by design.
The domestic violence industry has created a paradigm where women can physically block, shove, and even hit their partners and still not be considered the abusers. Web MD warns men to make sure they don’t end up in a room with only one exit when their wife gets in a mood, because it is very common for wives to physically block their husbands in a room and then cry domestic assault if the husband tries to escape. From the WebMD article Help for Battered Men:
“Never allow yourself to be provoked into any kind of retaliation,” says Brown. “We tell men if they have to be in an argument, do it in a room with two doors so they can leave; a lot of times a woman will block the door, the man will try to move her, and that will be enough for him to get arrested.”
Understand that if a husband were to physically trap his wife in a room, this would make him the abuser, even if she tried to escape. Turn the sexes around, and the man is still the abuser.
This same pattern persists even when a wife violently assaults her husband and he doesn’t fight back; the husband is still the abuser. Iraq war vet Joseph Kerr explained how this works in his post “What Do You Do When A Girl Hits You?”
Women assaulting their partners, and specifically women initiating violence against their partners, is accepted as normal and not domestic violence by domestic violence activists. Not surprisingly, stopping women from attacking their partners would be extremely effective* in preventing the women themselves from becoming injured:
How can we prevent Intimate Partner Violence and injury to women? IPV researcher Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, finds that the best way for women to be safe is to not initiate violence against their male partners. According to Dr. Capaldi, “The question of initiation of violence is a crucial one… much IPV is mutual, and initiations — even that seem minor — may lead to escalation.”
The problem is, stopping women from being assaulted isn’t the primary objective of the DV industry, and taking away the power for women to assault their partners would take a tool away from women to control their relationships. The issue is, after all, not about violence, but about power and control.