Barbara Kay: The awkward truth about spousal abuse
One of first-wave feminism’s great achievements in the 1970s was to end the denial surrounding wife abuse in even the “best” homes. Resources for abused women proliferated. Traditional social, judicial and political attitudes toward violence against women were cleansed and reconstructed along feminist-designed lines.
But then a funny thing happened. The closet from which abuse victims were emerging had, everyone assumed, been filled with women. But honest researchers were surprised by the results of their own objective inquiries. They were all finding, independently, that intimate partner violence (IPV) is mostly bidirectional.
But by then the IPV domain was awash in heavily politicized stakeholders. Even peer-reviewed community-based studies providing politically incorrect conclusions were cut off at the pass, their researchers’ names passed over for task force appointments and the writing of training manuals for the judiciary. Neither were internal whistle-blowers suffered gladly. Erin Pizzey, who opened the first refuge for battered women in England in 1971, was “disappeared” from the feminist movement when she revealed what she learned in her own shelter: She committed a heresy by asking women about their own violence, and they told her.
The most extreme IPV is certainly male-on-female, but hard-core batterers and outright killers are rare. In violence of the mild to moderately severe variety that constitutes most of IPV — shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, throwing objects, even stabbing and burning — both genders initiate and cause harm in equal measure.
Full story: The awkward truth about spousal abuse