More exaggeration – More Half-truths on family violence

The headline in the NZ Herald screams ‘Half of women’ tell of emotional violence!!

The NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse co-director Dr Janet Fanslow found 51.5 per cent of a sample of 2700 Auckland and Waikato women have been subjected to emotional violence by a current or previous partner over their lifetime (The NZ Herald incorrectly implies that this statistic only applies to ‘a current or most recent partner’.)

But it’s based on research which the Advertising Standards Authority previously ruled as being “exaggerated“, and was reported by the NZ Herald.

The research was shown to have major shortcomings in terms of sample selection. The ASA said “… it was concerned that a study restricted to women living in Waikato and Auckland was used as the basis for national statistics.” Similarly, it was concerned with the 2004 lifetime violence finding, which was based on an episode of violence becoming the “basis for fear”.

In the research, the definition of ‘violence’ includes: 
* insulted them or made them feel bad about themselves,
* belittled or humiliated in front of other people
* done things to scare or intimidate [them] on purpose

Many people may have had a bad experience in a past or current relationship. Relationships aren’t perfect. And there is no excuse for physical or sexual violence. But in this study, participants may not think of other forms of relationship difficulties and conflict as ‘violence’. Many people may have felt humiliated or made to feel bad or felt insulted by a current or ex-partner – would they really feel that they had been a victim of intimate partner violence?

“Controlling behaviour” is even more interesting. It includes
* insists on always knowing where she is (the most common form from these categories)
* ignores her or is indifferent
* gets angry if she speaks to another man
* restricts her contact with family

 But here’s the real question – when will the researchers ask men to what level they have been victims of ‘intimate partner violence’?

How many men would say they have been ‘made to feel bad’, ‘humiliated in front of others’, ‘intimidated’? How many men have or have had partners who ‘insist on always knowing where he is’, ‘ignores him’, ‘gets angry if he speaks to another man’, or ‘restricts his contact with family’?

We will never know – because these researchers will never ask men. You see, only women are victims of ‘intimate partner violence’ – apparently

The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006 (Ministry of Justice, 2007).


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