The short answer is yes, there are easy statistics to point to like the men who have died at the hands of their homosexual partner. This would indicate that DV and family violence is not a question of gender. But this is a more complex issue that doesn't lend itself to short answers.
What's the question?
One of the unhelpful things that we hear is that 'only women die' in domestic violence incidences. This ignores a large number of children that are killed as a result of undetected or badly managed family violence, which we cover in this article.
There are many unhelpful things that advocates for domestic violence awareness say. At Coode & Corry we do want increased public awareness so that there is increased focus, government funding, police resources and legislation in this area. However, it is important that these resources are directed towards the actual problem and not the perceived problem.
Men are killed in family violence incidences, because domestic violence is not about physical power, and it is not about gender inequality. One in three victims of domestic violence is male (click here for more on that statistic).
Homosexual relationships experience almost identical rates of domestic violence to heterosexual relationships. If domestic violence was about physical strength, gendered or men vs women violence, then this wouldn't occur.
Recent government statistics showed that seven men died at the hands of a male domestic violence abuser in NSW, so to say that only women die is not accurate.
Not just deaths, all abuse
Surely most people would agree that we want to do something about all domestic violence, for women and men, not just domestic violence resulting in the death of the victim. Even though you are talking about men here, measuring it by death only is unhelpful as it leaves out too many victims.
We prefer not to measure domestic violence by death, because we think that is setting the bar pretty low. For more about that click on the image to the right.
The Courts don't always get it right
Additionally remember many of these government statistics are taken from court cases, that is matters where someone has been found guilty of manslaughter or murder. Unfortunately homicides do go unsolved in NSW, and deaths can be incorrectly written off as accidents or suicides when they were indeed homicides. Statistics only give us part of the picture. That is the reason why a government report might say that 30 men and women were killed in NSW in two years, but another agency like Destroy the Joint says that 71 women were killed in Australia in one year.
How many male victims of domestic violence die?
In short, we don't know. The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review team, which is part of the NSW Government's Justice Department, prepares semi regular reports into the deaths that the government attributes to domestic violence.
In their 2013-2015 Annual Report they repeat the intimate partner domestic violence homicide statistics for NSW from 2000-2012, and during that time 22% of the victims were male, and 78% were female. You can read their report by clicking on this link.
In that report the government found that in all of the cases involving a male and a female, the male was the abuser, not the victim. That is the government made a finding that all woman who killed a man acted in self defence. The government report did not find any domestic violence perpetrated by any of the women in any of these cases.
In no case did the government find that there was reciprocal violence (that is, both parties were abusive).
In that same report two years later, the government found that in 3 of the 162 cases where a woman was killed by her male intimate partner, both parties had used domestic violence behaviours against each other and on the information
available it was not possible to determine if there was a primary aggressor. This is significant because the period of time covered (2000-2014) significantly overlaps with the previous report finding that all female deaths were of the victim of domestic violence. So in that two year period it would appear that government departments are starting to accept the concept of reciprocal domestic violence.
Why is this important? Because the old fashioned view of who did what to whom and how hard is not accurate. Domestic violence is not about physical strength. Even if you want to only protect female victims you need to step away from traditional views of strength and gender to understand the problem.
But it's mostly men?
Again we don't know that.
What does it all mean?
Remember our premise at the beginning, that we shouldn't only measure the damage of domestic violence by deaths. However in answer to the question, men do die as a result of domestic violence, some of them die because the female has acted in self defence, some of them die because they are the victim of the domestic violence. Surely we can agree that any deaths from domestic violence, men, women or children, are tragic.
More importantly, the portrayal as men as always the abuser is unhelpful because it means men won't ask for help, and others in the house who are exposed to the violence (like children) will continue to be exposed to the violence.
We need to change our dialogue. We need to accept that men are victims, women are victims, children are victims, every category of person in our society is capable of being the victim of domestic violence. We need to allow male victims, and children living with male victims, to speak out.
I am a passionate domestic violence advocate and I do write articles about issues in the domestic violence sphere. If you would like to receive any new Domestic Violence articles direct to your Inbox, or support or encourage me in my advocacy work, please join my email list for Domestic Violence articles.
Want to know more?
If you want to read more of our articles about domestic violence then follow this link.