A major concern i have identified in my research surrounding Domestic Violence (DV) is the lack of acknowledgement of certain victims, in fact the vast majority of research, and DV services would have us believe that DV is a gendered crime with heterosexual able bodied western women the preferred victims of male violence. I disagree as i am sure do many of my fellow bloggers.
UK Home Office statistics show that 1 in 4 heterosexual and lesbian women are victims of DV, they also show that 1 in 4 gay men and 1 in 6 heterosexual men are victims of DV. US official statistics report similar results showing that men and women are almost equally susceptible to abusive relationships. Yet representations of DV within the media and by service providers would have us believe that heterosexual women are the primary if not the only victims of abusive relationships.
It cannot be argued that women recieve the most serious injuries during violent exchanges at least when the violent exchange is with a man. In general men are physically more powerful than women. This does not automatically suggest that men instigate episodes of violence within their relationships. During my research i have read numerous narratives whereby a man has been physically attacked by his female partner, in some cases weilding a weapon, and he as restrained her to prevent [further] injury to himself. Police intervention generally sees the man arrested and he tells the police that she did not attack him, he does this for one of two reasons, firstly because he is humiliated/ashamed to have been attacked by a woman, and he feels emasculated; secondly, he has no desire for the woman he loves, possibly the mother of his children to be arrested, therefore, he takes the blame and risks getting a criminal record, as well as becoming another data unit in the makeup of statistics.
As for DV within same-sex relationships, there is a commonly held belief that violent exchanges between LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals is 'just a fight' a mutual exchange. Why? LGBT individuals are just the same as heterosexual individuals in that they do not want conflict within their intimate relationships, they don't want to be humiliated, disgraced, physically or sexually assaulted, so why are they not provided the same services as heterosexual people when they find themselves i need of help.
It is not just heterosexual men or LGBT individuals that are hidden victims of DV, people of ethnic minority, people of religion and illegal immigrants are often hidden victims, fearing the reprisals of thir own community/religious leaders or immigration if they disclose their situations.
Disabled people also represent hidden victims of DV, probably the most isolated of hidden victims, disabled people may have no-one at all in which they can confide, especially if their partner is also their carer.
What does this all mean? it means that if DV victims remain hidden and are unrecognised by society, by service providers, by legislators and policy makers, then they will remain hidden. If research is not conducted to establish the extent of the problem and the requirements of hidden victims, policies, legislations and services cannot provide adequate provision to stop such atrocities from occuring, and people will continue to suffer in silence. It is not as simple as applying what is already known about 'violence against women' to every other population. we need to know who the victims are, how they are victimised, how they can be helped, what obstacles prevent them from exposing their abuse.
No violence is acceptable, DV is not a gender problem it is a social problem.
Hidden victims need to speak out if they are to be recognised, my research involves giving hidden victims a voice so that legislators, policy makers, and services providers will hear their voices and cater to their needs.
I want to hear what you have to say.