The problem of domestic violence has been in the news again, as it seems to be every few months or so. Out come all the stereotypes of battered women suffering at the hands of evil men, along with tasty sound-bite comments from mostly-female spokespeople working at the coal face in vastly underfunded community organisations. Not all violence is committed by men; women are sometimes violent too. And violence is not the only form of abuse happening behind closed doors in our society: emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse can be equally damaging. Nor is the simplistic innocent-victim/evil-perpetrator model always the full truth. But for the sake of simplicity, let's roll with the stereotype for a moment since it tends to cover the majority of domestic violence cases, and I primarily work with men anyway. Despite the excellent work done on a shoestring by the various organisations working to prevent domestic violence, the problem of men's violence towards women and children continues to hang around like an offensive odour.
How can this be, when it's in the news so often?I believe it's because we aren't tackling the root cause of the problem. When domestic violence is in the news, I very rarely hear commentators asking the obvious, basic, underlying question:
Why are men violent? (more…)