December 02, 2005

"Don't Make Your Girlfriend Angry" (or she will kill you)

The headline, above, is what a promotion for the most popular television drama CSI, Crime Scene Investigation, warns boyfriends about and what I believe it implies parenthetically.

The promotion (or advertisement) shows the body of a dead man and the voiceover says: "Things I learned from watching CSI: Don't make your girlfriend angry."

I am not certain why the producers of the show chose the example of intimate partner voilence (IPV) that represents the smallest slice of reality, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that young men are probably the show's largest audience. And we all know, don't we, that young men live in daily fear of being beaten, if not actually killed, by their girlfriends.

The facts, of course, are exactly the reverse of this cautionary CSI promotion:

  • intimate male partners kill their intimate female partners 3 times more often. But in the case of the deaths of male partners, it is usually (in as many as 75% of the cases) after male battering of the female;
  • Nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimizations occur among U.S. women ages 18 and older each year. This violence results in nearly 2.0 million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths. Of the IPV injuries, more than 555,000 require medical attention, and more than 145,000 are serious enough to warrant hospitalization for one or more nights;

  • an estimated 201,394 women are raped by an intimate partner each year;
  • recent studies show an intimate killed about 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.
  • Violence against women by their male partners represents 85% of partner violence in the United States.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund is an organization that has huge resources that the producers of CSI might have consulted. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) undertook an enormous study of the terrible costs of violence against women that the producers of CSI might have read. This UNICEF study of violence against girls and women around the world is a shocking report that the producers of CSI probably are not aware of, but should read. The US Department of Justice also has a substantial report on Intimate Partner Violence.

Here is what the Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment Validation Study, released by the US Justice Department in March of 2005, had to say about fatal violence against men by women:

The largest decreases in intimate partner homicide have been for male victims. Consequently, the proportion of male homicides by female intimate partners has decreased and the proportion of femicides by male intimate partners has increased. From 1976 to 1996, the percentage of intimate partner homicides with female victims increased from 54% to 70% (National Institute of Justice, 1997; Zawitz, 1994). The decrease in the number of men killed by female partners coincided with the development of services for battered women and the enhancement of the criminal justice response. A connection has been made between the increased alternatives and protections available to battered women, such as the reduction of barriers to leaving violent relationships, legal sanctions and shelter resources and the decline in the male intimate partner homicide rate: women are able to secure safety from violence rather than kill an abusive partner (Browne et al., 1998; Dugan, Nagin & Rosenfeld, 2003; Rosenfeld, 1997).

Here is what the same study has to say about why female intimate partners kill male intimate partners:

The majority (67-75%) of intimate partner homicides involve battering of the female by the male intimate, no matter which partner is killed (Bailey et al., 1997; Campbell, 1992; Campbell et al., 2003; McFarlane et al., 1999; Mercy et al., 1989; Moracco et al., 1998; Pataki, 1998; Websdale, 1999). Two earlier American studies in different jurisdictions documented that two-thirds of the intimate partner femicide cases had a documented history of battering of the female partner (Moracco et al., 1998; Campbell, 1992). The recent 11-city study found that 72% of the intimate partner femicides were preceded by physical violence by the male partner before he killed the woman (Campbell et al., 2003). Intimate partner homicides of men by women are also characterized by a history of battering of the female homicide perpetrator by the male partner in as many as 75% of the cases (Hall-Smith et al., 1998; Campbell, 1992). It has long been noted that female-perpetrated intimate partner homicides are often characterized by self defense, when the male partner is the first to show a weapon or strike a blow and is subsequently killed by his victim (Block ’93; Browne, Williams & Dutton, 1999; Campbell, 1992; Crawford & Gartner ‘92; Jurik & Winn ’90; Smith et al., 1998; Websdale, 1999; Wolfgang, 1958).

So there lies CSI's poor dead guy killed by his girlfriend.

What they don't say is that he was, in all likelihood, a guy who beat his girlfriend, abused her physically and psychologically, threatened her, perhaps stalked her, or even raped her.


    Holly said...

    Hi Orwell's Grave,
    Very interesting article, name for a blog!
    Thank you for the information about the violence against men. Anyone exposed to violence should have access to prevention, resources. The other point is men should have access to men's shelter's. Only awareness and education about violence will unite those in society who do care. We have alot to learn about violence against men! Also we have to learn about the violent increase displayed by young women. The increase in violence by young women, in respect to bullying, hate crimes, murders. It seems no one thought girls were as violent as boys. Honestly, everyone in society is at risk of being violent.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm disappointed in you for this.

    Men can get beaten for no reason by their girlfriends (I know from experience) yet it is people like you that refuse to see the truth and instead insist on trying to bury it as deeply as possible.....

    I must say that this one article does kind of go against everything your blog seems to stand for.....Governments are trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes with regards to DV, trying to demonise men as much as possible while making women the victim even when they are the abusers..... And you actually fell for it.

    Stephen McArthur said...

    Dear Anonymous:

    At least I have the courage of my convictions sufficient enough to identify myself as the author of them. Having served on the Board of Battered Women's Service and Shelter in central Vermont for three years, two years as president of the Board, I speak with some knowledge of this subject, your disappointment notwithstanding.

    I never said that men don't get beaten or even murdered for reasons having nothing to do with whether they are themselves abusers. I also never said that there are not women who are nasty, unpleasant, violent creatures who hit, stab, beat, abuse, and come out of a culture of violence themselves. Most men and women who commit violence of any kind, whether it is spousal or otherwise, come from a childhood of abuse and a family of violence.

    My point, which you seemed to miss, is that the notion of an advertisement that focuses on female on male intimate murder in such a complete vacuum of what the reality is needed to be expanded on, clarified, and explained. The fact remains that a large majority of intimate partner homicide by women is in response to a history of male abuse of those women.

    The culture of violence that we live in -- characterized by war, guns, barfights, gangbangs, professional, college and high school sports violence, schoolyard bullies, misogynist video games, and a long history of men beating women -- is a male creation, not female. While we need to be talking about and worrying about the increase in female violence, we can only do so in the context of a world that is dominated by a violent male patriarchy. That's what Hollywood propagandists, fundamentalist Christians, the patriarchy of the Hindu and Islamic worlds, African tribal chiefs, video game creators, militarists, jingoists, pornographers, and the rest of their ilk want you to forget.

    And you fell for that by criticizing me for not focussing on violent women.

    I am sorry you were beaten by a female partner, much less by anyone. But until we change the way boys and young men are brought up, our world is only going to get more violent across the board.

    Gouda said...

    Excellent post. I like how you draw our attention to the larger picture.

    KDIAMOND said...

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and intelligent response to "anonymous". What anonymous fails to understand, for whatever reasons, is that the issue is not about the daily violence that women face, rather it is the societal standards that allow, condone, and even promote the oppression and unequal treatment of women all around the world. Until all societies recognize that women are indeed human, not property or objects, violence and femicide will not stop.