A number of different terms have been used to identify acts of violence against women (for example, "wife battering" and "intimate partner abuse"). a) Based on the information in Chapter 6 of the...

A number of different terms have been used to identify acts of violence against women (for example, "wife battering" and "intimate partner abuse").

a) Based on the information in Chapter 6 of the textbook Women and Crime: The Essentials and on the article "Police Reaction to Male Victims of Domestic Violence," should male victims of domestic violence be treated differently by the criminal justice system?

b) What about Victim Services? Should there be distinctive services available to assist male victims of domestic violence?

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

a) The answer to this question will depend upon your perspective after reading the documents in question. 

In order to decide whether male victims of domestic violence should be treated differently by the criminal justice system, we will have to consider two important factors. First, what are the circumstances surrounding the abuse of male victims? According to Chapter Six of Mallicoat and Ireland's book, the justice system often fails to note the rationale behind the actions of female batterers.

The authors cite several studies which demonstrate that female batterers often use violence as a means of self-defense or as a preemptive move to discourage violence from their intimate partners. They argue that women who batter often do so to maintain personal agency, while men batter to maintain control over the lives of their intimate partners. 

Second, in order to answer the question, we must also address the implications of a gender-neutral approach to domestic violence. A gender-neutral approach would entail a disregard of prevailing and sometimes harmful social perspectives about domestic violence.

As has been pointed out by Mallicoat and Ireland, female batterers often perpetrate violence on their domestic partners as a desperate act of self-defense. Therefore, justice systems must be open to the possibility that the female perpetrator may also be a victim.

Similarly, the troubling rise in female-on-male violence has introduced new paradigms into the arena of domestic violence. Men report receiving little sympathy from law enforcement officials regarding their plight. Still others report that they were arrested despite being the victims of domestic violence. The social stigma associated with male victimhood often leads fewer men to report incidents of domestic violence. So the justice system must be open to the realities associated with female-on-male violence.

While both male and female victims of domestic violence deserve support from the criminal justice system, one thing is clear: diverse approaches are needed to tackle the issues associated with both male and female victimhood. Men and women deserve advocates who understand their unique challenges.

b) As for Victim Services, it follows from the arguments above that male victims would need assistance specifically tailored to their unique circumstances. For example, many male victims fear that police don't view women as perpetrators of violence. As a result, men who report incidences of domestic abuse must produce clear evidence (often in the form of recordings) to substantiate their claims.

Such victims need the assistance of law enforcement who understand that female batterers may resort to false claims about merely acting in self-defense. So Victim Services for male victims should be specifically tailored to their unique circumstances.

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