It’s time to admit the truth about domestic violence

It’s time to admit the truth about domestic violence

It’s time to admit the truth about domestic violence

September 27, 2016

REPORTS identifying domestic violence hot spots in areas of Western Sydney confirm we are not being told the whole story.

The officially approved narrative is that domestic violence happens everywhere, from our richest to our poorest households, is getting worse, and it’s due to men’s disrespect for women. The solution, we are told, is to change male attitudes to women.

The reality is domestic violence is more complicated than that. It is far more likely to occur in poorer towns and suburbs, with a higher incidence in some migrant communities. And while we must look at domestic violence with clear eyes, it is not legitimate to tag someone as a potential partner-beater based on their background or postcode.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, domestic violence against women is increasingly uncommon. Don Weatherburn of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research recently stated there’s no evidence we’re in the middle of an epidemic of domestic violence. In fact, it has decreased over the 20-year period it has been studied, with the proportion of adult women experiencing physical violence from male partners in the preceding year down from 2.6 per cent in 1996 to 0.8 per cent in 2012.

Nobody denies there are still too many instances of domestic violence and that government resources should be used to protect the vulnerable. However, we should not assume they are
only women. The research indicates there is one group been badly let down by government inaction — male victims.

Forty years of international research shows most children growing up in violent homes witness two-way violence between parents. While misogynistic attitudes can be found, the
real triggers for domestic violence include alcohol and drug abuse, mental health issues and poverty.

The fight to end domestic violence has become a ridiculous political pantomime which we are meant to believe involves predatory, evil men who attack their helpless female victims.

PM Turnbull boasts governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to tackle domestic violence. But is it being spent wisely? Just last month, he defended new legal
guidelines that define domestic violence as including criticism of a partner’s appearance or housework skills, or remaining silent.

Domestic violence is not an extension of the anti-sexism battle of the past, and has nothing to do with wage inequality or the sharing of domestic chores. It is about physical violence,
irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator or the victim. We need to stop letting down victims by refusing to face up to reality.

David Leyonhjelm is a Liberal Democrats senator


First published in the Daily Telegraph