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Editorial by Steve Mathis
Published 4/20/2000 - Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan
(also note Ann Landers Letter below published in same issue)
Article Propels Myths About Male Abuse
Kudos to the Hartington Haven House for their progress to address domestic violence.  After reading the article (Press & Dakotan, March 31), it was clear that men are the abusers and women are the victims in most domestic violence cases.

Or are they?

The article statistics stated 95% of spousal abuse victims are women, yet there is significant research that reports spousal abuse victims are equally men and women.  Surprised?  That's right, solid research suggests that domestic violence victims are approximately half men and half women.  Research also suggests that women usually initiate spousal abuse episodes (they hit first), hit more frequently and use weapons three times more often than men. You may be asking, why aren't male victims reporting this and seeking help from the legal system and shelters as frequently as women.  I suggest asking a male victim.

In order to adequately address the issue of domestic violence, we need to understand that women are at least as violent as men in domestic violence.  Domestic violence is a “family” problem, not a gender issue, and must be treated as such.  Domestic violence programs and society must reject the “male abuser-female victim” biased approach as portrayed in the statistics of the P & D article and move to a “healing of families” approach.  This approach delivers services to all family members and works to preserve families.

The truth of domestic violence is important to the South Dakota Coalition for Shared Parenting.  For more information on domestic violence, research or other issues, please visit our website at

 “Inquire into them, that's how to know what things are really true.” (St. Augustine).

Ann Landers Column Letter - April 20,2000
Dear Ann Landers:
I appreciate your recent statement that abused men should receive the same help as abused women. For years, my wife hit me, spit in my face, threw things at me, and controlled my choice of friends, my money, and my life. After she threatened me with a knife, I went to the police. They laughed and that was the end of it. I saw psychologists and marriage counselors, talked to my wife's parents, and tried antidepressants. When she threatened me with a knife a second time, I went to court to get a restraining order. The judge, a female, refused my request. I gave up, and filed for divorce.
At the trial, my wife admitted to hitting me, threatening me with weapons, buying drugs, and having an affair. So, what happened? The court gave her full custody of our children, and ordered me to give her 60 percent of my monthly salary. When I tried to challenge the custody order, I was told I was jeopardizing my visitation rights, and that I had better stop.

I can deal with the fact that I was abused by a woman. But I cannot get over being abused by a court system that preaches justice and equality. --
David in Oregon

Dear David: If the facts are as you have presented them, I am shocked. Oregon is reputed to be one of the most sane and sensible states in the union, and their laws the most humane. You need to try again, and with a different lawyer -- a woman this time. Good Luck.

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