An Expert Speaks About Domestic Violence

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One of the most memorable talks at the MVI 2019 conference was given by Nicola Graham-Kevan of UCLAN, University of Central Lancashire, where she is Professor of Criminal Justice Psychology and is an expert on Domestic Violence on which she has written many articles and has collaborated with some of the best known names in the field. The slides for the talk are  Graham-Kevan-Nov23-2019

Here at last we had somebody talking authoritatively about this controversial subject and injecting some much-needed realism into an area bedeviled by emotive language, ideology, not to mention deliberate distortion of the facts and who was  prepared to follow the evidence alone, however much that evidence challenged fondly held presuppositions.

Her title alone gave an inkling of what was to come: Understanding Domestic Violence: Comparing what we think we know with what the evidence tells us.

The simple, binary, black and white approach of victim and perpetrator is wrong

Many important points were made not least that the simple, binary, black and white approach of seeking to find a mutually exclusive pair of perpetrator and victim is the wrong approach. Domestic Violence, or as Nicola prefers to call it, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is more complex than this oversimplified view which continues to exercise such a strong hold on official thinking, and which prevents more enlightened thinking from taking hold including the type of follow up treatment.

We learned that around 58% of IPV is mutual or reciprocal, or put another way, in a majority of cases both partners are perpetrator and victim at the same time. This hugely complicates the job facing a Garda called to a scene and consigns to history the old practice favoured by the failed, discredited Duluth model of arresting one person, overwhelmingly the male, and holding him responsible.
It was enormously refreshing to hear Nicola launch into a critique of the notion of “gender-based violence” and demonstrate that this is a piece of ideology without foundation in evidence. She cited the CEDAW committee, a long-established UN body as one source from which it was taken by the Council of Europe which incorporated it into the infamous Istanbul Convention.

Guilty until proven innocent : Response of Criminal Justice System

She went on to note the invisibility of women’s violence, the fact that adolescent girls typically self-report more violence than boys and the similarity of risk factors. In relation to Behaviour Control there are no sex differences and she quoted a wealth of studies to support this.

So if it isn’t gender-based what is driving it? Childhood and adolescent abuse, childhood trauma, psychiatric and mental health disorders, Are among the causes. All of these factors should be treated by clinicians rather than the current tendency of blaming one person solely.

Nicola gave a vivid example of how statistics are distorted in the scramble to claim or assert victimhood. The claim is made: Since 1991, of all women murdered, 42% were murdered by a partner or former partner compared to just 7% of men.

The fallacy here is that far more men are murdered by other men, so the proportion murdered by women appears small.

However, a little-known fact comes to light when we learn that in England and Wales of those killed by their partners since 1995 that 35% are men and 65% are women.

Cherry picking of findings also occurred in the Parsons and Watson report 2005.

The talk finished with a devastating summary of how men are seen by the UK Criminal Justice System even when the violence is female perpetrated.

Four main themes were identified, including:

  • Guilty until Proven Innocent
  • Victim Cast as Perpetrator
  • Masculine Identity
  • Psychological Impact



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