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Letter to the Editor

April 21, 2010

In response to Mike Gauthier’s letter last week regarding the White Ribbon Campaign.

First and foremost, I think it’s great that two men in our community are having a peaceful discussion about violence towards people.  It’s about time for men to become more involved in this conversation, and I commend Mr. Gauthier for doing some research about this and being concerned about the violence perpetrated against men and women.

I did look through Murray Straus’s research, and he did find, in his quantitative studies starting in the 70s, that couples living together reported equal amounts of abuse. As is the case with quantitative research, the types of abuses and the reasons behind the abuses are unknown.  In a 2003 article found on Straus’s website, he says:

The similar rates of assault a partner by men and women could be misleading because the overall rate combines minor acts such as slapping and throwing things with more severe assaults involving punching, kicking, choking, etc.  It is possible that the overall rate could be equal, but at the same time a larger proportion of the assaults by men could be in the form of attacks that are more likely to result in an injury.

A 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics study (Criminal Victimization in the US) found that 69.1 percent of violence was carried out by men, while only 10.3 percent was carried out by women.  Of course, that is not to say that men are not victims, and I am glad Mr. Gauthier pointed out that men are victims of violence at incredibly high rates. These male victims are most often victimized by other men.  Men are also, because of societal norms and stereotypes that say men must be tough, much less likely to seek help if they are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. In a recent press release from the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (nhcadsv.org) it was reported that nearly three out of every four men in New Hampshire experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, and that one in 20 New Hampshire men reported being a survivor of sexual abuse. 

If anyone reading this is a male survivor of abuse, know that you are not alone. Many of us are survivors.  Male survivor’s of abuse can face the same psychological issues that female survivors can, and it is important for men to know that there are resources available for them. At UNH, the Counseling Center is an excellent place to start. Survivors of sexual abuse can also use the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) as a resource.

The White Ribbon Campaign does not claim that violence perpetrated by women or targeting men does not happen. This campaign works off of the premise that the vast majority of people who perpetrate abuse are men, and men listen to other men. It is a men’s issue because we all have mothers, and many of us have sisters, girlfriends, partners, daughters, and future daughters, and men in this society hold the power to make change, especially in our own male-culture.

Steve Wellington
White Ribbon Campaign Coordinator

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