The writing of this book was much easier than the preparation. All I wanted to do was to make the simple point that domestic violence was not only a women's issue but a societal issue. It started with a surf of the WEB under "domestic abuse" which generated over 7 million sources. Ten months later, there's no end to the linkages to virtually every political and social issue imaginable.
The battle fronts are many and the allegations are broad and serious. The police and our judicial system are under attack for failing to do their jobs. Womens groups are outraged at the lack of support and some have evolved into hard line activists working to break the perceived male monopoly on power and control in our society. Mens advocacy groups are growing larger and stronger in their battle for custody and access to their children. Child and elder abuse are on the rise and families are breaking down in large numbers to the detriment of all. Experts on domestic violence are accusing researchers of unethical practices in order to provide evidence people want rather than the truth. Some are even suggesting that women are more violent than men. Still others are saying that legislators are afraid to look the emotionally charged issue of domestic violence because they are worried that the findings may not be politically correct.
On several occasions, the frustration of how to knit it all together became so overwhelming that I wanted to drop the whole project. The research was filled with contradictions, bias, exaggeration and emotion. Why was there so much debate and disagreement? Then it came to me. Although everybody agrees that domestic violence, in all its forms, can have tragic consequences, its existence makes it the most powerful weapon in the much larger battle for gender equality. For some, it must therefore be preserved exclusively as a womens issue.
It is a tragic and undisputed fact that women are abused by men. However research evidence also finds that women are also the perpetrators of abuse against men. If you are not open to that possibility, do not read this book. You may get upset and you may get angry. However, if you are secure in your convictions, you may want to examine some of the evidence. If the information is not credible, you can expose it, discredit it and come out with even stronger convictions. If, however, you find that the evidence shakes your resolve, you may want to ask some questions of those who produce and use research data. Could it possibly be that some have ignored, suppressed or otherwise manipulated data which undermines the credibility of their own assessment of domestic violence? In the event that you conclude, as I do, that the major research on which our attitudes are shaped, does not provide sufficient information, then we have to ask the question "Why not?"
Violence against women has spawned an enormous and influential industry and the issue has become a powerful tool of social advocacy. In some respects, it has also become the social weapon of choice because there is no excuse for abuse. If a woman claims abuse, she is a victim. If a man claims abuse, he is a wimp. It is often said that women are oppressed by the power and control exercised by men. Those are the social truths which are exploited by some and feared by others. Those are the social truths that breed convenient tolerance - tragic tolerance of domestic violence.