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||Plaintiff Demands Services, Recognition for Abused Men
by Glenn Sacks, GlennSacks.com
14 June 2003
According to the US
Department of Justice's 1998 Report on the National Violence Against Women
Survey, men comprise nearly 40% of all domestic violence victims.
is a 6' 1" 230 pound decorated Vietnam combat veteran who served on the USS
Valley Forge during the war's largest battle, the Tet Offensive. Ray Blumhorst
is also a battered husband.
Today he walks with a limp--not from war wounds but from one of his ex-wife's
assaults. Blumhorst recently filed a widely reported sex discrimination lawsuit
against ten Los Angeles County Domestic Violence shelters for refusing to
accept male victims. He says his ex-wife attacked him by surprise on numerous
occasions, once throwing a heavy book stand at him which damaged his knee
and put him on crutches. He notes:
"At least in Vietnam I was allowed to defend myself."
Voluminous research shows that men like Blumhorst are not rare. According
to the US Department of Justice's 1998 Report on the National Violence Against
Women Survey, men comprise nearly 40% of all domestic violence victims. California
State Long Beach University professor Martin Fiebert has compiled a bibliography
which examines 130 scholarly investigations (104 empirical studies and 26
reviews and/or analyses) which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive,
or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or
male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds
The National Institute of Mental Health funded and oversaw two of the largest
studies of domestic violence ever done, in 1979 and 1989, both of which found
similar rates of abuse between husbands and wives. Contrary to the claim
that women only hit in self-defense, women in both of these studies were
as likely as men to initiate the violence. And while many still conceptualize
domestic violence as pitting a hulking husband against a terrified wife alone
in a kitchen-turned-boxing ring, research shows that abusive women use weapons
and the element of surprise to compensate for their smaller size, often with
Many local men have reported their abuse to the National Coalition of Free
Men Los Angeles, a men's group which is supporting Blumhorst's suit. The
most difficult cases are those of abused fathers. For example, Ron, a Simi
Valley entrepreneur who is living in his own garage in order to get away
from his wife's attacks, won't leave his violent wife because he does not
want to leave his children unprotected in the hands of an abuser. At the
same time he knows that if he takes his children he could be arrested for
kidnaping, and that the family courts would probably grant his wife custody,
again leaving his children in harm's way.
Such cases sometimes have tragic results. In the highly publicized Socorro
Caro murder case, Socorro abused her husband Xavier so badly that he almost
lost sight in one eye, and the abuse was allowed to escalate until Socorro
murdered three of their four children.
Despite the gravity of the problem, there is little recognition of and services
for male victims of domestic violence and their children. While LA County
has two dozen shelters for victims of domestic violence, the only shelter
which accepts male victims is the Valley Oasis shelter in Lancaster, 80 miles
from downtown Los Angeles. Former Oasis director Patricia Overberg, who changed
shelter policy in order to accept male domestic violence victims in the late
1980s, believes that LA county's neglect of male victims is a "human rights
issue" and notes that her shelter housed and provided services to both abused
women and abused men without incident.
Blumhorst bristles at how he is at times portrayed in the media as a whiner
with a gender grudge. He says, "Domestic violence services are publicly funded
with my tax dollars and I want the same treatment and services available
to me that any other victim has--nothing more, nothing less."
Glenn Sacks is a men's and fathers' issues columnist and radio talk show
host. His columns have appeared in dozens of America's largest newspapers.
To learn more about his radio show, go to His Side with Glenn Sacks. Glenn's
website is GlennSacks.com.
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