Is conventional wisdom about domestic violence accurate? What are its causes, and how can it be prevented? Below we provide edited versions of four remarkable interviews between four legendary experts in the field, Erin Prizzey, Dr. Martin Fiebert, Professor Donald Dutton, and research pioneer Dr. Murray Straus. These researchers discuss their decades of work in the area, and why what you may think you know about domestic violence is a myth.
Interviewer, Erin Prizzey
Ms. Prizzey established one of the first battered women’s shelters and has devoted her life to founding dozens of shelters worldwide. She is a legend in the American and English domestic violence movement. In connection with her website, www.whiteribbon.org, she sat down with leading scholars on the topic, including pioneering researcher Dr. Murray Straus, Dr. Martin Fiebert, and Professor Don Dutton. Here we provided shortened, annotated versions of the original interviews available on Ms. Prizzey’s website (http://whiteribbon.org/hangouts/erin-pizzey-interviews-ipv-expert-professor-martin-fiebert/, http://whiteribbon.org/hangouts/erin-pizzey-interviews-ipv-expert-dr-murray-straus/, http://whiteribbon.org/hangouts/erin-pizzey-interviews-professor-don-dutton/). The versions below may be easier to quickly digest for those with interest but limited time. We identify some highlights below:
Prizzey leads all three interviews in which she articulates her “generational” theory of domestic violence—that violence is passed down from parents to children. She shares her experience and opinions from decades of establishing battered women’s shelters worldwide, and how the public perception of domestic violence has dramatically changed in her lifetime of dedication to this field. She also shares her opinion that ideological polarization by feminists has menaced the treatment and prevention of domestic violence, and describes her frustration with modern feminist-oriented law and policy.
Dr. Martin Fiebert
Dr. Fiebert discusses his work in the study of domestic violence, and addresses what he calls “gender parity” of domestic violence—that men and women perpetrate domestic assault and battery at roughly the same rates. He has devoted decades to performing “meta” studies on domestic violence—essentially reviewing thousands of smaller-scale studies to standardize and combine their various findings. He also shares a surprising statistic based on his research—that murder rates for men and women are more at parity than is perceived by the general public.
He shares his early experience of the reaction of academic audiences with whom he shared his findings of gender parity. Initially, academics were “skeptical”—though not as violent as Prizzey has experienced. He has in more recent years detected a more general acceptance of the truth of “gender parity” among academics, but recognizes that the general public, including police, prosecutors, and courts, have yet to absorb the irrefutable truth of his meta-studies.
Some interesting quotes:
“I’ve been approached by any number of women, young women mostly, that say they appreciate the work we’re doing but they’re afraid to say anything because it may affect their careers”
Prizzey describes this pressure to ignore the truth about domestic violence as originating from feminist-led educational institutions: “They know if they want to get their degrees they have to shut up and write what they’re told to write.”
Professor Donald Dutton
Professor Dutton also discusses the gender paradigm: “Domestic violence is men’s desire to control and subjugate women and their children.” “It looks at all domestic violence as a socio-political problem.” He and Prizzey discuss how the “gender paradigm” persists despite it’s falsity because an enormous “empire” has built itself on the foundation of the myth, and debunking the myth is perceived by many as threatening to their livelihoods.
Dr. Murray Straus
Dr. Straus shares his decades of experience in studying domestic violence, and what he describes as the “gender paradigm”—a myth that permeates popular perception that men are almost always the perpetrators of domestic violence.
He and Ms. Prizzey discuss what needs to be done to address and dispel the myth. Prizzey shares her agreement with Dr. Strauss, and relates her experience of how her early gender-neutral victim shelters were “closed down” by gender-paradigm based programs. She states “You’re going to have to deconstruct a huge empire.” She relates a quote from female prison warden: “Every child born into a dysfunctional family is a point in our pension pot. There’s a vested interest in the establishment of all these agencies to keep the dysfunction flowing.”
Prizzey expresses frustration: “Across the domestic violence movement [truth] is being resisted, and the question is why?”
“The patriarchal model is a comfortable place for many to inhabit. We see men as actors and women as being acted upon.”
Dr. Strauss also expresses frustration: “Partner violence has many causes.”
For more academic analysis of feminist myths and domestic violence law and policy, see our article regarding NYU law professor and Ph.D. scholar, Dr. Linda Mills here.