Monday, August 13, 2007

Hulls pushes false DV claims

Rob Hulls, our new Deputy Premier here in Victoria, seems prone to exaggeration. Consider the two vastly inflated statistics he fired off in rapid succession when introducing a proposed new Family Violence Act:

Mr Hulls said family violence affected one in five Victorian women.

"It is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women under 45."

At least there's been some improvement. Less than a year ago the figure being bandied about was that more than 50% of women were victims of male violence. It's now dropped to 20%. Even this claim, though, is grossly overstated.

I dealt with this issue last year:

For evidence, let's take a quick look at a major, official research project carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Women's Safety Survey (1996).

This survey was commissioned by the Office for the Status of Women. Some of the staff at the ABS complained at the time that it was advocacy research designed to inflate the level of domestic violence.

Even so, the survey found that in a twelve month period about 2.6% of women experienced an incident of violence from a married or de facto partner. Of these 2.6% of women, about half experienced milder forms of violence such as threats or pushing or grabbing (and of the approximately 1.3% of more severe cases about 50% involved alcohol abuse).

What this means is that in a twelve month period 97.4% of men desisted from any conceivable form of violence against their partners, including threats.

When you consider the amount of alcoholism, drug use, mental illness and family breakdown in society, the figure of 97.4% of men not even committing a single instance of a threat is a creditable one to men.

Another interesting statistic from the survey is that women are physically safer when they are partnered - by a large factor of 250%. It is single women who are more vulnerable to violence. Women therefore should not go into a relationship assuming that they are at higher risk of assault - the very opposite is true.

Finally, the survey revealed that 25% of the physical assaults committed against women are perpetrated by women.

And is it really credible that domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness in Australian women under 45?

Again, when I checked out the statistics last year I found such claims to be not only untrue, but untrue by a very large margin.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics site didn't give an exact figure for deaths and injuries to young women caused by domestic violence. It did, though, give causes of mortality.

As you might expect, by far the highest cause of death for young women was cancer (673 deaths). The next highest was suicide (238), then car accidents (215).

If you look at causes of death for women in all age groups, there is data which shows how ludicrous the claim is that domestic violence is the main source of injury to women.

Of the 3531 injuries leading to death in women in 2004, the majority (2725) were accidental. Of the 806 intentional injuries leading to death, the large majority were self-inflicted (531). There were 77 injuries leading to death resulting from assault, but many of these would have been committed by strangers, rather than by husbands.

So of the 3551 injuries leading to death, considerably fewer than 77 were a result of domestic violence.

Women are about 10 times more likely to die from self-inflicted wounds than they are from domestic violence. They are more likely to die from accidental drowning than from domestic violence.

So why would Rob Hulls make the incredible claim that women are most at risk from their own partners? The answer has to do, of course, with political ideology, in particular with patriarchy theory. I've explained the connection in some detail here.


  1. There is a researcher who has done a little work on this topic. I don’t know if any of his material is online, but here are some citations interested readers may wish to follow up on:

    1. John Coochey, 'Domestic Violence Survey Provokes Row' IPA Review (1995)
    2. John Coochey, 'All Men Are Bastards' The Independant Monthly (1994)
    3. John Coochey & KJ Dunn, 'Media Beatups Conceal Truth About Domestic Violence' The Australian (21 July 1994)

  2. I wouldn't have thought that anyone would take what Rob Hulls says seriously.

  3. These idiots make law. That's why we have to take them seriously. That's why I've always advocated Traditionalists not cede ground in the party political sphere. It’s tantamount to surrender.

  4. All these ridiculous claims and ideas are rooted in feminism. The reason that feminist ideas are absorbed so readily is that its quick laxative to rid people of their fears. (ie. Seemingly protects women from any harm what-so-ever & makes the world a large nursery).

    If one even questions feminism, it's tantamount to hating women. Its the argument of, "you're either with us, or against us".

    Feminism, for women, looks out for their own interests. For weak males, it means sex/companionship if they go against THEIR own interests (which young men do without thinking). For politicians, it means votes. It's clear to see - though hard to swallow if your looking from the outside.

    It's a sad state where heterosexual females collectively nod their heads in unison agreeing that almost HALF of all women are going to get their faces punched in by the object of their affection. What a complete nightmare it must be for young women to fathom that type of message. (ie. What they want more than anything in the world, may potentially harm/kill them.)

    A crazy state of mental affairs.


  5. Mark,

    You should have a look at the more recent Personal Safety Survey (PSS) done by the ABS. Released in 2006 as a follow up to the Women's Safety Survey (WSS)of 1996.

    The WSS only surveyed women. The PSS surveyed both genders. The OSW paid only for the component that surveyed women, and the ABS (much to their credit) paid for the survey of Men.

    All interviews of the survey where conducted only be women. Male interviewers where available on request, ...but did the female interviewers really advise the interviewee of that?

    According to the survey:

    Physical violence: Approximately one in 10 men (10%) and one in 20 women (4.7%) experienced physical violence (includes being threatened or assaulted) in the 12 months prior to the survey.

    Men who were physically assaulted (...) , however if the perpetrator was female then 77% of the physical assaults occurred in the home.

  6. In fact why is the government spending millions of dollars on an ad campaign focusing on violence against women, regardless of who perpetrates it, when most of the violence appears to be against men?

    Shouldn't the real issue be about violence in the community?

    Aren't we all the one community? Doesn't violence against a man affect the women in his life?

    If women do most of the child rearing, why are men apparently so violent but women not? Are we raised to be so by our mothers?

  7. Anonymous, thanks for the additional information.