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As one of the few men attending the RSM's conference on domestic violence with Dr Golding, I have no quarrel with his summary of what was presented by the speakers (June 2002 JRSM1). The point where I differ with what he has presented concerns the things that were not said but needed to be said at this meeting.
Anyone attending this conference fresh to the subject of domestic violence would have left with the belief that this age-old phenomenon was almost exclusively what men do to women and children. In the western world today, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a large body of work documenting violence in the domestic scene by women against men and children. In many studies the incidence is at, or close to, parity. The data come from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia in addition to the UK. When this fact was raised from the floor during discussion, it was described as ‘polarizing the argument’ and the remarkable idea that ‘women are only violent in response to violence from men’. Fortunately a keynote speaker, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, had referred to the unpalatable fact of female-perpetrated violence in the home. She also drew the conference's attention to the unmeasured volume of psychological abuse perpetrated by both sexes in the domestic environment, equally if not more damaging to the child.
Domestic violence deserves to be considered in a more balanced way at subsequent meetings on the subject.