July 13, 2008
Facing Reality on Domestic Violence
By Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D.
The very high profile case of Fort Lauderdale police Chief Frank Adderley whose wife Eleanor Leisa Adderly shot at him, missed him by inches while he lay in bed, and then continued to fire at him while he fled the house provides South Florida and the nation with a unique opportunity to face squarely three realities regarding Domestic Violence.
First, we must overcome our gender based stereotypes that men always are the perpetrators and women the eternal victims. While many similar individual cases could be cited — including the woman who shot her husband in the back with a shotgun while he slept in bed to the wife who ran over her husband multiple times in her Mercedes –what is important for social policy are not individual cases but rather the findings of social science research. The empirical research reality is that decades of sound studies reveal that men and women initiate Domestic Violence at about equal rates with the most recent studies suggesting an increase in the initiation rates for Domestic Violence by girls and women. Further, about 40% of the physically harmed victims of Domestic Violence are men. Summaries of and the sources for this research can be found at: www.mediaradar.org.
Second, once we have overcome our stereotypes we must face a second reality that existing Domestic Violence programs, from the local to the federal, virtually never serve boys over the age of twelve and men (such as Chief Adderley) who unambiguously are victims of Domestic Violence.
Finally, two items about this particular case are noteworthy because they mirror national trends. First women tend to get diagnosed and released. Critically, can you imagine a man who engaged in exactly the same behavior as Eleanor Adderley being diagnosed and released? Second, whether perpetrator or victim and whether in Domestic Violence or in Divorce, women virtually always get the house.…(Full Story)