1 in 3 young men don't consider punching a form of domestic abuse

1 in 3 young men don’t consider punching a form of domestic abuse, according to new, White Ribbon research

domestic violence

The latest research commissioned by White Ribbon Australia has found that young men are the least prone to perceive both physical and emotional abuse as domestic violence. In fact, 1 in 3 of them don’t see punching as a form of domestic violence.

These startling findings are driving White Ribbon’s various programs to educate and reform men’s behaviour as the annual White Ribbon Day is observed next month on November 20. 

The Essential Research study surveyed more than one thousand adults and found that 42 percent of men aged between 18 to 34 do not regard physical violence such as punching or hitting to be ‘domestic violence.’

44 percent of them believed non-consensual sexual activity as also beyond the confines of what constitutes ‘domestic violence.’ 

Executive Director of White Ribbon Australia, Brad Chilcott believes the “pervasive blindness to abusive behaviours among young men” is “troubling and dangerous.”

“These attitudes to relationships, where surveillance and control are thought normal and unremarkable are formed early and run deep,” he said in a statement. “Male violence against women is not an abstract tragedy that takes place outside our realm of experience. We must accept it for what it is: a crime that we witness, tolerate through silence, and even participate in throughout our lives.” 

The report published over the weekend also revealed an alarming number of respondents who did not believe certain criminal behaviours to be ‘domestic violence’; including more than half of respondents who did not believe harassment or spying using electronic devices is ‘domestic violence’.

47 percent of respondents did not believe the act of isolating a partner from loved ones and sources of support to be an act of domestic violence, nor frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person (43 percent of respondents). 

Earlier this month, The Guardian published a collective Op Ed from leading domestic violence experts which revealed that men who murdered their intimate partners “almost uniformly have a history of perpetrating coercive control” prior to the act. 

Brad Chilcott is adamant that change is urgently required and that only “through a community-led response, mobilising people in our schools and workplaces to reshape understanding of what constitutes a healthy and respectful relationship,” will these startling figures change.

The White Ribbon Campaign was started in 1991 by a pro-feminist male group in Ontario and stands on the platform that preventing men’s violence against women means stopping the violence before it happens. White Ribbon Australia is one of more than 60 active branches across the world, raising awareness about the prevalence of male violence against women and aiming to promote more progressive and compassionate versions of masculinity.

“White Ribbon Australia works to address the social conditions which lead to men’s violence against women by creating a culture where such violence is completely unacceptable,” the Australian branch’s website states. “Our work is aimed at men, boys and the wider community and is driven through targeted education programs in schools and workplaces, awareness-raising, partnerships, creative campaigns, and capacity building through the creation of Community Action Groups.”

In Australia, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and up to 10 women per day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner.

Chilcott is looking forward to what comes through this year’s White Ribbon Day theme —  ‘Community by Community, Workplace by Workplace’ where community action groups across the country will generate action plans in the hope of wiping out men’s violence against women in their local communities.

“We need men to begin having these conversations with other men, to do the hard work of shifting what is accepted male behaviour and what is abuse,” he said. “This culture must change if we are ever going eliminate men’s violence against women.”

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