BLACK RIBBON | Misleading Statistics

Misleading Statistics

Statistics in relation to Domestic Violence in New Zealand are often misrepresented, or inadequately reported to give a one-sided picture indicating that men are the primary perpetrators of violence and women are the primary victims[1]. In fact, perpetrators can be anyone and victims can be anyone. Black Ribbon seeks to remove the biases of current narrative on domestic violence in order to tackle the problem honestly and without interference from ideology or bias.

The problem with current 'research' and reporting in New Zealand is that important data is hidden if it does not fit the politically correct agenda. This leads to misrepresenting the scale and nature of violence, especially in regard to Domestic Violence, and almost guarantees that the underlying problems associated with the violence will never be resolved.

As an example, while we hear regularly that we have an 'epidemic' of violence perpetrated by men on women and girls, in fact we are nowhere near epidemic proportions and the narrative is merely hysterical over-reaction and a refusal to accept that women are very highly represented among perpetrators. The louder the narrative that women and girls are victims, the more funding is made available to solve the problem or provide services to them, and the less anyone bothers to check up on services to men and boys (which would likely come from the collective coffers of services to women and girls).

Dishonesty and bias among academics and researchers, propagated via the even more non-discerning commentariat with their own agenda to push, are at the heart of the problem of domestic violence that has remained unresolved for so long. If we are unable to be honest about the nature of the problem, we are unlikely to ever be able to properly address it. It would likely render a good number of people unemployed if we admitted that the problem is not so widespread as we have been told[2], although where it does occur it needs to be firmly addressed.

In 2007, Murray Strauss, a Professor of Sociology and founder and Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, identified seven methods of creating 'scientific bias' in relation to the discussion of Intimate Partner Violence. Those seven methods of scientific bias hold true for current research and reporting into the prevalence of domestic violence statistics world-wide.

Method 1: Suppress Evidence. Many researchers only publish data on male perpetrators or female victims, deliberately omitting data on female perpetrators and male victims. According to Strauss "this practice started with one of the first general population surveys on family violence". Although data on both men and women was collected, only the data on male perpetration was published. Strauss includes himself in the list of respected researchers who have done this to avoid becoming victims of vitriolic denunciations and ostracism.

 Method 2: Avoid Obtaining Data Inconsistent with the Patriarchal Dominance Theory. this method involves simply avoiding asking survey participants relevant questions that the researcher doesn't want the answer to. For instance, a researcher will ask a female participant if they have been hit by their male partner, but will not ask if she hit him. This simply avoids having to report female perpetration rates and leads to a dominant narrative of male perpetration on women that is misleading.

Method 3: Cite Only Studies That Show Male Perpetration. Strauss claims that "this method of concealment and distortion is institutionalized in publications of governments, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization". Organisations will publish reports and data that support the male perpetrator predominance theory, while ignoring critiques and peer-reviewed published research that does not support it. Strauss reports that the WHO report on domestic violence (Krug et al.  2002) reports that "Where violence by women occurs it is more likely to be in the for of self-defense..." is selective citation because almost all studies that have compared men and women find about equal rates of self-defense. Strauss goes on to say that "Perhaps even worse, none of the three studies cited provide evidence supporting the quoted sentence".

Method 4: Conclude That Results Support Feminist Beliefs When They Do Not. Strauss claims that researchers deliberately misinterpret the results of their research to maintain a commitment to feminist ideology. For example, Strauss discusses a study by Kernsmith (2005) which states that "Males and females were found to differ in their motivations for using violence in relationships and that "female violence may be more related to maintaining personal libery in a relationship than gaining power" (p 180)". Strauss points out that the data collected was very light in relation to the issue of self-defense to start with, and more questions were asked about being angry and coercing the partner. Strauss says that "Therefore, the one significantly different factor shows that women more than men are motivated by anger at the partner and by efforts to coerce the partner". In fact Kernsmith's conclusion ignores the fact that the scores for men and women were approximately equal, and Strauss maintains therefore that the study found the opposite of what was stated as the finding.

Method 5: Create 'Evidence' by Citation. The 'Woozle Effect', or frequently citing previous publications that lack actual evidence misleads us into thinking there really is some validity in the statistics and research. Research that is misleading, regularly quoted in respected publications, will fool readers into accepting the findings as fact even when they are (as in Kernsmith) contradictory or false. As Strauss put it "fiction is converted into scientific evidence that will be cited over and over".

Method 6: Obstruct Publication of Articles and Obstruct Funding Research That Might Contradict the Idea that Male Dominance Is the Cause of PV (Partner Violence). Strauss cites several cases where funding is deliberately blocked simply on the basis that the subject of the intended research will not fit the predominant theory of male perpetrator/female victim. Strauss also reports his belief that a lot of research is self-censored due to fears that publication may undermine the researchers reputation and career.

Method 7: Harass, Threaten, and Penalize Researchers Who Produce Evidence That Contradicts Feminist Beliefs. Strauss here quotes the example of a researcher who published a book showing evidence of about equal rates of perpetration by males and females who received a bomb threat and was the object of a campaign to deny her promotion and tenure at the University  of Delaware. The same behaviour resulted twenty years later for a lecturer at the University of Manitoba whose dissertation also found gender symmetry in Partner Violence. well known researcher and author Erin Pizzey received death threats for her writing, and Strauss himself has had one of his grad students told that she will never get a job if she undertook research with him. There is a definite deliberate attempt to silence by threats and/of violence any dissenting voice that does not comply with feminist ideology. It can be found anywhere the voice is raised. Social media has given rise to a new level of threat, with a recent court case against Canadian man Gregory Elliot who dared to criticise feminist activity on Twitter.

The methods identified above are provided here at Black Ribbon New Zealand to help people who are genuinely interested in understanding and assisting to resolve the issue of domestic abuse and violence in general. It is important to understand the political and social interference in this domain in order to ensure that you are an informed participant.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries about this information.


[1] The direct reasons for this vary, but the primary problem may be that organisations deliberately perpetuating the one-sided theory that violence is gendered are often hugely funded to fix a problem that does not exist. 
[2]  The NZCASS 2014 report found that there is a small group of victims who are highly victimised by interpersonal violence. In 2013, 1% of adults who’d ever had a partner experienced 61% of violent interpersonal offences by an intimate partner. This means that intimate partner violence is highly concentrated among a small group of people.