People advocating for abuse victims should advocate for all victims. Do men not deserve the same protections as women? It is time we acknowledge the double standard and work toward fixing it.
We see a lot of messages advocating for abuse victims. Sometimes they are simple “speak up” billboards. Sometimes they are harder to look at with pictures of the victims covered in bruises. Each of these insist that abuse is wrong and should not be ignored.
Unfortunately, everything changes if the victim is a man. Their reports of abuse are not always taken seriously. Oftentimes, men are seen as weak for speaking up about abuse. It is as if society prefers to pretend domestic violence against men does not happen. According to the CDC men are no stranger to domestic violence.
“Male victimization is a significant public health problem, according to estimates in the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).
Across U.S. states, nearly a quarter of men reported some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Approximately 1 in 10 men in the U.S. experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact. Commonly reported IPV-related impacts among male victims were fear, concern for safety, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.”
Violence in the Chambers
During Louisiana’s 2021 Regular Session Representative Malinda White (D) brought HB159 to address domestic violence. This bill was an effort to take guns away from those deemed “abusers”. A colleague Representative Alan Seabaugh (R) sought to fix some of the bill’s wording. He tried to change the word “household” to “family” because words mean different things in Black’s Law Dictionary than they do in Webster’s. Seabaugh explained that White is not an attorney and may not understand. White completely lost it. In an interview Representative Seabaugh explained what happened.
“She started screaming at me. She grabbed me by the arm. Another representative jumped up and grabbed her and started pulling her back. She said I’m gonna get my gun and end this.”
Why would someone who is against violence jump to do exactly that over a debate with a colleague? The only explanation she gave was “that triggered me“. She became everything she claims to be against. Somehow, nothing happened. White was not sent home, removed from the room, or arrested. Malinda White sat at her desk for the remainder of the day, just steps away from the person she put her hands on and threatened with a gun. It was as if nothing happened. White was back the next day to finish up session.
What if the Roles Were Reversed?
There was very little talk about this incident until later that afternoon. Not many had anything to say about it. There was no uproar over it. What if Seabaugh put his hands on White and threatened to get his gun? Would people have just gone back to work as if all was well?
Chances are, Representative Alan Seabaugh would have been arrested. It is highly unlikely that he would have been able to finish out the day at his desk in the same room as White. The Speaker of the House would have had something to say as he has in other situations. There is no way anyone would have expected it to be kept quiet.
Stand Up for All Victims
Representative Seabaugh did not just drop it. This did not sit well with everyone. Some believed that because his words triggered her, she was the victim. How can the person who put their hands on someone and threatened to get their gun be the victim? These actions are not acceptable regardless of how long she worked on her bill. Sadly, there are social media comments asking things like “How is it that no one has focused on Seabaugh’s comments.” One person went as far as saying “Seabaugh is playing the victim” and “DA Moore doesn’t need to prosecute this Representative [White]“.
Why do we allow this double standard? Do men not deserve the same protection from violence as women? Should we not hold White accountable? Is she not the very same type of person she claims to fear? Everyone that says they advocate for victims of violence should be standing up for Representative Alan Seabaugh right now. Women attacking men is violence.
If you’re wondering what happened to her domestic violence bill, it died on the calendar.