Stacy Bannermans Domestic Violence
Stacy Bannerman, well-known advocate for military
families, recently published an article titled,
Husbands Who Bring the War Home:
Author of When the War Came Home, Bannerman has
been credited for helping to secure passage of the
Military Family Leave Act in 2009.
As weary American troops return from their Iraqi
deployment, the Bannerman column is important and
timely. And the harrowing account of Kristi, victim
of an attempted strangulation by a husband who had
just returned from a 10-month deployment, was
But was it true?
As a columnist who specializes in the field of
domestic violence and has spoken with countless
victims of abuse, I found myself feeling
increasingly unsettled as I worked my way through
her engaging yet enigmatic essay.
The question of the veracity of her claims is
paramount because the partner abuse field is strewn
with battlefield debris of half-truths,
misrepresentations, and utter fabrications.
University of New Hampshire researcher Murray
Straus has written of domestic violence researchers
who have let their ideological commitments
overrule their scientific commitments. And U.
Penn School of Social Work dean Richard Gelles has
coined the whimsical phrase about the ubiquitous
partner abuse factoids from
So I sent Ms. Bannerman an email requesting
documentation of her various statements and claims.
She cheerfully answered a couple of my
questions. But when pressed for citations of the
research studies, Bannerman firmly demurred:
I am sorry that my travel schedule doesn't
allow me to provide any further assistance.
Knowing that her article had garnered extensive
media attention and could well shape future
legislation, that brush-off hardly seemed to fit
the ticket. So I did some digging. And to my
dismay, I learned that Husbands Who Bring the
War Home likely contains more fiction than
Lets put the issue into perspective.
Partner abuse is a problem in our society. But
research paints a very different picture than the
Dagwood and Blondie comic strip stereotypes.
The largest study on partner violence in
military families was conducted by Richard Heyman
of the State University of New York Stony
Brook. His survey of over 33,000 active-duty Army
personnel found 4.4% of female soldiers had
committed severe domestic violence in the past
year, compared to only 2.5% of the men. Other
studies with military personnel reach a similar
conclusion: Women are as likely, if not more
likely, than men to engage in partner
So lets dissect the eight key claims in
Bannermans 1,400-word article. Ill
first quote her statement, then tell you what my
investigation turned up.
1. The journal Disabled American Veterans
stated that veteran interpersonal violence often
involves only one or two extremely violent
and frightening abusive episodes that quickly
precipitate treatment seeking.
I visited the website of the Disabled American
Veterans Magazine. Entering the terms
interpersonal violence, partner
violence, and domestic violence
into the magazines search engine -- magazine.dav.org/search.aspx
-- I searched every issue of the magazine from 1960
on. The Bannerman statement could not be verified.
(When I later informed Ms. Bannerman of this
fruitless search, she did not offer any
Conclusion: The statement appears to reflect the
fanciful musings of an imaginative commentator.
2. The Veterans Administration found that
the majority of veterans with combat stress commit
at least one act of spousal abuse in their first
Even after I offered to extend my deadline to
accommodate Ms. Bannermans travel plans, she
still did not provide the source of this claim. So
I searched high and low no luck. Finally I
contacted the Veterans Administration. Tina
Crenshaw, PhD of the National Center for PTSD
replied, I checked with a couple of
researchers in this topic area they were not
aware of research supporting that
Conclusion: Add this gem to your Factoids from
3. [S]ince 2003, there has been a
75 percent increase in reports of domestic violence
in and around Ft. Hood.
Bannerman emailed me, As for the Ft. Hood
figures, they were drawn from an article in USA
Today. But the USA Today article that is
linked to her article -- www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-08-23-1Aforthood23_CV_N.htm
-- says nothing about domestic violence, much less
reports on an alleged 75 percent
increase in partner abuse.
Conclusion: Factoid from Nowhere No. 2.
4. He [Kristis husband]
called a domestic violence hotline, and the person
he talked to discouraged him from going to the
men's group because he doesn't fit the abuser
This incident was so out-of-order that I called
Susan Risdon, spokeswoman for the National Domestic
Violence Hotline, and read her Bannermans
statement. Without missing a beat, Risdon skewered
the claim: Our advocates would never give
that response to a caller.
Conclusion: Lets put this improbable tale
out of its misery can we all agree this is
Factoid from Nowhere No. 3?
5. Staff at the shelter told her
her husband made too much money for her
to stay there, anyway.
This statement is not likely to be true because
none of the three federal programs that fund
domestic violence shelters -- the Family Violence
Prevention and Services Act, the Violence Against
Women Act, and the Victims of Crime Act -- requires
means testing for shelter residents. And virtually
every abuse shelter in the country receives federal
Conclusion: Hardly a spit-and-polish claim.
6. The Blue Star Families hasn't released
the findings [on its 2010 military family
survey], but my hunch is that they'll show
near-epidemic numbers of veteran violence in the
I queried Ms. Bannerman, What was the
basis for your hunch? You guessed
it, No response.
Conclusion: Is the idea to engage in responsible
journalism, or scare the living daylights out of
7. I posed this question to Bannerman: It
is well-known that women are as likely to be
partner abusers as men. Knowing that many women
have served in combat zones, why did your article
omit mention of their needs for counseling and
Ms. Bannerman did not judge this question worthy
of an answer.
Conclusion: According to the VA, Women may
take longer to recover from PTSD and are four times
more likely than men to have long-lasting PTSD.
Women with PTSD also are more likely to feel
depressed and anxious. (www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/women-trauma-and-ptsd.asp
So why did Bannerman opt to stiff-arm the needs of
post-deployment women with PTSD, who are also at
increased risk of partner abuse?
8. This was my last question: The
beginning of your article recounts three late night
phone calls from Kristi to you. Since
the main point of your article is that the problem
of domestic violence should be taken seriously, why
did you not contact the police as soon as you
received the calls?
Bannerman replied, I did not contact the
police, since she [Kristi] specifically
asked me not to.
Conclusion: This must qualify as the most
disingenuous part of the entire narrative. The
caller was not indulging in a frat-house prank, and
Ms. Bannerman surely understands the mortal risks
of partner violence. But when confronted with a
here-and-now, life-and-death situation, Bannerman
nods back to sleep, miffed by the late-night
I contacted Dr. Donald Dutton, an
internationally recognized expert on intimate
partner aggression at the University of British
Columbia. Dr. Dutton replied, The Daily Beast
article feeds into the stereotype of domestic
violence as perpetrated by brutal men against
hapless women. But the U.S. Army data indicates
that partner abuse is perpetrated more by women.
Apparently Stacy Bannerman believes that we
shouldnt allow a stereotype to get confused
by the facts.
On January 28, 1993 a group of women issued a
warning that the upcoming Super Bowl would be the
biggest day of the year for violence against
women. Three days later the Washington Post
ran a front-page story revealing there was no
evidence to support such a claim. The frolic later
came to be known as the Super Bowl Hoax.
Nearly 18 years later, a similar battle plan is
being followed: Assemble lurid anecdotes and
apocryphal statistics, issue dire warnings, and
stampede loyal military wives into demanding
draconian domestic violence measures.
But in the final analysis, its the true
victims of true domestic violence who have most to
lose from the data-fragging, fear-fostering, and
political-posturing that envelop much of the
current domestic violence debate.
Because after all these years, its about
time that we take desperation calls from persons
like Kristi seriously.
* * *
Roberts probes and lampoons political correctness.
His work has been published frequently in the
Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com,
ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and
elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media
Network. You can contact him at E-Mail
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