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Revisiting Elliott Smith’s Death With Domestic Abuse Data



This week will mark the 13th anniversary of the death of Elliott Smith, and his case is still unsolved. Someone confirmed to me this week that the police was no longer working on the case or even taking anymore new information… It looks like the case will remain in limbo forever.

When it comes to domestic abuse, we have very strong clichés in mind: women are mostly the victims and the abused ones, this is an idea largely perpetuated by the media and some statistics thrown at our faces.

According to this article published by Mintpressnews, ‘women are three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by their male counterpart than vice versa,’ but there is a but… this doesn’t mean that women never initiate domestic violence! On the contrary, according to this same article, ‘More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year. A man is the victim of domestic abuse every 37.8 seconds in America,’ this other source I found (above) is even more pessimistic, which sounds astonishing to me.

According to a study made by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, violent relationships can be reciprocal or nonreciprocal, but in the case of nonreciprocal ones, ‘women were reported to be the perpetrator in a majority of cases (70.7%)’, and I suppose this statistic goes against every idea you have had of domestic abuse. 70.7%!

The rest of the article in Mintpressnews clearly demonstrates that women are equally capable as men, despite the constant messages projected in the media about assaults on women and the constant demand for greater protection for women.

This other study says that ‘According to a 2010 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Justice, in the last 12 months more men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence and over 40% of severe physical violence was directed at men.’ Also an article by Hoff, B. H. (published in 2001: The Risk of Serious Physical Injury from Assault by a Woman Intimate: A Re-Examination of National Violence Against Women Survey Data on Type of Assault by an Intimate. MenWeb on-line Journal) has established that ‘some 21.6% of the male victims in that 2001 survey were threatened with a knife, contrasted to 12.7% of the women’. This is a big difference.

And there is another aspect into this, even if an act of violence done by a woman is reported to the police, there are big discrepancies, large gender disparities in the way cases are handles by courts. According to this paper (Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases, by Sonja B. Starr ) there are ‘large gender gaps favoring women throughout the sentence length distribution (averaging over 60%), conditional on arrest offense, criminal history, and other pre-charge observables’… ‘men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do,’ and ‘[w]omen are…twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted,’ which is far from being negligible. It’s simple, women are treated differently by law in federal criminal cases.

This is not about misogyny, these data are facts and not opinions, they are the results of scientific studies. A lot of people have a hard time to imagine a woman hitting, beating or harming a man but the statistics are there. And if law enforcers are much more lenient with women than men as this article demonstrates, no wonder Jennifer Chiba was never considered as a suspect when the police arrived at her house, after Elliott Smith was transported to the hospital where he died of two stab wounds a bit later. If she, instead of Elliott, had been found with two stab wounds in the chest after arguing with her boyfriend, she could have been the most depressed individual on the planet, she could have been the worst junkie around, Elliott, because he was a man, would have been considered as a suspect right away. We have to keep this in mind when we think back about the events of October 21st 2003

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