“I can’t get a restraining order against her. She’s my kid’s mom. What would that do to the kids?” and “He’s a good father, he’s just under a lot of stress at work.” These are the two most common excuses that victims make to avoid holding their abusers accountable.

My goal this Domestic Violence Awareness month is to open up the conversation about DV, who perpetrates it, who facilitates it, and who benefits from it. The sad reality is that there is a cycle of DV within a relationship, and within families. The intergenerational problem of domestic abuse means that children learn from their parents the relationship dynamics that they will play out as adults.

When parents refuse to stand up for themselves they are setting the example for their children of what is acceptable behavior, both to manifest and to tolerate. This is one of the reasons why I am filming the documentary What About The Men? – until we address the issue of male victims of domestic violence we will be tacitly allowing the abusive partners, girlfriends and wives to demonstrate abuse that is learned by children.

It is not even vaguely politic for me to be writing about the issue of male victimization in an industry that is primarily focused on the victimization of females by males. By taking the position that there are male victims and that females are completely capable of being abusive and/or violent I am running against the dogma that is put forth by industry leaders such as Pat Butler, the vice-chair of the Los Angeles Domestic Violence Council who refused to be interviewed for this series. The male spokespersons in the DV industry are even more reticent to discuss the issue of female violence, TED speaker Tony Porter has refused multiple requests for interviews, as has fellow TED speaker Dr. Jackson Katz.

Why would an industry refuse to acknowledge a significant victim population? Money. The dollars that are available for people such as Tony Porter and Dr. Katz are significant, from books and speaking engagements, to corporate trainings that focus on making sure that DV is, as Dr. Katz puts it “a man’s issue.” He’s right, it is a man’s issue, but he drops the ball when he ignores that it is also “a woman’s issue” as well. Study after study has shown that domestic violence is at least half the time, a ‘mutual combat’ occurrence, where both parties have engaged in abusive behavior and no one can determine who the instigator was.

One famous Harvard study declared that women are instigators of violence in 70% of the cases they reviewed. That is a highly contested study for the obvious reason that it indicates a problem which would need to be dealt with, if we accepted the conclusion as fact. What would it mean for the “Violence Against Women Act” ? – perhaps it would have to be renamed the “Violence Against Humans Act” or “Stop Interpersonal Violence Act” but that could jeopardize the funding for shelters that focus on women.

The experts have recognized from almost day one that there was a problem with family violence – that women have just as much propensity to be abusive as men. As Erin Pizzey puts it in The Red Pill (a documentary she appears in), “I knew within 6 months of opening the first refuge (in 1971) that the women were just as violent as the men.” The movie shows an archive clip of refuge residents (shelter clients in our parlance) proudly boasting of their abusive behavior.

By failing to comprehensively address the issue of family violence we allow the cycle to repeat itself. Little boys learn that they are to tolerate abuse from females by watching their mothers beat their fathers. Little girls learn they can beat boys, because we teach that a boy never hits a girl, and we don’t teach that girls shouldn’t hit either.

In families where the father is abusive, little boys learn that men can dominate in relationships with violence, and little girls learn that this is what to expect from the men in their life, so they go looking for it in their future mates. This is how the cycle of abusers and abused is recreated across generations.

There are many ways we can help victims overcome their feelings of powerlessness: shelters, therapy, public service announcements and “awareness months” are all outreach programs – but probably the most effective way is to start naming the problem and stopping the shame around it. We have to raise the awareness not just that men can be abusive, but that they can be abused. We have to reach out to men to teach them ways to express emotions that are non-violent, just as we have to teach women to do the same.

Domestic violence knows no limits. It is not solely “a man’s issue” as Dr. Katz would have us believe, it is not a socioeconomic issue – millionaires like OJ Simpson and Princess Love have been abusers. It is not a racial issue, Hope Solo and Sean Penn have both been accused of domestic abuse. John Lennon admitted to it, as did Whitney Houston.

Domestic violence stops, when we start talking about it honestly, without regard to laying blame, without concern for padding of budgets, and with the honest intent to stop the cycle of abuse.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra