Male victims of domestic violence have been seriously neglected in public policy, outreach and services. But they are not rare at all. They’re just less likely to report it, which makes crime statistics unreliable especially for men.
Prevalence and Injuries of male victims of domestic violence
The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) very recent domestic violence study (released Nov. 2011) found: “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime” and “About 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) at some point in their lifetime.” See executive summary at www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press only mentioned the female victims, leaving male victims invisible as usual. www.startribune.com/lifestyle/wellness/135586678.html
The CDC figures are more reliable than the oft-cited Department of Justice (DoJ) figures because the CDC does not use crime-based language in its surveys like the DoJ does. Numerous experts explain that crime language biases the results because both men and women are less likely to consider it a “crime” when its female-on-male than the reverse. Non-crime based, sociological surveys consistently confirm that “women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, as men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners (and that men account for 1/3 of physical DV injuries). Almost 300 of these studies, using various methodologies, are summarized www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
For example, this 32-nation study by the University of New Hampshire found women are as violent and controlling as men in relationships worldwide. www.unh.edu/news/cj_nr/2006/may/em_060519male.cfm?type=n http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/ID41E2.pdf
For another example, a major study funded by the Centers for Disease Control recently examined heterosexual relationships throughout the U.S. and found: “Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence,and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocallyviolent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.” www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941
This Canadian government report also recognizes the above data.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year there are 4.8 million incidents of intimate partner assaults and rapes against women and 2.9 against men, with 25% of the deaths being men. www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/ipv_factsheet.pdf
The self defense myth
Feminists often claim the studies showing women initiate domestic violence as often as men are based on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) which, they say, is not contextual enough and does not account for self-defense. At the outset, this is a hypocritical argument because these same critics have used CTS-based studies for decades to cite figures on female victims and they only criticize CTS when it applies to male victims. Even the DoJ, which most feminist groups cite, uses CTS. It is the most common methodology used in science to measure abuse.
The criticism is also wrong on its face. In 1985 researchers updated the CTS to ask who initiated the violence, and they found the same results. Feminists then claimed one can “initiate” violence in self-defense. But to the extent this is true, it male victims NO LESS than 35% of domestic violence victims are men. So why does virtually all domestic violence industry money go to women?
is true of both sexes. And, as Dr. Richard Gelles explains: “Contrary to the claim that women only hit in self-defense, we found that women were as likely to initiate the violence as were men. In order to correct for a possible bias in reporting, we reexamined our data looking only at the self-reports of women. The women reported similar rates of female-to-male violence compared to male-to-female, and women also reported they were as likely to initiate the violence as were men.”
“The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence; Male Victims,” 1999, The Women’s Quarterly, re-printed with the author’s permission at the National Coalition For Men Los Angeles Chapter blog.
Professor John Archer further explains:
“It has often been claimed that the reason CTS studies have found as many women as men to be physically aggressive is because women are defending themselves against attack. A number of studies have addressed this issue and found that when asked, more women than men report initiating the attack. (Bland & Orn. 1986; DeMaris, 1992; Gryl & Bird. 1989. cited in Straus. 1997) or that the proportions are equivalent in the two sexes (Straus, 1997). Two large-scale studies found that a substantial proportion of both women and men report using physical aggression when the partner did not (Brush, 1990; Straus & Gelles, 1988). This evidence does not support the view that the CTS is only measuring women’s self-defense.”
“Sex Differences in Aggression Between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review, Psychological Bulletin,” Sept. 2000. v. 126, n. 5, p. 651, 664.
Subsequent research asked about motives and self-defense and found self-defense is only a small percentage of the violence by either sex. For example, one of the largest studies ever done in England found not only equal perpetration by gender but that men and women assaulted their partners for the same reasons, most often “to get through to them,” while self-defense was one of the least common motives for both sexes and men were hitting in self-defense slightly more often than women were. Carrado, “Aggression in British Heterosexual Relationships: A Descriptive Analysis, Aggressive Behavior,” 1996, 22: 401-415.
California State University surveyed 1,000 college women: 30% admitted they assaulted a male partner. Their most common reasons: (1) my partner wasn’t listening to me; (2) my partner wasn’t being sensitive to my needs; and (3) I wished to gain my partner’s attention. Martin Fiebert, Ph.D., Denise Gonzalez, Ph.D., “Why Women Assault; College Women Who Initiate Assaults on their Male Partners and the Reasons Offered for Such Behavior,” 1997, Psychological Reports, 80, 583-590.
A 32-nation study of domestic violence by the University of New Hampshire in 2006 found women’s violence in dating relationships was just as controlling as men’s.
Professor Don Dutton further refutes the self-defense myth. See Dutton, D., & Corvo, K., “Transforming a flawed policy: A call to revive psychology and science in domestic violence research and practice,” (11) 2006, 457-483
Discrimination Against Men
Many government-funded domestic violence programs still explicitly discriminate against male victims. In Australia and the UK, the government had to revoke funding from domestic violence shelters for refusing to help male victims as shown in these articles:
Study Examines Domestic Violence
Others, like in Holland, Serbia, and Switzerland, have set aside funds for battered men shelters, even though they are scare and underfunded compared to battered women shelters in those countries.
But in many countries, battered men’s shelters remain without any public funds.
In October 2008, the National Coalition For Men won a landmark appellate case in California that held it is unconstitutional to exclude male victims of domestic violence from the statutory funding provisions or from state-funded services. Woods v Shewry published a decision.
Most programs claiming to help men just refer them to a far-away program that actually does help men.
The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) explicitly excludes American Indian men from its provisions on Native Americans. It is also implemented in a discriminatory manner nationwide and funds educational programs that spread one-sided misinformation about domestic violence. See Dr. Richard Gelles, “Male Victims: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence.”
The very title of VAWA discriminates and stigmatizes male victims by leaving them invisible and downplaying the seriousness of male victimization, making them an afterthought at very best. We don’t have a Men’s Occupational Safety and Health Act” just because 92% of occupational deaths happen to men.(Interestingly after 2002 it appears the Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped reporting occupational deaths by gender.)