Domestic violence against men
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Domestic violence against men refers to abuse against men or boys in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within a family. As with violence against women, the practice is often regarded as a crime but pressures against reporting complicate issues. Laws vary greatly place to place.
Like female domestic violence victims, those that report their abuse to the authorities often face social stigma as well as possibilities of retaliation and other dilemmas. Shelters and help lines exist in many nations to assist both sexes in attracting help. Cultural norms about the treatment of men by women as well as of women by men have varied greatly depending on geographic region and sub-region, even area by area sometimes, and physically abusive behavior of partners against each other is regarded varyingly from being a crime to being a mere personal matter, with a trend towards fighting domestic violence only starting over the past few decades.
The prevalence and frequence of intimate violence against men is highly disputed, with studies coming to many different conclusions for different nations and many countries simply not having much data. The true number of victims is likely to be greater than formal law enforcement related reporting statistics. Data from one survey looking at students in thirty-two nations found that "about one-quarter of both male and female students had physically attacked a partner during that year." For example, Northern Ireland police records for the 2012 period listed 2,525 male victims of domestic violence, a large increase of 259 cases compared to the year before, with the jump due to widespread campaigning to spread awareness of the problem.
For the United States, a study by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000, surveying sixteen thousand Americans, showed 7.4% of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. As well, 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year. That would equate to about 2.5 million victims per year (using the 2000 census).
- 1 Prevalence
- 2 Causes and related issues
- 3 Male abuse by other men
- 4 Portrayals of domestic violence against men
- 5 Responses to violence against men
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
Estimation processes and difficulties
Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is highly difficult. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for a number of reasons. Some studies have shown that women who assaulted their male partners were more likely to avoid arrest even when the male victim contacts police.
Another study examined the differences in how male and female batterers were treated by the criminal justice system. The study concluded that female intimate violence perpetrators are frequently viewed by law enforcement and the criminal justice system as victims rather than the actual offenders of violence against men. Other studies have also demonstrated a high degree of general acceptance of aggression against men by women.
Some researchers have shown many police officers do not treat domestic violence against men as a serious crime, and often will view the male victim as a "pathetic figure". It is for this reason, and also the view among many law enforcement officers that men are inherently "stronger" than women (and disregarding that violent women tend to use objects to assault more often than men), that male victims are often less likely to report domestic violence than female victims. When and if they do, men are often treated as the aggressor in the situation, and often even placed under arrest.
A 1997 report says significantly more men than women do not disclose the identity of their attacker. As well, a 2009 study showed that there was greater acceptance for abuse perpetrated by females than by males. In a recent study of the judicial attributions of sentences for battered women convicted of killing their male partners, researchers found that judges often minimized previous partner violence, describing discrete episodes of violence, rather than as ongoing patterns of serious domestic abuse.
Estimates of male victimization and reporting data
As stated before, Northern Ireland police records for the 2012 period listed 2,525 male victims of domestic violence, a large increase of 259 cases compared to the year before with the effects from widespread social campaigning shown. For the U.K. in general, a 2010 article in The Guardian reported that statistical bulletins from the Home Office and the British Crime Survey found that men made up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004–05 and 2008-09. The 2008-09 bulletin stated: "6% of women and 4% of men reported having experienced domestic abuse in the past year, equivalent to an estimated one million female victims of domestic abuse and 600,000 male victims".
A study by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000, surveying sixteen thousand Americans, found that 7.4% of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. Additionally, 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year, which would equate to about 2.5 million victims per year (using the 2000 census). The likely numbers are, as referred to, even higher.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in a 2013 report that a large number of men reported being victimized by a partner. To be precise, about 26% of homosexual men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men described being a domestic violence victim. Their analysis looked at 2010 data of over 16,000 U.S. adults.
A thirty-two-nation study of university students published in the journal Children and Youth Services stated that "about one-quarter of both male and female students had physically attacked a partner during that year." Also, 7.6% of males surveyed had been subject to "severe assault". The most frequent pattern was that of "bidirectional violence" in which two partners combated each other.
For New Zealand, a 2009 report by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology evaluated samples of university students (35 female, 27 male), general population participants (34 female, 27 male), and also incarcerated participants (15 female, 24 male). The survey found that 16.7% of total male respondents reported physical abuse (12.9% for students and 15.4% for convicts) while 29.5% reported mutual partner violence (14.5% for students and 51.3% for convicts).
Findings that women are as violent as men have been termed "gender symmetry". Researchers into domestic violence, while finding that the practice is sadly common among both sexes across the world with strong action needed in both cases, have hotly disputed whether this symmetry exists. Complicating the issue is the frequent situation of mutual couple brawling.
The thirty-two-nation study of students published in Children and Youth Services, referred to already above, also "revealed an overwhelming body of evidence that bidirectional violence is the predominant pattern of perpetration; and this study, along with evidence from many other studies (Medeiros & Straus, 2007), indicates that the etiology of PV is mostly parallel for men and women." The data involved included a total of 13,601 students surveyed.
Straus and Gelles found that in couples reporting spousal violence, 27% of the time the man struck the first blow; in 24% of cases, the woman initiated the violence. The rest of the time, the violence was mutual, with both partners brawling. The results were the same even when the most severe episodes of violence were analyzed. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, and the data was the same.
The simple tally of physical acts is typically found to be similar in those studies that examine both directions, but some studies show that male violence may be more serious. Male violence may do more damage than female violence; women are more likely to be injured and/or hospitalized. Female partners are more likely to be killed by their male partners than the reverse (62.1% to 37.9% per Department of Justice study), and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouses than by all other types of assailants combined. From a data set of 6,200 cases of spousal abuse in the Detroit area of the US in 1978-79, a study found that men used weapons 25% of the time while female assailants used weapons 86% of the time; 74% of men sustained injury and of these 84% required medical care. Other studies report that female perpetrated domestic abuse is more common than male among adolescents.
Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, has compiled an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women on men. This bibliography examines 275 scholarly investigations: 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses that appear to demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000. In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that "... consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men." However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.
In a 2002 review of the research however Michael Kimmel found that violence is instrumental in maintaining control and that more than 90% of "systematic, persistent, and injurious" violence is perpetrated by men. He points out that most of the empirical studies that Fiebert reviewed used the same empirical measure of family conflict, i.e., the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) as the sole measure of domestic violence and that many of the studies noted by Fiebert discussed samples composed entirely of single people younger than 30, not married couples. Kimmel argues that among various other flaws, the CTS is particularly vulnerable to reporting bias because it depends on asking people to accurately remember and report what happened during the past year. Men tend to underestimate their use of violence, while women tend to overestimate their use of violence. Simultaneously men tend to overestimate their partner's use of violence while women tend to underestimate their partner's use of violence. Thus, men will likely overestimate their victimization, while women tend to underestimate theirs. A review of the controversy surrounding the criticism of the CTS and the dispute between feminist academics and the domestic violence research community Donald Dutton wrote, "It is concluded that feminist theory is contradicted by these findings and that the call for "qualitative" studies by feminists is really a means of avoiding this conclusion. A case is made for a paradigm having developed amongst family violence activists and researchers that precludes the notion of female violence, trivializes injuries to males and maintains a monolithic view of a complex social problem." 
Similarly, the National Institute of Justice states that some studies finding equal or greater frequency of abuse by women against men are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale. This survey tool was developed in the 1970s and may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence. Furthermore, the NIJ contends that national surveys supported by NIJ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women. Murray Straus has argued that the criticism of the CTS by pro-feminists is erroneous, driven by ideological commitments and that despite being critical of the CTS, pro-feminist researchers use a CTS for their research, but one that has been biased in order to minimize female perpetration.
In a meta-analysis John Archer from the Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, UK, writes:
The present analyses indicate that men are among those who are likely to be on the receiving end of acts of physical aggression. The extent to which this involves mutual combat or the male equivalent to "battered women" is at present unresolved. Both situations are causes for concern. Straus (1997) has warned of the dangers involved—especially for women—when physical aggression becomes a routine response to relationship conflict. "Battered men"—those subjected to systematic and prolonged violence—are likely to suffer physical and psychological consequences, together with specific problems associated with a lack of recognition of their plight (George and George, 1998). Seeking to address these problems need not detract from continuing to address the problem of "battered women."
An issue paper by the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse concludes,
we stress that while the number of studies finding gender symmetry is ever growing, we consider their reliance on the CTS inherently limits the robustness of information produced. We argue that practitioners should have confidence that data available from multiple sources support claims of gender asymmetry in domestic violence. What the data presented here demonstrate is that both men and women perpetrate a range of different forms of aggression in relationships but may have different motivations, including self-defence. Both men and women can experience violence by an intimate partner but their experience of this is likely to be different in terms of the forms of violence experienced, its severity and impact. The severity of physical injury and levels of coercion from all forms of violence in relationships appear to be greater for women than for men.
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Gender roles and expectations can and do play a role in abusive situations, and exploring these roles and expectations can be helpful in addressing abusive situations. Likewise, it can be helpful to explore factors such as race, class, religion, sexuality and philosophy. However, studies investigating whether sexist attitudes are correlated with domestic violence have shown conflicting results.
Some researchers have found a relationship between the availability of domestic violence services, improved laws and enforcement regarding domestic violence, increased access to divorce, and higher earnings for women with declines in intimate partner homicide by women.
Assaults against partners, for both sexes, will sometimes take place in retaliation for adultery or for perceived social embarrassment. Alcohol abuse and psychological stress are co-morbid with domestic violence. Perpetrators, of both sexes, often have emotional control problems and a related inability to communicate while talking through issues. Many perpetrators were victims of domestic violence themselves previously.
Male abuse by other men
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A lack of data about non-heterosexual couples has held back research in this area. However, studies such as a 2013 report by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as mentioned before, have found that victimization of men by other men in the relationship context is a serious problem. Specifically, 26% of homosexuals surveyed reported experiencing intimate partner violence. The study evaluated 2010 data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which involved over 16,000 U.S. adults.
"This report suggests that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in this country suffer a heavy toll of sexual violence and stalking committed by an intimate partner," CDC Director Tom Frieden stated. He also remarked, "We know that violence affects everyone".
Portrayals of domestic violence against men
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Media portrayals of domestic violence against men has often described it in humorous terms, with the violence being inconsequential or justified.
Responses to violence against men
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Police services have expanded their efforts to arrest and prosecute female perpetrators of domestic violence in some nations. For instance, the total number of women prosecuted by the United Kingdom's legal authorities for domestic violence hiked from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. As well, shelters specifically for men have been set up, although they are dwarfed by the amount of women's shelters. In England and Wales, sixty places exist to house men versus the over seven thousand for women.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has campaigned to spread awareness of the problem of male victimization and to promote reporting of incidents to the proper authorities. The first crisis shelter for male abuse victims, called 'Men's Aid NI', was opened in early 2013. Men's Aid NI chairman Peter Morris has remarked, "Domestic violence against men can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse ... in heterosexual and same-sex relationships and, as with domestic abuse against females, can go largely unreported."
In the U.S., for example, the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) of Delaware County has campaigned to assist victims of both sexes for decades. DAP Executive Director Rita Connolly has remarked, "It’s a tough thing for a guy to come in". Around three percent of DAP supported individuals have been men. Conolly has also commented that men that do come on "usually come in to get a female abuser out of the home for the sake of children" rather than for themselves. 
Social activist Erin Pizzey, well known as having opened one of the first women’s refuges in the U.K. in 1971, has said that almost as many men as women are victims of domestic violence and found that over half (62%) of the women she admitted were "violence-prone". She also stated that men were in need of a different kind of help than is currently available to them.
There were calls for the passing of a law against domestic violence against men in the Philippines. Domestic violence against men is can be classified on police files. However domestic violence against men in the Philippines remains highly undocumented.
- Outline of domestic violence
- Acid throwing
- Battered person syndrome
- Child soldier
- Human trafficking
- Male genital mutilation
- Men's shelter
- Violence against women
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- References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: an annotated bibliography by Martin S. Fiebert (Archived at WebCite)
- The Geography of Genital Mutilations (Archived at WebCite)
- The invisible domestic violence – against men (Archived at WebCite)
- A Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence Against Men Is a Growing Problem (Archived at WebCite)
- Doris Lessing attacks feminists (Archived at WebCite)