Domestic violence against men

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Kalighat painting; "Woman Striking Man With Broom" (1875)

Domestic violence against men is domestic violence against men or boys in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within a family. As with domestic violence against women, the practice is often regarded as a crime, but laws vary greatly from place to place. Socio-cultural norms regarding the treatment of men by women, and women by men, tend to be very different depending on the geographic region, and physically abusive behavior by one partner towards another is regarded varyingly as a serious crime to a more personal matter.

Whereas women who experience domestic violence are openly encouraged to report it to the authorities, it has been argued that men who experience such violence often encounter pressure against reporting, with those that do facing social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other denigrations of their masculinity.[1][2] Additionally, intimate partner violence (IPV) against men is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women, which can act as a further block to men reporting their situation.[3][4]

The prevalence and frequency of IPV against men is highly disputed, with different studies coming to different conclusions for different nations, and many countries having no data at all. Some researchers believe the actual number of male victims is likely to be greater than law enforcement statistics suggest, due to the high number of men who do not report their abuse.[5] 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."[6]

IPV against men is a controversial area of research, with terms such as "gender symmetry", "battered husband syndrome" and "bidirectional IPV" provoking a great deal of debate. One of the main tools used to find statistical evidence of male victims of IPV, the conflict tactics scale, has been heavily criticized, and just as heavily defended. The lines of the debate tend to fall between two basic polemics. Advocates of battered women argue that proponents of female perpetrated IPV are part of an anti-feminist backlash, and are attempting to undermine the problem of male perpetrated IPV by championing the cause of the battered man over the much more serious cause of the battered woman.[7][8] On the other hand, those who believe IPV against men to be a significant problem, argue that radical feminists have purposely tried to suppress research so as to further their own agenda; if female-perpetrated IPV is accepted, much of the foundational theory behind domestic violence in general, specifically that IPV is an extension of patriarchal dominance, would be no longer valid.[9][10] Although there has been some movement to tackle the issue of IPV against men, debate continues as to the validity of the topic.

Prevalence[edit]

Estimation difficulties[edit]

Determining the rate of IPV against males can be difficult, as men are often more reluctant than women to report their abuse or seek help.[5][11][12][13] One of the reasons for this is that IPV against men is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women.[3][4] Additionally, heterosexual male victims of IPV are often judged harshly for "allowing" themselves to be beaten by a woman. This view is based upon the general rule that men are physically stronger than women, and, therefore, should be able to prevent any kind of female violence; a view which disregards that violent women tend to use objects during IPV at a higher rate than violent men.[14][15]

Another reason men are often reluctant to report victimization concerns socio-cultural stereotypes of masculinity; male victims of IPV often hide their suffering due to fear of being judged negatively by others, and/or having their masculinity questioned.[1] For some men, this evasive behavior is based upon the fear of being ridiculed by friends or co-workers, by shyness in dealing with peers and/or with (non-violent) women, and by fear of people saying that the woman is the real victim, and must have been acting in self-defense.[2][16] For a man to admit he is the victim of female perpetrated IPV necessitates the abandonment of the veneer of machismo which society expects from men, and to admit being submissive to a female partner. For some men, this is an admission they are unwilling, or unable, to make.[17][18] Some researchers have also demonstrated a degree of socio-cultural acceptance of aggression by women against men, whereas there is a general condemnation of aggression by men against women. This can lead to men not considering themselves victims, and/or not realizing the IPV they are experiencing is a crime.[12][19][20]

Furthermore, some studies have shown that women who assault their male partners are more likely to avoid arrest than men who attack their female partners,[21] and that female perpetrators of IPV are often viewed by law enforcement agencies and the courts as victims rather than offenders.[22] As such, men fear that if they do report to the police, they will be assumed to be the aggressor, and placed under arrest.[23][24] The 1985 U.S. National Family Violence Survey, carried out by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles on a nationally representative sample of 6,002 couples, found that when a woman called the police to report IPV, the man was ordered out of the house in 41.4% of cases. However, when a man called, the woman was ordered out of the house in 0% of cases. When a woman called, the man was threatened with immediate arrest in 28.2% of cases; when a man called, the woman was threatened with arrest in 0% of cases. When a woman called, the man was threatened with arrest at a later date in 10.7% of cases; when a man called, the woman was threatened with arrest at a later date in 0% of cases. Whan a woman called, the man was arrested in 15.2% of cases; when a man called, the woman was arrested in 0% of cases. In fact, in 12.1% of cases when the man called, the man himself was arrested.[25]

All of these factors contribute to a very low level of male reported IPV. For example, a 1997 report by the United States Department of Justice on violence related injuries treated in emergency departments identified that significantly fewer men than women disclose the identity of their attacker.[26] Statistics indicate that under-reporting is an inherent problem with IPV irrespective of gender. For example, in England and Wales, the 1995 "Home Office Research Study 191", carried out as a supplementary study to the British Crime Survey, reported 6.6 million incidents of IPV in the previous twelve months, compared with the 987,000 incidents found by the Crime Survey. The difference in the two reports was that Study 191 was a questionnaire of a random representative sample of people, while the Crime Survey attained its figures from crime records, i.e. actual reported cases of IPV.[27] Supplementary studies carried out in 2001 and from 2004 onwards have consistently recorded significantly higher rates of IPV (committed against both men and women) than the standard crime surveys.[28] The 2010-2011 report found that whilst 27% of women who experienced IPV reported it to the police, only 10% of men did so, and whilst 44% of women reported to some professional organization, only 19% of men did so.[29] In a 2005 report carried out by the National Crime Council in the Republic of Ireland, it was estimated that 5% of men who had experienced IPV had reported it to the authorities, compared to 29% of women.[5]

Estimates of male victimization[edit]

In England and Wales, the 1995 "Home Office Research Study 191" surveyed 10,844 people (5,886 women and 4,958 men) between the ages of 16 and 59, finding that for the twelve-month period preceding the survey, 4.2% of men had experienced IPV. Over a lifetime, this figure increased to 14.9% of men. Of the 6.6 million incidents of IPV in 1995, 3.25 million involved male victims, with 1 million incidents resulting in injury.[27] Since 2004, more detailed annual records have been maintained as a supplementary survey attached to the annual Home Office Crime in England and Wales reports. These reports have consistently recorded significantly higher rates of both male and female victims of IPV than the standard crime surveys. In the case of male victims, the figures range from a high of 4.5% in 2007/2008[30] to a low of 3.1% in 2009/2010.[31] In the Republic of Ireland, a 2005 report carried out by the National Crime Council found that 15% of women and 6% of men had suffered severe IPV in their lifetime, equating to roughly 213,000 women and 88,000 men.[32] In Northern Ireland, police records for 2012 listed 2,525 male victims of domestic violence, an increase of 259 cases from 2011.[33]

In the United States, the National Violence Against Women Survey carried out by the Department of Justice in 2000, surveyed 16,000 people (8,000 men and 8,000 women), and found that 7.4% of men reported physical assault by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. Extrapolated to the population of the country as a whole, this figure equates to 6,863,352 men. Additionally, 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year, equating to 834,732 men.[34] Also in 2000, the Canadian General Social Survey found 7% of men had experienced IPV from 1994 to 1999, amounting to 549,000 men.[35] Another Canadian General Social Survey, in 2005, found 6% of men had experienced IPV between 2000 and 2005, amounting to 546,00 men.[36] Data concerning campus rape, such as from a National Institute of Mental Health and Ms. Magazine study, has found a 1 in 7 sexual assault rate for men in U.S. colleges.[37]

In 2013, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that from a sample of 16,000 U.S. adults, 26% of homosexual men, 37.3% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men had been a victim of IPV, compared to 43.8% of lesbians, 61.1% of bisexual women and 35% of heterosexual women. Although the study found that lesbians experienced IPV at higher rates than heterosexual women, it did acknowledge that the majority of IPV perpetrated against both men and women was carried out by men. CDC Director Tom Frieden stated, "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."[38]

In New Zealand, the twenty-one year Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, published in 1999, reported that of their sample of 1,037 people, 27% of women and 34% of men reported being physically abused by a partner, with 37% of women and 22% of men reporting they had perpetrated IPV.[39] Also in New Zealand, a 2009 report by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology evaluated samples of university students (35 female, 27 male), general population (34 female, 27 male), and incarcerated participants (15 female, 24 male), and found that 16.7% of the male respondents reported physical abuse (12.9% for students and 15.4% for convicts), while 29.5% reported bidirectional (i.e. both partners commit IPV against one another) violence (14.5% for students and 51.3% for convicts).[12]

The 2006 International Dating Violence Study, which investigated IPV amongst 13,601 students across thirty-two-nations found that "about one-quarter of both male and female students had physically attacked a partner during that year." It reported that 24.4% of males had experienced minor IPV and 7.6% had experienced "severe assault."[40]

Gender symmetry[edit]

"Femme battant son mari"; Albrecht Dürer

The theory that women perpetrate IPV at roughly the same rate as men has been termed "gender symmetry." The earliest empirical evidence of gender symmetry was presented in the 1975 U.S. National Family Violence Survey carried out by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles on a nationally representative sample of 2,146 "intact families." The survey found 11.6% of men and 12% of women had experienced some kind of IPV in the last twelve months, while 4.6% of men and 3.8% of women had experienced "severe" IPV.[41][42] These unexpected results led Suzanne K. Steinmetz to coin the controversial term "battered husband syndrome" in 1977.[43] Ever since the publication of Straus and Gelles' findings, other researchers into domestic violence have disputed whether gender symmetry really exists, in a debate that is still ongoing.[10][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54]

Since 1975, numerous other empirical studies have found evidence of gender symmetry. For example, in the United States, the National Comorbidity Study of 1990-1992 found 18.4% of men and 17.4% of women had experienced minor IPV, and 5.5% of men and 6.5% of women had experienced severe IPV.[55][56] In England and Wales, the 1995 "Home Office Research Study 191" found that in the twelve months prior to the survey, 4.2% of both men and woman between the ages of 16 and 59 had been assaulted by an intimate.[57] The Canadian General Social Survey of 2000 found that from 1994 to 1999, 4% of men and 4% of women had experienced IPV in a relationship in which they were still involved, 22% of men and 28% of women had experienced IPV in a relationship which had now ended, and 7% of men and 8% of women had experienced IPV across all relationships, past and present.[35] The 2005 Canadian General Social Survey, looking at the years 1999-2004 found similar data; 4% of men and 3% of women had experienced IPV in a relationship in which they were still involved, 16% of men and 21% of women had experienced IPV in a relationship which had now ended, and 6% of men and 7% of women had experienced IPV across all relationships, past and present.[36]

An especially controversial aspect of the gender symmetry debate is the notion of bidirectional or reciprocal IPV (i.e. when both parties commit violent acts against one another). Findings regarding bidirectional violence are particularly controversial because, if accepted, they can serve to undermine one of the most commonly cited reasons for female perpetrated IPV; self-defense against an aggressive male partner. Despite this, many studies have found evidence of high levels of bidirectionality in cases where women have reported IPV. For example, social activist Erin Pizzey, who established the first women's shelter in the U.K. in 1971, found that 62 of the first 100 women admitted to the centre were "violence-prone," and just as violent as the men they were leaving.[58] The 1975 National Family Violence Survey found that 27.7% of IPV cases were perpetrated by men alone, 22.7% by women alone and 49.5% were bidirectional. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, resulting in almost identical data.[59] The 1985 National Family Violence Survey found 25.9% of IPV cases perpetrated by men alone, 25.5% by women alone, and 48.6% were bidirectional.[60]

In 1997, Philip W. Cook conducted a study of 55,000 members of the United States Armed Forces, finding bidirectionality in 60-64% of IPV cases, as reported by both men and women.[61] The 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that 49.7% of IPV cases were reciprocal and 50.3% were non-reciprocal. When data provided by men only was analyzed, 46.9% of cases were reported as reciprocal and 53.1% as non-reciprocal. When data provided by women only was analyzed, 51.3% of cases were reported as reciprocal and 49.7% as non-reciprocal. The overall data showed 70.7% of non-reciprocal IPV cases were perpetrated by women only (74.9% when reported by men; 67.7% when reported by women) and 29.3% were perpetrated by men only (25.1% when reported by men; 32.3% when reported by women).[62] The 2006 thirty-two nation International Dating Violence Study "revealed an overwhelming body of evidence that bidirectional violence is the predominant pattern of perpetration; and this [...] indicates that the etiology of IPV is mostly parallel for men and women." The survey found for "any physical violence," a rate of 31.2%, of which 68.6% was bidirectional, 9.9% was perpetrated by men only, and 21.4% by women only. For severe assault, a rate of 10.8% was found, of which 54.8% was bidirectional, 15.7% perpetrated by men only, and 29.4% by women only.[63]

In 1997, Martin S. Fiebert, began compiling an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women. As of June 2012, this bibliography includes 286 scholarly investigations (221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses) "which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships." The aggregate sample size is over 371,600.[64] In a 2002 Los Angeles Times article about actress Tawny Kitaen assaulting her boyfriend, baseballer Chuck Finley, 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 also noted that men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used.[65] In 2000, John Archer conducted a meta-analysis of eighty-two IPV studies. He found that "women were slightly more likely than men to use one or more acts of physical aggression and to use such acts more frequently. Men were more likely to inflict an injury, and overall, 62% of those injured by a partner were women."[66]

As both Fiebert and Archer point out, although the mathematical tally of physical acts in these studies has found similar rates of IPV amongst men and women, and high rates of bidirectionality, there is general agreement amongst researchers that male violence is a more serious phenomenon, primarily, but not exclusively, because male violence tends to inflict more damage than female violence.[67][68] Male violence produces injury at roughly six times the rate of female violence.[41] Women are also more likely to be killed by their male partners than the reverse (according to the Department of Justice, the rate is 62.1% to 37.9%), and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouses than all other types of assailants combined.[69] In relation to this, Murray A. Straus has written "although women may assault their partners at approximately the same rate as men, because of the greater physical, financial, and emotional injury suffered by women, they are the predominant victims. Consequently, the first priority in services for victims and in prevention and control must continue to be directed toward assaults by husbands."[70]

The CTS[edit]

In a 2002 review of the research presenting evidence of gender symmetry, Michael Kimmel argued that more than 90% of "systematic, persistent, and injurious" violence is perpetrated by men. He was especially critical of the fact that the majority of the empirical studies reviewed by Fiebert and Archer used the conflict tactics scale (CTS) as the sole measure of domestic violence, and that many of the studies used samples composed entirely of single people under the age of thirty, as opposed to older married couples.[71] Although the CTS is the most widely used domestic violence measurement instrument in the world,[72] it is also one of the most criticized instruments, due to its exclusion of context variables and motivational factors in understanding acts of violence.[48][73] For example, the National Institute of Justice cautions that the CTS may not be appropriate for IPV research at all "because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics."[74] Similarly, a paper issued by the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse writes

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-defense. 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.[75]

Kimmel argues that the CTS is particularly vulnerable to reporting bias because it depends on asking people to accurately remember and honestly report incidents which have occurred up to a year previously. He argues that men tend to underestimate their use of violence, and women tend to overestimate their use of violence, whilst men tend to overestimate their partner's use of violence, and women tend to underestimate their partner's use of violence. Thus, men will likely overestimate their victimization and underestimate their perpetration, while women will underestimate their victimization and overestimate their perpetration.[71] Straus, who designed the CTS, argues that these criticisms are invalid, and that under- and overestimation happens in the opposite direction; men underestimate their partner's violence and overestimate their own.[76][77] Additionally, both B.J. Morse and Malcolm J. George have presented data suggesting that male underestimation of their partner's violence is more common in CTS based studies than overestimation.[78][79] Linda Kelly has further argued that even when dividing the data provided by CTS based studies into that given by men and that given by women (such as in the 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health), the rate of female perpetrated IPV remains at roughly the same level.[80]

R. Emerson Dobash and Russell P. Dobash have also criticized the CTS, arguing that it is improper to equate male IPV with female IPV. They question the methodology behind the CTS, the data which stems from it and the theoretical framework used by investigators who champion it, arguing that male aggression is much more severe than female aggression and the two should not be measured by the same tool on the same scale.[81] Another critic is Kersti Yllö, who holds Straus and those who use the CTS accountable for damaging the feminist agenda by releasing their findings into the "marketplace of ideas." She argues that, as sociologists committed to ending domestic violence, they should have foreseen the controversy such statistics would cause and the damage it could potentially do to the battered women's movement.[7] Similarly, Nancy Worcester refers to studies which find evidence of gender symmetry and high levels of bidirectionality as part of the "anti-feminist backlash", arguing that studies which use the CTS demonstrate the "limitations and dangers of a gender-neutral approach to anti-violence work."[8]

Straus has responded to criticism of the CTS by arguing that it is driven by radical-feminists who are uncomfortable with any evidence that women can be as violent as men because it undermines their belief that IPV is an extension of men's desire to subjugate women; "one of the explanations for denying the evidence on gender symmetry is to defend feminism in general. This is because a key step in the effort to achieve an equalitarian society is to bring about recognition of the harm that a patriarchal system causes. The removal of patriarchy as the main cause of IPV weakens a dramatic example of the harmful effects of patriarchy."[82] Straus also points out that despite being critical of the CTS, numerous feminist researchers use it for their own research, and that it was CTS based studies which first illustrated and brought to the public's attention the extent of the battered women problem in the 1970s.[52] In a review of the controversy surrounding the CTS and gender symmetry, Donald G. Dutton and Tonia L. Nicholls write;

In effect, a "paradigm" has developed in the domestic violence literature in which perpetrators are viewed as exclusively or disproportionately male. Any and all data inconsistent with this view are dismissed, ignored, or attempts are made to explain them away [...] A dangerous "in-group-outgroup" form of siege mentality has enveloped feminist activists and those researchers who share their dogma. It is based on a perceived threat that somehow, services for women will disappear if male victimization is recognized or that those who raise issues about female violence or intervention are somehow against progressive goals for women's equality.[83]

Linda Kelly states that

Domestic violence represents the prized gemstone of feminist theory's fundamental message that our legal, social, and cultural norms are fashioned in a manner which permit men to engage in a constant and pervasive effort to oppress women by any and every available means. A successful challenge to the patriarchal definition of domestic violence may thus undermine feminism itself. To remain true to feminist theory, no aspect of male-female relations can be considered without first accepting the male as all powerful and the female as powerless. The gender hierarchy is omnipresent. Given this dynamic, the suggestion that women may rely upon physical violence for anything other than self-defense must be rejected [...] By relying upon the definition of domestic violence as a patriarchal tool of control, any methodology which is not similarly grounded within this contextual framework can be rejected outright. Specifically, studies categorized as quantitative are deemed "inherently patriarchal" and therefore invalid because their dependence upon scientific, empirical data does not account for the history and context of male domination over women.[84]

Battered husband syndrome[edit]

Another especially controversial aspect of female perpetrated IPV is the theory of "battered husband syndrome." In light of the findings of the U.S. National Family Violence Survey in 1975,[41] Suzanne K. Steinmetz wrote an article in 1977 in which she coined the term as a correlative to "battered wife syndrome."[85] Steinmetz conducted several empirical investigations prior to writing her article. Using a broad-based non-representative sample of fifty-four couples, Steinmetz found male perpetrated IPV at a rate of 47% and female perpetrated IPV at a rate of 43%. She further found that while 39% of husbands had thrown objects, 31% of wives had done likewise; 31% of husbands had pushed or shoved their partner, compared to 32% of wives; 20% of husbands had hit their wives, 20% of wives had hit their husbands; 10% of husbands had hit their wives with an object, 10% of wives had hit their husbands with an object.[86] In another study, using a sample of fifty-two Canadian college students, Steinmetz found male perpetrated IPV at a rate of 23% and female perpetrated IPV at a rate of 21%. Further investigation found that 21% of both husbands and wives had thrown objects; 17% of husbands had pushed or shoved, compared to 13% of wives; 13% of husbands had hit their wives, 13% of wives had hit their husbands; 10% of husbands had hit their wives with an object, 12% of wives had hit their husbands with an object.[87] In a third study, using a random sample of ninety-four people, Steinmetz found male perpetrated IPV at a rate of 32% and female perpetrated IPV at a rate of 28%. Further investigation found that 31% of husbands had thrown objects compared to 25% of wives; 22% of husbands had pushed or shoved, compared to 18% of wives; 17% of husbands had hit their wives, 12% of wives had hit their husbands; 12% of husbands had hit their wives with an object, 14% of wives had hit their husbands with an object.[88]

These findings led Steinmetz to conclude that IPV was roughly reciprocal between husbands and wives, with a similar level of intentionality between men and women; "women are as likely to select physical conflict to resolve marital conflict as are men [...] women have the potential to commit acts of violence and under certain circumstances, they do carry out these acts."[89][90] According to Malcolm J. George, Steinmetz' article "represented a point of departure and antithetical challenge to the otherwise pervasive view of the seemingly universality of female vulnerability in the face of male hegemony exposed by the cases of battered wives."[91]

Steinmetz' claims in her article, and her use of the phrase "battered husband syndrome" in particular, has aroused a great deal of controversy, with several scholars criticizing her work. In particular, she was criticized for not differentiating between verbal and physical aggression or between intentionality and action (wanting to hit was considered the same as actually hitting). For example, David Finkelhor argues that Steinmetz' methodology was unacceptably unscientific. He argues that her work looks at all violence as fundamentally similar; there is no differentiation between male and female violence, or violence against a child and violence against a wife, such as a mother spanking a child and a father breaking a mother's ribs. Finkelhor sees this as especially important insofar as it does not allow a differentiation between ongoing systemic abuse and once-off violence, or between disciplining a child and beating a partner.[92]

Causes[edit]

The issue of what causes female perpetrated IPV is another controversial subject. Donald G. Dutton and Tonia L. Nicholls write that traditional feminist theory "views all social relations through the prism of gender relations and holds, in its neo-Marxist view, that men (the bourgeoisie) hold power advantages over women (the proletariat) in patriarchal societies and that all domestic violence is either male physical abuse to maintain that power advantage or female defensive violence, used for self-protection."[83] In this sense, any IPV committed by women against men is by way of self-defense. Linda Kelly writes that "in conceding that women do engage in acts of domestic violence, female use of violence is justified as self-defense — a lifesaving reaction of women who are being physically attacked by their male partners. The development of the battered woman syndrome as a defense for crimes committed against abusive male partners, including homicide, evidences the wide acceptance of a woman's use of violence as self-defense."[93] The theory is that when women commit IPV, it is probably justified because they were previously victims and, therefore, the male was the "primary aggressor." Thus, the woman's violent behavior is caused by her background as a victim.[94][95] Juan Carlos Ramírez believes that given the socially accepted model of femininity as one of submission, passivity and abnegation, whatever behavior does not follow this stereotype will be perceived in an exaggerated manner as abnormal and violent. Thus, women will be perceived as disproportionately aggressive even if merely defending themselves.[96]

However, several studies have found evidence that only a small proportion of female perpetrated IPV is prompted by self-defense. For example, in a 1996 study of 1,978 people in England, 21% of women who admitted to committing IPV gave self-defense as a reason. More prevalent reasons were "Get through to" (53%), "Something said" (52%) and "Make do something" (26%).[97] In a 1997 survey of college students in Canada, Walter DeKeseredy and Martin D. Schwartz found that 62.3% of women who had committed IPV did not cite self-defense as a factor at all, whereas only 6.9% cited it as the primary factor.[98] In a five year study of 978 college students from California, concluded in 1997, Martin S. Fiebert and Denise M. Gonzalez found an IPV rate amongst women of 20%. Within this group, perpetrators were asked to select reasons as to why they assaulted their partner, with the option to choose multiple reasons. The breakdown of reasons had "my partner wasn't sensitive to my needs" as the most prevalent (46%). Also found more frequently than self-defense were "I wished to gain my partner's attention" (44%) and "My partner was not listening to me" (43%).[99]

Looking beyond self-defense, studies have found a range of causes for female perpetrated IPV. Writing of the feminist theory which regards reinforcement of patriarchy as the sole cause of IPV, and the problems to which such a narrowly focused theory can lead, Murray A. Straus writes "Patriarchy and male dominance in the family are clearly among the causes [of IPV], but there are many others. However, with rare exceptions, current offender treatment programs are based on the assumption that the primary cause is male dominance. Thus, they proceed under an erroneous assumption. Illustrative of this fallacious single-cause approach are the state-mandated offender treatment programs that forbid treating other causes, such as inadequate anger management skills."[100] In 1992, a random sample of 1,257 Canadians found that 39% of female participants reported committing minor IPV and 16.2% reported committing severe IPV. Their main reasons were confidence that their male partner would not hit back, psychological disturbance and alcohol abuse.[101] In 2006, Rose A. Medeiros and Murray A. Straus conducted a study using a sample of 854 students (312 men and 542 women) from two American universities. They identified fourteen specific risk factors common amongst both males and females who had committed IPV; poor anger management, antisocial personality disorders, borderline personality disorders, tendency to dominate relationships, substance abuse, criminal history, posttraumatic stress disorders, depression, communication problems, jealousy, sexual abuse as a child, stress, and a general attitudinal approval of partner violence.[102] In 2014, a study involving 1,104 male and female students in their late teens and early twenties found that women are more likely than men to be controlling and aggressive towards their partners, more likely to demonstrate a desire to control their partners, and more likely to use physical aggression in ensuring that control. The main author of the study, Elizabeth Bates, wrote "this suggests that intimate partner violence may not be motivated by patriarchal values and needs to be studied within the context of other forms of aggression, which has potential implications for interventions."[103]

Other explanations for both male and female perpetrated IPV include psychopathology, anger, revenge, skill deficiency, head injuries, biochemical imbalances, feelings of powerlessness, lack of resources, and frustration.[104][105][106][107][108][109][110][111] Researchers have also found a correlation between the availability of domestic violence services, increased access to divorce, higher earnings for women, and improved laws and enforcement regarding domestic violence with declines in female perpetrated IPV.[112]

Responses[edit]

Police services in several locations have expanded their domestic violence programs and response units in an effort to deal with IPV against men. For example, the total number of women prosecuted for IPV in the United Kingdom rose from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. Additionally, shelters specifically for men have been set up in the UK, although relatively few in comparison to the number of shelters for female victims; as of 2010, there are sixty refuge places available to men throughout England and Wales, compared to 7,500 places for women.[113]

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has also campaigned to spread awareness of the problem of male victimization and to promote reporting of incidents. The country's first shelter for male abuse victims, Men's Aid NI, opened in early 2013. Chairman Peter Morris has remarked, "Domestic violence against men can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. It can happen in heterosexual and same-sex relationships and, as with domestic abuse against females, can go largely unreported."[114]

In the United States, the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) of Delaware County has campaigned to assist victims of both sexes for many years. DAP Executive Director Rita Connolly has remarked, "Its a tough thing for a guy to come in. They usually come in to get a female abuser out of the home for the sake of children." Roughly three percent of DAP supported individuals have been men.[13]

Regarding the legal and long term implication of domestic abuse against men, Linda Kelly has argued that the

fundamental feminist understanding of domestic violence has far-reaching implications. By dismissing the possibility of female violence, the framework of legal programs and social norms is narrowly shaped to respond only to the male abuse of women. Female batterers cannot be recognized. Male victims cannot be treated. If we are to truly address the phenomenon of domestic violence, the legal response to domestic violence and the biases which underlie it must be challenged [...] Female violence presents both a threat to feminist theory as well as to the practice of domestic violence law. Notwithstanding such concerns, today's myopic understanding of domestic violence has serious implications [...] the feminist definition of domestic violence has skewed arrest and prosecution philosophies, resulting primarily in having only male batterers criminally pursued [...] rehabilitative programs are geared toward treating domestic violence as the byproduct of a patriarchal society, thereby only producing programs which address male violence. Similarly, the services for domestic violence victims, in particular, the availability of shelters, have also been shaped by the feminist definition of domestic violence.[115]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]