It Doesn't Matter Who You Are
Domestic violence can happen to anybody. It happens to women, men, persons of all social classes, and people who speak all different languages. It happens regardless of sexual orientation or religion; however, many individuals do not realize that domestic violence happens in same-sex relationships, to men, teens, siblings, and the elderly.
Facts About Domestic Violence
Many Victims of Domestic Violence Face Enormous Barriers When Trying to Get Help
One survey highlighted the discriminatory practices of many domestic violence shelters, concluding that lesbian and gay victims “still did not have consistent access to culturally competent services to prevent and address the violence against them.”
(National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Why it Matters. 2010. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=47632)
Another analysis concluded, “the exclusion of men appears to be the norm.”
(Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. Domestic Violence Programs Discriminate Against Male Victims.Rockville, MD. 2010. (http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/VAWA-Discriminates-Against-Males)
Although Alarming, About one in 10 American Couples Engages in Intimate Partner Violence Each Year
About one in 10 intimate partner relationships experience some form of partner aggression (slap, shove, punch, etc.) each year.
(For example, the 1992 National Alcohol and Family Violence Survey found 9.5% of men and 9.1% of women in married or cohabiting relationships had experienced inter-partner violence in the previous year.)
Crime surveys (aka National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and criminal justice statistics (arrests) are not valid indicators of overall levels of Intimate Partner Violence. National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which collects information on nonfatal crimes reported and not reported to the police from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. (http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4536)
All Segments of Society are Affected by Domestic Violence...But It Is Largely Seen in Certain Types of Groups
Domestic violence is more common in the following groups:
• Lower income couples.
(Department of Justice. Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2007. February 2010. NCJ 227669. Table 35. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm? ty=pbdetail&iid=1743)
• Couples who are not in intact married relationships
(Catalano S. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993–2010. U.S. Department of Justice, 2012. Table 1. http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipv9310.pdf)
• Lesbian and gay partners
(Zahnd E, Grant D, Aydin M et al. Nearly Four Million California Adults are Victims of Intimate Partner Violence. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2010.)
Partner Aggression Often Goes Both Ways
A comprehensive review of research conducted with large population samples found 58% of all intimate partner violence is bi-directional.
(Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling. Rates of bi-directional vs. uni-directional intimate partner violence: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse Vol. 3, No. 2, 2012. http://www.springerpub.com/content/journals/PAKnowledgeBase-41410.pdf)
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that injury was more than twice as likely when the violence was reciprocal (28.4%), compared to unidirectional violence (11.6%).
(Whitaker DJ et al. Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 97, No. 5, 2007.)
Many Are Surprised To Learn That Men and Women Engage in Domestic Violence at Similar Rates
Female initiation of partner violence is the leading reason for the woman becoming a victim of subsequent injury. Dr. Sandra Stith has called it “a dramatically more important factor than anything else.”
(Stith S, Smith DB, Penn CE, et al. Intimate partner physical abuse perpetration and victimization risk factors: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior Vol. 10, 2004. pp. 65-98.)
According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, more than five million men and nearly five million women experience some type of violence at the hands of their partners every year.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Atlanta, GA.2011. Tables 4.7 and 4.8. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf)
Many Factors Can Contribute to Domestic Violence
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has identified over 25 different causes of domestic violence. These include individual, relationship, and community factors. Substance abuse, marital instability, psychological disorders, and other factors are known to often lead to domestic violence incidents.
(Centers for Disease Control: Intimate Partner Violence: Risk and Protective Factors. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html)
America is Making Progress in their National Effort to Curb Intimate Partner Aggression
Since the mid-1970s, domestic violence among intimate partners has fallen dramatically, whether violence is assessed by community surveys, (1) crime surveys of non-fatal violence, (2) or FBI homicide statistics. (3)
(1) (From 1975 to 1992. Male victims: From 11.6% to 9.5% of couples). crime surveys of non-fatal violence, (Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. Table 2. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1001)
(2) (From 1993 to 2001. Male victims: From 1.6 to 0.9/1,000 persons. Female victims: From 9.8 to 5.0/1,000 persons. Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. Table 2. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1001
(3) (From 1976 to 2000. Male victims: From 1,357 to 440 murders. Female victims: From 1,600 to 1,247 murders.Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1001)
False Accusations of Domestic Violence
Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence.
To Learn More About False Accusations:
One study of divorcing couples with custody disputes found that DV allegations were made in 55% of the cases,
59% of which could not be substantiated as true. Other studies have reported similar percentages of divorces
that involve accusations of abuse. Thus, each year, many thousands of children experience divorces in which
false allegations of partner violence are made, allegations that often serve as the basis to deprive children
of contact from one of their parents.
The Domestic Violence Debate
There is a big debate in the domestic violence community over how to respond to the needs of "non-traditional" victims of domestic violence.
Many advocates against domestic violence believe that domestic violence mainly effects women being abused by men. Their theory is that men beat women to maintain patriarchal power in relationships. Since they have this theory of domestic violence, they believe focusing on anything other than heterosexual women victims is a distraction from the real issue.
Stop Abuse For Everyone, (which -- as our name says) is for an inclusive vision of domestic violence. SAFE believes that all victims of domestic violence are important, and is concerned that many victims will not be offered services when needed and SAFE wants to ensure that services are being offered for anybody who needs them. Men, for example, are not very likely to seek out services from a "women's shelter", unless they've heard that they are welcome there. The same goes for gay men and even lesbian women, in some cases. SAFE believes that we should never underestimate the importance of violence against women, but we should look at the big picture of violence in relationships.
Inevitably, both groups clash over statistics. Abused women's advocates point out that hospital records and police records tend to show much higher rates of women being battered. Advocates for all victims point out that these numbers are misleading, because they only indicate people who seek out help. They often site Martin Feibert's bibliography of over 200 studies showing men and women to be equally violent in their personal relationships, and that men and women are equally violent internationally. Abused women's advocates counter that women are injured at much higher rates and criticize the way the studies in the bibliography were conducted. Advocates for all victims counter that these studies and the statistics in them are widely used, even by abused women's advocates, and that research taking into account their criticism has produced the same results.
Conclusively, it's an extensive discussion. It takes a lot of reading to be informed enough to discuss the topic rationally. Even then, the arguments do not focus on the correct discussion. Both sides will agree that non-traditional victims exist, they just disagree over whether it's 5% or 35% or 50% of the problem. And they disagree over how much emphasis should be put on these victims.
SAFE's perspective is that we should not be looking at the type of person but instead look at the severity of their circumstances. The same criteria should be used to evaluate all victims/survivors of domestic violence.
Why does this matter to you if you're looking for help? Help is hard to come by if you're not a 'traditional victim' of domestic violence. Fortunately, SAFE is here to help.
Size does not matter
One particular problem abused men face is that there is a perception that men cannot be abused because they are, on average, physically stronger than women. What most people do not stop to think about is that physical strength is only half of the equation. The other part of it is how much of that strength one is willing to use to harm their partner. As one man put it: ''People always looked at me dubiously if I told them that my ex-wife had abused me. I'm much bigger than she was, and I'm sure they find it difficult to understand how that could happen. What they don't understand is that she was willing to stay up all night screaming at me and throwing things at me, she was willing to take it to any level to get what she wanted. I wasn't -- I would give up and give in. And the same thing went for violence -- I just wasn't willing to hit her back."
Most People Leave An Abusive Relationship a Couple of Times
This is well known in domestic violence circles, but it may be new to you. Friends of domestic violence victims are often amazed to see their friends or family members going back to the abusive relationship. It is agonizing to see, but it is extremely common. Convince them to leave, but realize that it is their decision, and ultimately they will have to decide.
Help is Available
Although few services are available, they are out there. See the getting help section of this website.
More information on domestic violence:
Essays on Domestic Violence - contains essays on a variety of topics, including stalking, abused men, sibling violence, and more.
Books on Domestic Violence - books on abused men, same-sex violence, and more.
Websites on Domestic Violence - sites that deal with abused women, abused men, and same-sex victims.
Research on Domestic Violence - research on abused women, abused men, same-sex victims, teen dating violence, and all forms of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Resources - fliers, brochures, and other materials on domestic violence.