Men face abuse as often as women: UK researcher

LONDON, Apr 05 (Reuters Health) - Men are just as likely as women to be victims of domestic abuse, but are too embarrassed to talk about it, a British researcher said on Friday.

Professor John Archer of the University of Central Lancashire analysed 17 international studies from the US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom published over the last 20 years.

The report included acts of physical aggression such as slapping, hitting, kicking and even extreme violence such as murder.

Women were more likely than men to receive physical injuries as a result of domestic attacks, but men were equally likely to be victims of less violent forms of abuse, he said at a British Psychological Society conference in Manchester.

"If you take into account all acts of physical aggression, then there's about equal numbers of men and women being abused," he told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

When he looked at the number of cases that resulted in injuries, he found that 38% were men and 62% were women.

"The expectation I had was that it was going to be overwhelmingly the women who got injured. Given that they are more likely to be injured, why is it that they engage in acts of aggression with their partners?" Archer asked.

"Women might think they can get away with this kind of abuse because the men who are the victims are not taken seriously. They are seen as 'whimpish' and are ridiculed. Men are supposed to put up with a little bit of injury," he said.

The study also looked at the level of fear experienced by the victims of domestic violence. He found that the levels were higher in women but the difference was not as big as he had expected.

This research could help change the way police handle domestic violence situations and may lead to an increase in counselling services for male victims, Archer suggested. But he acknowledged this sort of change was likely to take some time.

A follow-up report on his research will be published in Psychological Bulletin, the main review journal of the American Psychological Association, later this year.