What we also need to know about domestic violence

David L. Fontes, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, PSY#18439
(916) 685-5258, ex. 18


September 23, 1999

How many know that the same research which is used to say that a woman is severely assaulted by her husband/boyfriend every 15 second in this country, also indicated that a man is severely assaulted by his wife/girlfriend every 14.6 seconds.
(Straus, M. A., 1977)

How many know that although most Archival research (data which comes from police arrest reports, hospital records, judicial reports, and domestic violence shelters usually set up to help female victims) indicates only a small percentage of male victims of domestic violence (5-15%), that the vast majority of scientific Survey research continues to indicate that husbands and wives are assaulting each other at nearly the same rate, a range from 35 to 50 percent male victims.
(Straus, M. A., 1977; Steinmetz, 1978; Brutz & Ingoldby 1981; Makepeace 1981; Makepeace 1983; Elliot, D. S. et al., 1985; Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R., 1986; Meredith et al. 1986; Szinovacz, 1987; Barling et al., 1987; Mason & Blankenship, 1987; O’Leary & Arias, 1988; Malcolm, G., 1994; Dunn, K., 1994; Coochey, J., 1995; Carrado et al., 1996; Fiebert, M.S. & Gonzalez, D.M., 1997)

How many know that when Gender Feminist groups and domestic violence workers are exposed to these facts they will immediately minimize the importance of these studies by raising the argument that even if women do assault their partner it is usually for the reason of self-defense, yet they produce no scientific research to support this claim other than some case studies or anecdotal information. Although limited, scientific research data suggests that only 10-20% of women assault their male partners for reasons of self-defense. Domestic violence shelters are likely to see these women and are less likely to see the 80-90% of women who assault their husbands/boyfriends for reasons other than self-defense. Interesting, about 30% of the men said they assaulted their partner in self-defense.
(Carrado, et al., 1996; Sommer, 1992)

How many know that survey research suggest that women who are assaulted are 9 times more likely to report to police and 5 times more likely to tell a friend/relative than men who are assaulted by their wives. (Stets, J. & Straus, M. A., 1990) In general only about 8-10% of women who are assaulted and 1-2% of men who are assaulted report the assault to an agency/authority. (Fontes, 1998) This is likely why archival data indicates more female victims.

How many know that most assaults between partners are mutual 48.6%, men only 25.5%, and women only 25.9%. Or that women are more likely to strike the first blow against their intimate partner, as reported by women themselves. (Straus, 1997) One study showed that 83% of the couples studies engaged in “bi-directional or mutual physical aggression.” (Jennifer Langhinrich-Rohling et al., 1996).

How many know that 60% of women who are arrested for domestic violence against their husbands have previous criminal records.
(Jurik, N. C., 1989; Jurik, N. C., & Gregware, P., 1989)

How many know that although the latest U.S. Department of Justice study, funded by the National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (November 1998) found that there are twice the number of women who report injuries from an intimate partner than men, the study nevertheless found that 39%, almost 40% of victims of intimate partner assault were men. This percentage comes out to projected number of 834,732 men were assaulted by their intimate partners in a twelve month period, compared to 1,309,061 female victims.