Bureau of Justice, BJS Data Report, 1989 (page 20)(quote)
At current homicide rates, the lifetime chance of being a murder victim is --
1 in 30 for black males
The Violent Couple, by William A. Stacey, Lonnie R. Hazlewood, Anson Shupe. Westport, CT: Praeger. 1994.
Bruce A. Chadwick and Tim B. Heaton, The Statistical Handbook On the American Family (Oryx Press, 1992), p. 260-262:
* 58% of serious physical altercations are initiated by the wife (as was admitted by women).
"Personality Characteristics of Falsely Accusing Parents in Custody Disputes", Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield, Sixth Annual Symposium in Forensic Psychology, 1990:
Over 85% of child sex abuse allegations in divorce and custody allegations are found false in tried court cases. In these cases, the accuser has MMPI's indicating unusual personality characteristics in 90% of cases, and the alleged perpetrator has normal MMPI's in 95% of cases.
"Physical Assaults by Wives - A Major Social Problem", Dr. Murray Straus, edited by Richard Gelles and Donileen Loseke; "Current Controversies on Family Violence". 1993, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA.:
"The purpose of this chapter is to review research that shows that women initiate and carry out physical assaults on their partners as often as men do. A second purpose is to show that, despite the much lower probability of physical injury resulting from attacks by women, assaults by women are a serious social problem, just as it would be if men "only" slapped their wives or "only" slapped female fellow employees and produced no injury."....
"Without adjustment for injury, the National Family Violence Survey produces and estimate of more than 6 million women assaulted by a male partner each year, of which 1.8 million are "severe" assaults (Straus and Gelles, 1990). If the injury adjusted rate is used, the estimate is reduced to 188,000 assaulted women per year. The figure of 1.8 million seriously assaulted women every year has been used in many legislative hearings and countless feminist publications to indicate the prevalence of the problem."....
"The Kentucky study also brings out a troublesome question of scientific ethics, because it is one of several in which the data on assaults by women were intentionally suppressed".......
"Studies of residents in shelters for battered women are sometimes cited to show that it is only their male partners who are violent. However, these studies rarely obtain or report information on assaults by women, and when the do, they ask only about self-defense".....
"Data on calls for domestic assaults to the police are biased in ways that are similar to the bias of the National Crime Victimization Survey. As in the NCVS, at least 93% of the cases are missed, probably because there was no injury of threat of serious injury great enough to warrant calling the police. Because the cases for which police are called tend to involve injury or chronic severe assault, and because that tends to be a male pattern, assaults by women are rarely recorded by police"....
Two recent gender-specific estimates of the rates for partner homiced indicate that wives murder male partners at a rate that is 56% (Straus, 1986) and 62% (Browne & Williams, 1989) as great as the rate of partner homicides by husbands".....
"Of the 495 couples in the 1985 National Family Violence Survey for whom one or more assaultive incidents were reported by a woman respondent, the husband was the only violent partner in 25.9% of cases, the wife was the only one to be violent in 25.5% of cases, and both were violent in 48% of cases. Thus a minimum estimate of violence by wives that is not self defense because the wife is the only one to have used violence in the past 12 months is 25%"....
"Perhaps the real gender difference occurs in assaults that carry a greater risk of causing physical injury, such as punching, kicking, and attacks with weapons. This hypothesis was investigated using the 211 wives who reported one or more instances of a "severe" assault. The resulting proportions were similar: both, 35.2%; husband only, 35.2%; and wife only, 29.6%"......
"The findings just reported show that regardless of whether the analysis is based on all assaults or is focused on dangerous assaults, about as many women as men attack spouses who had NOT hit them during the one-year refernt period. This is inconsistent with the self-defense explanation for the high rate of domestic assault by women".....
"A large scale Canadian study found that women struck the first blow about as often as men. However, as in the case of the Kentucky survey mentioned earlier, the authors have not published the finding, perhaps because they are not "politically correct.""......
"The discrepancy between the findings from surveys of family problems and findings based on criminal justice system data or the experiences of women in shelters for battered women does not indicate that one set of statistics is correct and the other not. Both are correct. However, they apply to different goups of people and reflect different aspects of domestic assault. Most of the violence that is revealed in surveys of family problems is relatively minor and relatively infrequent, whereas most of the violence in official statistics is chronic and severe and involves injuries that need medical attention. These two types of violence probably have different etiologies and probably require different types of intervention. It is important not to use findings based on cases known to the police or shelters for battered women as the basis for deciding how to deal with the relatively minor and infrequent violence found in the population in general. That type of unwarranted generalization of often made: it is known as the 'clinical falllacy'".......
"It follows from the above that efforts to prevent assaults by husbands must include attention to assaults by wives"......
Brinkerhoff, Merlin B.; Grandin, Elaine; Lupri, Eugen; "Religious Involvement And Spousal Violence: The Canadian Case", Journal For The Scientific Study Of Religion, Vol. 31, Number 1, 1992, pages 15-31.
Examines the influence of religious denomination and church attendance on spousal violence. The study found that religion had little to do with spousal violence. It dispels the prejudice that rigidly patriarchal men would be more prone to beat their wives than men generally. Other variables were looked at to explain male to female violence and female to male violence. Some relationship was found between lack of church attendance and family violence.
Gelles, R.J. The violent home: A study of physical aggression between husbands and wives Sage, Beverly Hills CA, 1974
In 1974, a study was done which compared male and female domestic violence. In that study, it was found that 47% of husbands had used physical violence on their wives, and 33% of wives had used violence on their husbands (Gelles 1974). Half of the respondents in this study were selected from either cases of domestic violence reported to the police, or those identified by the social service agency.
This is a watershed study and it has been widely cited. There has been severe criticism of Gelles' conflict scales.
Chesanow, Neil, Violence at Home, New Woman, February 1992, pg. 96-98. [note: this is a very interesting article, particularly so since it appeared in a women's magazine and argues that women are equally violent towards men in intimate relationships. One of the bases for Chesanow's arguments is that domestic violence among lesbian intimates is roughly as common as domestic violence among heterosexual intimates -- based on crime statistics.]
Curtis, L.A. Criminal violence: National patterns and behavior Lexington Books, Lexington MA, 1974
In 1974, a study was released showing that the number of murders of women by men (17.5% of total homicides) was about the same as the number of murders of men by women (16.4% of total homicides). This study (Curtis 1974), however, showed that men were three times as likely to assault women as vice-versa. These statistics came from police records.
Wolfgang, M. Patterns in Criminal Homicide Wiley, New York, 1958
Mercy, J.A. & Saltzman, L.E. "Fatal violence among spouses in the United States, 1976-85" American Journal of Public Health 79(5): 595-9 May 1989
Curtis's murder statistic was no big news, by the way. In 1958, an investigation of spousal homicide between 1948 and 1952 found that 7.8% of murder victims were husbands murdered by wives, and 8% were wives murdered by husbands (Wolfgang 1958). More recently, in a study of spousal homicide in the period from 1976 to 1985, it was found that there was an overall ratio of 1.3:1.0 of murdered wives to murdered husbands, and that "Black husbands were at greater risk of spouse homicide victimization than Black wives or White spouses of either sex." (Mercy & Saltzman 1989)
Does this study adequately represent the contribution of ex-spouses to the homicide rate? Bronis Vidugiris examines the data sources for it. study Steinmetz , Suzanne K. The cycle of violence: Assertive, aggressive and abusive family interaction Praeger Press, New York, 1977
Steinmetz, Suzanne K. The Battered Husband Syndrome Victimology 2, 1977-1978, p. 499
In 1977, Suzanne Steinmetz released results from several studies showing that the percentage of wives who have used physical violence is higher than the percentage of husbands, and that the wives' average violence score tended to be higher, although men were somewhat more likely to cause greater injury. She also found that women were as likely as men to initiate physical violence, and that they had similar motives for their violent acts (Steinmetz 1977-78).
Nisonoff, L. & Bitman, I Spouse Abuse: Incidence and Relationship to Selected Demographic Variables, Victimology 4, 1979, pp. 131-140
In 1979, a telephone survey was conducted in which subjects were asked about their experiences of domestic violence (Nisonoff & Bitman 1979). 15.5% of the men and 11.3% f the women reported having hit their spouse; 18.6% of the men and 12.7% of the women reported having been hit by their spouse.
Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J., and Steinmetz, S.K. Behind Closed oors: Violence in American families, Doubleday, New York, 1980
In 1980, a team of researchers, including Steinmetz, attempted to address some concerns about the earlier surveys (Straus, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980). They created a nationally representative study of family violence and found that the total violence scores seemed to be about even between husbands and wives, and that wives tended to be more abusive in almost all categories except pushing and shoving.
Straus, M.A. & Gelles, R.J. "Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys" Journal of Marriage and the Family 48, po. 465-479, 1986
Straus & Gelles did a followup survey in 1985, comparing their data to a 1975 survey (Straus & Gelles 1986). They found that in that decade, domestic violence against women dropped from 12.1% of women to 11.3% while domestic violence against men rose from 11.6% to 12.1%. The rate of severely violent incidents dropped for both groups: From 3.8% to 3.0% of women victimized and from 4.6% to 4.4% for men.
Sexuality Today Newsletter "Violence in Adolescent Dating Relationships Common, New Survey Reveals" December 22, 1986 (reporting on a report in Social Work contact Karen Brockopp) pp 2-3.
In 1986, a report appeared in Social Work, the journal of the National Association of Social Workers (Nov./Dec. 1986) on violence in adolescent dating relationships, in which it was found that girls were violent more frequently than boys.
O'Leary, K. Daniel; Arias, Ilena; Rosenbaum, Alan & Barling, Julian "Premarital Physical Aggression" State University of New York at Stony Brook & Syracuse University
Another report on premarital violence (O'Leary, et al) found that 34% of the males and 40% of the females reported engaging in some form of physical aggression against their mates in a year. 17% of women and 7% of men reported engaging in severe physical aggression. 35% of the men and 30% of the women reported having been abused.
Daly, M. & Wilson, M. "Parent-Offspring Homicides in Canada, 1974-1983" Science v. 242, pp. 519-524, 1988
Nagi, Saad Child Maltreatment in the United States Columbia University Press, New York, p. 47, 1977
Statistical Abstract of the United States 1987 table 277
The idea of women being violent is a hard thing for many people to believe. It goes against the stereotype of the passive and helpless female. This, in spite of the fact that women are known to be more likely than men to commit child abuse and child murder (Daly & Wilson 1988 report 54% of parent-child murders where the child is under 17 were committed by the mother in Canada between 1974 and 1983, for instance. The Statistical Abstract of the United States 1987 reports that of reported child maltreatment cases between 1980 and 1984 between 57.0% and 61.4% of these were perpetrated by the mother. Nagi 1977 found 53.1% of perpetrators were female, 21% male and 22.6%.
Note that because mothers tend to have more access to children than do fathers that these results should not be interpreted to mean that were things equal, women would still commit more abuse).
Pence, Ellen, and Paymar, Michael: (1993) Education Groups for Men Who Batter: The Duluth Model New York/Springfer Publishing Co.
Pence and Paymar in "Education Groups for Men who Batter" have documented 100 cases of husband battering in 10 years of serving victims of DV. of these they say 7 were men who were actually afraid to go home and were sheltered and advised on how to peacefully get out of the relationship. 7 of the several thousand cases of women in the same predicament seems miniscule, unless you're one of the seven. I'm going to guess that Liz' point is that statistics that count the number of blows delivered by each member of the couple doesn't really tell the story of DV. The subjugation of one human being by another often takes other forms than just hitting. This happens to men who are in relationships they don't understand and who are taken advantage in other ways. The outcome is not as compelling, that is, it doesn't come out in Emergency Room statistics and there may not be any blood on the kitchen floor but it's victimization all the same. It leaves it's mark on the male victim and on the children all the same.
McNeely, R.L.. and Robinson-Simpson, G(1987)The Truth about Domestic Violence: A Falsely Framed Issue.Social Work32(6)485-490
Excerpt from the text of the book: "Yet, while repeated studies consistently show that men are victims of domestic violence as often as are women, `both the lay public and many professionals regard a finding of no sex difference in rates of physical aggression among intimates as surprising, if not unreliable,' the stereotype being that men are aggressive `and women are exclusively victims.' "
O'Leary K. Daniel., Barling J., Arias, Ilena, Rosenbaum Alan, Malone J., and Tyree A., "Prevalence and stability of physical aggression between spouses: a longitudinal analysis," Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 57(2):263-268, 1989.
This report notes that 31% of men and 44% of women in a study reported that they aggressed against their partner in the year before marriage. Eighteen months after marriage, 27% of the men and 36% of the women reported being violent towards their partner.
Steinmetz, Suzanne K. and Lucca, Joseph S. "Husband Battering" in Handbook of Family Violence Van Hasselt, Vincent B. et al. editors, Plenum Press, New York 1988, p. 233-246
Drs. Steinmetz and Lucca note that "the greatest increase in female criminal activity parallels the increasing number of women who hold positions of trust in the business world." This report should not be seen simply as an indicator of female aggressiveness, but also as an indicator that there is something about being in "positions of trust" that enables, if you will, aggressiveness. The article contains a lengthy discussion of the use of battered husbands in humor.
The data from the US National Crime Survey (NCS) states that 84% of the victims of "intimate" violence were female. ("Highlights from 20 years of Surveying Crime Victims", NCJ-144525.)
It puts the occurrence of this violent crime (from "intimates only") at 5.4 female victims per 1000 women per year - this is all crimes, some of which did _not_ involve injury.
For comparison, the rate for "Accidental injury, all circumstances" is given as 220 per 1000 adults per year - a figure 40 times higher.
If one accepts data such as that from the NCS, one must (at least if one is consistent and intellectually honest) admit that such violence is rare. The picture changes, though, when different techniques of investigation (methodologies) are used, such as those by Straus and Gelles. This data shows that domestic violence is MUCH more common. In fact, some degree of violence (NOT injury, however) occurs at a rate of 113 incidents per 1000 couples per year (husband. on wife) and 121 incidents per 1000 couples per year (wife on husband)! This is 20x the rate that the NCS reports.
Many readers may have seen the material below already, but it may be new to others.
To give a little background on how the rates of violence were determined, by Straus & Gelles I include the following question from the published survey for the CTS methodology:
Question 35: No matter how well a couple gets allong, there are times when they disagree, get annoyed with the other person, or just have spats or fights because they're in a bad mood or tired or for some other reason. They also use many different ways of trying to settle their differences. I'm going to read some things that you and your spouse might do when you have an argument. I would like you to tell me how many times in the last 12 months you:
To summarize, Straus & Gelles, using the CTS methodology described above found that rates for total (including less severe violence, such as pushing and shoving) between husbands and wives are quite close) for husbands and wives, with one survey showing husbands as more violent and the other with wives as more violent.
I should note that the CTS figures (and probably the Kentucky figures as well) show only raw incidents of violence, and do not take into account motivation or 'self defense'.
Other data, however indicates that the gender of the striker of the first blow is fairly uniform. Jan. E States and Murray A Straus, "Gender Differences in Reporting Marital Violence and It's Medical and Psychological Consequences", ch 9 in Straus & Gelles "Physical Violence in American Families" quote the following:
The women claimed men hit them first in 43% of the cases, that they struck the first blow in 53% of the cases, and "couldn't remember" in 5% of the cases.
However, data for injury rates based on these studies shows women seeking treatment for a doctor much more often than men did. In a study of 8145 families 7.3% of 137 women severely assaulted (i.e. 10 out of 137) and 1% of 95 men severely assaulted (i.e 1 out of 95) men needed a doctor.
(all figures are rates per 1000 couples per year, and the CTS figures are based on two national surveys of a representative population sample)
To give a little background on how the rates of violence were determined, by Strauss & Gelles I include the following question from the published survey for the CTS methodology:
No matter how well a couple gets along, there are times when they disagree, get annoyed with the other person, or just have spats or fights because they're in a bad mood or tired or for some other reason. They also use many different ways of trying to settle their differences. I'm going to read some things that you and your spouse might do when you have an argument. I would like you to tell me how many times in the last 12 months you:
a) Discussed an issue calmly
A lot of people try to make a big deal out of the anomalies in the very-low-sample size data from Bulcroft and Straus.
From: email@example.com (Bronis Vidugiris)
I can give some useful information on how men have felt about police intervention from "Intimate Violence" by Straus & Gelles. This data appears to be vintage about 1985 (things may have changed). Sample size is pretty low (due to low number of sample who called the police in the first place).
Police intervention when called by men is similar to intervention when the caller is female. Mediation is still the most common intervention. Police were most likely to try to calm everyone down, take time to listen to the story, take information, and file a report. Two of the men who called the police were themselves arrested, while the police never arrested the wife or female partner of the man who called. The range of actions and interventions used by the police was much narrower when they were called by men; neither the man or his partner was ordered out of the house, no threats of arrest were made, and there was no hitting or pushing of the parties involved in the marital violence. Two men said the police did nothing.
Men were a bit less pleased with how the police handled their calls. Less than half said that in general what the police did was all right. Although more than half of the men who called the police reported they were satisfied with the manner in which the situation was handled.
There are some percentage figures in the appendix, the numerical data for satisfaction isn't given though.
The sample size here is very low (N=17 for male callers, N=24 for female callers).
Broke up fight: male callers 9.2% female callers 41.5%
Nisonoff, L. & Bitman, I "Spouse Abuse: Incidence and Relationship to Selected Demographic Variables" Victimology 4, 1979, pp. 131-140
(found that men and women reported quite similar instances of violence both by them and by their partner)
Steinmetz , Suzanne K. "The Battered Husband Syndrome" Victimology 2, 1977-1978, p. 499
Steinmetz, Suzanne K. The cycle of violence: Assertive, aggressive and abusive family interaction Praeger Press, New York, 1977
(found that wives were *more* violent than husbands. Steinmetz later left the field after alleging that infuriated feminists had made death threats against her children, it's an ugly little crowd you run with, William.)
Mercy, J.A. & Saltzman, L.E. "Fatal violence among spouses in the United States, 1976-85" American Journal of Public Health 79(5): 595-9 May 1989
(Two studies, 30 years apart, showing that on average wives kill husbands at a similar rate to that at which husbands kill wives.)
Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J., and Steinmetz, S.K. Behind closed doors: Violence in American families, Doubleday, New York, 1980
(addressed earlier methodological problems, shows spousal abuse to be almost gender-neutral in almost all categories of violence.
Straus, M.A. & Gelles, R.J. "Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys" Journal of Marriage and the Family 48, po. 465-479, 1986 (shows that domestic violence by women is increasing and violence by men is decreasing. A more recent study, reported at a conference by Straus, shows the trend is continuing)
Overview by Dave Usher:
Even the Independent Women's Forum, which tends to see things more realistically, falls into the trap of focusing on "injury rates", thus still blaming a male for being the physically stronger in most spousal situations. Of course, a man must use his strength wisely, and we should all expect this responsibility of men. However, in the middle of a heated spousal disagreement where a woman is coming at a man in all her fury (possibly with a hot iron or cast iron frying pan), one cannot necessarily blame the husband if things get out seriously out hand and he wins the "wrestling match." How often we will watch a small child pick on a larger one to initiate a brouhaha, upon which the small child will run to the nearest adult claiming victim status, proudly displaying an injury of some sort. Of course, the good parent will discipline and/or counsel both children, for they are equally responsible for taking part in the altercation but for different reasons. The poor parent will blame the bigger child for everything. The younger child becomes empowered to continue the crazymaking behavior, and is sent the message that it is OK to "bullyrag" another person to get what he or she wants. The key factor in all of this is that it is not the injury that involkes victim status, it is what each individual has done in the powerplays that take part in "immature" or otherwise dysfunctional relationships.
We should focus on the fact that most domestic disputes begin as very minor and infrequent spousal disagreements. As Strauss points out, the "clinical fallacy" reminds us that the vast majority of spousal altercations are not clinical in nature.
In healthy relationships, spousal differences are settled by working through the problem or "agreeing to disagree." In unhealthy relationships, the winning is more important than anything else, and an downward spiral of events and round-robins ensues, leading to more severe disagreements and "powerplays" over time.
The majority of what we call "spouse abuse" and "domestic violence" is truly a simple public mental health problem revolving around unhealthy "control" and "powerplay" issues. If we were to treat these problems as such in the courts and society, as preventable and treatable emotional disorders, we would see very positive results for marriages, family, and society.