On “Husband-Battering”; Are Men Equal Victims?I agree that this is one of his better posts, which doesn´t mean I agree with it. If you ask yourself why I even bother with such an old article, it is simply because that article is convincing. Among everything I have read against the "equal victims" theory, I thought that was by far the best post. And I believe there are a lot of points I can disproove.
Posted by Ampersand | June 26th, 2004
This was originally posted in November of 2002; [...]
It’s one of my better posts, in my opinion
[...] Forgive how long this post is (and it’s a monster!). Refuting untruths takes time, and I want to be thorough.Again I repeat this word for word. Refuting untruths takes time. My answer will even have more words than the original so I will split the answer, but let us start.
First, let me provide a little background. The primary argument made by men’s rights activists is that men are as likely, or more likely, to be abused by a wife or girlfriend than the reverse. They base this opinion on various family violence studies. Typical is Warren Farrell’s statement that “the great majority of two-sex studies that have been done (more than a dozen) find women and men to be equally as likely to initiate domestic violence at every level of severity.” (Farrell’s quote is a bit dated - there are now dozens such studies.)As this post is a bit outdated as well we reached the point where there are *drumroll please*
254 scholarly investigations: 199 empirical studies and 55 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 252,800.Of course quoting the Fiebert list here. Actually it is the majority of studies that show us an equal or almost equal view of domestic violence, not a dozen of misguided studies, but actually the majority. Even more so, there are actually only very few studies with contrary results. But let me quote researcher Gelles here:
My colleague Murray Straus has found that every study among more than 30 (Feck: now it is close to 200) describing some type of sample that is not self-selective (an example of self-selected samples are samples of women in battered woman shelters or women responding to advertisements recruiting research subjects; non-self-selected samples are community samples, samples of college students, or representative samples) has found a rate of assault by women on male partners that is about the same as the rate by men on female partners. The only exception to this is the U.S. Justice Department's Uniform Crime Statistics, the National Survey of Crime Victims, and the U.S. Department of Justice National Survey of Violence against Women. [...] The National Crime Victims Survey and National Survey of Violence against Women both assess partner violence in the context of a crime survey. It is reasonable to suppose both men and women underreport female-to-male partner violence in a crime survey, as they do not conceptualize such behavior as a crime.We will talk about the National Survey of Violence against Women as well as Crime vs CTS-Surveys.
I will skip a bit of the next part where Deutsch explains the first study that came up with equal numbers and just skip to the parts I disagree with.
Men’s rights activists acknowledge that government records such as police reports have found that vastly more women than men are victims of spousal assault. But they dismiss this by saying men would never admit to being abused. As Warren Farrell explains, “male socialization to ‘take it like a man’ makes men the sex more fearful of reporting their abusers.”Just a nuance, not only do MRAs say that, but also researchers. Some examples:
Men’s rights activists conclude, therefore, that data showing that men are greater abusers is invalid due to male underreporting: fairer studies, in their view, find that men are equal victims, and women are equal abusers.
Family violence in Canada (2003):And we continue...
37% of female victims of DV called the police only 15% of men did
Canadian General Social Survey (1999):
17% of male victims of DV seeked helped with "formal social agencies" compared to 48% of female victims
National family Violence Survey (1985):
Female victims are 9-time as likely to call the police and 5-time as likely to talk to a relative or friend than male victims
British Crime Survey (1996):
8% of male victims called the police compared to 22% of female victims
The empirical claims made by men’s rights activists about domestic violence are based on studies using Straus and Gelles’ Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (and also from a few studies using methodology very similar to the CTS). When I examined a bibliography of “references examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners” on a men’s rights website, for example, I found that of 86 prevalence studies cited, 59 (about 70%) used the CTS as a research tool! In order to evaluate men’s rights activists claims of equal male victimization, it is therefore necessary to examine the CTS.Deutsch is trying to attack the CTS a tool used to measure intimate partner violence. It is not only a tool. It is THE tool.
A review of the social science literature indicates that the CTS is, even according to its creators, seriously flawed when used as a comparative measure of male and female domestic victimization (i.e., the way men’s righters and anti-feminists use it).
"CTS is the best available instrument to measure intra-family violence" because of "stable factor structure, moderate reliability and concurrent validity and the strong evidence of construct validity"(Straus -The conflict tactic scale and its critics: An evaluation and new data on validity and reliability - 1990)It is also a bit ironic since feminists frequently use the CTS as CTS studies show us more victims than crime surveys. (I will add more to the feminist usage of data in the last chapter)
"Like all tests and scales, the CTS is not perfect. Nevertheless, numerous reviews by sholars, who do not hava a vested interest to shoot the messenger for the bad news, agree that the CTS is the best available instrument [...] no other scale meets this standard" (Straus - Physical assaults by women partners: A major social problem - 1997)
A short rundown on Crime vs CTS-surveys:
Notorios about Crime-surveys is the use of "buzz-words" like (victim, crime, rape, violence). People are directly asked if they have been victims of crime. If they have been raped. The use of such buzz-words leads to less people giving answers about their experience, as victims do not necessarily see their victimisation as a crime (especially minor cases fall into that category). This leads to a higher rate of severe violence that will be reported. That is why the DoJ numbers are far from everything a CTS study will find. Worse as social dogma dictates us that men can´t be victims of DV or rape far few men report crimes than women (see above for studies confirming this). Just looking at newspaper articles you will notice that domestic violence with male victims is almost never called domestic violence. Same is true for rape. Probably compareable with the 1950s. There was no word for DV these days and the shelter movement changed that, for women. Men are pretty much still there. Besides that, those statistics are interesting because they show us a trend.On with Deutsch...
In 2005 the rate of DV is half as high than it was in 1993. Same is true for the rape rates
CTS-studies avoid the use of buzz-words and ask for certain behaviours.
"Has your partner hit, slapped, kicked etc. you before"
"Have you hit, slapped etc..."
Those studies create much larger numbers and also those studies show us a more even playing field. They are also a better reflection of reality. (more minor violence than severe violence)
So in conclusion:
CTS data show us a whole picture of violence, but also most of the data are minor incidents. (Have you been slapped by your partner? - I mean who wasn´t I qualify as a victim, too). That is why we have to take numbers from CTS data with a grain of salt. They are interesting when we compare incidence and sex.
Official data usually show us more serious cases. But the dogma that men can´t be raped and that men can´t be victims of Domestic Violence skewer the gender rating.
- whole picture with a lot of minor cases
- higher incidence numbers
- results close to gender equality
- more serious cases
- gender ratio skewered because of dogma and buzz-words
- lower incidence numbers
Many critics have questioned whether the CTS’s definition of violence can fairly capture the range of marital violence. For example, none of the original CTS’s questions ask respondents about rape or sexual assault - an area in which male abusers predominate. Not asking about rape could lead to undercounting of severe male-on-female violence. (In response to this criticism, a later version of the CTS - the “CTS2″ - pasted on some questions about sexual assault. However, of the 59 CTS studies I found listed on a men’s rights website, only 3 used the CTS2).Without a doubt a lot has happened since the Original CTS Survey. A lot of researches use modified CTS scales, to research different a different context. Also different scales like the "Ongoing Violent Assasment Tool" have been developed.
About the range of maritial violence. The items of the CTS were determined by a pre-test which means that the main forms of violence are actually measured by the CTS. Moreso:
"Although the behaviovs in the CTS may be valid the method used to select behaviors to include in the CTS did not guarantee that they are an adequate sample of violent behaviors. One indication that they are an adequate sample comes from a study by Dobash and Dobash (1984) who are among the most strident critics of the CTS. They used qualitative methods to identify typical violent acts. Their list of violent acts is almost identical to the items in the CTS." (Straus - Conflict Tactics Scales in Enyclopedia of Domestic Violence - 2007)There are several studys asking for sexual violence:
From the international Dating Study (Straus 2003)
"(The)... median rate of forcetd sex perpetrated by male sutdents was 4% and by female students 1.9%"
The rates for using sexual coercion was 28% for men and 22% for women
Other studies (Anderson - An Investigation into Male Victimisation from Domestic Violence... - 1998, Fiebert - College Women who initiate Assaults on their Male Partner... -1998) found similar high incidence rates.
What does feminist data tell us (When I say feminist data I am actually talking about the "National Violence Against Women Survey". I call it feminist data because it is often cited by feminists (Mr Deutsch will be using that study as well). It is used on the NOW pages as well)?
Persons Raped or Physically Assaulted in Previous 12 MonthsIt is unlikely that including those numbers would have signifcantly changed the outcome and even those studies using the CTS2 found no huge difference
by Sex of Victim:
Women 0.2% - Men 0.0%
(Note the difference in the lifetime rates is much higher. However as most CTS studies ask for incidences in the last 12 months, this number is compareable)
More subtly, the CTS’s method of measurement may be overly literal, measuring narrowly-defined actions while failing to consider their context and meaning. As Straton points out, results of violence are ignored: the CTS “equates a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs.” Similarly, the context of violence is ignored: playful kicking in bed, considered aggressive by neither partner, is counted as more severe violence than a bone-jarring push against a wall.
It’s no coincidence that, even according to the Straus/Gelles study, women are nearly seven times as likely to report being injured as “equally abused” men are.
Deutsch is right on the money here, it is important to look at the injury rate. First I will tackle the last factoid.
The "seven times more likely to report being injured" has been cited very often. It is based on a wrong assumption though. The source of this information was a question in the National Family Violence Survey:
"In the last 12 months has either of you been hurt badly enough as a result of a convlict between you to need to see a doctor?"The question is, is saying "women are 7.5 more times more likely to report they needed to see a doctor" the same as saying "women are 7.5 times more likely to be injured than men who are assaulted by their wives".
The researcher Fontes (Fontes - Telling the truth about DV - 1998) asked Straus and Geles the same question.
Gelles answer was the following:
"... neither Professor Staus nor I can answer this question, since we did not measure injury apart from a need to see a doctor."All agreed that the survey gave no answer on the question if women are 7.5 more times more likely to be injured by domestic violence.
The question is,
"If a woman and a man sustain the exact injury, will both be just as likely to report they needto see a doctor? Or will one gender be more likely to seek professional medical attention for injuries?"That women are more likely to see a doctor is a fact known by most. As a lot of injuries resulting from Domestic Violence are minor injuries:
British Crime Survey (1996):this could mean women were more like to visit a doctor in such cases.
Bruising 35% of all cases
Broken bones 2%
National Violence Against Women Survey:
66.6% of all injuries were scratches and bruises
Murray Straus says about 33% of injuries are sustained by men. Psychologist John Archer researched 82 studies and found that of all persons who suffer an injury from partner aggression, 38% are male. (John Archer: Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review). Schwithal published his analysis of 70 international studies in his book and found that 43.4% of victims suffering injuries are men. So we are in a range between 33-43%. Or to put it in one number, arround 4 out of 10 victims of DV that suffer injuries are men.
What does the NVWS tell us? The most accurate data about the last 12 month show us that 40% of DV victims are men. In a reaximination of the data Hoff (A re-examination of NVWS data - 1999) found that 96.8% of victimized women and 90,5% of victimized men were victims of severe violence:
"hit with an object, beat up, threatened with a knife or gun, victim of a weapon"Are women more often injured? Yes. But the margin is not so huge as some people might expect.
A short note about context and self-defense, a finding of the second National Family Violence Survey:
The examination of context and consequences also produced surprises. [...] contrary to the claim that women only hit in self-defense, we found that women were as likely to initiate the violence as were men. In order to correct for a possible bias in reporting, we re-examined our data looking only at the self-reports of women. The women reported similar rates of female-to-male violence compared to male-to-female, and women also reported they were as likely to initiate the violence as were men.from here
Also several studies found that men and women act in self-defence at about the same rate (Stets, Straus - Gender differences in reporting marital violence. - 1992 | Follingstad, Wright, Lloyd, and Sebastian - Sex differences in motivations and effects in dating relationships - 1991 | Carrado, George, Loxam, et al - Aggression in British heterosexual relationships - 1996). In addition a study (Medeiros, Straus - Risk factors for physical violence between dating partners - 2007) of causes of domestic violence found that 12 of the 14 reasons applied to both men and women.
The CTS ignores not only different physical impacts of violence, but also different mental impacts of violence. A recent study indicated that violence, “even when both the man and woman participate,” leads to significantly worse outcomes for women; women are more frightened by the violence, with a greater sense of loss of personal control and well-being.By what margin? Gelles (Intimate Violence in Families - 1997) found that 30% of men suffering sever domestic violence experience depression. Follingstad (Sex differences in motivations and effects in dating violence - 1991) found that 35% were suffering from grief or depression. So it is not only women that suffer.
As a matter of common sense, there’s an enormous difference in mass and physical strength between most women and men, and that can make a big difference in how abuse “feels.” [...] I’m not denying that some individual men are badly abused, sometimes by girlfriends or wives who are much smaller than their victims. But for most male-female relationships, there’s a big difference in physical power that benefits the male, and it’s pointless to pretend it doesn’t exist.Deutsch is correct here, but missing out the so called equalizer theory. Several studies found out that women are more likely to use weapons to overcome this difference in strength. Schwithal did an analysis of this as well and found, analyzing 23 studies, that men are with 65.5% more likely to be a victim of a weapon.
This can be seen in feminist data as well. The NVWS (I am citing the yearly rates here) found that men are more likely to be hit with an object (43.2% / 22.6%), be threatend with a knife (21.6% / 12.7%) and be attacked with a knife (10.8% / 4.1%).
Phew....this was a lot and I was only covering the first 2 points (out of eight). More parts will follow, this is just the beginning...
Part 2 can be read here.