Monday, August 31, 2009

Re: Are men equal victims? - Part 2

This is the second part of my take on an old article by Ampersand about husband battering. The first part can be read here, the original here. On with the show.
According to Michael Johnson, the CTS’s dependence on voluntary interviews with a representative sample population could create a strong bias against measuring the worse cases of domestic violence: “men who systematically terrorize their wives would hardly be likely to agree to participate in such a survey, and the women whom they beat would probably be terrified at the possibility that their husband might find out that they had answered such questions.” Straus himself seems to agree with this criticism.
This critic is a bit hypocritical as the critic is true for every survey including 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. Also this point of view is slightly biased. Willl male victims act different? Will female perpetrators of domestic violence be more willing to participate in such a survey?

Let us look at what Straus actually said (Conflict Tactics Scales in Enyclopedia of Domestic Violence - 2007)
Although the CTS has repeatedly been found to uncover higher rates of partner violence than other instruments, these rates are nonetheless lower-bound estimates because of underreporting. In addition. a meta-analysis (Archer 1999) found that although both men and women underreport, the extent of underreporting is greater for men. Perhaps the most serious type of underreporting is by partners or victims of partners who engage in repeated severe assaults that often produce injuries. Although such extreme violence is only a tiny percentage of partner violence, the perpetrators and the victims of such acts are the ones in most urgent need of intervention. This problem is a limitation of survey research on partner violence rather than a unique problem of the CTS.[...] An instrument's sensitivity is its ability to detect the occurrence of a phenomenon. Sensitivity is a critical aspect of validity. It is especially important for self-report measures of socially undesirable behaviors such as those measured by four of the five CTS2 scales. When the CTS is administered according to the standard instructions it obtains many times more disclosure of violence than the most widely used measures, such as the National Crime Victimization Survey and rates or cases reported to Child Protective Services.
So Deutsch was definately not wrong here. What does Archer (Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review) find out?
"... data from perpetrator ratings and victim ratings indicate that there is a greater measure of agreement than past critics have suggested"
And indeed when  Straus analysed the second NVWS again and compared the answers women were giving with those men were giving he found no significant difference.

In conclusion Archer as well as Straus believe that underreporting is a problem (that all surveys of that kind have) but also believe that involved cases are also a minority.
Sampling error is always a concern, of course, but there are reasons to think it’s a bigger problem with the Straus/Gelles work than in most. For one thing, according to Michael Johnson, Straus and Gelles people who refused to answer screening questions were not included when Straus and Gelles calculated their 84% response rate; taking this discrepancy into account, the actual response rate may be closer to 60%, low enough to create a severe danger of sampling bias. More importantly, Straus and Gelles compiled information only about abuse within current, ongoing relationships; but fear of a current abusive partner would obviously make a victim hesitate to be frank with interviewers. It’s much safer for a victim of severe battery to refuse to be interviewed altogether, in such circumstances.
Looking at the data we have now it is hard to believe that about 200 empirical studies conducted all over the globe all suffer from sampling error or faulty methodology. Additionaly it is hard to believe that the study Deutsch will be citing in the next part has a higher response rate, when people not giving all answers were not counted.
In contrast, when the US Bureau of Justice statistics did a similar study (see part 5, below), they designed the interview process to enourage current victims to report honestly (they put protections in place to assure that the person interviewed could respond safely while alone in the house, without the spouse’s knowledge), and did not ask only about current relationships. They also had a higher response rate, which means a much lower chance of serious sampling error.
Deutsch is talking about the National Violence against Women Survey. He is forgetting a key fact though, the study he is critisizing show us actually more female victims than the NVWS. Again, and think about it, the study Deutsch is citing has less female victims (and yearly rates that show us 40% of Domestic Violence victims are men). If one study suffers from victims not reporting it is the NVWS and we will talk about the "why" in chapter 5.

Straus explains the problem many feminist sholars have with CTS-studies
The CTS is both the most widely used measure of family violence and also the most widely criticized. Extensive critical examination is appropriate for any widely used instrument because, if the instrument is wrong then a great deal of research will also be wrong. In the case of the CTS however the most frequent criticisms reflect ideological differences rather than empirical evidence. Specifically many feminist scholars reject the CTS because studies using this instrument find that about the sarme percentage of women as men assault their partners. This contradicts the feminist theory that partner violence is almost exclusively comitted by men as a means to dominate women, and is therefore taken as prima face evidence that the CTS is not valid. Ironically, the fact that the CTS has provided some of the best evidence confirming the Link between male dominance and partner violence and other key aspects of feminist theory of partner violence (Coleman and Staus 1990, Straus 1994) has not shaken the belief that the CTS is invalid. Another irony is that despite these denunciations, many feminist researchers use the CTS. However, having used the CTS they reafirm their feminist credentials by routinely inserting a paragraph repeating some of the erroneous criticisms. These criticisms are then cited in other articles as though there were empirical evidence. Anyone reviewing these studies would have the impression that there is a large body of empirical evidence showing the invalidity on the CTS. Whereas there is only endless repetition of the same unvalidated opinions. [...] There is a large amount of research showing that the CTS have a stable factor structure and moderate to high reliability (Archer, 1999; Yodanis, Hill, & Straus, 1997). There is also extensive evidence of construct validity (Straus, 1990a). The original CTS have been successfully used in many countries and with different ethnic groups within the United States (Yodanis et al., 1997).
And on with Stranton.
Jack Stranton points out another important sampling bias: the CTS, as used in the original Straus/Gelles research and most of the research that follows it, excludes violence that occurs after a divorce or separation. However, such violence accounts for 76% of spousal assaults, and is overwhelmingly committed by men; excluding this violence disproportionately omits most spousal violence against women.
Yes, and Stranton is citing the Department of Justice family violence report (1984) based on the National Crime Victimisation Survey. And apparently men in the 80s were even less likely to report their victimisation. compared with the data from 2005 (4% ->27%) men are apparently more likely to report, or women have become more violent. Keep in mind the numbers he is citing is based on a sample consisting of 4% men and 96% women. I talked about underreporting of male victims in Part 1 before, but there is more to this. The NCVS is a prime example on how a methodology of a survey has an impact on the outcome of the survey as the survey was redesigned in the 90s.
Why redesign? Criticism of the earlier survey's capacity to gather information about certain crimes, including sexual assaults and domestic violence prompted numerous improvements. Improved survey methodology improves the ability of people being interviewed to recall events.(1995 - National Crime Victimization Survey Redesign - Fact Sheet)
Remeber before the redesign, more than 90% of victims of domestic violence were women. After the redesign, we have twice as much female victims and suddenly a different gender ratio (13:1 -> 7:1 (Straus - The controversy Over Domestic Violence by Women - 1999)) as more male victims also talk about their victimisation. Is it surprising that when we avoid the word crime at all that even more women and men talk about their victimisation? It is not, and feminist wouldn´t critisize the CTS, if it weren´t for the male victims. Straus has an interesting example here.
The Canadian Violence Against Women Survey, for example, investigated alternatives to the CTS for more than a year, including extensive consultation with experts and battered women's advocates, focus groups,  public hearings, and field testing (H. Johnson, 1994). In the end, the Canadian study measured physical assaults with the nine items in the CTS1 but with one minor and one major modification. The minor modification was to add the phrase "that could hurt" to three CTSl items, such as "thrown something at you" (Statistics Canada, 1993, p. 5). The major modification was to delete the questions asking about assaults by the female respondents on their partners. (Straus - CONFLICT TACTICS SCALES (CTS) SOURCEBOOK)
Buisness as usual. We reach chapter 4 now.
CTS studies leave thousands of abused women uncounted. According to a CTS study, a typical woman in a battered woman’s shelter reports having been assaulted by a spouse 65 times in the year previous to admission. Straus and Gelles’ national study found that there are about 80,000 women in the United States who are abused at that level. In contrast, data from battered women’s shelters show that up to 490,000 women use shelters each year - and that figure doesn’t even include thousands of severely battered women who don’t make it to a shelter.. This huge discrepancy shows that instances of severe woman-battering, far from being fairly measured by the men’s rights activists favorite studies, are in fact badly undercounted.
What is definately not good about Deutsch´s post is that you can not see which source gives us the above fact. We again reach the hypocratical as the CTS measures more victims than the NVWS or the NCVS meaning these two studies of Deutsch´s choice leave even more victims uncounted. Consider this, according to the NVWS the average victimisations per victim for physical assault in the last 12 months was 3.1 for women.

But let us go into detail, so one CTS study says a typical (does that mean an average, a median or a typical women staying at a shelter? we can only guess) woman in a womans shelter is battered 65 times in the previous year, another CTS study found that 80,000 women were battered about 65 times a previous year and a third estimate (?) based on women´s shelters data show us that up to 490,000 women use shelters each year. Interesting argumentation.

In my opinion one can not equate the number of women staying in shelters with the worst cases of domestic violence. I tried to come up with some numbers for sheltered women, but apparently there is no census (or I was not able to find one, is there one?) that counts yearly numbers. There is a census however that does take snapshot data, what was going on on a specific day in any shelter that could be reached via phone. Findings from a Canadian survey (I am not sure if the same is true for the USA, but it would surprise me if it is not that way) found the following.
This release is based on the Juristat, "Canada's Shelters for Abused Women, 2003/04", that presents results from the biennial Transition Home Survey (THS).
The THS is a census of all residential facilities that provide shelter primarily to female victims of domestic violence.


Nearly one-third of all women who had sought temporary accommodation in a shelter for abused women on April 14, 2004 had stayed there at some time during the past, according to a new report.


Women using shelters for reasons other than to escape abuse constituted about one-quarter (24%) of shelter residents. Over two-thirds of these women sought shelter because they were unable to find affordable housing.


The vast majority of the women staying in shelters to escape abuse were fleeing psychological or emotional abuse. Almost 7 out of 10 reported physical abuse, 50% threats, 46% financial abuse, 31% harassment and 27% sexual abuse.
A woman in a shelter could have been in a shelter before, could have been there for a reason other than abuse and not all women were fleeing physical abuse (many victims of DV (men and women alike) say the psychological / emotional abuse is worse than the physical, I am just refering to the number Deutsch brought up) which makes counting badly battered women via estimates of women in shelters impossible.
When combined with Michael Johnson and Jack Stranton’s observations about sampling bias, it seems clear that the CTS simply isn’t measuring the worse cases of violence against women.
Wrong again. It is true that the percentage of the worst cases is higher than in criminal surveys as the CTS also finds much more minor cases.

I skipped parts of the next part as Deutsch was talking about men reporting in criminal studies which I covered more than once before.
[...] Russell Dobash pointed out “that women have their own reasons to be reticent, fearing both the loss of a jailed or alienated husband’s economic support and his vengeance.” 
I believe the above is true, but we should not forget that often abused  men can’t leave an abusive
relationship because they may fear for their child’s safety or worry about losing the relationship with their children. Which is pretty much the other side of the coin.
Moreover, surveys of domestic violence victims in the US and Canada have found that men are more likely to call the police after being assaulted by their partner. So while it’s true that both men and women have motivation not to report their abuse, it’s just not true that men are actually less likely to report abuse than women.
This factoid is based on National Crime Surveys before their redesign. Men partaking in that survey were actually a minority of battered men, probably highlighting few of the worst cases measured by that survey. Remeber the gender ratio in that survey was really skewered (less than 10% were men). Again I referred to several studies showing the opposite in the first part of my answer. And you know what, after this comes up for the second time I will give you some more studies.
47% Of female victims and 16% of male victims called the police. Only 39% of male victims defined their expierience as domestic violence but 77% of women did. (Scottish Crime Survey 2000)

Women are more likely to report minor cases to officials: Only 25% of all cases reported by women were severe cases compared to 86% of cases reported by men. Men were injured in most of this cases and most of this cases also involved weapons (most often knives) (McLeod - Women against men: An examination of domestic violence based on an analysis of official data and national victimization data - 1984)
Often victimised men are not taken serious by the police (Farrell - 1993 | Wilkinson - Children and divorce - 1981) and often that leads to men not reporting their victimisation (Steinmetz - The battered husband syndrome - 1980 | Machietto - Aspects of male victimisation and female aggression - 1992)
Malcolm George (Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men as the Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence - 1994) made a nice summary.
Straus & Gelles (1986) sum up much of the problem we find when discussing male victims of female violence when they say "Violence by wives has not been an object of public concern. There has been no publicity, and no funds have been invested in ameliorating this problem because it has not been defined as a problem" (p. 472, italics added). It can be argued that by defining wife battering as the problem, and husband battering as a non-problem, realistic estimates of husband-battering, be they large or small, are nearly impossible to obtain. It is easy, for instance, to argue that battered husbands occur only as rare and isolated cases. Nearly all male victims are isolated individuals owing to the relative paucity of groups willing to acknowledge their victim status. The fact is that a large proportion of the social agencies that deal with family violence target only female victims. Thus we should not be surprised if these groups do not find evidence of male victims of domestic violence. Further, the politicized nature of domestic violence among many within academia mitigates against finding any evidence of male victims. Consequently, some professionals, like mental health professionals, may be insensitive or even hostile to a man describing himself in victim terms (Macchieto, 1992). Added to all this, the traditional stereotypes give creditability to a woman to be seen as a victim. The stereotypes associated with men, however, lead most to deny such a possibility or to ridicule' such a notion as male-as-victim (Farrell, 1993; Wilkinson, 1981). This clearly deters men from making such an admission (Machietto, 1992; Steinmetz, 1980). Also, male victims may be aware, if only dimly, that to proclaim victim status will only lead to unfavorable or unequal treatment compared with female victims (Harris & Cook, 1994).
If a man is attacked by his wife and decides to call the police, he is the one who is likely to be arrested. (quoted in Wolff, 1992, p. 22)
She was knocking the shit out of me; no one would believe me. (Male victim and resident of the Kingsland Estate, Hackney, London, England speaking on Kingsland, Channel 4, television documentary, 4th June 1992)
When you are talking to your mates, it's hard to admit you're being bullied by a woman. (quoted in Kent, 1993, p. 37)
Steinmetz (1980) has suggested that some men, following traditional social norms, consider it unmanly to attack or even retaliate against an assault by a woman. Further, when men and women rate violent male-female interactions, they perceive male-to-female aggression as more negative than female-to-male aggression (Arias & Johnson, 1989). By implication, female-to-male violence has a type of social acceptance not accorded to male-to-female violence (Greenblatt, 1983). Thus while it is argued that "society does not appear to shape the attitudes of most men and women to accept the use of violence by men against women..." (O'Leary, 1993, p. 24), we could suggest that society does appear to condone the use of violence by a woman against a man.
And finally, the whole issue of male victimization can be suggested to receive scant attention because of the threat it poses to masculine self images and "patriarchal" authority, as much as for any threat it poses towards efforts to counter female victimization. The lack of attention of female aggression, as opposed to male aggression, has been suggested to be rooted in scholarly debates on nature, culture, and gender in which "sameness" or "differences" are key issues; but actually result from a reluctance to consider similarities between men and women, as opposed to differences (Fry & Gabriel, 1994). Thus it is not surprising that domestic violence against women, as opposed to men, is a socially acceptable concern and receives study and support. This reinforces two more easily recognized social stereotypes, female vulnerability and male authority or dominance, and protectiveness. The admission and recognition of male victimization, in the battered husband, is the antithesis of this acceptable order and an equality between the sexes that has been resisted historically, especially by men (e.g., see judgments in the Willan vs. Willan and Teal vs. Teal cases, Bates, 1981).

No matter their number, battered men deserve better than to be seen as little more than footnotes from earlier historical periods when they were castigated and forced to ride a donkey backwards.
Deutsch is now going to attack the CTS because it has different results in measuring violence of stepparents compared to crime survey. For once we already have a discrepancy between crime surveys and the CTS when it comes to domestic violence, and secondly I am not wrapping my head arround that topic and research for theories here why it is that way. So we finally reach the part 5 and the NVWS.
A 1998 study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) used a modified form of the CTS to survey a representative sample of 8,000 Americans. Unlike most previous CTS studies, the BJS study asked about rape and sexual assault, and did not limit respondents to describing only violence taking place within marriages or relationships; these changes addressed many (but not all) of the criticisms previously made of the CTS. And responding to the claims of men’s rights activists, the survey was designed to be about “personal safety” issues, rather than being presented as a survey about crime. (In this case, by the way, men’s rights activists are right: it’s better not to use hot-button words like “crime” in surveys.)
Deutsch is right on the money here with his critique of hot-button words (I called them buzz-words, before). One argumentation was that women worry more about personal safety than men which means that personal safety might be another one of that buzz-words. Besides that, keep this
In this case, by the way, men’s rights activists are right: it’s better not to use hot-button words like “crime” in surveys.
 part in mind for the following.
This study was an important test for people on both sides of the CTS debate. If CTS critics were correct, such a study would find different results from previous CTS studies, and specifically would find that women are more frequent victims of spousal violence. If, on the other hand, men’s rights activists were right, then this study would have found equal abuse, since it asked men and women the same questions (mostly the same questions as the CTS).

Critics’ expectations were fulfilled. The results of the government’s study strongly contradicted previous CTS studies: the BJS study found that overall women were more likely to be abused by an intimate partner than men, particularly for the more severe kinds of violence. For example, women were seven times as likely to have been threatened with a gun; 14 times as likely to report having been “beat up” by a partner; and twenty-six times as likely to have been raped.
Straus said the following about the NVWS
"(1) It has been presented to the public as refuting the idea of neady equal rates of domestic partner assaults by men and women. (2) It is not ostensibly a crime study. (3) It is a large and well-designed study. (4) It carries the imprimatur of spnsorship by two respected Federal agancies. (5) Perhabs the most important reason is that it provides an example of how an cumulation of small details affecting respondent perception of the study and its prupose can add up to a large difference in findings." (Straus - The controversy Over Domestic Violence by Women - 1999)
Among several points by Straus the following surprised me the most. This was the second question asked by the researchers
"Do you think violent crime is more or less of a problem for men today than previously?"
Two "hot-button" words in one sentence at the beginning of our survey. That, plus the usage of "personal safety" and the low yearly rates (among some other things) is the reason Straus considers the NVWS as a crime survey.

But what do the researchers themselves say about the discrepancy of their study and the CTS?
"... it is likely that the manner in which screening questions are introduced and framed has more effect on intimate partner victimization rates than does the overall context in which the survey is administered"
And although I pointed this out before, the yearly results of the NVWS are more equal than Deutsch will make us believe (he is citing the lifetime rates). Here is what the NVWS also found out.
Persons Raped or Physically Assaulted in Lifetime and in Previous 12 Months by Sex of Victim

Total rape (%)
Lifetime Women: 17.6
Lifetime Men: 3.0
Yearly Women: 0.3
Yearly Men: 0.1

Total physical assault (%)
Lifetime Women: 51.9
Lifetime Men: 66.4
Yearly Women: 1.9
Yearly Men: 3.4
Rape and/or physical assault (%)
Lifetime Women: 55.0
Lifetime Men: 66.8
Yearly Women: 2.1
Yearly Men: 3.5
At first the obvious results that more men overall are victimized (but women are raped more). Same finding as the usual crime survey. On with domestic violence
Persons Raped or Physically Assaulted by an Intimate Partner in Lifetime and in Previous 12 Months by Sex of Victim

Total rape (%)
Lifetime Women: 7.7
Lifetime Men: 0.3
Yearly Women: 0.2
Yearly Men: -
Total physical assault (%)
Lifetime Women: 22.1
Lifetime Men: 7.4
Yearly Women: 1.3
Yearly Men: 0.9
Rape and/or physical assault (%)
Lifetime Women: 22.1
Lifetime Men: 7.4
Yearly Women: 1.5
Yearly Men: 0.9
If you compare the lifetime rapes in the last column you will see that according to the NVWS 25% of all victims of rape and physical assault by an intimate partner are men (same ratio as the NCVS). But the yearly ratio actually shows us that 40% of all victims of rape and physical assault by an intimate partner are men in the year of  the survey. This makes Deutsch previous statement look a bit ridiculos
I’m not denying that some individual men are badly abused
As some are actually 40% of the victims according to the study he brought up.


And we reached the end of part 2 as we covered 5 of 8 points. The next one will finish it.

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