Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dan Griffin certainly isn't a gentleman and a scholar...or why I dislike the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Yeah, I finally kicked the Good Men Project out of my google reader. Feels somehow good. I figured if I add Hugo Schwyzer's feed (disclaimer, I mostly disagree with him, but the discussion surrounding his posts is quite good. Also, who doesn't like to rage every once in a while?) I get almost all interesting posts from that site. The straw that broke the camels back can be seen here. What happened? Dan Griffin presented statistics that minimized the number of male victims. I got in there, explained the hows and whys, he agrees with me and says he is going to change that one number I dislike AFTER the long weekend....and well here I am still looking at data that can only be called manipulative. Dan, Dan, Dan. I must admit my anger here is misdirected. I can somehow understand it. If I copy and paste statistics and some smartass from the Internets wants me to change one factoid, I would surely hesitate. What he said, the lip service and the stupid stuff, of course that is part of the problem. The bigger problem is where it comes from.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

When it comes to DV the NCADV is kind of a big fish. To copy from wiki:

As of 2008, NCADV has been involved with multiple legislative acts including; the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), International Violence Against Women Act, and Legislative Action Day. [...] In addition to making safe-homes and shelters available to battered women, NCADV also works to improve current public policy by collaborating with legislators on the federal level. The Washington, D.C. office for the organization is the public policy office from which leaders of the organization make efforts to change and improve legislation dealing with domestic violence. In 1994 the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence got involved with several other advocacy organizations and helped to pass the Violence Against Women Act signed by President Bill Clinton to provide funding for investigation into domestic violence as well as greater prosecution of offenders. Another topic dealt with within the organization is that of custody battles involving offenders of domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works to create awareness of these situations and develop legislation which keeps the best interest of the children in mind. [...] The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is also credited with creating and observing the first Domestic Violence Awareness month in October 1987. In 1994, NCADV teamed up with Ms Magazine to create the Remember My Name Project,an ever-growing list of victims who have lost their lives to domestic violence.

Looking through their site and realizing that they recently had a conference with Michael Kimmel (hint: not really believes in male DV victims) you get the picture. Those guys come out strong in the media and kind of downplay DV against men. But let us get back to the point. The statistic Dan copy and pasted can be seen on their national fact sheet here (Pdf Warning). My biggest concern with that fact sheet is the factoid about male DV victims:

85% of domestic violence victims are women

To explain why that point of data is problematic and why the usage here is manipulative at best, I have to explain where DV data comes from. Most of the official DV data is from the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS). The big numbers from that fact sheet all come from that very survey:

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime

An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

One in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape

And even though that survey has some flaws when it comes to male victims (I'll take about this in the end), we can generally say that survey finds quite a few male victims. It is a CTS based survey.

The 85% factoid comes from a different kind of survey, a crime survey, more specifically the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The problem with the NCVS is that the survey asks if someone has been a victim of a crime and many DV victims do not see themselves as victims of crimes. This is even more so true for males and one reason why we generally do not use that survey to count DV victims. To me it seems, the only reason the NCVS is cited is to minimize male DV victims. To bring my point across here is what both of those studies found in terms of male and female victims in the previous 12 months:

Female     Male
1)NVAWS   1,309,061  834,732 (61% / 49%)        
2)NCVS      588,490  103,220 (85% / 15%)

You can use those studies together in many different ways, for instance, I could say the following:

About 103,220 men are battered each year (2) women are about 61% of the victims of DV (1)

Each year 834,732 men (1) and 588,490 women (2) are victims of DV

Both of these usages are dishonest and are used in a way that distorts the picture of DV. The NCADV chose the version here that minimizes male victims the most:

An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year / 85% of domestic violence victims are women

Now, those guys should certainly know their statistics and I find it hard to believe that this has been a coincidence or mistake of some kind. I do believe they cherry picked their data to bring their agenda across which is "DV is about women".

So I wrote an Email:

NCADV National Fact Sheet


After reading your fact sheet ( http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf ) I have a problem with one of the factoids:

"85% of domestic violence victims are women"

This statistic from the National Crime Victimization Survey understates and distorts the true incidence of domestic violence, since victimized men are less likely to view partner aggression as a “crime.”
Straus MA. The controversy over domestic violence by women: A methodological, theoretical, and sociology of science analysis. In Arriaga XB and Oskamp S (eds.): Violence in Intimate Relationships. Sage Publishers, 1999.http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/CTS21.pdf
Stets JE and Straus MA. Gender differences in reporting marital violence and its medical and psychological consequences. In Straus MA and Gelles RJ (eds): Physical Violence in American Families, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990. Table 15

For that reason, usually DV victims are not counted by crime surveys and of course, to count the number of female victims you used the National Violence Against Women Survey. That survey however found that 39% of DV victims are actually men.

Could someone explain to me why the statistics on the fact sheets are used that way, and if it is possible to change the number? I mean you don't actually want to minimize the number of male DV victims right?

Please note that I will publish this Email as well as answers to that Email on the internet.

With best regards

We will see how that goes. Before I forget...

Problems with the National Violence Against Women Survey

From a men's right perspective there are 2 major flaws with that study. First of all female-on-male vaginal rape was not included in their definition of rape:

Rape was defined as an event that occurred without the victim’s consent, that involved the use or threat of force to penetrate the victim’s vagina or anus by penis, tongue, fingers, or object, or the victim’s mouth by penis. The definition included both attempted and completed rape.

What is kind of sad, apparently this number is the best we got (according to RAINN):

We agree that NVAWS study has serious shortcomings and that its definition of rape is too restrictive to capture all crimes. Given those shortcomings, it likely under-counts the lifetime risk of sexual assault for men. However, it is the most reliable data we’ve been able to find, primarily because the sample size used in the study was significantly larger than almost all other surveys (8,000 men and 8,000 women). Also, the study used the same methodology for both men and women.
The dilemma we face is that we don’t have an alternate source of data for lifetime prevalence rates that is more trustworthy, with regards to sample size and methodology. Sample size is vitally important when attempting to measure sexual violence, since such a small portion of interviewees report having been victims.

Keeping in mind that there are studies out there that finds higher rates of female-on-male vaginal rape then male-on-female vaginal rape (granted, they didn't ask for lifetime prevalence) this is kind of sickening. We just didn't bother to ask apparently.

The other flaw is the framing of the questions asked in the NVAWS. Almost all CTS-based studies find almost equal victimization rates for men and women, so why not this one?

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"

From one of my older posts. As said previously when you present a study and mention violent crime and personal safety and men are less likely to see being at the receiving end of DV as crime and women are much more likely to be concerned about personal safety and the study also finds less victimization rates (for men and women) then other CTS studies there can only be the explanation that it leaves many victims uncounted.

All this stuff is saddening. One can only hope that one day there will be a large study that looks fair at male victims of DV and rape and that this study is officially used and accepted. Well, a man can dream...

1 comment:

  1. You should have a look here to learn about feminist deceptions in the field of domestic violence studies: