More Men than Women Victims of Domestic Violence – US study

Men Web February 2012
More men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence within the past year, according to a national study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Justice. According to the National NISVS – More men than women victims of IPV – pie chartIntimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (hereinafter NISVS) released in December, 2011, within the last 12 months an estimated 5,365,000 men and 4,741,000 women were victims of intimate partner physical violence. (Black, M.C. et al., 2011, Tables 4.1 and 4.2) 1 This finding contrasts to the earlier National Violence Against Women Survey (Tjaden, P. G., & Thoennes, N., 2000)(hereinafter NVAWS), which estimated that 1.2 million women and 835,000 men were victims of intimate partner physical violence in the preceding 12 months. (One-year prevalence “are considered to be more accurate [than lifetime rates] because they do not depend on recall of events long past” (Straus, 2005, p. 60))

If one adds in rape (606,000 victims) the total is 5,427,000 women-but there is an issue of double-counting of an incident as both rape and intimate partner physical violence. 2 Of the lifetime rape victims, 82.8% were also victims of physical violence. This suggests that a sizeable portion of the 606,000 rape victims are included in the 5,427,000 physical violence victims. But even if one ignores the double-counting of rape and physical violence, the number of female victims of  rape and/or physical violence is 5,427,000 for women, contrasted with 5,365,000 male victims of physical violence, so it is safe to say that about half of the victims of physical violence are men.domestic violence by women US CDCUS

There is a significant difference between the NVAWS and NISVS surveys, in the number of victims of physical violence (4,741,000 vs. 1,300,000 women and 5,365,000 vs. 835,000 men), for which I have no explanation. 3 Surveys – IPV Bar chartIn the 2001 NVAWS survey, some 38% of the victims of intimate physical violence were men, but in the 2011 NISVS survey 53% were men. This is consistent with earlier studies showing that between 1975 and 1992 (Straus and Gelles, 1988, Straus, 1995), between 1998 and 2005 (Catalano , 2005) and between 2009 and 2010 (Truman, 2011, Table 6) violence against women dropped but violence against males stayed steady. (As a point of reference, Statistics Canada (2006, 2011) reports that 45.5% of the victims of present or former spousal violence were men. The 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey (Truman, 2011, Table 5) shows only 407,700 female and 101,530 male victims of intimate partner violence: for women that’s less than a tenth of the victims reported in NISVS.)

This drop in intimate partner violence against females and steady rate of violence against males raises an interesting policy question. Given that there are many thousands of support programs, Web sites and public-interest media items for female victims of domestic violence, and no programs and only a handful of Web sites for male victims, perhaps males, but not females, have got the message that domestic violence is wrong. There are many programs for men to stand up against domestic violence by men, and no programs urging women to stand up against domestic violence by women.