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25 May 2006
Men As Likely As Women To Be Victims Of Date Violence
by George Atkinson

A surprising study from the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire indicates that men are as likely as women to end-up victims of intimate partner violence. In fact - depending on how you read the results - it could be suggested that men are more likely to suffer violence from an intimate partner.

The study was carried out by Murray Straus, the founder and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory; and the controversial results will be presented at the Trends in Intimate Violence Intervention conference in New York this week.

Interestingly, the study was based solely on violence perpetrated against partners by university students. And impressively, the results were based on data collected from more than 13,000 students at 68 universities in 32 countries.

The results paint a gloomy picture of the prevalence of intimate violence, indicating that about a third of the relationships had been violent at some point. Straus said that most incidents of partner violence involved violence by both the man and the woman. Incredibly, the second largest category of intimate violence incidents was couples where the female partner was the only one to carry out physical attacks.

Straus is ready to defend his findings, which call into question the widely held belief that partner violence is primarily a male crime. "In the 35 years since I began research on partner violence, I have seen my assumptions about prevalence and etiology contradicted by a mass of empirical evidence from my own research and from research by many others," Straus said. "My view on partner violence now recognizes the overwhelming evidence that women assault their partners at about the same rate as men. However, when women are violent, the injury rate is lower."

Based on his findings, Straus is calling for an end to the focus on men as the only perpetrators of dating violence, saying that refusal to recognize the multi-causal nature of the problem will simply hamper efforts to end domestic violence. Straus cited the National Institute of Justice's refusal to consider applications for funding that dealt with male victims as evidence that half the perpetrators of violence were blithely being ignored. "Changes in policy that acknowledge men are not the only perpetrators of partner violence are needed immediately," Straus said. "It is time to make the prevention and treatment effort one that is aimed at ending all family violence... not just violence against women."

Based on material from the University of New Hampshire

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