Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Setting the record straight

As a martial arts and self-defense instructor, I am continually surprised at a number of the myths that people present as facts.

One of the newer myths that some men are attempting to perpetuate, without any sort of proof (because there is none) is that women are just as violent as men, and that women abuse their spouses as often or more often than men do. I just ran across this on the Bayly Blog:
The violence and victims literature tells us women are every bit as violent as men, and lesbian couples are the most violent of all. Even when asked to report on prior heterosexual relationships, lesbians report their present homosexual relationship to be more violent than any prior heterosexual relationship.
No footnotes, of course.

A quick Google search turned up the following:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:
  • Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
  • 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
  • Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
  • 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.
    Matthew R. Durose et al., U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 207846, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances, at 31-32 (2005), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/fvs.pdf

In a 1995-1996 study conducted in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime (based on survey of 16,000 participants, equally male and female).
Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, at iii (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm

Sexual Assault According to the National Violence Against Women Survey:
  • Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men: 78% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are women and 22% are men.
  • Most perpetrators of sexual violence are men. Among acts of sexual violence committed against women since the age of 18, 100% of rapes, 92% of physical assaults, and 97% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men. Sexual violence against men is also mainly male violence: 70% of rapes, 86% of physical assaults, and 65% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men.
  • In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Of people who report sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date.
    Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 183781, Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/183781.htm
  • Another national survey found that 34% of women were victims of sexual coercion by a husband or intimate partner in their lifetime.
    Kathleen C. Basile, Prevalence of Wife Rape and Other Intimate Partner Sexual Coercion in a Nationally Representative Sample of Women, 17 Violence and Victims 511 (2002).

The National Women's Study, a three-year longitudinal study of a national probability sample of 4,008 adult women (2,008 of whom represent a cross section of all adult women and 2,000 of whom are an over sample of younger women between the ages of 18 and 34), found:
  • 13% of adult women had been victims of completed rape during their lifetime
  • 22% of rape victims were assaulted by someone they had never seen before or did not know well.
  • 9% of victims were raped by husbands or ex-husbands.
  • 11% were raped by fathers or stepfathers.
  • 10% were raped by boyfriends or ex-boyfriends.
  • 16% were raped by other relatives.
  • 29% were raped by other non-relatives, such as friends and neighbors.
    See Dean G. Kilpatrick et al., Rape in America: A Report to the Nation (1992); Heidi S. Resnick et al., Prevalence of Civilian Trauma and PTSD in a Representative National Sample of Women, 61 J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychol. 984 (1993); Dean G. Kilpatrick et al., A 2-Year Longitudinal Analysis of the Relationship Between Violent Assault and Substance Use in Women, 65 J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychol. 834 (1997); Kilpatrick et al., Rape, Other Violence Against Women, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Critical Issues in Assessing the Adversity-Stress-Psychopathology Relationship, in Adversity, Stress, & Psychopathology 161-176 (Bruce P. Dohrenwend ed., 1998); Dean G. Kilpatrick, Rape and Sexual Assault, Aug. 7, 2006, http://www.musc.edu/vawprevention/research/sa.shtml

11% of lesbians reported violence by their female partner and 15% of gay men who had lived with a male partner reported being victimized by a male partner.
Patricia Tjaden, Symposium on Integrating Responses to Domestic Violence: Extent and Nature of Intimate Partner Violence as measured by the National Violence Against Women Survey, 47 Loy. L. Rev. 41, 54 (2003).
  • One survey found that same-sex cohabitants reported significantly more intimate partner violence than did opposite-sex cohabitants. Among women, 39.2% of the same-sex cohabitants and 21.7 of the opposite- sex cohabitants reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a marital/cohabiting partner at some time in their lifetime.
    Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at 30 (2000), available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm
  • 15.4% of same-sex cohabiting men reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked by a male partner, but 10.8% reported such violence by a female partner.
    Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at 30 (2000), available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm

Physical Injury and Medical Treatment
  • The U.S. Department of Justice reported that 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
    Michael R. Rand, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 156921, Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments, (1997) available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/vrithed.txt
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to be injured during an assault: 31.5% of female rape victims, compared with 16.1% of male rape victims, reported being injured during their most recent rape, and 39-42% percent of female physical assault victims, compared with 20-25% of male physical assault victims, reported being injured during their most recent physical assault.
  • 35.6% of the women injured during their most recent rape and 30.2% of the women injured during their most recent physical assault received medical treatment. Approximately 21.5% of male victims of intimate partner physical assaults that resulted in an injury sought medical treatment.
    Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 183781, Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv (2000) available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/183781.htm; Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv (2000), available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm
Ninety-two percent of women who were physically abused by their partners did not discuss these incidents with their physicians; 57% did not discuss the incidents with anyone. Additionally, in four different studies of survivors of abuse, 70% to 81% of the patients studied reported that they would like their healthcare providers to ask them privately about intimate partner violence.
Panagiota V. Caralis & Regina Musialowski, Women's Experiences with Domestic Violence and Their Attitudes and Expectations Regarding Medical Care of Abuse Victims, 90 S. Med. J. 1075 (1997); Jeanne McCauley et al., Inside 'Pandora's Box': Abused Women's Experiences with Clinicians and Health Services, 13 Archives of Internal Med. 549 (1998); Lawrence S. Friedman et al., Inquiry About Victimization Experiences: A Survey of Patient Preferences and Physician Practices, 152 Archives of Internal Med. (1992); Michael Rodriguez et al., Breaking the Silence: Battered Women's Perspectives on Medical Care, 5 Archives of Fam. Med. 153 (1996).

From: "Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998"

  • Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend each year to 4 million women who are physically abused by their husbands or live-in partners each year.

  • While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.

  • Violence by an intimate partner accounts for about 21% of violent crime experienced by women and about 2 % of the violence experienced by men.

  • 31,260 women were murdered by an intimate from 1976-1996.

  • Females accounted for 39% of the hospital emergency department visits for violence-related injuries in 1994 but 84% of the persons treated for injuries inflicted by intimates.

Over 500,00 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year.

5.3 million women are abused each year.

1,232 women are killed each year by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

Women are more likely to be attacked by someone they know rather than by a stranger.

[from the American Institute on Domestic Violence]

I have no idea what "violence and victims literature" Tim Bayly is referring to, since he does not actually cite any, but this unnamed "literature" cannot be credible if it contradicts the most reliable sources.

As for the article referenced in the Bayly Blog: What sort of man, instead of calling the police, instead of leaving his wife, would sign "a contract with his wife that entitles her to attack him once a week"? Why not sign a contract that entitling him to live free of attack from her? Why not go to her kung fu sifu and demand that she not be allowed to misuse her martial arts? Something about this story is very fishy indeed...almost as fishy as the unsubstantiated statements Tim Bayly makes about domestic violence.

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  1. >>I have no idea what "violence and victims literature" Tim Bayly is referring to, since he does not actually cite any...

    Actually, you missed them. You had to click on the link. But for your readers, here's one that's a good place to start: D. G. Dutton, "Patriarchy and Wife Assault: The Ecological Fallacy," Violence and Victims 9 (1994): 167-82.

    Also, I suggest a book my wife and I are currently reading by the woman who, back in the seventies, founded the international women's shelter movement over in the UK. Her name is Erin Pizzey and her book's titled, "Prone to Violence."

    As for your government stats, anyone who's actually worked with victims of sexual and other domestic violence will tell you why bureaucrats report violence against women and girls, and not against men and boys. It takes a team of horses to drag out of men and boys accounts of their abuse, particularly if that abuse is at the hand of a woman.

    Governments collect stats that validate their priorities and legislative initiatives.

    Thanks for link, anyhow.

  2. What you dismiss as "government stats" are compiled from a variety of sources, most of them actual police reports. As those of us who have worked in any capacity with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse know all too well, often a team of horses is not enough to drag an account of abuse out of a woman or girl. If she has not been threatened, shamed, or humiliated into silence by her abuser, she may have been told by her abuser and her church that she must submit to her husband or father and that to speak ill of him would be a grave sin. She may be economically dependant on her abuser. So she hides the bruises, the black eyes, the split lips, the chipped teeth, the broken bones -- and makes excuses about clumsiness and "accidents" when her friends lovingly confront her in a desperate attempt to help. That's assuming her abuser has not succeeded in isolating her from her friends. It is heartbreaking to see thus happen to friends and loved ones.

    The stigma of rape, incest, and sexual abuse is so huge that many women go decades without telling their secret to anyone. They suffer silently while their husbands complain about their "hang-ups and inhibitions" and wonder why they don't snap out of their depression and why they "act so crazy". If these women overcome their shame and fear enough to get help -- or they become desperate enough, or circumstances force them -- the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can sometimes be a huge relief.

    Because women are so reluctant to speak of their abuse and so relctant to go to the police, the crime statistics do not tell the whole story. If, two decades after her brutal rape, a woman still cannot speak of it above a whisper, and cannot bring herself to utter the word "rape" or name her rapist, it is obvious that the crime perpetrated against her did not find its way into the Department of Justice crime statistics.

    To those of us who have seen the blood and bruises, those of us who have gained the trust of victims, those of us who have wept with them -- and rejoiced with them as they accomplish the difficult work of recovery -- we become unwilling to use their lives and their stories, so courageously entrusted to us, to advance any political, philosopical, or religious agenda...nor are we willing to pretend that the reality is something more to our liking.

    I'm not ignoring the fact that there are male victims. This is something that is of great personal concern to me. I know some male survivors who toil ceaselessly to help other men and boys, and it is these survivors I have come to rely on when I need information, resources, or referrals.

    Frankly, I would love it if women were just as violent as men for no other reason than that it would make my job as a martial arts and self-defense instructor much, much easier. It's hard enough to get girls and women in the door...then we have to get them to overcome the natural abhorance most of them have for anything remotely approaching the appearance of violence...and then we have to get them to stop apologizing every time they hit someone. I don't know how many times my own instructor has had to remind female students that they are training in a fighting art, not dance.

    Maybe, if women were just as violent as men, I would not hear time and time again, "Oh, I could never do that! Even if somebody was trying to kill me, I could never bring myself to hurt him! Now, if he was hurting my baby..." Maybe, if women were just as violent as men, I would not have to spend so much time convincing them their lives were worth defending. Maybe, if women were just as violent as men, wicked men and bullies would have reason to fear attacking women. Maybe, if women were just as violent as men, we would hear about more women fighting off their abusers. Maybe.

    But, frankly, I would rather see a world of less violent men than a world of more violent women.

  3. Several more common reasons women resist disclosing abuse:

    1. They fear that they will not be believed. Unfortunately, this is not a groundless fear. The experience of having a desperate person look you in the eye and say, with hope and amazement, "You believe me?" as they burst into tears...it's heartbreaking.

    2. They expect to be blamed, as in, "You must have done something to make him mad", "You must have driven him to it somehow; no man beats his wife for no reason", "What did you do to get yourself raped?" "What were you wearing?" "Why didn't you install better locks on your windows?" "You must have done something to lead him on", "I can't believe you put yourself in that position!" "Just because you were a little girl doesn't mean you weren't asking for it in some way. Maybe you were acting seductive and he couldn't help himself", "What were you
    doing coming home after dark?" "I think you got what you deserved."

    3. They often fear that, if the truth comes out, it could break the family apart. If a wife discloses that her husband is abusing her, he might get angry and leave. She might be blamed for the divorce. If a girl discloses incest, it might shatter the family. Victims will often blame themselves for destroying the family, rather than blaming the perpetrator for his destructive actions.

    4. Women fear, often for good reason, that others will side with her abuser. If he is well thought of, people will accuse her of "trying to destroy a good man". I know of more than one case where rape victims were urged by their own families and friends not to press charges because it would be "unfair" to ruin a man's life by dragging him into court, destroying his reputation, and having such an awful crime go on his record!


  4. Rebecca,

    Excellent post and thoughts in your comments section. Having taken some self-defense courses, I found myself constantly apologizing . I grew up most of my life apologizing for and feeling guilty for any abuse that happened to me. And you are right that many women don't report abuse or sexual violence because they fear not being believed or they are ashamed or that they will be blamed. And, sadly, these women suffer most of these things when they go to their church authorities.

    If women were as violent as men, this world would be a much different place. The Baylys are all about defending patriarchy and anything they can latch onto that seems to dispel the "myths" that the feminists assert, they will.

  5. http://www.spikedhumor.com/articles/123746/Man-Beating-His-Wife.html

    Here's one for the Baylys. For every odd article they can dig up, I can dig up about 100 more like the above.

    I wonder how many times this husband beat his wife up using his "martial arts skills" and I wonder if he bothered to sign a contract saying he would only beat her up once a week? Something tells me that this woman has no recourse, especially since no one bothered to stop this man from assaulting his wife.

    And how many hundreds and hundreds of years did husbands get to physically assault their wives and those wives just had to take it?

    So, the Baylys can pull up one bizarre and unexplainable article to prove their point but that doesn't negate the fact that women have suffered abuse by men in much greater numbers. Not just physical abuse but sexual abuse, economical abuse and political abuse (denying women their rights).

  6. Also, I have watched several Islamic clerics teaching on video how it is okay to beat one's wife and outlining the rules for beating one's wife.

    If the one Chinese couple proves something then what do the women of these Islamic countries prove?

    And, having done a great amount of reading concerning the history of China and the treatment of women in that country, I would think that the Baylys would be embarrassed to present such an article as proof.

    Here is a recent article about domestic abuse in China.


    And that doesn't even include husbands raping their wives in China since the government isn't so sure that it is wrong.