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Domestic Violence  -  British Studies and Papers

Malcolm J George

There are many academic studies on domestic violence/abuse that show evidence of men being victims, not just perpetrators, of assaults in intimate relationships.   These studies survey sample populations of adults using  gender neutral methods that ask both sexes whether they have either perpetrated assaults on a partner or suffered assaults from a partner or have experience of assaults both as victim and perpetrator.  The studies have predominantly been undertaken in North America, and so much of the literature which discusses this evidence is also found in North American sources, and not surprisingly has an American bias and bent.

An annotated bibliography of many such published studies world-wide has been compiled and published by Dr Martin Fiebert.  This  is now available on this web-site at  Academic Studies.

Reviewed below are those studies that can be identified as having investigated British samples and so say something about male victimisation in the UK, and those papers that view domestic violence from a predominantly British perspective.  For each study or paper reviewed here, the entry (where provided) from Dr Fiebert’s bibliography is included in addition to the further information or analysis  provided.

Any additional analysis is given to provide fuller details of the studies to inform those in the UK who are interested and may not have access to academic literature.  In addition, where possible, details of other UK studies of interest are also reviewed given that in many cases these studies are also not available easily or widely.

Studies
 
Archer, J.  (2000).  Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners:  a meta-analytic reviewPsychological Bulletin 126, 651- 680

Meta-analyses of sex differences in physical aggression indicate that women were more likely than men to “use one or more acts of physical aggression and to use such acts more frequently.” In terms of injuries, women were somewhat more likely to be injured, and analyses reveal that 62% of those injured were women.

Archer, J.  (2002).  Sex differences in physically aggressive acts between heterosexual partners:  a meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior 7, 213- 351

Analysing responses to the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) and using a data set somewhat different from the previous 2000 publication, the author reports that women are more likely than men to throw something at their partners, as well as slap, kick, bite, punch and hit with an object.  Men were more likely than women to strangle, choke, or beat up their partners.

Additional comment
These two papers are very significant papers in the field of Conflict Tactics Scale studies for several reasons. Firstly, they use the powerful technique of meta-analysis which allows the results of different studies to be drawn together and analysed to produce a result based upon a much larger sample than any one study on its own. The other significant feature is that they were written by John Archer, a British academic, and they dropped a bombshell on the American academic scene in this field.  The 2000 paper was published with critiques by American workers in the field of intimate violence to which John Archer replied.  Clearly, his paper had upset the apple cart on the other side of the pond where the fact that CTS studies had shown men to be victims of assaults from female partners had effectively been suppressed for years.

Although there had been a steady stream of CTS studies published with results showing men to have been assaulted in equal measure, many of these studies passed little or no comment upon the finding, or if they did passed it off as women acting in self-defence.  Such was the viciousness of the initial criticisms suffered by Murray Straus, Richard Gelles and Susan Steinmetz, that many researchers in the field kept quite about such results for many years. 

Although in the nineties Murray Straus in particular returned to the subject of male victimisation and there was a growing number of studies and papers that addressed the issue to some extent, these excellent researched and written papers by John Archer have taken the argument a major step forward. They establish that a higher prevalence of women assault their partners unilaterally and that a higher prevalence of women initiate assaults in mutually assaultative couples. They also show women using more severe types of assaults more frequently, but also show that where men do assault women this results in there being about a 2:1 ratio female to male in prevalence of sustaining injuries. However, the number of studies that have looked at injuries is far fewer than other aspects and so this result awaits further confirmation.

 Archer, J. & Ray, N.  (1989).   Dating violence in the United Kingdom: a preliminary study.  Aggressive Behavior 15, 337-343

Twenty three dating couples completed the Conflict Tactics Scale.  Results indicated that women were significantly more likely than their male partners to express physical violence. The authors also report that "measures of partner agreement were high" and that the correlation between past and present violence was low.

Additional Comment

This paper is a little gem of revelation given the time when it was produced. Noticeable is that it was published in Aggressive Behaviour which is a journal lending more to scientific analysis of aggression, rather than a purely psychological or social analysis.  In 1989, journals with a straight social/psychological outlook would not have welcomed this paper given its findings and the statements that are made within it.

A key detail here is that the study, although on a small sample, is a couple study. This is of enormous importance in that with both members of the dyad surveyed, the claims of one could be checked out with other partner. The result found that the prevalence of females using an act of assault was significantly higher, and that when assaultative females committed assault they did so more frequently than assaultative males and more severely.  So there can be no question about this result as more women partners in the study agreed that they had acted more violently towards the men more frequently than the men had acted towards them. The only problem with the study is that it was conducted on a rather small sample size.

Not surprisingly, this study was almost never quoted in other studies or articles on intimate violence up until very recently and then only by British authors.

Bates, F.  (1981).  A plea for the battered husband.  Family Law 11, 92- 94

A review of both contemporary and historical legal cases from the UK, America, and Australia showing violence by women against their male partners. The author shows how much the cases are similar to cases of women battered by husbands/male partners and how personality disorders figure often in the clinical appraisal of perpetrators.  He notes that often men had endured appalling violence and abuse from their partners for many years.  The paper is notable for including an English case of a male victim suffering sexual coercion.  The author identifies that mental health issues are evident in female perpetrators, particularly personality disorders.

Carrado, M., George, M. J., Loxam, E., Jones, L., & Templar, D. (1996).   Aggression in British heterosexual relationships: a descriptive analysis.  Aggressive Behavior 22, 401- 415

In a representative sample of British men <n=894> and women <n=971> it was found, using a modified version of the CTS, that 18% of the men and 13% of the women reported being victims of  physical violence  at  some point in their heterosexual relationships.  With regard to current relationships, 11% of men and 5% of women reported being victims of partner aggression.

A fuller description of this paper is given at the end of this Summary of British Studies and Papers.

Finney, A.  (2006).   Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking:  Findings from the 2004/05 British Crime Survey.  Home Office Online Report 12/06, London 2006.

A detailed survey of the extent of interpersonal violence, similar to that carried out as part of the 2001 British Crime Survey (Home Office Research Study 276), using a self-completion module, , was also included in the 2004/05 BCS for England and Wales, based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 24,498 men and women between the ages of 16 and 59.  This also included a category of family abuse for the first time, as well as partner abuse, but did not cover repeat victimisation or estimates of the numbers of incidents. The results were published in Home Office Online Report 12/06, and were given in percentage terms rather than total estimated numbers.  The survey covered any partner abuse (non-sexual abuse, sexual assault, and stalking), any family abuse similarly, sexual assault, and stalking.

For the year preceding the study, and excluding stalking, 5.6% of women and 4.1% of men reported having suffered non-sexual partner abuse (any abuse, threat, or force from a partner or ex-partner), a proportion of male victims of about 42%.  Of these, 2.7% of women and 2.0% of men reported suffering actual force [assault or violence], a proportion of male victims of about 43%, which was designated as ‘severe’ in the case of 1.8% of women and 1.6% of men, a proportion of male victims of about 47%.  These proportions are slightly more than those found by Study 276 some four years earlier. 

Such proportions of male victims are almost double those found by the BCS of 2004/05 (23% based on numbers of incidents) and that of 2005/06 (20%). This suggests either a significant level of under-reporting especially by male victims of domestic abuse to these routine annual BCS surveys or that basing the proportion on the numbers of incidents (as is done by the BCS) distorts the actual prevalence of male victims.

Curiously, the survey found that equal proportions (8.9%) of women and of men reported having experienced stalking in this one-year period.  Stalking was thus more likely to have been experienced by both women and men than any other form of interpersonal abuse.

In the longer term since the age of 16, and again excluding stalking, the survey found that 27.9% of women and 17.8% of men reported having suffered non-sexual partner abuse, a proportion of male victims of about 39%.  Of these, 18.9% of women and 10.6% of men reported having suffered actual force [assault or violence], a proportion of male victims of about 36%, which was ‘severe’ in the case of 13.9% women and 8.8% men, a proportion of male victims of about 39%.

Some 50% of women and 35% of men who had experienced intimate violence since the age of 16 also reported that they had experienced more than one type of intimate violence in that time.

Marital status, especially being unmarried, being young, and having a limiting disability or illness, were found to be independently associated with intimate violence for both men and women.

George, M. J.  (1994).  Riding the donkey backwards:  Men as the unacceptable victims of marital violence.  Journal of Men's Studies 3, 137-159

A thorough review of the literature which examines findings and issues related to men as equal victims of partner abuse.

This paper is available on this web-site at  Riding the Donkey Backwards

George, M. J.  (1999).   A victimisation survey of female perpetrated assaults in the United Kingdom.  Aggressive Behavior 25, 67-79

A representative sample of 718 men and 737 women completed the CTS and reported their experiences as victims of physical assaults by women during a five-year period.  Men reported greater victimisation and more severe assaults than did women.  Specifically, 14% of men compared to 7% of women reported being assaulted by women.  Highest risk group were single men. The majority (55%) of assaults on men were perpetrated by spouses, partners, or former partners.

Additional comment

This paper is important as the only national representative survey of female perpetrated assaults. It is also significant in that it shows that women preferentially make assaults on men ( who on average are bigger and

stronger than women) than on other women (who on average are the same size and strength). So the paper provides definitive refutation of the argument that women do not assault men because of the size and strength difference.  A 2:1 ratio for women committing assaults on men as opposed to women, became a 4:1 ratio when only serious assaults were made.  An insight that flows from this survey is that because women more rarely assault other women, any particular woman is, for this reason as well as other reasons, more likely not to believe women can be violent and hence doubt men who are more likely to be assaulted by a woman.

George M.J.  ( 2000).   Invisible touch: Violence by English wives 1200-2000 AD. Abstract. XIV Annual Conference ISRA. Valencia, Spain 9-16th July 2000 
Review of cases of violence by wives against husbands found in English historical records dating from the 13th Century onwards, presented to the International Society for Research on Aggression.
See abstract at  http://www.israsociety.com/xiv/oral9.html

George, M. J.  (2002).  Skimmington Revisited.  Journal of Men's Studies 10, No.2, 111-127

Examines historical sources and finds that men who were victims of spousal aggression were subject to punishment and humiliation. Inference to contemporary trivialisation of male victims of partner aggression is discussed.

This paper is available on this web-site at  Skimmington Revisited

George, M. J. (2003).  Invisible touch.  Aggression & Violent Behaviour 8, 23-60

A comprehensive review and analysis of  female  initiated  partner aggression.
Historical, empirical and case evidence presented to demonstrate reality of ‘battered husband syndrome’.

Grady, A.  (1997).  Genuine Victimisation Theory - Acknowledging the male domestic violence victim.  Holdsworth Law Review 18, 166-206

Interesting article written from an Equity Feminist perspective that seeks to accept that male victims should be acknowledged and provided with due consideration as victims.

Graham-Kevan, N., Archer, J.  (2005).   Investigating three explanations of women's relationship aggression.   Psychology of Women Quarterly 29, 270-277
Investigation of women's aggression in relationship that explored that women use aggression (a) when they are fearful; (b) to reciprocate their partners aggression; (c) when it is coercive. Support was found for all three explanations.

Gutridge, P.  (1995, February).   Skewed view denies men a service. Professional Social Work. British Ass. of Social Workers.
The author, who is a UK social work academic of standing, writes to expose the deficiency of knowledge and expertise within social work with regard to men.  A skewed view which permeates both training and practice is criticised as disabling for male clients and as result benefits no-one.  In particular, issues of male victimisation are ignored.  The author notes that courses in social work are so biased that they put off male trainees and should be considered as intimidating and oppressive to male trainees in the social work field.

Henman, R.  (1996).   Domestic violence: Do men under report.? Forensic Update47, 3-8
This paper discusses male victimisation seeking to establish that men are likely to under-report being victims.  Whilst readable and interesting, it fails to use all the kind of evidence that could have been used to support its contention. The author does not seem to have been aware of much of the literature available on male victimisation.

Kierski, W.   (2002).  Female violence: can we therapists face up to it?  Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal CPJ, December 2002
The author discusses the neglect by the psychotherapy profession of the reality of female violence, in intimate relationships, against non-intimates, and in child sexual and physical abuse.   In consequence, it is difficult to provide adequate therapeutic support for violent and abusive women.  Female perpetrators of violence and their victims seldom receive proper help.  Therefore, cycles of violence and pain tend to remain unbroken: suffering and pain perpetuate themselves and trauma begets trauma.

The lack of discussion and exploration of female violence has in practice kept it a non-topic.

This paper is available on this web-site at  Female violence: can we therapists face up to it?

 Maw, S.K., George, M.J.  (2000).   Aggression in British heterosexual relationships: An Update.  Abstract. XIV Annual Conference. ISRA . Valencia, Spain 9-16th July 2000

Re-analysis of the data used in Carrado et al, 1996 to provide further insight into the survey results. This further analysis concentrated upon evidence of repeat victimisation and the attributions made by respondents for the assaults either suffered or perpetrated.  It was reported that the experience of two or more types of assault was reported by 5% of currently married or cohabiting men as opposed to only 1% of currently married or cohabiting women. Women's attributions about both assaults they suffered and the assaults they committed differed significantly to men’s. Women ascribed gendered attributions whereby male assaults were attributed to instrumental reasons whereas female assaults were attributed as resulting from an expressive modality.  Men attributed both male and female perpetrated assaults to both types of reason.  It might be suggested that women, who are more likely to have read about domestic violence, respond with stereotypical arguments based upon media and press projections about the subject, whereas men make common sense judgements based upon analysis of what happens in individual cases.

Mirrlees-Black, C.  (1999).  Findings from a new British Crime Survey self-completion questionnaire.  Home Office Research Study 191. 
Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office, London. HMSO

In 1996, 10,844 men and women in England and Wales between the ages of 16 and 59 completed questionnaires regarding crime victimisation. Findings revealed 4.2% of men and 4.2% of women reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the preceding year.

More information and analysis is available on this web-site at An Analysis of Male Victimisation

Nazroo, J.  (1995).  Uncovering gender differences in the use of marital violence: The effect of methodology.  Sociology 29, 475- 494

This study sought to compare the results of using the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) methodology as developed by Murray Straus and colleagues with the semi-structured interview technique adopted in qualitative studies used in many studies of women victims. The study sought to compare the two methodologies and reported that, although on the CTS methodology women committed more acts, when the interview data was examined, it was found that the acts committed by the male partners had far more consequence.  It was hence suggested that the notion of male victims was illusory compared with women victims. 

The study needs to be viewed with some real scepticism as anonymous evidence supplied from inside the project cast serious concerns about the scientific integrity of the study.  When reading the study itself, it is rather obscure as to how the sample of victims (male and female) was obtained.  In fact, there was a multiple selection process which clearly removed any real male victims from the study.  Initially, respondents were recruited through GPs on the basis of a survey of ‘stress’: the respondents were then further questioned to elucidate where stress might have been due to domestic violence.  Crucially, only women patients were invited to respond to the survey.   Hence it has been learnt from an insider to the project that, in known cases where it was the woman who was the violent partner, she was asked to participate in the survey but declined.  Thus, the sampling technique ruled out potential cases where men were sole victims.

Hence, what this study really investigated was mutually violent couples in which, not surprisingly, the female partners tended to suffer worse injuries even though they may have been the more violent partner. 

Attempts to elucidate further information from Dr Nazroo and challenge the validity of the study findings by letter to him met with no response. A telephone call to his office also was not returned.

The results of this piece of research are therefore questionable. The research purports to report upon something which its very design determined it would not do, and yet it is written as if it had made a valid comparison between men and women who were sole victims of violence by their partners.  It seeks to cast doubt on Conflict Tactics Scale type studies by this deception, and in effect deny that men can really be victims of intimate abuse by female partners.

Oswald, I.  (1980).  Domestic violence by women.  Lancet2,1253-1254
An early paper that is more polemic than substance and is largely written from the background of a clinical perspective.  Of limited value except as an example of early recognition that domestic violence is not a one-way street.

Powell, R.  (1994, November). Of bias and men.  Professional Social Work. British Ass. of Social Workers.
The bias inherent in much professional practice which disempowers men as victims was challenged in this article by a practising social worker and parliamentary representative for the British Association of Social Workers. The way in which language was used to personalise the plight of female victims and engage empathy was contrasted with the way male victims were discussed in a formal, dispassionate and impersonal manner.

Russell, R. J. H. & Hulson, B.  (1992).   Physical and psychological abuse of heterosexual partners.  Personality and Individual Differences 13, 457- 473

In a pilot study in Great Britain, 46 couples responded to a Conflict Tactics Scale study.  Results revealed that husband to wife violence was: overall violence = 25% and severe violence = 5.8%;  while wife to husband violence was: overall violence = 25% and severe violence=11.3%.

Smith, S., Baker, D., Buchan, A., Bodiwala, G.  (1992).  Adult domestic violence.  Health Trends 24, 97- 99
A study of domestic violence at the casualty ( emergency) department  of Leicester Royal Infirmary during one year.  Retrospective study of the casualty department records for 1988, of assault victims of both genders who identified their injury as arising from ‘domestic incidents’, found an incidence of male victims of spousal assault. Covering a number of categories of inter-relational violence within the home, eleven men and 55 women were positively identified as the victim of an assault by their spouse or partner.  Another six men and 30 women were identified as having been assaulted by a romantic partner.  In the total study of 142 male and 155 female identified victims, an interesting feature was the fact that 59% of males and 25% of females did not identify their assailant.

Smith L.F.J.  (1989).   Domestic violence: An overview of the literature.  Home Office Research Study 107.  HMSO London

A review of the domestic violence literature most notable for its dismissal of all gender neutral Conflict Tactics Scale type studies which showed men and women victims or perpetrators in equivalent proportions.  It reflects the bias of its time whereby male victimisation was largely denied and the results of studies such as the Conflict Tactics Scale type studies, which showed ample evidence of male victimisation, were criticised and trivialised.

Walby, S. & Allen, J.  (2004).   Domestic violence, sexual assault and  stalking:  Findings from the British Crime Survey.  Home Office Research Study 276.  Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office, March 2004.  HMSO London

A detailed survey, similar to that in 1995 for Study 191, specifically into the extent of interpersonal violence, including domestic violence, in England and Wales, was carried out in 2000/01 as a supplement to the 2001 British Crime Survey, with 22,463 men and women between the ages of 16 and 59 interviewed also using a computerised self-completion questionnaire.  The results were published under Home Office Research Study 276 in March 2004.

Although the pattern of results for domestic violence was generally similar to those of the earlier 1995 study, the estimated number of total incidents of physical assault were much higher (10.52 million compared to 6.6 million), but the numbers of victims of both sexes and also the proportions of male victims were slightly lower.

For the 12-month period preceding the survey, 3.4% of women and 2.2% of men reported being physically assaulted by a partner, a proportion of male victims of just over 39%.  This compares with 4.2% of each sex, and thus a proportion of 50% male victims, found by the 1995 survey.  In the longer term, since the age of 16, 18.6% of women and 9.6% of men reported physical assault by a partner, a proportion of male victims of 34%.  This compares with 23% of women and 15% of men found by the 1995 survey for a ‘lifetime’ experience, and a proportion of male victims of 40%.

The Study estimated that there were about 867,000 victims of actual domestic physical assault in 2000 (529,000 women and 338,000 men, a proportion of 39% male victims).  For about half (49%) of victims, the assaults were classified as severe (242,000 women  and 186,000 men – a proportion of male victims of 43.5%). 

The Study found that the majority of victims suffering repeated assaults were female.  32% of women had experienced four or more assaults compared to 11% of the (smaller number) of men.  Women constituted 89% of all victims who had suffered four or more incidents, a higher proportion than that found by Study 191.

Generally, about half of male victims and about one quarter of female victims suffered no injury, but three times as many female victims as male suffered mental or emotional problems. Slightly more female victims than male suffered minor injury, and about twice as many female victims as male suffered moderate and severe injury.

Student Theses

The above studies were published either in the academic press or by government.  There is, however, another source of studies - student theses - which have investigated men as victims of intimate violence, that are not published other than within individual universities.  They may, however, be consulted within the libraries of the individual university and in some cases may be  archived on  inter-university storage systems  (eg. microfiche).

The list of theses given here contains only those that are known to Dewar Research from British university students.  For theses produced overseas (eg. USA, Australia), consult reference Invisible Touch above or Dr Martin Fiebert’s annotated bibliography.

Brennan, M.B.  (1990).   Violence in dating relationships of a sample of British students.  Unpublished Bachelor's thesis.  Lancashire Polytechnic

Jaevons, S.  (1992).   The battered husband controversy.  BA (Hons) thesis. Hatfield Polytechnic

Macklin, A.  (1995).   Battered Husbands: The hidden victims of domestic violence.  BA thesis.  Liverpool John Moores University

Brahan, A.  (2000).   Male victims of domestic violence. Unpublished Bachelor’s thesis.   Briton Hall College,  University of Leeds

Heaton, R.  (2000).   Society can’t change what men don’t report.  Unpublished Master’s thesis.  Bolton Institute

Although not a British study,  the following thesis is of particular interest.

Boyce, J.  (1994).  Working at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, James Boyce produced a Master’s thesis looking at the manner in which male victimisation was portrayed in Canadian newspapers and media compared with the way female victimisation was portrayed.  The abstract to James Boyce’s thesis is appended below.

Manufacturing Concern - Worthy and Unworthy Victims:  Headline Coverage of Male and Female Victims of Violence in Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1989 to 1992

Key Findings:  Statistics show that men and women suffer roughly equal rates of violence. Media coverage of male victimisation, however, is virtually non-existent in contrast to that of female victimisation, which not only receives a large amount of coverage, but is personalised and placed in a societal context for the reader.

Abstract by James Boyce
The thesis examined headlines from seven prominent, high-circulation Canadian daily newspapers.  Headlines were studied since they have been found to reflect the content of articles, are the most likely part of a newspaper to be read and remembered, and allow for a longer time period to be examined than in the case of articles.  The Canadian News Index was used as a source of headlines.  Of the 1,242 headlines examined, 540 were considered to directly refer to the gender of victims.  Of these, 525 or 97.2 per cent referred to women as victims and 15 or 2.8 per cent referred to men, a ratio of 35 to one.  Since there was indirect evidence suggesting a focus on gender in remaining headlines, I read the article accompanying every fourth one.  Of the 109 articles which referred to gender, 108 emphasised women and one emphasised men.  Projecting these findings to the rest of the sample, I estimated that 991 articles focused on gender: 972 or 98.1 per cent emphasised women and 19 or 1.9 per cent emphasised men.  I provided several additional reasons as to why the gap in coverage may be even greater.  In terms of content, I found that the few headlines on men were quantitative, providing data on the amount of violence they experienced without placing it in any societal context.  Headlines on women were rarely quantitative: those that were used words like "epidemic" or provided statistics only on women.  Instead, most headlines were qualitative, reporting on a wide range of matters from individual cases of suffering to violence as a societal issue, the focus expanding over the four years from sexual and domestic violence to other issues such as violence at work and fear of violence.  Violence against women was portrayed less in specific terms, ie. by husbands against wives, and more in cultural terms, ie. by men against women.

These wider generalisations were especially evident in coverage of the Montreal Massacre [6 December 1989]; the actions of the murderer (Marc Lepine) being associated with any violence by men against women and the deaths of the 14 female victims being associated with women's suffering as a whole.  I then examined police statistics, personal surveys and academic studies which showed men and women were victimised at roughly equal rates.  I suggested three reasons for the disparity between rates of violence and rates of media coverage.  One, a predisposition in the media, before 1989, to focus on women's victimisation in the form of sexual and domestic violence. Two, coverage of the Montreal Massacre established a symbolic link between all types of violence suffered by women. Three, the sources used by and available to journalists were overwhelmingly based on women's issues.  I concluded the thesis by considering some possible consequences of the findings, pointing out that researchers have found the media to have an impact on the public.

In terms of public policy, I suggested that coverage contributed to actions such as the establishment of a National Panel on Violence Against Women, shelter funding and special training for court workers.  I also suggested it contributed to a lack of action to address violence against men.  In terms of public perceptions, these portrayals of violence may have caused or reinforced a disproportionate amount of fear in women and men, failed to consider that men may be prone to certain types of violence and ignored male suffering in general.  I also considered the problems of several arguments that might be used to justify the disproportionate amount of coverage found (for example, that women are attacked due to their gender while men are not). In the end, I argued that while the media appeared willing to address violence against women, and rightly so, the media did not appear willing to address a second type of violence, that against men, although statistics show that rates of violence against men are at least as high as those for women.

Additional comment

The bias in the reporting of male and female victims shown by this thesis is important.   Many male victims of violence are victims of violence by other men and even when this is murder there is little or no press coverage.  Often even murders of young men only warrant short articles in local newspapers whereas the murder of young women (which is far less frequent) is more likely to attract much greater and national press coverage.  It is against this background that the male victim of domestic violence faces an even greater bias in the chances of his case being reported in media sources compared with comparable female victims. 

Boyce in this thesis comments upon the Marc Lepine case which many may not remember or be familiar with.  Marc Lepine went into a university campus armed with guns and went into a classroom.  He ordered the male students out and kept the women students hostage.. He subsequently opened fire on his female hostages killing 14 and injuring others. What is quite remarkable about this awful act of mass murder is that the young male students all left the classroom when ordered to by Marc Lepine, leaving their female colleagues to his mercy.  Surely this is the prime example of the great damage caused to young men and their sense of maleness by current politically correct thinking that these young men did not protect their female colleagues and, if necessary, lay down their own lives to protect them by seeking to overpower Marc Lepine. 

Aggression in British heterosexual relationships: a descriptive analysis
Carrado, M., George, M. J., Loxam, E., Jones, L., & Templar, D.
Published in Aggressive Behavior 22, 401- 415  (1996)

This study was written up for the academic press from a survey of a nationally representative sample of adults conducted jointly between Dr Malcolm George, the BBC, and MORI (as field survey agents) in 1994.  The survey was conducted for an item on male victimisation in intimate relationships in the UK by the BBC current affairs programme  Here and Now

This was broadcast on BBC TV channel 1 on 7th December 1994.  Dale Templar was the producer and Elizabeth Loxam the researcher and co-producer of the programme. Michelle Carrado and Lewis Jones organised the survey at MORI and undertook  tabulation of the results, both in co-operation with Dr George and the BBC.  The fieldwork was undertaken in 150 constituencies between 17th and 21st November 1994. 

The study surveyed a representative sample of the UK population which was representative by age, socio-economic status, geographical distribution, marital/relationship status, and sex.  Respondents were asked, firstly, about the occurrence of acts in all their heterosexual relationships either as victimisation or as perpetration. Secondly, they were asked about victimisation in their current  relationship.  Hence, results could be tabulated according to, for instance, whether respondents were married or single/cohabiting, or by age and, of course, by sex. 

Only headline results were broadcast in the TV programme on 7th December 1994.  Fuller analysis of results is found in this academic paper, but even this was not completely exhaustive and some analysis has never been published.   This site adds some of the more interesting of those additional analyses.

The surveyed population was 1,978 of which 1,865 had had an intimate relation with a member of the opposite sex.

The scale used to assess victimisation or perpetration in relationships was a modified form of the Conflict Tactics Scale consisting of five items of physical assault.  These ranged from push, grab or shove, to stab with a knife or sharp object.  All individuals were asked about victimisation and perpetration across all their heterosexual relationships and then those respondents with a current heterosexual partner were asked about victimisation they had suffered in this relationship.

The headline results proved highly interesting.

Sustained Victimisation in All Relationships

Women   -  13%
Men        -  18%

Inflicted Perpetration in All Relationships

Women   -  11%
Men        -  10%

Sustained Victimisation in Current Relationships

Women   -   5%
Men        -  11%

For the sample sizes involved, a difference of 3-4% would be a significant.

For the individual items, it was notable that women slapped men significantly more than the reverse.  It was also notable, however, that whilst the incidence of men admitting assaulting a female partner was not significantly different to the incidence of women who said they had been assaulted by a male partner, there is a 7% difference the other way around, which is highly significant statistically.  The difference probably reflects the fact that male assaults upon female partners are socially unacceptable whilst female assaults on males are tolerated often with justifications based upon ‘slap the cad’ type attributions. 

The difference between sustained victimisation of men and women in current relationships may reflect the fact that men are very aware that to assault a female partner would be much more threatening to the integrity of the relationship than the reverse.  Ironically, these results suggest that there are in effect more UK battered husbands than battered wives.  The results also suggest that men will stay in a relationship in which they are assaulted,  whilst women tend to break up a relationship with a male who assaults them.

Relationship Status

The results of the survey could be analysed according to whether  respondents were either married or cohabiting or just dating couples. A difference between the sexes was found for the two relationship  states.  For women, a higher percentage of single and dating women than married/cohabiting women reported being victims of at least one act of physical assault across all their relationships.  For items such as being punched or kicked and being slapped, the difference was statistically significant (P<0.05).  For men, however, a difference did not exist between the two relationship states. Hence, whilst relationship status was significant for women, with married/cohabiting women being less likely to report victimisation than single dating women, relationship status had no such significance for men.

Comparison of the experiences of the sexes for each relationship state showed that a significantly higher percentage of married/cohabiting men  than married/cohabiting women reported experiencing at least one item of assault across both all relationships and in their current relationship.

Socio-economic Status

Respondents were divided into two categories according to socio-economic groups – ABC1 as one category and C2DE the other.   The C2DE category showed higher percentages of reported victimisation for both women and men.

Age

Respondents were divided into three age categories for the purpose of analysis of age. These categories were 16-24, 25-35 and 35+.  Victimisation both for women and for men was highest in the youngest age group.  This finding is in accord with all other research findings on age and aggression or violence.

Geographical Region
England, Scotland and Wales were divided into three regions on a North to South basis, which were described as North, Midland and South regions in the original paper.

Women in the Midlands were the most victimised women across all relationships but women in the North reported being the most victimised women in current relationships.

For men, the results showed something different.  Men in the South reported more victimisation both for all their relationships and in their current relationship.

Verbal and Symbolic Aggression

Using a modified Conflict Tactics Scale as a survey instrument required respondents to identify not just acts of physical aggression, but also verbal and symbolic aggression. The prevalence of men and women using verbal and symbolic aggression against their partners was higher than their use of physical acts of aggression.   Both sexes reported being victimised by such acts to about the same extent.

Context and Reason

Respondents were asked to give reasons or a context to why they thought their partners aggressed against them or they committed aggression against their partners. 

Among the reasons or contexts asked, were items that sought to elucidate whether assaults occurred in self-defence. Interestingly, 21% of women reported that they had assaulted a partner  because of some physical action a partner had taken against them, whilst 27% of men reported likewise.   This is
one of the only studies to have investigated self-defence but, like the few others that have, it found that the large majority of women do not claim self-defence as a motive for assaults on male partners.

Conclusions

The study is unique in several ways.  It shows high levels of male victimisation and a geographical distribution of prevalence of intimate assaults.  Interestingly, the results can be interpreted to indicate that females leave relationships in which they suffer assault whereas assaulted males do not.  The results show that there are more males suffering repeated assaults than females.  The study also establishes that the large majority of female assaults on intimate male partners are not made in self-defence.

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