Adult Intimate Partner Violence

The most recent data on female-to-male intimate partner violence from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS; Catalano, 2013) indicate that:

  • • The rate of serious intimate violence against males was .04 per 1,000 for males aged 12 and older.
  • • The rate of simple assault of males by intimate partners was 1.1 per 1,000 males aged 12 and older.
  • • Eight percent of male victims reported being shot, stabbed, or hit with a weapon.
  • • Forty-four percent of male victims of intimate partner violence reported suffering an injury in the previous year.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Assault Survey (NIPSAS- Black et al., 2011) collected self-reports from men on IPV victimization. A nationally representative sample of adults 18 years of age or older (9,086 women and 7,421 men) were interviewed by telephone. In terms of female-to-violence, the major findings are:

• About 1 in 4 men (28.5%) experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

  • • About i in 7 (13.8%) men have experienced severe violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • • An estimated 1 in 20 men (5.0%) experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking in the 12 months prior to responding to the survey.

Of course, the NIPSAS survey and the NCVS surveys are not directly comparable. As noted in Chapter 4, the NCVS survey focuses on crime, while the NIPSAS survey does not present the questions in the context of being a crime victim.

If the matter of female-to-male violence is settled, as claimed by the email poster referring to a special issue of an academic journal on gender and violence, then, according to the best data available, it is fair to conclude that women are violent towards men across the age span and ranging from dating violence to domestic homicide. If the question is, are men and women equal in terms of perpetrating IPV, the answer needs to be more nuanced. Men commit more intimate partner homicides. Male sexual assault is greater than female intimate partner sexual assault. There is greater symmetry for the less serious, more common forms of violence, and less symmetry for fatal and injurious violence.

While many women use violence in self-defense, many other women use violence for the same reason men do—for the purposes of power and control. And it is also the case that many couples are violent with no specific person responsible for always initiating the violence. Males perpetrate the more injurious and lethal forms of violence.

Forty years after violence against women emerged as a social issue and social problem, the issue of female-to-male violence is still very much a personal trouble, with rare sparks of being a social issue. Research on female-to-male violence is limited, with very few sources of federal and foundation grant support. Advocates no longer dismiss female-to-male violence as nonexistent, but there is also no attempt to embrace the issue as a significant component of the problem of IPV.

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