Understanding domestic violence
For years, the party line on family violence has been the starkly one-sided view of the above-linked PDF. Basically, the message has been that there is always a victim and a perpetrator — the latter of which gets to live in servile fear until (usually) she flees and justice is served (or she ends up dead.)
While that scenario does exist (And those tragic situations are almost the only cases in which someone actually gets arrested), the true reality of family violence couldn’t be more different and decent academic studies consistently come up with figures that radically contradict the FBI study.
Here are just a few studies of what actually goes on within homes of domestic violence:
(Note that some of the above papers are really studies of many other studies and actually represent an astounding amount of peer-reviewed primary research.)
Their conclusion: Men are far less likely to report domestic abuse and women are far less likely to be arrested or convicted — facts that skew FBI statistics to misrepresent what actually happens.
The most recent large-scale study was published in the American Journal of Public Health and surveyed 11,000 men and women. It found that, according to both men’s and women’s accounts, 50 percent of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal (involving both parties). In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike.
As if that were not contrary enough, the researchers found that when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70 percent of the time.
In reality, the vast majority of domestic violence is much better addressed with communication and conflict-related skills (and then healing the broken hearts of two hurting people) then it is by labelling one of them and vindicating the other.