Domestic Abuse – is it all about women?

Why write about Gender?

A comment on one of my recent blog post about the focus on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAW) and female victims and survivors of Domestic Abuse (DA) in Government Policy prompted me to explore the current pro feminist approach to DA.

The result is this blog which looks at some of the research concerning domestic abuse and gender. 

It is important to have regard to this research when prioritising resources, designing support services for victims and survivors, developing and implementing intervention programmes for perpetrators and considering situational and community approaches to prevention. 

Nothing here or in the research suggests that domestic abuse is acceptable for any victim. The research does highlight differences in the experiences of some victims based on gender. 

Who Does What to Whom?

There are many studies but for comprehensive and contemporary one must look at Hester (2009) who conducted a longitudinal study of domestic abuse analysing information collected by Northumbria Police over a 6 year period to track 128 cases and interviewed a sample of those cases relating to heterosexual men and women.

The study categorised and examined three categories of perpetrators including 32 cases with women as sole perpetrators, a sample of 32 of the cases with men as sole perpetrators and a sample of 32 of the cases where both men and women were recorded in separate incidents as perpetrators (dual perpetrators – 64 individuals).

Key Findings Sole Perpetrators:

There were some stark gender differences.

Cases involving males as sole perpetrators were those most likely to result in intense fear and control of partners. Only one case of a female as a sole perpetrator was similarly described in the police case histories.

Violence used by men against female partners was much more severe than that used by women against men.

Other differences include:

Issue Men Women
Numbers of incidents 83% men had at least 2 incidents recorded, many a lot more than 2 incidents and a maximum number of 52 incidents 62% women had only 1 incident and the maximum number of 8 incidents
Used Physical violence 61% 37%
Threats and Harassment 29% 13% and 11%
Damage to partners property and to own 30% and 6% 16% and 11%
Use of Weapon 11% 24%
Arrests : Incidents 1:10 1:3

Key Findings Sole Perpetrators and Dual Perpetrators

The total number of incidents recorded across the 64 sole perpetrators was 181 compared with a significantly higher number of 400 incidents across the 64 dual perpetrators.

Gender difference remained stark with 13% men who had only 1 incident recorded and a maximum number of 52 incidents compared with 45% women had only 1 incident and a maximum number of 8 incidents. Men had been the perpetrator of 330 incidents compared with women perpetrators of 70 incidents.

Other Studies

These findings are not inconsistent with findings of earlier work (Povey et al. 2008) that there are large differences between men’s and women’s experiences of domestic abuse when impact is taken into account and that women may use “violent resistance” against a violent male partner (Hamberger et al. 1997).

Older studies (Pence and McMahon 1998) of theDuluthinitiative inMinnesotaillustrated that although women offenders were as vigorously targeted as men they never constituted more than 7% of referrals to the mandated perpetrator programme.

5 thoughts on “Domestic Abuse – is it all about women?

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