When we think of domestic violence, the image that most often comes to mind is that of an aggressive male perpetrator and a beaten female victim. However, the American Journal of Public Health’s most recent large-scale study of domestic violence shows that in reality, women are actually more often the perpetrators.
Analyzing data gathered from 11,370 respondents, researchers found that “half of [violent relationships] were reciprocally violent. In non-reciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more that 70% of the cases.”
Out of all the respondents, a quarter of the women admitted to perpetrating the domestic violence and, when the violence was reciprocal, women were often the ones to have been the first to strike. In addition, an analytic view of 552 domestic violence studies published in the Psychological Bulletin found that 38% of the physical injuries suffered in domestic violence disputes were suffered by men.
Dr. Donald Dutton believes that this research shows that domestic violence is more common in lesbian relationships than in heterosexual relationships. In one study of 1,100 lesbian or bisexual women in abusive lesbian relationships, researchers found that the women were more likely to have experienced domestic violence in past relationships with women than in their relationships with men.
However, what researchers also note is that domestic violence research is often problematic. This is because the data is often extracted from crime reports or crime victims surveys where, as Dr. Dutton explains, “men under-report more than women, and have been publicized as indicating domestic violence is a gender issue…In fact, when larger surveys with representative samples are examined, perpetration of domestic violence is slightly more common for females.”
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