I've noticed that every time I write about domestic violence -- whether the topic is Rihanna or insurance companies classifying abuse as a pre-existing condition -- "men's rights" trolls come out of the woodwork to claim there is no proof women are more likely to be victimized by intimate partners than men. "Dana, why are you a sexist pig?" wrote one unhinged commenter. "You know that domestic violence [sic] anywhere from 30-60% male victims depending on the research."
This claim fails the sniff test and defies common sense. It's also factually untrue. Last week the Justice Department released its latest National Crimes Victimization Survey, which features a special section on female victims of violence. The survey included 76,000 households, and while domestic violence is infamously underreported, the report does sketch out the contours of the problem.
First, the good news: On the whole, domestic violence is down between 1993 and 2008. But unsurprisingly, women remain over five times more likely than men to be victims of both fatal and non-fatal domestic violence, including assault, rape, stalking, and homicide. One of the most interesting findings is that although fewer than 1 of every 1,000 American men has been the victim of domestic violence -- compared to 4.3 of every 1,000 American women -- male victims are more likely than female ones to go to the police: 72 percent of self-reported male victims filled out a police report, compared to 49 percent of female victims. This points to a number of problems familiar to advocates: that female domestic violence victims are especially wary of law enforcement, fearful of reprisal from their abusers, and must battle a cycle of shame and self-doubt before they seek help. About half never do.
A few more depressing statistics:
- Females are generally murdered by people they know. In 64% of female homicide cases in 2007, females were killed by a family member or intimate partner.
- Men were more likely than women to be killed by strangers. Among male homicide victims in 2007, 16% were murdered by a family member or intimate partner. ... 29% were killed by strangers.
- Females were at higher risk of stalking victimization than males. During the study period, females experienced 20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18 or older. The rate of stalking victimization for males was approximately 7 per 1,000 males age 18 or older.
- In 2008, 57% of the rape or sexual assaults against females were committed by an offender whom they knew. Strangers committed about one third (31%) of all rape/sexual assaults.
- One in five rape or sexual assaults against females (20%) was committed by an intimate partner.
- Black females historically have experienced intimate partner violence at rates higher than white and Hispanic females.