Abuse is Common
A generation ago, abuse victims were often terrified of coming forward, worried that they would appear weak or be blamed for their abuse. Thanks to the growth of the women’s movement and the victim’s rights movement, as well as the lobbying of millions of advocates across the globe, we now know how common domestic violence is. Indeed, some sociologists argue that gender roles, a fixation on control, and a culture of aggression have ingrained domestic violence into the American way of life. Consider:
- A woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds.
- 1 in 3 women—and 1 in 4 men—have been in abusive relationships, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have faced severe physical violence.
- 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute, adding up to 10 million each year.
- More than 200,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines every year.
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
- The presence of guns in a home where domestic violence is a problem increases the risk of a murder by 500%.
Both Men and Women Can be Victims
Domestic violence outreach campaigns often focus on women, but both men and women can be and are victims of domestic violence. One study found that 40% of domestic violence victims are men. Of course, the picture is a bit more complicated: While some groups have used this figure to argue that women are just as violent as men, most domestic violence directed at men is in the form of slaps and other low-level violence. Men are significantly more likely to resort to extreme violence, to use weapons, and to kill their partners.
So while domestic violence against men does happen and is a serious problem, women remain the primary victims. But for this reason, men who have faced abuse often find themselves stigmatized and ridiculed. If someone you love says they’ve been the victim of domestic violence, you should believe and support them, since no gender is safe, and no amount of physical strength or emotional fortitude protects against abuse.
Abuse Victims Face a Culture of Blame