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Domestic Violence Research:
Not an Even Battlefield

© Peter Zohrab 2007

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Eminent Domestic Violence researcher Richard Gelles, in his article Domestic Violence: Not an Even Playing Field, criticises what he claims are inappropriate uses to which his research data have been put.

He explains what he means by saying;

"The statement that men and women hit one another in roughly equal numbers is true, however, it cannot be made in a vacuum without the qualifiers that a) women are seriously injured at seven times the rate of men and b) that women are killed by partners at more than two times the rate of men."

He does not cite any sources for these dubious statements. By contrast, there is evidence that the contrary is the case:

    1. Professor Fiebert's Annotated Domestic Violence Bibliography* reports: "McLeod, M. (1984). Women against men: An examination of domestic violence based on an analysis of official data and national victimization data. Justice Quarterly, 1, 171-193. (From a data set of 6,200 cases of spousal abuse in the Detroit area in 1978-79 found that men used weapons 25% of the time while female assailants used weapons 86% of the time, 74% of men sustained injury and of these 84% required medical care. Concludes that male victims are injured more often and more seriously than female victims.) "

    2. Professor Fiebert's Annotated Domestic Violence Bibliography* also reports: "Maxfield, M. G. (1989). Circumstances in supplementary homicide reports: Variety and validity. Criminology, 27, 671-695. (Examines FBI homicide data from 1976 through 1985. Reports that 9,822 wives & common law wives <57%> were killed compared to 7,433 husbands and common law husbands <43%>)."

Either Professor is against domestic violence, or he is not against domestic violence. If he is against domestic violence per se, then he will admit that the statement that men and women hit one another in roughly equal numbers is important -- even in a vacuum -- as indicating that equal resources should be devoted to preventing violence by women and violence by men.

If Professor Gelles thinks that the context is important, he should think about the context in an intelligent and thoroughgoing manner. Why is it that (as he admits) men and women hit one another in roughly equal numbers , yet it is overwhelmingly men who are arrested for domestic violence, rather than men and women being arrested in equal numbers?

The answer is that the Feminist movement was what brought such a lot of university (but not necessarily "academic") focus on domestic violence, and that movement has only been interested in portraying women as victims. Meanwhile, most male academics have been too cowardly or incompetent to force our politicised Western universities and governments to take a scientific -- as opposed to a political -- approach to this issue. Professor Gelles, for all his faults, has actually been one of the best and fairest researchers in this area.

You can see from the website of the University of Rhode Island , where Dr. Gelles was working at the time, that it has:

 

* last accessed on 21 November 2007.

 

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8 July 2015

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