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Male Victims

Z. Ruby White Starr

This article focuses on abuse of women by men since this significant social problem is what CASA volunteers are most likely to encounter. However, all abuse is wrong, and men as well as women can be victims. It is estimated that 14% of men are physically assaulted by a spouse or partner at some point in their lives. Men experience many of the same reactions to abuse as women such as guilt, shame, humiliation, anger, depression and fear of retaliation. Social norms that propagate the acceptance of men’s abuse against women over women’s abuse of men make it less likely that men will report it.

Research suggests that women are just as likely as men to use a violent act; however, whether men are as likely as women to be victims of domestic violence is a complicated issue. The lack of consensus can be attributed to how domestic violence is defined, the context of the violence as well as the impact and severity of outcomes. For example, research indicates domestic violence involves a range of behaviors, making it difficult to measure, while legislation in most states defines domestic violence as an individual act. Data often fail to differentiate among violent behaviors, grouping an open-handed slap producing a momentary sting with closed-handed punches requiring medical treatment or hospitalization. Further obscured in studies is whether a violent act was used in self defense or whether a male victim is in a same-sex relationship.

There is less contention that domestic violence has a disparate impact on women when the severity of outcomes is measured. Women experience more serious and chronic violence, more fear in leaving the relationship and less financial independence. Females represent about 70% of all intimate murder victims. And about one-third of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate compared with 4% of male murder victims.

For more information on male victims, see:

Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Substantive and Methodological Research Review (new.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/GenderSymmetry.pdf)

“Defining and Measuring Domestic Violence and Its Impact” (sagepub.com/upm-data/3241_Buzawa_Chp2Final.pdf)

Male Victims of Violence Fact Sheet (ncadv.org/files/MaleVictims.pdf)

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