A summary of facts and statistics obtained from the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge (PASK) project—the most comprehensive domestic violence research database available.
Partner Abuse State of Knowledge
Over the years, research on partner abuse has become unnecessarily fragmented and politicized. The purpose of the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK) is to bring together in a rigorously evidence-based, transparent and methodical manner existing knowledge about partner abuse with reliable, up-to-date research that can easily be accessed both by researchers and the general public.
Family violence scholars from the United States, Canada and the U.K. were recruited to conduct an extensive and thorough review of the empirical literature, in 17 broad topic areas related to DV. Approximately 12,000 studies were considered and more than 1,700 were summarized and organized into tables. The 17 manuscripts, which provide a review of findings on each of the topics, appear in 5 consecutive special issues of the Partner Abuse journal.
List of Countries in PASK
- Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
- Africa: Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, East Timor, India, Japan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Europe: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
- Latin America: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.
- Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
Domestic Violence Statistics
Domestic Violence (DV), or Intimate Partner Violence, refers to the physical and psychological maltreatment of an intimate partner.
1. Prevalence of Physical DV Victimisation
- Overall, 24% of individuals were victimized by physical DV
- 23% of women and 19.3% of men victimized by physical DV
- Higher victimization for male high school students
- Higher lifetime victimization rates for women
- Higher past-year victimization rates for men
2. Prevalence of Physical DV Perpetration
- Overall, 25.3% of individuals have perpetrated physical DV
- 28.3% of women and 21.6% of men perpetrated physical DV
- Wide range in reported rates due to variety of samples and definitions
3. Prevalence of Psychological and Control DV
- Overall, 80% of individuals have perpetrated psychological DV
- Expressive abuse (in response to a provocation)
- 40% of women and 32% of men reported expressive abuse
- Coercive abuse (intended to monitor, control and/or threaten)
- 41% of women and 43% of men reported coercive abuse
- Sexual coercion
- 4.5% of women and 0.2% of men reported sexual coercion
4. Bidirectional versus Unidirectional DV
- Large population and community samples
- 57.9% was bidirectional DV
- 28.3% was female unidirectional DV
- 13.8% was male unidirectional DV
- School and college samples
- 51.9% was bidirectional DV
- 31.9% was female unidirectional DV
- 16.2% was male unidirectional DV
- Female-oriented legal/clinical/treatment samples (non-military)
- 72.3% was bidirectional DV
- 14.4% was female unidirectional DV
- 13.3% was male unidirectional DV
- Military and male treatment samples
- 39% of was bidirectional DV
- 17.3% was female unidirectional DV
- 43.4% was male unidirectional DV
5. Motivations for DV Perpetration
- Power/control motives (9 comparisons)
- 3 reported no differences, 1 reported mixed findings
- 1 reported women had higher power/control motives
- 3 reported men had higher power/control motives
- Anger/negative emotional motives
- 2 reported women were more likely to be motivated by anger
- None reported men were more likely
- Self-defence motives (10 comparisons)
- Endorsed only by a minority of men and women
- 4 reported no differences
- 5 reported women were more likely to report self-defence motives
- 1 reported men were more likely
- Men highly reluctant to report self-defence motives
- Non-perpetrator samples
- 5%–35% for women and 0%–21% for men
- Perpetrator samples (who may have reasons to overestimate)
- 65.4% of women and 50% of men
6. DV Worldwide (85 Countries)
- Physical DV (117 comparisons)
- Higher rates of female perpetration in 73 comparisons (62%)
- Higher rates of physical injury for female victims
- Psychological/control DV (54 comparisons)
- Higher rates of female perpetration in 36 comparisons (67%)
- Sexual coercion (19 comparisons)
- Higher rates of female perpetration in 7 comparisons (37%)
- IDVS ‘dominance’ scores (32 nations)
- Womens’ scores explained 47% of female DV
- Mens’ scores not predictive of male DV
- ‘Human Development Index’ not a predictor of either male or female DV
- ‘Gender Inequality Index’ not a predictor of either male or female DV
7. Risk Factors for DV
- With few exceptions, risk factors the same for men and women
- Married couples at lower risk than dating couples
- Higher risk for separated women
- Depression more strongly associated with female DV
- Alcohol use more strongly associated with female DV
8. Judicial Decision Making in DV Cases
- Women more likely to be cited rather than be taken into custody
- Men more likely to be convicted
- Men more likely to be given harsher sentences
- Protective orders more likely to be granted to women
- Even in cases involving minor partner conflicts
- Mock juries more likely to assign blame to men
- Even when presented with identical scenarios
- Dual arrests more likely in same-sex couples
“Males were consistently treated more severely at every stage of the prosecution process, particularly regarding the decision to prosecute, even when controlling for other variables (e.g., the presence of physical injuries) and when examined under different conditions.”
There is little doubt that PASK is one of the most impressive undertakings in social science in recent years. PASK’s comprehensive reviews cut through the politicization of DV to raise some very important points.
DV is not the major social issue that it is made out to be.
The majority of what is picked up as ‘abuse’ in DV research consists of trivial conflicts that most people would hesitate to call ‘violence.’ When domestic conflicts are examined by severity, only a very small proportion—between 5–10%—of couples engage in severe domestic conflicts. These figures are not even remotely close to the scale portrayed by heavily politicized campaigns and reports on DV.
Where DV occurs, it is mostly perpetrated by women.
While most DV is mutual, over two-thirds of non-mutual violence is perpetrated by women, in both trivial and severe domestic conflicts, against both male and female partners, worldwide. DV-related deaths, which are rarely taken into account, are also disproportionately high among men. These are not recent findings. Historical records show that women have always been the predominant perpetrators of violence in domestic and intimate environments. The first empirical studies of DV conducted in the 1970s reported equal or higher rates of perpetration by women. Thus, PASK’s reviews have largely extended upon what has already been evident.
The major confound here is that female-perpetrated DV is under-reported. Unlike women, men tend not to consider themselves ‘victims’ of partner conflicts, nor do they view an assault on them by a woman as a ‘crime.’ As a consequence, men are hesitant to report domestic conflicts whereas women readily do so. Within the same couples, self-report of DV victimization by men is less than half the self-report of perpetration by women, but the reporting disparities reverse for perpetration. There is also the other side of the coin. Women are known to pass off their own violence as that by their victim. In mock scenarios, women show a clear prejudice, attributing perpetration to men much more than to women. Mock juries readily assign blame responsibility to men, even when they’re presented with identical scenarios. When the victim is male, observers view the situation as less serious, with the victim as more responsible, and are more likely to ignore the situation.
Evolutionary psychologist Steve Moxon notes that men—unlike women—usually do not have an emotional support network outside their own household: they stand to lose not only their partner, but also their children, their home, their savings and most of their income. For a man, this is absolute destruction whereas for a woman, all she stands to lose is her partner. Men are thus very hesitant to report domestic conflicts because they are aware of the prejudice stacked against them. Even worse, men fear that if they are displaced from the household, their abusive partners may turn their children into objects of violence—a very real fear that is evident in women’s history of violence in the domestic environment.
Politicization of DV causes more harm than good.
It is said that “there is more false, falsely framed, or disingenuously deceptive information about domestic violence than any other significant public and social issue.” In the last 40 years, the entire approach to DV has been premised on the non-scientific feminist notion of ‘patriarchal dominance,’ according to which “domestic violence is all about power and control.” Consequently, there is a remarkable absence of empirical evidence to support the notion that DV is primarily perpetrated by men. These ideological constructs have not only misled the public and the officials but are actually escalating partner conflicts and discouraging genuine victims from receiving aid.
The politicization of domestic violence, both as a social issue and as an important part of social science, is covered in depth in the follow-up article: [Link Set To Private]
Hamel J, et al. (2012) The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project: Part 1. Partner Abuse, 3(2):131–139. ↲
Hamel J, et al. (2012) The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project: Part 2. Partner Abuse, 3(3):283–285. ↲
Hamel J, et al. (2012) The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project: Part 3. Partner Abuse, 3(4):403–405. ↲
Hamel J, et al. (2013) The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project: Part 4. Partner Abuse, 4(1):3–5. ↲
Hamel J, et al. (2013) The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project: Part 5. Partner Abuse, 4(2):171–174. ↲
Desmarais SL, et al. (2012) Prevalence of Physical Violence in Intimate Relationships, Part 1: Rates of Male and Female Victimization. Partner Abuse, 3(2):140-169. ↲
Desmarais SL, et al. (2012) [Tables & summary] Prevalence of physical violence in intimate relationships, Part 1: Rates of male and female victimization. Partner Abuse, 3(2):1-6. ↲
Desmarais SL, et al. (2012) Prevalence of physical violence in intimate relationships, part 2: Rates of male and female perpetration. Partner Abuse, 3(2):170–198. ↲
Desmarais SL, et al. (2012) [Tables & summary] Prevalence of physical violence in intimate relationships, part 2: Rates of male and female perpetration. Partner Abuse, 3(2):1–10. ↲
Carney MM & Barner JR. (2012) Prevalence of partner abuse: Rates of emotional abuse and control. Partner Abuse, 3(3):286–335. ↲
Carney MM & Barner JR. (2012) [Tables & summary] Prevalence of partner abuse: Rates of emotional abuse and control. Partner Abuse, 3(3):1–48. ↲
Langhinrichsen-Rohling J, et al. (2012) Rates of bidirectional versus unidirectional intimate partner violence across samples, sexual orientations, and race/ethnicities: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse, 3(2):199–230. ↲
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J et al. (2012) [Tables & summary] Rates of bidirectional versus unidirectional intimate partner violence across samples, sexual orientations, and race/ethnicities: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse, 3(2):1–2. ↲
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J et al. (2012) Motivations for men and women’s intimate partner violence perpetration: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse, 3(4):429–468. ↲
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J et al. (2012) [Tables & summary] Motivations for men and women’s intimate partner violence perpetration: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse, 3(4):1–33. ↲
Capaldi D, et al. (2012) A systematic review of risk factors for intimate partner violence. Partner Abuse, 3(2):231–280. ↲
Capaldi D, et al. (2012) [Tables & summary] A systematic review of risk factors for intimate partner violence. Partner Abuse, 3(2):1–27. ↲
Shernock S & Russell B. (2012) Gender and racial/ethnic differences in criminal justice decision making in intimate partner violence cases. Partner Abuse, 3(4):501–530. ↲
Shernock S & Russell B. (2012) [Tables & summary] Gender and racial/ethnic differences in criminal justice decision making in intimate partner violence cases. Partner Abuse, 3(4):1–10. ↲
Fiebert MS. (2014) References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: An updated annotated bibliography. Sexuality & Culture, 18(2):405–467. ↲
Straus MA & Gelles RJ. (1992) How violent are American families? In Straus MA & Gelles R (Eds.) Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families (pp. 95–108). Transaction Publishers. ↲
Stets JE & Straus MA. (1990) Gender differences in reporting of marital violence and its medical and psychological consequences. In Straus MA & Gelles R (Eds.) Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families (pp. 151–166). Transaction Publishers. ↲
Rhatigan DL, Stewart C & Moore TM. (2011) Effects of gender and confrontation on attributions of female-perpetrated intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 64(11–12):875–887. ↲
Sylaska KM & Walters AS. (2014) Testing the extent of the gender trap: college students’ perceptions of and reactions to intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 70(3–4):134–145. ↲
Moxon SP. (2008) Home Lies — Violence by partners is not mostly by men. In The Woman Racket: The New Science Explaining How the Sexes Relate at Work, at Play and in Society. United Kingdom: Imprint Academic. ↲
Gelles RJ. (2007)The politics of research: The use, abuse, and misuse of social science data—The cases of intimate partner violence. Family Court Review, 45, 1. ↲
Iyengar R. (2007) Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws. National Bureau of Economic Research. ↲
Mills LG. (2003) Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse (p. 6). Princeton University Press. ↲