Women’s Aid and similar organisations attempt to play down the seriousness of partner violence by women against men, as for example in this quote from one of their sites,
One misleading statistic, which is often repeated, is that – while one in four women experience domestic violence – so do one in six men. These figures are, however, based on single incidents, of a criminal nature, and without regard to: (a)severity of violence; (b)whether or not it was repeated – and if so, how often; (c)the complex pattern of overlapping abuse of various kinds, and, (d)the context in which it took place.
The Yearly Incidence Data and the Incidence by Injury show that PV is just as serious an issue for male victims as it is for female victims. Here we also show that it is a myth that the pattern of repeat PV against men differs from the pattern of repeat incidents against women. In fact, there is relatively little difference in the pattern of repeat offending by men and women, as shown by the graphs below.
An analysis of over 36,000 police records of domestic abuse between 2009 and 2014 recorded by Suffolk Constabulary has been reported by Matthew Bland of Cambridge University (Targeting Escalation in Common Domestic Abuse, December 2014). He observes,
“Until very recently, Police Chief Officers were asserting in public that victims of domestic abuse suffered 34 episodes prior to reporting to police. This figure was exposed as highly spurious by Cambridge scholars in 2014 (Strang, Neyroud & Sherman, 2014). Another potential myth is that of escalation – the notion that over the life of a domestic abuse relationship the severity and frequency of violent events will increase with each further report. According to Pagelow (1981), escalation is something on which researchers can agree, although she does not make it clear why.”
The report referenced above by Strang, Neyroud & Sherman, “Tracking the Evidence for a ‘Mythical Number’: Do UK Domestic Abuse Victims Suffer an Average of 35 Assaults Before Someone Calls the Police?”, Policing, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pp. 222-228, concludes,
“There is a widely repeated claim that victims of domestic abuse suffer an average of 35 incidents prior to someone calling the police. This claim is often made without reference to any evidence. When evidence has been cited, the citations often refer to studies that contain no such evidence. After extensive inquiry, the only evidence we can find for making this claim about abuse victims in England and Wales comes from a 1979 study of police responses in a small Canadian city…..By a broad consensus of statisticians, this evidence is inadequate to support an estimated rate of prior assaults in that sample or that city, let alone to support an international generalization to the UK in 2014. We conclude that the claim of ‘35’ in modern Britain has been a prime example of a ‘mythical number’.”
As regards the other mythology, cited by Pagelow and others that, “the severity and frequency of violent events will increase with each further report”, the Matthew Bland report concludes,
“The study found no evidence for statistically significant escalating severity among a cohort of 727 unique victim and offender units, known as dyads, which called police five or more times in a three year period.
The study also found that while 75% of dyads reported to police just once, less than 2% of all dyads accounted for 80% of all domestic abuse harm. In over half of these high harm dyads, there had been no prior contact with police regarding domestic abuse and in these cases, victims were more often non-White British, male, without children and from less areas than was typical of all dyads.”
Evidence on Repeat Incidents from CSEW
Figure 1 (2008/9 Data): Taken from Table 3.11 of Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2008/09 by Kevin Smith et al. (Jan 2010, Policing Statistics and Crime Surveys teams, part of the Home Office Statistics area of the Science and Research Group).
Figure 2 (2012/13 Data): Taken from the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales report, Appendix Table 4.12.
Figure 3 (2014/15 Data): Taken from the 2014/15 Crime Survey for England and Wales report, Appendix Table 4.15. Note that two-thirds of respondents of both sexes replied “don’t know” or “don’t want to answer” to this question on repeat offences. So the percentages in the histogram below do not add to 100%
It is clearer than ever in the latest (2015) data that there is no significant difference in the proportion of male victims and female victims reporting multiple incidents of partner abuse.
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