It’s perhaps the most important event in the history of domestic violence research. Back in 2010, the senior editor of the journal Partner Abuse asked 42 researchers in the field of intimate partner abuse to conduct a thorough review of existing literature on the subject. All peer reviewed literature from 1990 to the present was examined and over 1,700 studies were included in the final analysis. The scientists divided their inquiry into 17 subject areas and assigned researchers to each. The resulting analyses were published by Partner Abuse between April, 2012 and April, 2013, and together comprise almost 2,700 pages of information including tables. The whole project is called the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK).
The purpose of this massive effort was to once and for all bring sound scientific methods to the field of DV research, one in which sound science has often been sorely lacking. As the introduction makes clear, the authors believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And it is those facts on which public policy should be based “rather than ideology and special interests.”
That of course is arrant heresy as far as the domestic violence movement is concerned. For decades now, DV activists have substituted political ideology for facts and the scientific method. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been wrong about almost everything they’ve ever said about domestic violence. Like the Cross to a vampire, science has always threatened the domestic violence establishment, its cherished worldview, its fear and loathing of men and ultimately its lavish governmental funding.
PASK should (and well may) prove to be the stake in the heart of what has for far too long been our public policy on intimate partner violence. Simply put, no one who speaks, writes or legislates on the subject should do so without first reading at least the 62-page Overview of Findings, and preferably the whole analysis. PASK is the state of the art on domestic violence.
The project isn’t over. As more research is conducted (hopefully in the areas suggested by the authors) PASK findings will change. And in some areas, there is either not enough data (e.g. injuries to male victims), or the data are inconclusive, so public policy changes aren’t possible. But in most areas of inquiry, the facts are clear and must be used to guide policy makers. To do anything else would be to abandon even the pretense that the goal of public policy is actually the reduction in rates of intimate partner violence.
To be clear, what PASK reveals is that the claims of the domestic violence establishment are wrong and have been from the start. That establishment that receives such largess from governments and private sources has been revealed once and for all to be intellectually bankrupt.
Section One: Rates of Male and Female Victimization. The group studying information in this area analyzed 249 publications comprising over 1 million subjects. They found that, over their lifetimes, about 23% of women reported physical victimization versus 19.3% of men. Those figures will likely converge over time given the fact that more men than women reported victimization over the previous year. Gender symmetry in victimization appeared in aggregated data from numerous different countries including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and South Africa.
As to public policy, the authors stated the obvious:
This comprehensive review… documents the need for gender-inclusive responsiveness to this wide-ranging public health problem. In particular, there are currently few services for male victims and the high rates of violence experienced by women and men suggests a need for treatment and intervention strategies for victims of both sexes.
In other words, the roughly half of all DV victims who are men have nowhere to turn for help, and they need it.
Section Two: Rates of Male and Female Perpetration. The authors studying data in this area analyzed 111 separate data sets comprising about 250,000 subjects. They found that about 25% of those subjects reported perpetrating physical violence against a current partner or one in their last relationship. That represented 28.3% of women and 21.6% of men who perpetrated violence against an intimate partner. Subjects came from across the industrialized, English-speaking world.
The authors note that “gendered explanations of IPV do not adequately account for our findings.” Of course the DV establishment will hasten to say that rates of perpetration of domestic violence don’t deal with the severity of violence, only the incidence.
True, but the authors anticipate that argument.
[F]indings should be used to support the development and implementation of interventions that acknowledge the use of violence by women in intimate relationships but also recognized how participants’ treatment needs may differ.
That is, difference in the severity of domestic violence should no longer be used by the DV establishment as an excuse to deny services to male victims or female perpetrators. Those interventions should be tailored to the needs of those victims and perpetrators.
Section Three: Rates of Bi-Directional and Uni-Directional IPV. In this area, 50 separate studies that recorded rates of bi-directional versus uni-directional violence were analyzed. Researchers found that, in the largest samples studied, among couples reporting domestic violence, 57.9% reported reciprocal or bi-directional violence with the remainder, 42.1% reporting uni-directional violence. In the uni-directional group, women were over twice as likely (28.3%) to perpetrate violence as were men (13.8%).
Smaller samples revealed similar rates of bi-directional violence but community surveys showed 22.9% of women versus 17.5% of men perpetrating uni-directional violence. Among subjects in high school and college, 31.9% of women perpetrated uni-directional violence versus 16.2% of men.
Only in the sample of U.S. military personnel and “at-risk” males did men’s (43.4%) uni-directional violence rates outstrip those of women (17.3%).
The researchers make clear that, in all samples, the salient feature is the prevalence of bi-directional IPV. That means that, if a doctor, hospital or any other reporter finds evidence of domestic violence victimization, the chance of DV perpetration by the same person is good. Rates of bi-directional IPV among gay men and lesbian women didn’t differ significantly from those of heterosexual couples.
Likewise, rates of bi-directional DV were almost identical for white and Hispanic couples, i.e. about 50% for each. African-American couples on the other hand reported a rate of about 62% bi-directional IPV. The ratio of female-on-male/male-on-female uni-directional IPV was 2.27 for African-Americans, 2.26 for whites and 1.34 for Hispanic couples.
I’ll write more about this valuable body of work at a later time.
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