The Psychology of Trauma

Domestic Violence

Do only men batter?

Early feminist scholars insisted that spousal battery was an overwhelmingly male phenomenon. However, a number of studies investigating couples in the community suggest that women were actually more likely than men to commit violence, especially mild forms of violence. In a 2007 study of 607 college students, Rosemarie Cogan and Tiffany Fennell found that 53 percent of women and 38 percent of men reported committing physical aggression toward an intimate partner. In a 2006 study by Susan O’Leary and Amy Slep, 453 cohabitating couples with young children reported similar results. Women admitted to a median of three acts of mild physical aggression and two acts of severe physical aggression in the past year, compared to men, who admitted to two mild acts and one severe act in the past year. Additionally, both males and females perceive female-initiated violence to be less dangerous and problematic than male-initiated violence.

Criminal statistics, however, tell a different story than the research quoted above. Men are far more likely to be involved in criminal assaults against a partner than are women and female homicide by an intimate partner is far more common than the reverse. In fact, murder by an intimate partner is the most frequent form of female homicide. Taken together, these findings suggest that American women are equally if not more likely than men to engage in mild to moderate aggression, but that men are still much more likely to engage in serious and life-threatening violence against their intimate partners.

What are the criminal statistics about intimate partner violence?


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