Domestic Violence - Another Perspective

Menstuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of domestic violence. Unlike most other national, regional, local and web site resources on Domestic Violence, we don't exclude information pertaining to women as perpetrators and men as victims. We're one of very few to actually provide information written for men who are in an abusive relationship. If you know of others, please let us know.

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Trudy Schuett's Column

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month

"Don't Feel Like Heaven Anymore" - 4:31

"Tonight" Elton John

This video is not safe to watch at work.

For every father or potential father of a girl.
This video is not safe to watch at work.

PSAs I helped produce with members of the Summer
Youth Training Academy in June, 2016 in Crescent City, CA.
See them before YOU pop.

Real Time Death Toll as of

Newsbytes - late news.

About Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Statistics
More Domestic Violence Statistics
Manufacturing Statistics
Violence against women—it's a men's issue - Video 19:07
Russell Wilson Launches 'Pass The Peace' Campaign To Help Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic Violence Advocates Exaggerate Statistics
Violence Among Intimates
Gender aspects of abuse
About Domestic Violence against Men
Women battering men – the other side of domestic abuse
Researcher Says Women's Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women
Arrests of Women for Offensses Against the Family
A Woman’s Inalienable Right To Murder?
Chances are We're All Part of the Problem
Signs of Domestic Violence
Counseling for person affected
Domestic Violence Helpline for Men
Domestic Violence Myths

A scourge that touches everyone
Women as Batterers
Initiator of Domestic Violence
Aggravated Domestic Violence
Dating Violence/Abuse Hypocrisy
What Male Victims Can Do
The Rights of Battered Men - Quite extensive

Men as Batterers
Women Can't Abuse Men in California - It's the Law
Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008 -- California Leads the Way
Abusive Behaviors - some research
Girls Gone Wild on YouTube
What All Men Can Do
Safety Plan

A Domestic Violence Research Tool: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Domestic Violence Statistics | 2010 and 200
Evaluating Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages: Not to People Like Us
Commonly Used Domestic Violence Citations
Bureau of Justice Statistics
More than 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK are male, report reveals
Emerging Issues
Controlling Domestic Violence Against Men
Battered Men: Research Reveals A Secret Side To Domestic Violence - Women Are Doing The Abusing, Too
Children and Domestic Violence
Best Interest of the Child - Women & Child Abuse
Gender Profiling Prevalent in Domestic Violence
The "Other" War Congress Declared
Domestic Woes Not a One-Way Street
A woman is battered somewhere in America every 15 seconds - Really?
Domestic Violence: A Two-way Street: A man battered every 14 seconds
Wife-Beater Tank Tops - They're Serious
Do Batterer Intervention Programs Work?
Is Feminism a Mental Disorder?
Harsh Domestic Violence Laws Recall Jim Crow Abuses
Women's Violence
KSU expert says male college students also victims of violence at girlfriends’ hands
Relationship Violence Common in College
Where do we go from here?
Alternatives to Violence Resources (Includes services for male and female perpetrators and male and female victims)


Books on Domestic Violence, Abuse - Boys, Abuse - Children, Abuse - Ritual, Abuse - Sexual, Circumcision, Anger, Violence-General, Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Womens' Violence
Related Issues Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Abuse - Ritual, Abuse - Sexual, Circumcision, Violence, Sexual Harassment, Womens' Violence, DV and Prisons.
Pamphlets: The InvisibleBoy: Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens (57 pages) ; It’s Not What You Think: Sexually Exploited Youth in British Columbia (60 pages)
Resources: Alternatives to Violence programs. The Duluth Model
Q&A Slide Guide on Gangs
Journals - on Child, Emotional, Religious, and Sexual Abuse and Trauma


The term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse/domestic violence. Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse, elder abuse, and other violent acts between family members. Wife abuse, wife beating, and battering are descriptive terms that have lost popularity recently for at least two reasons:

These other forms of abuse have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.

Amartya Sen calculated that between 60 million and 107 million women are missing worldwide.

The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner". The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and that it can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the United Kingdom in its "Domestic Violence Policy" uses domestic violence to refer to a range of violent and abusive behaviours, defining it as:

Patterns of behaviour characterised by the misuse of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship. It can occur in mixed gender relationships and same gender relationships and has profound consequences for the lives of children, individuals, families and communities. It may be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. The latter may include intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats and financial abuse.

In Spain, the 2004 Measures of Integral Protection Measures against Gender Violence defined gender violence as a violence that is directed at women for the very fact of being women. The law acknowledges that aggressions against women have a particular incidence in the reality of Spain and that gender violence stands as the most brutal symbol of the inequality persisting in Spain. According to the law, women are considered by their attackers as lacking the basic rights of freedom, respect, and power of decision.

About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, biting, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life - therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.
Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and

Gender aspects of abuse

Women are subjected to domestic violence more often and more severely than are men. According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. A 2001 survey of over 22,000 residents of England and Wales by the UK Home Office showed four percent of women and two percent of men were victims of domestic violence in the last year. Of the most heavily abused group, 89 percent were women.

Women are much more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. Of those killed by an intimate partner about three quarters are female and about a quarter are male. In 1999 in the United States 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner, and 1181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners in 2005. In England and Wales about 100 women are killed by partners or former partners each year while 21 men were killed in 2010. In 2008, in France, 156 women and 27 men were killed by their intimate partner.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which has led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”

The relationship between gender and domestic violence is a controversial topic and there continues to be debate about the rates at which each gender is subjected to domestic violence and whether abused men should be provided the same resources and shelters that exist for women victims. In particular, some studies suggest that men are less likely to report being victims of domestic violence due to social stigmas. Other sources, however, argue that the rate of domestic violence against men is often inflated due to the practice of including self-defense as a form of domestic violence.

In their study of severely violent couples, Neil Jacobson and John Gottman conclude that the frequency of violent acts is not as crucial as the impact of the violence and its function, when trying to understand spousal abuse; specifically, they state that the purpose of domestic violence is typically to control and intimidate, rather than just to injure.

Both men and women have been arrested and convicted of assaulting their partners in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The bulk of these arrests have been men being arrested for assaulting women. However, in the case of reciprocal violence, frequently only the male perpetrator is arrested. Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Male domestic violence victims may be reluctant to get help for a number of reasons. Another study has demonstrated a high degree of acceptance by women of aggression against men.

Some researchers have found a relationship between the availability of domestic violence services, improved laws and enforcement regarding domestic violence and increased access to divorce, and higher earnings for women with declines in intimate partner homicide by women. Murders of female intimate partners by men have dropped, but not nearly as dramatically. Men kill their female intimate partners at about four times the rate that women kill their male intimate partners. Research by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD RN FAAN has found that at least two thirds of women killed by their intimate partners were battered by those men prior to the murder. She also found that when males are killed by female intimates, the women in those relationships had been abused by their male partner about 75% of the time.

A problem in conducting studies that seek to describe violence in terms of gender is the amount of silence, fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships. Another is that abusive patterns can tend to seem normal to those who have lived in them for a length of time. Similarly, subtle forms of abuse can be quite transparent even as they set the stage for further abuse seeming normal. Finally, inconsistent definition of what constitutes domestic violence makes definite conclusions difficult to reach when compiling the available studies.

Theories that women are as violent as men have been dubbed "Gender Symmetry" theories. On the other hand, Michael Kimmel of the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that men are more violent inside and outside of the home than women.

Straus and Gelles found in couples reporting spousal violence, 27% of the time the man struck the first blow; the woman in 24%. The rest of the time, the violence was mutual, with both partners brawling. The results were the same even when the most severe episodes of violence were analyzed. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, and the data was the same. The simple tally of physical acts is typically found to be similar in those studies that examine both directions, but some studies show that male violence may be more serious. Male violence may do more damage than women's; women are much more likely to be injured and/or hospitalized, wives are much more likely to be killed by their husbands than the reverse (59%-41% Dept of Justice study), and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouse than by all other types of assailants combined.

Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, has compiled an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women on men. This bibliography examines 275 scholarly investigations: 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses, which appear to demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000. In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that "...consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men." However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.

Women are far more likely to use weapons in their domestic violence, whether throwing a plate or firing a gun.

In a review of the research however Michael Kimmel found that violence is instrumental in maintaining control and that more than 90 percent of "systematic, persistent, and injurious" violence is perpetrated by men. He points out that most of the empirical studies that Fiebert reviewed used the same empirical measure of family conflict, i.e., the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) as the sole measure of domestic violence and that many of the studies noted by Fiebert discussed samples composed entirely of single people younger than 30, and not married couples. Kimmel argues that among various other flaws, the CTS is particularly vulnerable to reporting bias because it depends on asking people to accurately remember and report what happened during the past year. However, men tend to under-estimate their use of violence, while women tend to over-estimate their use of violence. Simultaneously men tend to over-estimate their partner's use of violence while women tend to under-estimate their partner's use of violence. Thus, men will likely over-estimate their victimization, while women tend to underestimate theirs.

Similarly, the National Institute of Justice states that the studies that find that women abuse men equally or even more than men abuse women are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale, a survey tool developed in the 1970s and which may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence. Furthermore, the NIJ contends that national surveys supported by NIJ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women.

In a Meta-analysis, John Archer, Ph. D., from the Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, UK, writes:

The present analyses indicate that men are among those who are likely to be on the receiving end of acts of physical aggression. The extent to which this involves mutual combat or the male equivalent to “battered women” is at present unresolved. Both situations are causes for concern. Straus (1997) has warned of the dangers involved—especially for women—when physical aggression becomes a routine response to relationship conflict. “Battered men”—those subjected to systematic and prolonged violence—are likely to suffer physical and psychological consequences, together with specific problems associated with a lack of recognition of their plight (George and George, 1998). Seeking to address these problems need not detract from continuing to address the problem of “battered women."

Gender roles and expectations can and do play a role in abusive situations, and exploring these roles and expectations can be helpful in addressing abusive situations, as do factors like race, class, religion, sexuality and philosophy. However, studies investigating whether sexist attitudes are correlated with domestic violence have shown conflicting results.

Estimates show that 248 of every 1,000 females and 76 of every 1,000 males are victims of physical assault and/or rape committed by their spouses. A 1997 report says significantly more men than women do not disclose the identity of their attacker. There is no evidence however that male victims are more likely to under-report than female victims. In fact, men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence and under-estimate their own, while women do the reverse. A 2009 study showed that there was greater acceptance for abuse perpetrated by females than by males. Several studies have confirmed that women’s physical violence towards intimate male partners is often in self-defense (DeKeseredy et al. 1997; Hamberger et al. 1994; Swan & Snow 2002, 301; Muelleman & Burgess 1998, 866).

Arrests of Women for Offensses Against the Family

Substantial increase of arrests of women for offensses against the family from 9.1% in 1963 to 20.8% in 1994.
Source: Adapted from Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, annual: 1963-1994). Total Arrests, Distribution by Sex.)

Violence Among Intimates

When we shift the scene and examine the data on violent acts committed against family members and close friends, a different pattern emerges. According to the November 1994 BJS report, between 1987 and 1991 and in 1992 when the new NCVS was used, women experienced over ten times as many incidents of violence by an intimate as men did. During those years, intimates committed an annual average of 621,015 rapes, robberies or assaults. Violent acts committed against intimates accounted for 13 percent of all violent victimization's. In the overall comparison, the differences in victimization rates by the nature of the victim/offender relationship between women and men look like this: If the woman is between 20 and 24 years old, her rate of victimization by an intimate is 16. If she earns less than $10,000 per year, it is eleven. But if she earns more than $30,000 per year it drops to two. The rate for college educated women is three; among those with less than a high school education it is five.

In 1992, 51 percent of the victims of intimate violence were attacked by boyfriends or girlfriends. 34 percent were attacked by spouses and 15 percent were attacked by ex-spouses..

Most violence between intimates is assault. In 1992, 81 percent of the violent victimizations committed by spouses and ex-spouses were assaults (the intentional infliction of injury). The remainder were rapes and robberies which may also have involved assault. In 1977, 54 percent of the homicide murder victims who were killed by intimates were female. In 1992, 70 percent of the homicide victims who were killed by intimates were female.

In 1992, about 3 percent of the women who were victimized by intimates received serious but nonfatal injuries. This proposition was similar to that for women victimized by other relatives, acquaintances, or strangers. About 54 percent of the women victimized by intimates received minor injuries. Women victimized by other relatives, acquaintances, or strangers were less likely to sustain minor injuries. Strauss and Gelles reported in the 1980s that less than one percent of women involved in domestic violence required any kind of medical treatment.

The September 1995 BJS Special Report "Spouse Murder Defendants in Large Urban Counties," stated that 59 percent of the victims are women who have been killed by their husbands and 41 percent are men who have been killed by their wives. Women are more likely to kill their children than are men" 55 percent to 45 percent. It also describes what happens to the 59 percent male murderers of their wives and the 41 percent of the females who murdered their husbands. Among the husbands, 11 percent are not prosecuted compared to 16 percent of the women. Forty-six percent of the men and 39 percent of the women pleaded guilty. Two percent of the husbands are acquitted compared to 14 percent of the women. Eighty-one percent of the husbands are sent to prison for an average length of 16.5 years compared to 57 percent of the wives for an average length of six years. Race is not a factor in these distributions.
Source: Women and Violent Crime, Women's Freedom Network Working Paper I by Rita J. Simon

Chances are We're All Part of the Problem

October is "Domestic Violence Awareness" month to raise awareness about the high level of violence prevalent in our family system today.

What I have to say is not meant to deny the responsibility men have in domestic violence, nor to suggest reducing any funding of women's programs. It is meant to trigger you into action and not wait until October to take responsibility for your part of this picture and do something about it.

Part of domestic violence involves battered husbands? Not the 75% who batter or jointly batter, but the 25% who never hit? Many say these men don't exist or don't need help. This is to deny the stories men have shared with me about being battered and women have shared about their own unprovoked violence against their significant other. It also denies much research to the contrary, starting with the 1975 National Family Violence Survey, and substantiated by at least ten additional investigations, that husband abuse, not wife abuse, is the most underreported form of family violence, and it's the area that's on the rise. Why do we want to adamantly deny that this situation exists? If we aren't focused on controlling and preventing all domestic violence, somewhere underneath is the nagging question: aren't we really, then, encouraging and maintaining it by our inaction?

No one, man nor woman, would hit anyone if they hadn't gotten the message as a child that hitting is how conflict and stress are handled. However, violence is not inherent to human beings and it is not an inherently male trait. Some of Jean Liedloff's experiences with Tauripan Indians showed that "The children were uniformly well-behaved, never fought...and the deprecation "Boys will be boys" did not apply...In today's culture, however, a boys tenure in the womb is probably the last he is ever likely to know of the uninterrupted state of well-being...His life becomes unspeakably lonely, unresponsive to his signals and full of pain...He kicks as violently as he can to mitigate the tingling craving of his skin, he waves his arms, he rolls his head from side to side to blur his senses, he stiffens his body, arching his back with all the tension he can muster, to stop feeling it." From birth he is treated differently, picked up less often, for shorter periods of time, and is more likely to be roughed up and not nurtured. Within days of birth, if he's like 70% of American boys, he will be strapped to a table and genitally mutilated. As he matures, he will get constant messages not to feel, not to cry, and to be tough. He'll be trained to, at first, metaphorically "kill" other boys with war toys and through sports, then to kill men in real life. He'll see a lot of hitting in the cartoons, then watch MTV while Bon Jovi slaps women and LA Law as the woman often slaps her male costar. (See "Television Hit Parade".) He'll see men like Abbott & Costello hitting men for laughs (ironically the U.S. Postal Service chose October, which is Domestic Violence Month, to honor this premo hitting team with their own postage stamp). He may watch his parents (whether an alcoholic father, a rage-alcoholic mother or just a frustrated parent) hit one another, which is believed to be a more powerful contributor to becoming a violent adult than being the victim of the violence.

Has any of this angered you? How did you deal with it? Did you stuff or deny it? Did you decide to take some passive-aggressive action? Did you get enraged? Anger is a healthy and valuable emotion but it is not a behavior. Yet, when the cultural norm connects anger with hitting, the message to the nervous system is that anger is violence.

We must remove the values that accept violence as a means of resolving conflict. This means eliminating all spanking, slapping, hair pulling, tickling into hysteria, and shaking. This includes hitting others, things or ourselves. This includes phones, doors, punching bags, pillows, bataka bats, anything! Anyone who says that throwing things or hitting something is okay still hasn't dealt with the childhood message that those who love you are also those who hit you. Once we learn that hitting is never a display of love, things can change.

Now, take your index finger, point it and say "It's the schools, movies, talk shows, soap operas, cartoons, the news. It's the _____ (fill in the blank)." How much longer are you going to blame others? Now, look at the direction your other fingers are pointing - directly at you. Not to take on the blame, but to take on the responsibility to (1) eliminate all forms of violence from your life and your experience with children, (2) encourage anyone who has been battered, regardless of sex, to come forward to find services that don't deny their experience, (3) write letters to advertisers, to the media, and to the legislature to make tougher laws against all forms of violence, and (4) take the most important step by making a financial contribution to the organizations and people who are working with this issue on a daily basis. How much longer are you going to collude with the status quo? Commit today to quit using excuses for your own and others use of violence and make your stand publicly known! There's no time like the present to start! Bobby Knight

Signs of Domestic Violence

No one has the right to be abusive in relationship. If you are concerned about whether you are in an abusive relationship, ask these questions, considered to be warning signs of a problem.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are in a potentially abusive relationship and should talk with police, social services (especially if children are getting abused), a therapist, minister or friend. And check out The Rights of Battered Men . Realize that you are not alone, there are other men who are abused by their wives or girl friends. The second thing is to know that you simply don't deserve to be treated like that. You also need to know And they do need to know sources of help -- though unfortunately, they're often individual counselors and not groups.

Now, switch the words in the list from she/her/etc. to you. If you review these questions and answer yes to any of them, seek help for yourself. Start with Alternatives to Violence Resources (Includes services for male and female perpetrators and male and female victims) More information and signs to look for can be found at

Counseling for person affected

Another important issue in assessing clients for DV lies in differing definitions of abuse – the therapist’s definition may differ from that of the client, and paying close attention to the way the client describes their experiences is crucial in developing effective treatment plans. The therapist must determine if it is in the best interest of the client to explain that some behaviors (such as emotional abuse) are considered domestic violence, even if she did not previously consider them as such. (Editor's note: I changed "she" to "the client" on Wikipedia since "emotional abuse" is often used against men and they don't understand that as an element of domestic violence.)

 Men as Batterers or Insecure Men Using Violence to Maintain Power

Here's one look at how many men "learned violence." We all learned that "Boys don't hit girls - ever!" And, as children, boys who hit girls are ridiculed by other boys. However, boys grow up in a society dominated by men. Men control the heights of politics, economics, trade unions and religions. They define mainstream ideology. Masculinity is tied to having power, power to control emotions, power to control others, power to control the world.

But when a boy reaches puberty, he experiences the realities of being a young human being. He has feelings and impulses he's learned are inconsistent with "manhood." Girls often hit, slap or punch them. And, self doubt starts. He worries he's not tough enough or muscular enough. He suppresses emotions and behavior that his peers might think are weak And he is terrified of that insecurity, of not making the masculine grade.

Therein lies a lethal combination. Power, feeling entitled to that power and insecurity. And for some men, degradation and violence are used to maintain that sense of power. The guy who's had a bad day at work may hit his wife at home to prove he is in control of his world. Masculinity restored. For now. The big challenge of prevention strategies is how to break those fears and behavior which are both an assertion of power and expression of insecurity.

Here are some questions you can review to see if you have a problem with abuse:

Our experience shows us that once a man begins to use abuse in any of these ways, he has a problem that won't go away, and will most likely get worse. Men often feel guilty and apologetic after an abusive incident, and may promise themselves and their partners that they will change. Unfortunately, we have found that even with the best intentions, men do not stop being abusive without outside assistance. No one said preventing violence is easy. But, the violence was learned and it can be unlearned. If you answered "yes" to any of these questions you could benefit from one of the Alternatives to Violence or Anger Management programs.

What Can You Learn from a Program

All types of men attend these programs. Participants from a wide variety of incomes, occupations and ethnic and racial backgrounds attend. Some of the things you will learn:

What All Men Can Do

The majority of men are nonviolent. And, that most of those who are abusive want to change but lack the knowledge and resources. However, most men, although never violent, have remained silent. Through our silence, we have allowed the violence to continue. Here are some steps we can do take to change things.

Women as Batterers

Mostly, the idea of battered men evokes comic-strip images of the wife wielding a rolling pin. At first glance, the notion that this could be a widespread or serious problem strikes most people as ridiculous -- including some who have had been personally affected. Fifteen years ago, some researchers studying female violence were subjected to harassment that ranged from heckling at their appearances to ugly rumors about their personal lives to death threats. Despite growing evidence that violence in the home often involves female aggression or mutual combat, resistance to the view of domestic violence as a two-way street remains strong. Domestic violence organizations have proclaim a "backlash" against women and others warn that if more attention is paid to female violence, women's shelters may lose support as public concern and resources and that battered women will find less sympathy when they go to the police or to courts. This is not to say that the conventional image is never accurate. All too many women are battered and terrorized by abusive husbands. But it's only one side of the story.

According to the US Justice Department and the Centers for Prevention & Disease control, over 1/3 of all batterers involved in domestic violence were wives or girlfriends. Are you a victim and don't know it? Are you willing to take the chance that you could "die of embarrassment" or are you willing to admit it?

In 1998 there were 2,335,000 reported cases of spousal abuse. 1,500,00 women were abused by their husbands or boyfriends. However, many that haven't been around or heard the stories over the years were shocked to see that 835,000 men were battered by their wives or girlfriends which represent over 1/3 of all domestic violence cases. Other reports by the U. S. Justice Department showed that "out of 8,000 men surveyed, 9.7% of male domestic violence victims took out restraining orders. Out of 8,000 women surveyed, 68% violated restraining orders. And, each year, approximately 1 in 1,000 men report violent victimization by an intimate." This doesn't count emotional or verbal abuse.

This was a shock on the talk show circuit, though female violence is acted out every day on Sally Jesse Raphael and Jerry Springer. On 2/25/99 Montel did a show on this "Ugly Little Secret" and a few days later on March 2, 1999, Oprah did a show calling it "The Shameful Secret". Both seemed surprised and listened as the women gave excuses - he made me angry, he walked away, I couldn't help it, I grew up in an abusive household.

The closing was also surprising. Oprah gave no resource information, phone numbers, nothing for battered men or women perpetrators, and Montel did give a number for the National Domestic Violence Hotlline at 800.799.SAFE  (7233). Unfortunately, the person we talked to didn't know of any resources in the nation for battered men and women perpetrators. Other sources tell us that there are at least of the 24 Alternatives to Violence programs in the state of Texas (where the hotline is based) that offer such programs but the people who run the hotline haven't provided us with any contacts. As of 6.15.00 it will be a year since we asked.

We have gathered 36 such programs that are listed in our "resource" section. The code for battered men is 86 and 89 for women perpetrators.

 We've also prepared a rather extensive section directed to men at the end of this section called The Rights of Battered Men and another topic titled The Beat Goes On about how violence from women to men is acted out daily on television and accepted as okay. Also a write-up on possible cause titled TV violence. Check it out.

What Male Victims Can Do

While we wait for more enlightened policies, what can a man do if he is being battered? Here are some tips based on research data, expert opinions, and personal stories:

Take the violence seriously. Many men are inclined to find it amusing when the "little woman" lashes out at them. (In one survey of college students, 20 percent of men who had been attacked by their girlfriends thought it was funny.) Violence that seems harmless at first can escalate. The first time she hits you, tell her that if there's a second time, it will be the last time she sees you -- and act on it.

Don't hit back. While I believe that a woman who slugs a man and then gets slugged bears responsibility for the consequences, fighting back is not a very good idea. If you're an average man and your partner is an average woman, you can do major damage with a single blow. You'll feel a lot better about yourself if you don't hit her. However, don't restrain here, either, since, under current law in many states that is also seen as domestic violence and can hold a felony charge. The best thing to do, if children aren't involved, is to leave so you stand less of a chance being charged with assault.

Don't keep it a secret. If you cannot easily leave -- because of the children, for example -- let someone know what is happening. Overcome the embarrassment and call the police. Talk to a counselor, to your doctor, to family members. When you do leave, evidence of abuse may help you win custody of the children. And it may help if you find yourself on the receiving end of an assault charge.

Speak out about your experience as a victim of abuse. If just the men who were being abused spoke out, the press, schools, law enforcement and the medical profession couldn't ignore it any longer and maybe we as a society will finally realize that domestic violence is not about "patriarchy" but about human imperfection; that it is not a gender issue but a human issue. Maybe then we can stop the blame game and look for ways to make our society less violent. See "What You Should Always do if You Are Battered" below.

The Rights of Battered Men

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I. Introduction
II. How to use this Section
III. What You Should Always do if You Are Battered
IV. Primary Considerations
V. The Criminal Justice System
VI. Civil Actions:  Asking a Court for Help
VII. Immigration Problems
VIII. Starting a New Life:  Other Kinds of Help you Might Need
IX. Conclusions

Note:  This is general information provided by many women's organizations to women involved in domestic violence. To date, we haven't found any such publications direct to men. And, while the police, district attorneys, children's protective services, private attorneys, therapists and the public in general treat men who claim to be abused much like they treated women 20 years ago, in disbelief, the same rules "should" apply and we are making the assumption that they do apply. There are also risks at reporting being battered or emotionally abused, since the females word is usually taken as fact, even if the wounds are only on the man. Many calls we have received have been from men who are victims of abuse from wives who were beating their children. Many people will advise to leave the scene. If you do, it would be wise to remove the children, also. This, too, can be risky. If you report it, it can often be turned against you. If you don't report it, you can receive a longer sentence than the child batterers for not protecting your children. With that in mind, here is some general guidance. The laws vary by state.

I. Introduction

1. The Hidden Crime

Domestic violence is a term which is used to refer to many types of abuse. Here, it is defined as the use of verbal abuse and physical force between husband and wife or between couples in an ongoing relationship. It may start with angry words and a shove or a slap. Once a pattern of abuse is established, the assaults can become more frequent and more violent over time. It may result in permanent physical injury. Sometimes it ends in death. Almost always it leaves the persons involved feeling isolated, angry, disappointed, lonely and bitter.

Little research has been done on domestic violence toward men because few men are willing to admit that they have been beaten by their partners. However, doctors, the police and mental health professionals have been increasingly aware that the problem does exist. It is estimated that from three to ten times the known number of assaults are never reported to anyone. It is believed that the single, most unreported crime occurring in this country is domestic assault.

2. The Causes

Violence between partners can be triggered by the stress of life changes such as a pregnancy or job loss. Frustration, alcoholism and drug abuse can contribute to the problem. Attitudes also play a large role in the underlying causes of domestic violence. Many of us have grown up hearing these phrases:  "He deserves it", "I'll show him who wears the pants in this family", "I can't control my rage". Common beliefs are that man somehow provoke the attacks, deserve it for what he said, he can take it. These misconceptions are frequently used to blame the man and to justify the physical and verbal abuse.

Domestic violence is often viewed as a "family problem", and some police, courts, hospitals and social service agencies hesitate to intervene, especially on the husbands complaint. However, as part of the growing concern of the level of violence in our culture, these agencies and other community groups are beginning to look more closely at the causes of violence within the home, and the part women play.

3. The Victims

There is no typical domestic violence victim; in fact, anyone could become a victim. Because they have seen themselves as being able to handle anything, without resources and other options, men are now taking a surprising level of abuse and violence. Young, old, black, white, single, married, gay, straight, professional, unemployed, rich, poor - all may be potential victims.

Children are also affected. When children witness violence between their parents, they may learn violence as a way of life and may later become involved in abusive relationships themselves. They may even see violence as the only expression of love, if that has been their experience. And, a new cycle of domestic assaults could begin.

4. The Assailant

There is no typical abuser. Like the victim, she comes from all walks of life. To the public, she may seem to be a good person, a warm and loving mother, and a law-abiding citizen. However, she frequently has a low opinion of herself, and alcohol or drugs are often present at the time of the assault. Usually she refuses to accept responsibility for her abusive behavior:  "I was drunk" or "I didn't know what I was doing."  She may, in fact, believe the abuse is justified and the assaults continue.

5. For Better or Worse

There are many reasons why a man stays in a violent relationship. He often does not know that physical assault against a man is a crime, even if the assailant is his wife or girlfriend. After all, they see it almost daily on the popular television shows like Melrose Place, Chicago Hope, even Suddenly Susan and 3rd Rock from the Sun. Women slapping, hitting, punching men without anyone saying a word. He often feels that it is up to him to make the relationship work or that he is a failure as a husband and father if he leaves. He may be ashamed or embarrassed to admit that he is being beaten or that he chose his partner unwisely. When she's not beating him, his partner can be a kind and caring person - he loves that side of her and hopes she will change. He may firmly believe in his marriage vows "for better or for worse, till death do us part". His religion may not permit divorce, and his pastor or priest may, in fact, encourage him to "stick it out."  His partner may have prevented him from keeping in touch with family and friends and he feels he has no one to turn to for emotional support. After all, that's been his training since a little boy. Handle it. Often, there are several children to care for and he may feel incapable to adequately caring for them. Violence could have been part of his background and is now accepted as part of life. Perhaps he feels that his children need a mother. He may have tried to leave before, only to have his partner humiliate him in public, or at his work. His partner may have threatened to kill him if he leaves, or charge him with child abuse, even sexual abuse, and he believes that she can carry out her threats. He may not know that help is available. The list goes on and is different for each individual. But there is one feeling that all men who are battered share: fear of leaving and fear of staying and if children are involved, what would happen to the children if he isn't there to intervene.

6. The Need for Change

For many men, the day finally comes when they can no longer take the physical and verbal abuse. It may have been the first or fiftieth assault. Perhaps one of the children was involved. The man could be injured and in need of medical attention. He is often mentally and physically exhausted. Perhaps he wants help for his partner or help in understanding her. He sees that his children are being affected by the violence. He feels angry, frightened, desperate and terribly alone. Especially if he's tried to tell someone about it. The response invariably comes back "What did you do to provoke it" like it's all his fault. Or worse, "What kind of a man lets his wife hit him." And, he doesn't dare tell his therapist because, in most states, they are require to report the situation to authorities, especially if children are involved. He feels trapped in the situation and sees no way out. He may feel certain that the next assault will kill him. These and other reasons can trigger a man to think about change.

Every man has the right to be safe from beatings, threats and ridicule. No woman, including your wife, has the right to batter you. You have the right to protect yourself and your children and to get the help you need to make your life more peaceful and stable.

This website contains some information about your legal rights, how to assert those rights, and the problems you may encounter when you ask the legal system for assistance. Some information on how to find help with other problems you might have is also available elsewhere in this site. And, many books are listed under violence-general, violence-domestic,and violence-sexual harassment.

You can use the legal system to help you make the changes you want in your life. But it is important to realize that the help the legal system offers is limited and often bias. There are many things the legal system cannot do. It can only help you with legal problems, not with medical or emotional problems or with the daily frustrations you may face if you decide to change your life.

In addition, you should recognize that the legal system is not accustomed to helping battered men. For a long time, many police officers, prosecutors and judges have had the attitude that battered men asked for the beatings or deserved what they got. Many of these people have become more sympathetic to the problems of battered men in the last few years. But it is likely that you will still encounter the old attitudes as you ask the legal system for assistance. It's so easy to presume the bigger person, the male, was the perpetrator. Regardless of what the U.S. Justice Department findings are. (1998 - over 1/3 of all domestic violence cases involved the woman as the perpetrator. And, the woman was more likely to use a weapon.) Of the reports of sexual abuse of children in a household, 2/3rds of the 3,000,000 cases brought to Child Protective Services were found not to be verifiable. And, many of these cases were against the father in a divorce/custody battle. So, there are risks.

Try not to be discouraged. Keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish for yourself when you encounter delays, unexpected expenses, and other frustrations. It will probably help you keep your morale up if you talk to others about what you are going through. Friends, relatives, and coworkers, as well as peer lead men's groups, can give you moral support and practical help. And, the few programs that are available for battered men. (See Code 86.) It is advisable to ask one of these people to accompany you whenever you talk to the police or prosecutor or go to court. These are times when you'll need the support of a sympathetic friend.

This html will probably not answer all your questions about your basic legal rights. (Each states has its own laws, and its own interpretations to those laws.) This is provided to give some basic information and to answer the most frequently asked questions. The following information is not meant to substitute for legal counsel, nor are they complete. For more detailed information, you should consult a lawyer, a crisis center, other community services center or your district attorney. There are some battered women's shelters that take in men (though not many) and even more that can provide support. However, be very suspicious of any service that asks what you did to provoke the violence. NO ONE EVER HAS THE RIGHT TO HIT, KICK, SLAP OR HUMILIATE ANOTHER PERSON, EVER!  Remember that.

If you are a battered man who is being beaten by another man (a rare, though possible, occurrence), much of the information in this booklet will not directly apply to our situation. However, you also have the right to be free of physical abuse. Please call any of the sources listed in the above paragraph to find out what you can do.

II. How to use this Section

1. Read "What You Should Always Do if You Are Battered. This section describes actions you should always take immediately after you have been battered.

2. If you are not a U.S. citizen, read the section on "Immigration Problems".

3. Read the titles of the other sections to decide which may help you. This site is arrange in four (4) parts:

i). Preliminary Decisions, like what do you want to do (besides be safe from another beating). For example, should you move out or not, or can you defend yourself by hurting your attacker? Can you legally restrain her from attacking without being charged with a felony? Also, this section tells you what to do if you have children.

ii). Criminal Justice System, like involving the police who can arrest your attacker and start the process that can lead to her conviction of the crime of abuse.

iii). Civil Actions, like getting a divorce or separation (or a property settlement if you are not married but are living together), or going to court to get a "restraining order" which is a court order telling the person abusing you to stay away and not bother you anymore.

iv). Starting a New Life, like whether or not you will need outside support to live and whether you should leave the area if you decide that you do want to change your lifestyle.

4. Then, read the longer explanation of the sections that your think might help you.

5. Take action. Most sections tell you who to go to for the next step, but if you still aren't sure, or you have some more questions, contact a lawyer, or a community service counselor. The names of some of those people appear at the back of this section, or you might find them through the people who told you about this website, or you can call information (411) in your area. Or, possible, 911, if it is an emergency, especially if children are involved.

6. Remember, you can decide to do more than one thing at a time. For example, you can move out and file for divorce, or you can get a restraining order and file for divorce. You can also try one option, like calling the police, and it that doesn't work, try another like getting a restraining order. And, while many district attorney's offices offer booklets and information for women on how to get a restraining order in your area, be persistent. Get that information. Ask for help. Make it happen!

III. What You Should Always do if You Are Battered

1. Make sure you and your children are safe from another beating.

If your attacked has left the house but may come back, you should leave or call a friend to come stay with you. If your attacked is still in the house and you think she may batter you again, you should leave. Go to a neighbor's house or call a friend or relative to come pick you up. You can also ask the police to take you some safe place, or, at least ask them to let you know if there is somewhere you can go to get assistance. Whenever you feel you are in danger, either leave or get someone you trust to stay with you. It is better to leave your home than to be seriously injured during a beating, even if you have to leave the house in in the middle of the night. You may be embarrassed, but you will be safe and healthy.

This may be difficult if there are children in the house. If you fear for their safety, you must protect them. If that means staying in the house, you must stay in the house. If that means taking the children with you, then take the children with you. You may be at risk either way if she claims you were abusive. But, if you don't protect your children, the results could easily be prison even if she is accused of child abuse. And, chances are, you term will be longer since you didn't do whatever was necessary to protect your children. This includes not reporting the child abuse when it first happens. The longer it goes on, the more you stand to lose. And, the longer you may be separated from your children.

2. Get medical attention.

Always get the medical attention you need after a battering. Don't try to patch yourself up You may be hurt much worse than you realize. As soon as you can, see your private doctor or go to the emergency room of a hospital. It is best to tell the doctor and nurses what happened to you so they can note it in their records and you can use the records for future evidence. They are not required to call the police if you don't want them to, in most states. The most important thing is to get the medical care you need. Note:  That the American Medical Association has printed a series of booklets on Domestic Violence to teach those in emergency rooms how to recognize and treat domestic violence only towards women. We only found one reference in all of their literature to these doctors or nurses of a male victim and female perpetrator. It reads "The terms spouse-abuse and partner-abuse reflect an awareness that men also can be abused in intimate relationships. The extent to which findings about battered women can be applied to men who are abused by not known. In clinical practice, these issues also must be addressed in a sensitive and nonjudgmental manner."  Even the usage of the word "batterer" in reference to men and "abuser" as a reference to women shows bias. Hopefully, "abused" men seeking care in emergency departments, ambulatory-care internal medicine clinics, psychiatric-emergency service will be aware of the physical events of abuse whether the story is about running into a door, slap boxing with the guys, or the statement that their wife or lover battered them.

3. Save all the evidence (proof) you can of what happened to you.

As must as you are able to, you should save things which prove that you were attacked and how badly you were injured. Later, after your injuries have healed, you will need this evidence to get a court to help you. You should save the evidence even if you think you will never want to prove that this woman beat you. You may change your mind later on and take her to court.

Try to get friends or someone to take color pictures of your injuries as soon as possible after the beating. Do not use old-style Polaroid film (the type that requires application of a liquid "fixer") because the pictures will fade. You can also ask the police to take you to the station to have pictures taken. Save any torn or bloody clothing. See a doctor after the beating and get a copy of your medical records. Ask the police for a copy of the report they make. (Note: in some areas you will need the report number before the police will release a copy, so be sure to get this information from the police making the report.)    All of these things are your proof of what happened to you. You may not think they are important now. But violence always escalates. And the next one might be the last one, but if there are no records of previous attacks, it won't hold the same importance, regardless of how severe.

IV. Primary Considerations

You must decide whether you want to take action or whether you want to stay in your present situation. For some men, battering is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For others, it becomes a pattern of abuse. What you do depends on your situation. You ca either: move out, kick her out, or stay where you are. You also can choose to defend yourself. However, be sure of local laws since women are allowed more aggressive defense, and merely restraining your spouses arms might qualify you as a felon. Some women have even used a premenstrual Syndrome defense for murdering their husbands and gotten off scott free.

1) Moving out.

You do not have to stay with your wife or girlfriend. You can move out. If you have children, you can take them with you. Read the section below on taking your children it if applies to you.

i). Where to Go

If you can, stay with a man friend or with relatives. Do not stay with a woman who lives alone, unless she is your sister, mother or grandmother. Living with a woman you are not married to could hurt your chances of getting custody of your children.

While there battered shelter's for men and children are almost nonexistent, where they exist, you can go with your children for a temporary stay. The staff can help you get legal, financial and medical help. You will also have an opportunity to talk with others who have been abused. And, while there are some different patterns of abuse batterer women and men, many of the same things happen to both sexes.

Most shelters are free or very low cost. You can find a shelter by calling an emergency hotline in your community or a men's batterers program, though most of them have little knowledge or support for men as victims. (Some resources.) You can also ask the police for direction. If you take your children with you, try to give them as much stability as possible. Moving around a lot may not only adversely affect your children but may also affect your chances of getting custody. By the way, while the children are often returned to the abusive mother, it is currently being believed that they are not necessarily save in that situation. Often when the father is the batterer, though there is no evidence of child abuse, he is often not allowed to be with them without observed visitation. While little attention has been paid to women batterers in general, we will assume that women are no less in control of their violence with children as they are with adults. (If you doubt this, make an visit to the super market some weekday afternoon to experience evidence enough of that out-of-control nature.)

ii). What to take.

When you leave, try to take as many of the following items as you can. You may not be able to go back for these things later:

Identification for yourself.
Driver's license
Your birth certificate
Pink slip to your car
Lease, rental agreement, house deed
Bank books
Check books
Credit cards
Insurance papers
Small salable objects
Address book
Medical records (for the whole family)
Social security card
Medi-Cal cards
Welfare identification
Work permits
Green card
Divorce/separation papers

If you're thinking about leaving, it would be a good idea to put these things together in one place where you can get to them in a hurry.

You may take anything that belongs to you alone and anything that belongs to you and your wife together. You can withdraw money you have in a joint bank account with your wife or girlfriend. You may not take anything that belongs only to your wife and you may not destroy property that belongs to both of you.

If you do not take these things when you leave, you can ask the police to escort you back to your house at a later time and to wait while you get your things. The police will wait only a few minutes and will only let you take things that obviously belong to you or your children, such as clothing. Or, you can wait until your wife or girlfriend goes to work and then go into the house and get what you need. However, if you do go back and your wife or girlfriend won't let you in, the police probably cannot force her to let you in without a court order.

iii). Once you move.

Once you move, you should be careful about who you give your new address and phone number to. Your attacker may try to find you. Consider renting a post office box for your mail or using the address and phone number of a friend. Remember that hour wife or girlfriend may try to get your new address or phone number from your children. If you go to court, you can use a post office box or your lawyer's address as your address. If you give the District Attorney your address, s/he may give it to your attacker's attorney.

iv). Taking your children.

You can move out and take your children with you (unless their mother has been given custody of them in a legal proceeding). If you can, it is best to take your children with you. If you feel you are in immediate physical danger and cannot take your children, leave anyway. This does not mean you will lose your right to get custody of your children. The question of permanent custody will be decided later by a judge.

Whether of not you take the children, if you want them with you, see a lawyer as soon as you can to get a temporary custody order. This gives you the right to keep your children until a judge orders differently in a divorce proceeding. Until one of you gets a temporary custody order, you each have equal rights to the chidden. It is important to get this temporary custody order before the children's mother does.

Be careful who you leave your children with when you go our since their mother may try to get them back. Try not to leave them in a place where their mother can easily find them. To protect the children, notify the children's school of the problem and request that the children not be released to anyone except you. A temporary custody order also means that if the mother does find and take your children, you may ask the police to help you get them back.

When seeking a temporary custody order, stress anything about your wife's conduct that would negatively affect the children's safety. Examples are a history of child abuse, drunk driving, alcoholism, or drug addiction.

If you do not have your children with you, it is very important to get the temporary custody order soon after you leave. The longer your children are with their mother, the less likely it is that a court will give you custody.

If you have to leave without your children and you feel that they are in danger, call your county's Children's Protective Service Office (CPS) so that arrangements can be made for the removal of the children from the home to safety. However, be aware that regaining custody of the children through the court might involve proof of your fitness as a parent and that it would be in the best interests of the children to be returned to your custody.

2. Kicking Her Out

Legally, you do not lose your rights to your house or apartment if you move out. A court is supposed to decide later who will be able to live in the fairly home. In reality, you might not be able to get back the home you shared with your wife or girlfriend once you've left.

If, however, you can show you have nowhere else to go and your wife has "income" (a job), and she controls the money, you may be able to get a "kick out" order from a court (a restraining order telling your attacked to move out.) This allows you to return to the family home and get the police to kick the attacker out. If you get a "kick out" order, change the locks as soon as possible to make sure the batterer can't get back into the house unless you decide to let her in. If she does return, you can get the police to arrest her for violating the "kick out" order.

3. Staying in Your Home

You may stay in your house or apartment if you want to. If you think you may be battered again, have someone stay with you. Some women will not hit a man in front of another adult. Advise a neighbor to call the police if the abuser bothers you at home.

If you own or rent your house or apartment with your attacked, you may not refuse to let her in. The only way you can legally refuse to let her in is to get a court order telling her she must stay out, either a "kick out" order discussed above or a restraining order, discussed earlier.

If your attacker does not own or rent your home with you, you may ask her to leave, take her keys, or change the house locks. Make sure you give her all her things - even if you must box them up and put them outside of the house for her. If she refuses to leave or tries to break in, you can call the police and ask to have her arrested for trespassing. If she has been living with you, the police may be reluctant to throw her out, and yo may have to get a court restraining order. Once you throw her out, don't let her back in, even if she seems calm. If you want to see her, meet her somewhere else.

4. Defending Yourself

In some situations, you have the legal right to stop your attacker from beating you. And, while women often have the right to fight back with forces of their own. However, if you fight back or restraint your wife, you may be seen as the abuser and so charged. The best defense is to remove your self from the scene and if children are involved, take the children with you, so take the abuse (which in retrospect may produce bruises that can be used as evidence. This is tricky. The law is usually seen different for women than men.

Women, if they feel they are in immediate danger of physical harm to themselves at the time, she may "fight back." This means during a beating or when you are threatening to beat her right away and she is pretty sure you are serious. This does not mean after you have finished beating her and are asleep or have calmed down. However, this is seldom an alternative. Block and leave are the safest alternatives so that you aren't seen as the attacker.

Helpful and practical self-defense techniques for you might include learning to be alert to the threat of violence before it happens and leaning how to stop an attacker just long enough to allow you to escape. And, there are Model Mugging courses designed for men which will give you some helpful information.

V. The Criminal Justice System

Calling the police sets in motion the criminal justice part of our legal system. This can lead to the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of your attacker. However, as you will see, calling the police will usually lead to far less than this.

1. Calling the Police

The police can help you in three ways:

i). They can protect you from the immediate danger and help you get out of the house safely.

ii). They can serve as a mediator between you and your batterer. (However, this approach is viewed by many to be an ineffective means of resolving the problem...see below.)

iii). In certain circumstances, they ca arrest your attacker which could lead to her conviction and even imprisonment.

The police generally view family disputes differently from other crimes. Because of the nature of your relationship with the women, many police officers are reluctant to interfere in what they consider a "personal" problem, especially if it is the man that makes the call or claims they were abused. However, there are certain things that you can say and do that will encourage them to intervene in your case.

2. When you call the police, tell them exactly what happened.

The person you will talk to s the dispatcher. His or her job is to decide whether to send a police car to your home, to classify your situation (as an emergency, a minor disturbance, a crank call, etc.), and to tell the police officers what to expect when they arrive.

Whenever you call the police, explain exactly what is happening to you. For example, "My wife hit me. Now she's threatening me with a knife."  The dispatcher may ask you some questions. Answer as clearly as you can, and in addition be sure to say if:

i). you have suffered any serious injuries
ii). your attacher is still there or has threatened to return soon.
iii). there is a weapon involved.
iv). your attacker is drunk or on drugs
v) you have called the police before
vi). the women is on parole or probation
vii). you have a temporary restraining order against the women

The police will respond faster if any of these factors are present, and they will be better prepared to help you when they arrive. Call them as soon as you can - the longer you wait after a battering to call, the less likely they are to tae you seriously and to help you. If the police don't come within ten minutes, call them again.

1. Protection from the immediate danger.

The police are anxious to assist people who are in a crisis - this is their job. While they are at your home, they can give you temporary physical protection from your attacker. They can help you and your children get out of the house safely if you want to leave. They can give you first aid if you are injured or drive you to a hospital, friend's house or other safe place. If they are reluctant to give you a ride, ask them at least to wait until you gather your things, get ini your car, call a cab, or arrange to have a friend pick you up.

2. Mediation between you and your attacker.

Although the police are not professional counselors, they are trained to "defuse" domestic crisis situations by talking to people and by helping them talk with each other. This generally involves calming down you and your wife or girlfriend, talking to both of you and trying to work out a compromise. They might suggest that one of you (probably you) spend the night with a friend or that one or both of you seek counseling. Although the police favor this approach, many communities are discouraging this practice as not being an effective solution in that it only serves to perpetuate the problem rather than solve it.

The police do have information on a variety of social services that may help you work out a long germ solution to your problem. For example, if the woman is hurting you because she is drunk or taking drugs, they can give you referrals to alcohol or drug treatment centers. If you would like to see a family counselor, or if your wife or girlfriend is willing to undergo psychiatric therapy, the police can recommend counselors. If you feel trapped because you have no money, they can tell you where to go to apply for welfare, AFDC, or other emergency funds. Finally, may be able to refer you to a local program. Unfortunately, even though there is such a high incidence of women batterers, there are very few services for male victims and female perpetrators. Remember, however, that while the police can recommend these various services to you, you must arrange for help by making the appointments, and you must urge the woman involved to cooperate. The police generally do not do these things for you, nor do they arrange to have the service groups contact you.

3. Arresting your batterer.

While the police will usually be able to arrest your wife or girlfriend, they are extremely reluctant to do so. One reason for this is that it has been their experience that many men who initially ask to have their attackers arrested later change their minds and decide to drop the chargers. A man might do this because:

i). He fears that she will claim that he was the abuse
ii). He fears that she will claim he abused their children.
iii). He fears what the woman might do to him for having her taken to jail
iv). He is concerned that if the woman is arrested, their friends and family will find out
v). He fears that if his woman goes to jail, she will lose her job and be unable to help support the family and their children or
vi). He calms down, and as his wounds heal he forgets the terror of the attack and decides to give his lover one more chance. Often, after a beating, the man and his attacker "make up". She may promise never to hit him again. They may tell each other they love each other. Sometimes, a battered man is only beaten once, but more often, unfortunately, despite the promises, his batterer will beat him again.

Arrest is also only a short term solution, and in the end, it may just make your situation worse. The woman will only be in custody for a little while, and when she gets out, you may be hurt again. But, arrest is a good alternative if you think it will make the woman realize that what she has done is a serious crime, or if it appears to be the only way to keep her away from you for awhile so you can decide what you want to do next.

The police can always arrest your wife or girlfriend f they actually see her hurt you. If they arrive after the battering is over, whether they can arrest the attacker depends on what crime it looks like she committed. If you are badly injured (bleeding or broken bones), of if your attacker used a deadly weapon, the woman has committed a felony (in most states) which is punishable by at least one year in prison, and up to 15 years in some states (though women seldom get the term length that men are given.) In many states, spousal abuse or beating your husband, is always a felony. When a woman you are not married to beats you but does not seriously injure you, she has only committed a misdemeanor - a crime which is punishable by less than one year in prison. Unfortunately, if the police do not see you being beaten and you are not visibly injured, they usually cannot arrest your attacker. (There is no "probable cause" or visible evidence to confirm that an attack probably took place). However, you may arrest her for them by making a "citizen's arrest."

4. Citizen's Arrest.

The police may refuse to make an arrest either because they did not see your attacker hurt you or because they don't think battering is a very serious matter. Others believe that spouse abuse is wrong but think that it is acceptable in some cultures.

Whatever their reasons for refusing to make an arrest, you are always entitled to make a citizen's arrest. The law provides that anyone can arrest another person who commits a crime in his presence. When the woman attacked you or your children, disturbed the peace, or refused to leave your house (only is she doesn't live with you),she committed a crime. To make a citizen's arrest, you must ask the police to give you the appropriate forms to sign. (Say to the police, "I want to make a citizen's arrest under many state's Penal Code's. Once you have told the police what happened to you and have signed the papers, often times requires the police to take the woman into custody. If they refuse to assist you, take their names and badge numbers and call the station. Ask to have other officers sent out. Be aware, however, that the law allows the police to release the woman from custody if they think there is no real charge against her.

A citizen's arrest is most likely to be effective when the police would like to arrest your attacker, but can't for lack of "probable cause"/ It allows you to make the arrest for them.

5. Police Report

Whether or not the police arrest your attacker, make sure they make a police report. The police report is the official record of what happened to you. It contains the date, the names of the people involved, what happened and how they dealt with the dispute. It is important, even if you don't plan to press charges at the time, because:

i). If you ever decide to press charges against your attacker, you can use it to prove the truth of your story. You can't count on the police to remember exactly what happened when they responded to your call.
ii). If you are ever threatened again, the police (and prosecutor) will be more likely to help you if they know you have been injured in the past.
iii). If you want to get a temporary restraining order, a police report will help convince the court to grant it.

Make sure the police report is complete and accurate. It is important to show the officers your injuries. Give them a detailed account of the battering:  Did she use her fists?  Did she kick you?  Did she threaten you with a weapon?  (This can be a gun, knife, stick, lamp, or anything at all. The police won't include it in the report unless they see it. If the woman has hidden the weapon, and the police tell you that they cannot search for it without a warrant, you can find it for them). Was the woman drunk or on drugs?  Were there witnesses?  Was your house or furniture damaged?  Before you sign the report make sure all these things have been included. Have the officers read t back to you, and make sure it is correct. You can also write your own statement and add it to the police report if you think the police report doesn't give the whole story.

If your attacker leaves before the police arrive, you may still have them take a report. You can use it later to get your wife or girlfriend arrested if she slaps or beats you again, or you can use it as evidence in court. You can also go to the police station shortly after you are battered (it is best to go within 24 hours) and file a report even if you didn't call the police to your house after the attack.

In addition to preparing a report for you, the police can be of help as witnesses in court. They have seen your injuries, the damage to your home, and the way you have been treated. Remember to write down the officers' names, badge numbers and the name of the precinct they are from. Also make a note of the date and time. Ask the officer who makes the call for the police report number. This information will also make it easier for you to get a copy of the police report later.

2. Deciding to Prosecute

After your wife or girlfriend has been arrested, the decision must be made whether to begin criminal proceedings against her. The decision will be made by the prosecutor (the district attorney), but what you say or do may have a great deal of influence.

In the past, men who were battered have often refused to aid in the criminal prosecution of their attackers. Though today more men are willing to help convict the women who abuse them, they find, unfortunately, that the police, the prosecutors and the whole system can be more a problem than a help. Some of the people who work in the system would rather spend time on cases where they are sure to get a conviction than on husband or boyfriend beatings. This means that a battered ma may have to show that he really wants his batterer prosecuted and will be a good and cooperative witness before the prosecutor will take his case. A man assaulted in a park by a stranger, or a store owner whose shop is robbed, doesn't face the same lack of trust from the prosecutor. It isn't really fair, but it is often true

Some police, prosecutors, and judges are now aware that husband beating is as much a crime to be prosecuted as any other. It is a felony. But, if you want to prosecute, you should know that some authorities may not want to help you. You must try to be strong and convince them to do their job and take your case.

In a criminal case you are not actually a party (a plaintiff or a defendant) to the proceeding. Instead, it is the State, with the prosecutor acting on your behalf, against your batterer. Because you are not a party, you do not need a lawyer. However, if you would like to consult a lawyer and you either have the money or qualify for legal aid, you may do so. Whether or not you get a lawyer, you should always have a friend come with you - to court, to the prosecutor's office, etc. Facing the legal authorities an be scary, and it is nice to have support along with you.

The prosecutor - he or she may be the county district attorney, or in some large cities, the city attorney - receives a report on the battering from the police. If you have made a citizen's arrest, though, you must file a citizen's complaint with the prosecutor's office. Ask the police to direct you to the correct office.

If the police were unable to arrest your battered because she left before they arrived, or because you filed the report later, you can ask the prosecutor to give the police a warrant for your attacker's arrest. This will permit the police to arrest her once they find her. To request an arrest warrant, you should take a copy of the police report to the prosecutor's office. You may have to wait awhile in the police station for service when you go there to get a copy of the police report, and it will probably cost you a small fee. Even after all the waiting, the prosecutor can refuse to issue the warrant after s/he see the copy of the police report. But the effort may be a worthwhile chance to take if you want your batterer arrested.

After your batterer is arrested, call the prosecutor's office to find out which attorney will be handling the case and ask to make an appointment with him or her. Then, when you meet with the prosecutor, you can both discuss why your batterer should be prosecuted, and you can show the prosecutor that you will be a good witness against the batterer when the case gets to trial.

Some of the things the prosecutor will take into account are:

i). Have there been any other police reports filed against your batterer in the past?
ii). Has your batterer shown a pattern of beatings (perhaps after repeated drug or alcohol abuse)?
iii). How seriously were you injured?
iv). Did you go to a hospital?
v). Was your batterer provoked in any way?
vi) Were there any other witnesses to the attack or any other evidence of it of any sort?

If these or any other factors you think are important apply in your case, mention them to the prosecutor.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, will be watching to see what kind of a witness you would make if the woman were to be put on trial. It will be important to the prosecutor that you are serious in your concern that the woman be prosecuted. As evidence of that concern, you may be asked if you have instituted divorce or separation proceedings against your wife. The prosecutor may ask you to relate the events about the battering over and over again, to see if you are sure about the details or are confused. Your batterer will be able to be prosecuted only once for this incident, so the prosecutor, who is also concerned about wasting time and money, wants to make sure the strongest possible case is built against the batterer. How calm, clear and determined you are will make a big difference in the prosecutor's decision.

Again, if the prosecutor decides to go ahead, the procedures that follow may vary depending on where you live. Remember, all parts of the criminal process are matters of public record. You can call the court to find out what happened at any step from arraignment to sentencing. Just give the woman's name to the court clerk and ask for any information desired.

3. Arraignment

Within forty-eight hours of her arrest, your attacker (the defendant) makes her first appearance in court at a hearing called an "arraignment." She will be informed of the charges against her and must plead guilty or not guilty. The judge will then decide whether to hold her in jail until the next stage of the procedure or to release her. Most defendants in husband beating charges are released at this point. She can be released in two ways:

a. She may be required to post a certain amount of money (bond or bail), or
b. She may be released on her own reputation (recognizance).

Either way, she is free to come or to go as she pleases until the trial. There is a chance that the arraignment procedure will be postponed if the woman wants to hire her own lawyer. Otherwise, a public defender will be assigned to her at this time.

The judge will set a date for the "preliminary hearing" (if she was charged with a "felony") or for the "trial" (if she was charged with a "misdemeanor") at this time. There is a chance that this date may later be postponed. Try not to get discouraged if this happens to you.

You do not have to appear at the arraignment. However, it is at this point that you ask ask the judge to give you an order which will prohibit your attacker from annoying, harassing, or molesting you in the event she is released. The judge can make this order a condition of bail. Then, if your attacker bothers you, she can be put in jail until her trial, or the amount of her bail can be raised. If you decide to go to the arraignment to request this type of order, call the prosecutor's office. They will tell you the time and place the arraignment will take place and how to ask for this order.

4.  Preliminary Hearing (Felony Charges Only)

About a week after the arraignment takes place, a "preliminary hearing" is held at which the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to have a full trial. You must appear. If you do not appear, generally they will drop the charges. The prosecutor will ask you to "take the stand" and testify. This means that s/he will ask you to explain what happened (for more on testifying, see The Trial, below). 

If, at the end of the hearing, the judge decides that there is not enough evidence against the defendant, the charges will be dropped. The proceeding will be over, and the defendant will be free. If, on the order hand, the judge decides that there is enough evidence, s/he will "bind over" the case (hold it for trial) to the Superior Court (the court that tries felony cases). This means that within a few days there will be another arraignment before trial. Bail can be changed at this time, and any court orders already in effect can be continued.

5. Plea Bargaining

Often, before the trial, the defendant "plea bargains."  This means her lawyer makes an agreement with the prosecutor that the defendant will plead guilty to a less severe crime, like simple assault, which carries a shorter sentence, instead of pleading not guilty and having a long trial. It may also mean that the defendant will change her plea to guilty if the prosecutor will recommend to the judge that the defendant get the lightest sentence.

If the batterer's case ends up being "plea bargained." don't be disappointed. Your action did prove that battering is wrong. "Plea bargaining" is just a part of the system and is designed to cut down the number of cases that go to trial.

If the defendant does not "plea bargain," there will be a trial, though it might not be for several weeks or event months. Remember, too, that if the defendant paid bail, she will be out in the community the whole time. 

6. The Trial and Sentencing

At the trial you will be called to testify. You will be asked by the prosecutor to describe to the court the attack against you in great detail.

Your batterer's attorney will then try to prove that your story is untrue by asking you other questions. S/he may do this by trying to show that you attacked your wife or girlfriend who then beat you in self defense. Or, the defense attorney may try to get you so confused that you contradict your own story and look like a liar. The defense attorney will most likely try to do something to make you look silly, stupid, confused, etc.

The trial can be a traumatic and humiliating experience because of the questioning and because you will see your attacker in the courtroom. You should prepare yourself for the trial by reviewing the police report so that you have the facts firmly fixed in your mind. When you are asked a question in court, you cannot refuse to answer. You can, however, take a minute to think about what you want to say and then speak slowly and carefully. You should arrange for friends or relatives to be with you in the courtroom for moral support.

At the end of the trial, your batterer will be found guilty or not guilty. If she is found guilty, the judge must decide what his sentence will be. The judge doesn't have to put her in jail, however; s/he may give her probation instead. IN REALITY, WOMEN WHO ARE ARRESTED FOR BATTERING DO NOT SPEND MUCH TIME IN JAIL EVEN IF THEY ARE CONVICTED OF A CRIME. This is especially true if it is the first arrest for battering. In some states, a first offender charged with a misdemeanor can receive counseling instead of a jail term.

But you should keep in mind that the more detailed information you can provide the court in your testimony, the better chance there is she will be convicted and sentenced to jail. The system makes it a long and difficult process for the abused man to have his batterer prosecuted. But follow through with it if you are convinced your batterer should be prosecuted and punished. It is important both to you and to other battered men that you do so.

7. When Your Attacker is on Probation or Parole

If you are being hurt by a woman who is on probation or parole, you can report her to her probation officer or parole agent. It is important that you give these people copies of your police reports and restraining orders.  


A person who is convicted of a crime may be put on "probation" instead of being sent to jail. S/he will be ordered to report to the court or to the Adult Probation department. If the person reports to Adult Probation, s/he will have a probation officer. This is the person you want to contact through the Probation Department in the county where the person was sentenced. If your attacker reports to the court, you will have to contact the prosecutor's office in that county.

The probation officer may be willing to warn your wife or girlfriend that she should leave you alone. In addition, the information about the battering may be used if the woman's probation order is reviewed. The reviewing judge can decide to modify your attacker's probation or send her to jail. It may be particularly useful for you to contact the probation officer if the woman is on probation for the crime of attacking you.


A person who has been sent to prison may be released before the end of the sentence. S/he then serves the rest of the sentence on parole and is assigned to a parole agent. The parole can be revoked if the person violates any terms of the parole: for example, committing any criminal acts, using drugs, or violating a restraining order. You can file a complaint with the parole agent who may be willing to tell the woman to leave you alone. Your complaint can also be used as proof that the woman violated the terms of her parole and should be sent back to prison.

You can find out who your attacker's parole agent is by contacting the Adult Authority. Look in the phone book under Corrections Department - Adult Authority for the number in your city. Or contact the Department of Corrections, Parole and Community Services in your state's capitol.

If you're afraid of a woman who is in state prison, you can find out when and where she'll be released by calling the Department of Corrections in your state's capitol.

VI. Civil Actions:  Asking a Court for Help

Calling the police sets in motion the criminal justice system. You set in motion the civil law part of the legal system by going to court yourself and asking for help. You can go to court to get a restraining order, to sue your attacker to recover money, to end your marriage, or to divide the property between you and your girlfriend if you were living together and now want to separate.

The next few pages explain about the different kinds of things a court can do for you.

1. Restraining Orders (Note: The information in this section may vary drastically by state.)

A restraining order tells your wife or girlfriend what she may not do. For example, she may not strike, molest or harass you. She may not come into your house. She may not take the children away from you. She may not destroy or dispose of property you own together. She may not bother you at work.

i). When a restraining order is useful.

A restraining order can be the most useful to you if it will scare your wife or girlfriend and she voluntarily obeys the order. Before requesting a restraining order, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Will my wife or girlfriend be impressed and intimidated by a court order? Is there a possibility that my taking legal action will make her more hostile to me and increase the chances of her hurting me or our children again? 

Obviously, a restraining order is not effective unless it is obeyed. Unfortunately, police enforcement of restraining orders is not always as good as it should be. You should also keep in mind the fact that most restraining orders are only temporary and that in order to get one, you will have to tell your story to both the police and the court. Also note that according to the U.S. Department of Justice (1) Out of 8,000 men surveyed, 9.7% of male domestic violence victims took out restraining orders, and (2) Out of 8,000 women surveyed, 68% violated restraining orders.

ii). Types of restraining orders.

a) Temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent domestic violence.

The first kind of restraining order is for a man who lives with his attacker or who has lived with her recently, but is not married to her. It is also for a man who is married to his attacker and who does not want to divorce her. Under these provisions you can get an order that your attacker not molest, harass, attack or disturb you; that your attacker move from the residence; for temporary custody and support of your children; for use or control of certain joint property; for reimbursement of any expenses for medical care and temporary housing, loss of earnings and out-of-pocket expenses; and even an order that you participate in counseling if you both agree. In all cases, there must be recent incidents of physical abuse and evidence of physical injury, and the order is issued to prevent a recurrence of domestic violence and to assure a period of separation from the person involved. A temporary restraining order is good for up to 90 days. The willful violation of this order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a dollar fine and/or up to 6 months in jail.

b) Civil harassment restraining order.

The second kind of restraining order is for a man who is being harassed by a woman he has never lived with or has not lived with recently. Harassment includes all forms of abuse except physical violence (for example, repeatedly bothering the man on the phone or in person so that he is reluctant to answer the phone or walk on the street.) The harassment must cause extreme emotional distress to the man. Under these procedures you can obtain a temporary restraining order (effective for not more than 15 days) and an injunction (permanent restraining order) prohibiting harassment. If an injunction is issued by the court, it can be effective for up to 3 years. The distinct advantage of a harassment order is that it can last for up to 3 years. The procedure for obtaining this order is similar to the procedure for obtaining a temporary restraining order (discussed below). Like a temporary restraining order, the willful violation of a harassment order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and/or 6 months in jail.

c) Restraining order accompanying a divorce.

The third kind of restraining order is available to men who are filing for divorce or custody of their children. You ask for the restraining order at the same time you file for divorce or custody. The date the order expires will be included in the order. The order can include restrictions on disposing and control of property, restrictions on harassing, molesting, threatening, or disturbing you. Orders can also be granted excluding your wife from the family house. Temporary custody and support issues can also be determined. And the willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or 6 months in jail.

3. Obtaining a temporary restraining order.

If you want to get a temporary restraining order you must take action as soon as possible after you are attacked (preferably within two weeks). The longer you wait, the less serious the judge will think you are about protecting yourself or your children.

You can probably apply for a temporary restraining order without hiring a lawyer. Ask for the forms at the courthouse. If they have services to help women fill them out, they should offer the same services to you, though they may not. In some situations, a lawyer may be necessary. For instance, when arguments exist over the temporary custody of children or division of property, you should consult a divorce lawyer. Part of filling the form out will be to give a description of what happened to you when you were beaten. If you called the police and have a police report, you should include a copy.

When you apply for the order, you will have to pay a filling fee. If you can demonstrate your inability to pay this fee, you can fill out a "waiver" form and in many states, you won't have to pay the fee. Again, ask the courthouse for one of these forms.

Your request for a temporary restraining order will be considered right away by the court. You may be able to get the initial order the same day you apply. Fifteen to twenty days after you get the initial order, you and your wife or girlfriend will have to appear in court at a hearing. At that time,. the judge will decide whether to continue the order for the full period allowed by statute. If you want the temporary restraining order to last longer than the allowed period, you must reapply for another order or for an extension.

 4. Enforcing the restraining order.

After the court grants you any kind of restraining order, make sure your attacker gets a copy of it as soon as possible. She does not have to obey an order she has not received. The law requires that either you or your attorney insure that a copy is delivered to your attacker. You must ask a friend or other person who is over 18 years old to deliver it or arrange through an attorney or the sheriff's or Marshall's office to have it delivered. The court will also order the county clerk to mail a copy. Also make sure you give a copy to your local police and keep a copy for yourself. If you live and work in two different counties, give a copy of the restraining order to each police station. If you are having trouble finding your wife or girlfriend to give her a copy of the restraining order, ask the court if you can have an extension on the order.

Your attacker may decide to ignore the restraining order. There are three things you can do if this occurs:

First, you can call the police and ask them to arrest her. Tell the officer on the phone about the order, and show it to the officers when they arrive. Be sue to get the officer's name and badge number. The law says that the police can only arrest a person who violates a restraining order in their presence. Some officers, however, will refuse to make the arrest when they see the women disobeying the order. If this occurs, you should get their names and badge numbers and report the officer to their precinct. Then ask for other officers to be sent out.

Second, you can make a citizen's arrest. (See the discussion of citizen's arrest earlier on this site.)

Third, you can go to court and ask the judge to hold your wife or girlfriend in contempt of court for violating the order. The judge may just give the woman a warning, charge her a fine, or may send her to jail for up to 6 months.

2. Assault & Battery Suits

You can sue the woman who beat you to collect "damages", which is money for your medical expenses, emotional distress, lost wages, etc. This civil action requires that you have a lawyer or act as your own lawyer. Bringing this type of suit is likely to be expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining (it means you will once again have to tell your story to strangers), although it should be pointed out that some men have been successful with this type of lawsuit. It may be easier to succeed with this type of suit if the woman has been convicted in a criminal trial of beating you. Also, unless your injuries and loss of wages were large, this sort of suit is probably not worthwhile. It is rarely the first alternative a battered man should try. Another way to get back the money you spend is under the Victim Assistance Program which follows later on this site. 

3. Ending Your Marriage


You will have to get a dissolution (divorce), legal separation, or nullity (annulment) if you want to end your marriage. The differences between these procedures follow:

i). Dissolution (Divorce)

In many states, divorce is called a "dissolution."  You can file for a dissolution of your marriage if:

a). you have been a resident of the state for six months;
b). you have been a resident of the county where you are filing for divorce for three months; and,
c). you and your wife have "irreconcilable differences" (this means you can't work out your problems and that there is no chance of you and your wife getting back together).

You can obtain a divorce even if your wife does not want one. You will not be charged with desertion if you left your wife. The divorce, property settlement, and child custody will not be affected.

To get a dissolution, you must file a request (petition) with the court to end your marriage. Then the divorce papers must be "served on" (given to) your wife. Service must be done by someone who is over 18 years old, but not by you. Obviously, the best form of service is "personal" service where the papers are delivered directly to your wife, in person. But, often, personal service is difficult to accomplish. If this is the case you should consult an attorney for other ways to serve the papers, so that your dissolution will not be delayed. One note of caution: unless the divorce papers have been served personally, the court might not be able to decide matters related to property or other monetary issues. Again, it is best to discuss these matters with a divorce attorney.

After receiving the papers, your wife will have 30 days to file with the court a response to your request for a dissolution. If she files a response, the court will set a trial date. This could be several months away. Once the trial begins, the orders you received at the Order to Show Cause Hearing will end. All the questions raised at that hearing can be raised again. For example, if your wife tried to get custody of the children at the Order to Show Cause Hearing, she can try to get custody at the trial. The judge will make final decisions about all the things you and your wife have not already agreed upon. Questions about the children and about the amounts for support, however, can be brought back to court after the trial ends (even years later), if circumstances change or the best interests of the children require a change.

If your wife does not file a response to your request for a dissolution within 30 days, you can ask the court for a default divorce. You do this by asking the court for a default hearing and by notifying your wife by mail that you are filing for a default divorce. At the default hearing you will ask the court for what you want in regard to the children, support, and property. The court will grant your requests if they are fair and you can show that you notified your wife properly.

A copy of the orders (known as the interlocutory judgment) from the trial or default hearing must be given to your wife. Your dissolution becomes final two months (60 days) from the date of the interlocutory judgment or 6 months from the date you served your wife with the original dissolution papers, whichever is later.

Protective Orders

At the time you file for divorce, the court can grant emergency orders for your protection (Protective Orders). You may ask the court for a restraining order and other orders such as temporary custody of your children. If necessary, initiate an action for temporary support for yourself. The requirements and the factors courts consider in granting temporary support are much the same as those that are discussed in the section on spousal support. These orders will last for approximately 15 days, or until the Order to Show Cause Hearing is held. About three weeks after you file for divorce, you may request an Order to Show Cause Hearing.

This hearing will deal with the "protective orders" you may have asked for at the time you filed for divorce. You may also request additional protective orders. The judge will decide whether to continue any protective orders s/he may have given you (such as restraining orders, child custody, child support, visitation rights and attorney's fees and costs), and whether to grant you any additional ones. If your wife objects, she will have to prove to the judge that you should not be given all of the things you asked for.

An Order to Show Cause Hearing is a "mini-trial". You will be asked to testify to support your requests. Your attorney will be present and you may also want to bring along a friend for support. If you and your wife can agree on the issues in advance, the judge will make your decisions into orders and there will be no need to hold a hearing. In either case, the orders will last only until the time of the divorce trial.

Property Division

In many states, all property which is acquired by either spouse during marriage is called community property and belongs to both spouses equally. The exceptions to this rule are gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage and property acquired after the couple "separates". (Note: Here "separation" does not mean by a court order. It merely means that you and your wife no longer live together as husband and wife.)

After divorce, all community property is divided equally. This applies even to property you acquired with your wife while living in another state. At the same time the judge will decide who must pay off the debts you have with your wife.

If you have reason to believe your wife will "waste" the community property (use up or spend all of it so that there is none left to divide up), you should take possession and control immediately. You may do the following:  close all joint accounts and reopen them under your own name; exchange all credit cards jointly held and have them reissued to you individually; sell community-owned securities; or borrow money using community property as security. It should be remembered that you still owe a "duty of good faith dealing" to your wife with regard to the community property. In other words, you may not waste the property either, and you must "make an accounting to" (tell) your wife of all your expenditures out of the community funds. Get into the habit of keeping records of your expenses, out of your separate property on behalf of the community (these amounts will be returned to you).

You can help make sure you get a fair property settlement by making a list of all the property you and your wife own. Make one list of community property and another of all non community property (whatever you had before you got married, plus gifts to you alone). Don't forget to include your home, your wife's pension rights, bank accounts, household furnishings, all vehicles, and any business interests. Also, make a list of all debts. If there is any question at all regarding the property to be listed, contact an attorney.

Child Custody:

When parents separate or divorce, the court must decide whether both parents ("joint physical custody" which is different than "joint custody" where one parent gets sole physical custody and usually total control over the child's well-being and the noncustodial parent obstensively gets an equal position in decision making towards the child's interest) or just the mother or father will have custody of the children. The law says the court must decide what is in the best interests of each child. The court will consider the child's wishes if s/he is over 13. There is no preference in many states for giving custody to the mother although in many "joint custody" states, often if one party objects to joint custody, it will not happen. And, in most cases, the mother gets sole custody by habit.(We believe that any mother who does not support joint physical custody where the father wants it (except under extenuating circumstances) is not working in the child's best interest.)

If the mother of your children has beaten you in front of the children, you should tell this to the judge. You can also tell the judge any other facts about the children's mother which show that she should not have custody of them. For example, a judge should know if the children's mother has a serious drinking problem, or is addicted to drugs, or has a prior criminal record.

The mother of your children may try to keep you with her or get you back by threatening to get custody of the children. Before you make any decision about whether or not to stay with her, talk to a divorce lawyer about the threat.

Child Support:

If you win custody, the court may order the mother to pay child support if she has any income. The amount of child support will depend on your needs and the mother's ability to pay. You may return to court later and ask for larger child support payments if the child's expenses go up or the mother's income rises, or your income falls. Child support payments continue even if you remarry. Many women, however, do not make their child support payments (one study reports more "dead beat moms" of those required to pay child support), and it can be difficult to force payment. If you want to try and force payment, you should talk to a divorce lawyer. (Know that many states are really getting tough in this area and remember, that just because the noncustodial parent, in this case the mother, is a woman, your children deserve financial support from their mother. Taking it all on yourself, just because you are the man, is not fair to your children.

Visitation Rights

A parent who does not have custody of the children normally has the right to visit with them regularly. Visitation rights will not be denied to the mother merely because she battered the father. (It is believed that women who are violent with their husbands will eventually turn that violence against their children. In addition, women commit almost 2/3rds of all child abuse and are responsible for almost 2/3rds of all child fatalities from abuse. MORE) If you don't want her to see the children, you must prove to the judge that she actually harmed the children or show other very strong reasons for denying visitation; for example, the child is afraid of the mother or the mother has kidnapped the child before. (This is not unusual when the mother loses custody. Just check the ratio of posters in the post office to see how many mothers kidnap their children.)

You may ask for visitation rights to be very restricted or specific; for example, "Alternating weekends from 9 am on Saturday to 6 pm on Sunday"; "The mother may not drink alcohol during the visit or for 12 hours before the visit"; "The visit must take place within this county," etc. Also, if you legitimately fear that she will be violent with the children, or try to threaten them for speaking against her, or merely because they are with the father, you can request that the visitation is observed (someone assigned by the court must be in the presence of the mother at all times when she is with the children). Remember, it is your responsibility to insure your children's safety and this is not the time to "give-in" or take on the thinking "how could a mother be violent with her children." ("If you had to take care of the children, you might abuse them too" is the excuse most often heard. However, remember that whether or not your children are under your supervision, you must insure their physical and emotional safety to the best of your ability. That's what a father does.)

Attorney's Fees and Costs

In many states, the judge will order the person (you or your wife) who can best afford it, to pay all attorney's fees and costs. If you are that person, a revengeful wife may keep taking you to court on frivolous claims, just to "make you pay". Hopefully, she will come to understand that this is just not in the best interests of the child, not only from the point of continuing the struggle around the divorce, or keeping tension high between you and your wife, but taking away time and money that could be directed to the children's best interest.

Getting a Divorce Outside your State of Residence

If you are thinking of going to another state or country for a divorce, you should talk to a divorce lawyer in your state of residence first. There are problems you should know about. Some divorces granted in other states or countries may not be considered valid in your state of residence.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is similar to a divorce with one important difference. After you obtain a divorce, your marriage is ended. After you obtain a legal separation, you are still legally married to your wife and may not remarry. All the questions about child custody, support payments, etc., however, will be decided by a judge as if you were getting a divorce.

Usually, people ask for a legal separation, instead of a divorce, for religious reasons. The only other advantage to a separation is that you do not have to have lived in your current state for as long as six months before going to court. The other advantage is that it sets custody, support payments, etc. while going through the often long process of the actual divorce.

Annulment ("Nullity")

When you get a divorce, the law says that your marriage is ended. When you get an annulment (called a "nullity" in some states), the law says that your marriage never happened. But if you have children, an annulment will not make your children illegitimate.

To get an annulment, you must prove that you or your wife is legally married to someone else. Or, you must show that certain conditions were present at the time of the marriage (force, fraud, unsound mind, physical inability to have sex, or marriage of a minor without consent of parent or guardian). However, if you have willingly lived with the woman as her husband after discovering any of the above problems, you may have ruined your chances for getting an annulment. It is best to consult a divorce attorney if you wish to annul your marriage.

3. Getting a Divorce Lawyer

You always have the right to act as your own divorce lawyer. The question is when is it advisable for you to do so?  It is difficult for a non-lawyer to get what he wants from the legal system unless he has a divorce lawyer to help him, at least to define his legal rights and remedies. Especially for men. If you do it yourself and don't get what you want, your chances are virtually nil that taking it back to court with a lawyer. This usually only angers the court and seldom changes anything.

Don't procrastinate on getting a divorce lawyer. If your wife has already secured one, in most states you cannot retain a lawyer from the same firm.

There are a number of ways to find a divorce lawyer, and note our stressing of a "divorce" lawyer. "You can pay me now, or pay me a lot more later." It is really advisable to get the expert who knows divorce law, knows the judges, opposing lawyers, and social service bias from the start. After all, many of them will tell you it's an uphill battle for a man to get custody of his children, anyway. And, you need someone with the experience, and the willingness to say it can be done, and work hard to get it done, instead of following the presumption that "men seldom win custody so don't fight it." And "Don't waste your money."  Or "Spending any money on this kind of lawyer would surely be a waste."

i). Call someone for suggestions on how to obtain a divorce lawyer who will be sensitive to men's problems. And, while we don't have an inexhaustible list of services, we do list many family organizations and directories that can provide some of this information.

ii). Ask your friends or relatives for names of lawyers they know and respect. Use these lawyers for recommendations for good divorce lawyers.

iii). Call the Legal Assistance office in your area. (Look in the phone book for the number.)  Legal Assistance lawyers will work for you for free. You must, however, be able to meet the financial requirements of the office you visit. Under some circumstances, your wife's income will not count when the Legal Assistance office computes your income, especially if you are no longer living together. Always call first and ask if this office handles your kind of case.

iv). Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the bar association in your area. (Look in the phone book for the number.)  It may be called the "Lawyer Referral Service" or "Attorney Reference Service" or may be listed under the "Bar Association" of your city or county. They will give you the name of a divorce lawyer who will see you for a short time (perhaps one-half hour) for a small fee. This will give you a chance to get some advice and see if you want to hire this lawyer to represent you.

v). In some communities there are free or low cost legal clinics run by law schools, community service centers, or other organizations. Get over being afraid to be a "man asking for help". This is not the time nor the situation to let your ego get in the way. Guaranteed, this is a time you NEED help, and if you have children, it is a time when your children need help also.

Finding the right divorce lawyer is important. You need a divorce lawyer you can trust. Before you hire a divorce lawyer, have a talk with him or her about your case. See how you feel about the divorce lawyer. Does s/he treat you with respect?  Does the divorce lawyer explain the law to you in words you understand?  Do you feel that the divorce lawyer has experience with your kind of legal problem?  If you don't like the divorce lawyer, look for another one.

Ask the divorce lawyer exactly what s/he will charge you. If you decide to hire the divorce lawyer, ask to have the fee put in writing. Make sure you know what services that fee covers. (Negotiating sessions?  Court appearances?  Enforcement of court orders and judgments? Etc.)

Don't be afraid to comparison shop for a divorce lawyer or to ask a divorce lawyer to put what s/he says in writing. Once you hire a divorce lawyer, you're not stuck with him or her, but it becomes far more difficult and costly to change divorce lawyers.

If you think an attorney has acted unethically, you may report him or her to the State Bar. You may also ask the State Bar to arbitrate a dispute over the fee you owe to a divorce lawyer.

5. If you are Not Married

Child custody, child support, and visitation matters will be handled by the court as if you were married at the time that you separated, assuming that there is no issue of paternity. If the mother of the children claims that you are not the father, a separate hearing will take place to settle this issue before the questions of child custody and child support are heard. (See DNA for ways to prove paternity.)

If you own a house or land together, the court will decide who should get it by looking at the way the deed is written. Usually a couple will buy land or a house as "joint tenants."  This gives each person an equally divided, shared ownership. The fact that you are not married does not matter.

Division of other kinds of property of unmarried couples, and questions of support, are areas of the law which are changing rapidly. You'll either have to reach an agreement with your lover or talk to a divorce lawyer about what you can do. If you have together accumulated a lot of money or have lived together for many years, you should talk to a divorce lawyer before making any agreement or to determine if any enforceable agreement exists by which you can claim a right to some or all of the property accrued while living together.

VII. Immigration Problems

Men who are immigrants may have special problems when they try to stop attacks against them. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, it is best that you talk to a divorce lawyer who is experienced in the area of immigration law before you take any action. Below you will find some general information about the problems you may have when you apply for welfare, try to get a divorce, or have your attacker arrested.

Legal Immigrants ("Permanent Residents") 

If you got your green card because your wife is a citizen or a permanent resident alien, you should talk to a divorce lawyer if you want to divorce your wife. Under some circumstances, you could lose your green card if you get a divorce. If you do decide to end your marriage, file for divorce, never for an annulment or legal separation.

You may collect welfare without losing your green card only if your reason for needing welfare began after you got your green card. For example, if you got your green card and then lost your job, you can collect welfare and keep your green card. But if you lost your job before you go your green card, you can lose the card if you collect welfare. Also, even if you are collecting welfare legitimately, should you travel outside of the United States and attempt to return, you might not be allowed reentry on the basis of collecting welfare. Again, you should consult an immigration attorney if there are any questions regarding welfare.

If your wife is not a citizen and she is convicted of beating you, she might be deported. If you got your green card legitimately because your wife had one, you will not lose it solely because your wife is deported.

Undocumented Immigrants

If your welfare worker thinks you are here without immigration documents, s/he can ask to see your green card. If you cannot show one, you will be asked to sign a form in which you swear that you are in this country legally. If you do not sign the form, you will be denied welfare. If you do sign the form, the welfare worker will send it to the Immigration and Naturalization Service which will check on your immigration status.

If your attacker is not a citizen, calling the police and involving the criminal justice system may lead to her deportation. It is unlikely, however, that you will be deported if you call the police or testify at a trial. The police cannot demand to see a green card before helping you. Also, you do not have to prove you are a citizen or permanent resident before you testify at a trial or make a police report. However, once the immigration department becomes aware of your involvement in the situation, it is possible that an investigation could be commenced by the immigration department regarding the validity of your status.

To be sure that your involvement in the case will not hurt your immigration status, you should speak with an attorney experienced in the area of immigration law. This will help you to be aware of and to evaluate all the risks involved.

VIII. Starting a New Life:  Other Kinds of Help you Might Need

A. Emergency Help

If you need emergency assistance (a place to stay, food, etc.), though over a third of all battered people in domestic relationships are men, there are few services available, even from groups calling themselves Family Services. In most cases, these organizations define family as mother and child. However, there is beginning to be an understanding of how grave the situation is and some shelters are equipment to receive battered men and their children. Look in your local phone book or see Family Organizations or Alternatives to Violence resources. You may get some assistance from a crisis hotline near you or ask for help at the closest police station.

You can also ask your county's Department of Social Services (welfare department) for help. During evenings and weekends the Department may have an emergency umber you can call. Look in the phone book for the address nearest you and for an emergency phone number.

B. Public Assistance

Some men stay with women who hurt them because they are financially dependent on those women. More and more men are staying at home as house husbands or are supported by wives to write, create art, recover from a medical condition, are disabled, and for many other reasons. The assumption that all men can find work would be like assuming that all women can find work. However, the financial burden usually assumes that women can't or don't need to find work and men do, even if they have to take on several jobs to make ends meet. A man may know that he would be safer and happier if he left his batterer, but fears that he will be unable to both support himself and take care of his children, if he leaves. If you have thought about leaving but have stayed for this reason, or if you have left and are now faced with the problem of supporting yourself, there are some government programs you should know about.

If you do not have money or a job, and you can't get money from your wife, or if you have some income but not enough to support yourself and your children, you may be eligible to receive public assistance. To get public assistance, you must go to the Social Services offices in your county.

It is a good idea to call the County Department of Public Social Services office nearest to you ahead of time and make sure you have the right office. Tell the receptionist your address and what you want to apply for. Ask what papers you should bring with you. If you do not have the correct papers with you when you apply, you will be turned away and asked to return again with the right papers.

When you go to the office, try to get there before it opens. Long lines usually form early in the day. When you get to the receptionist, make sure you tell him or her if you need emergency assistance.

When you are asked about your income, include only your income if you are living separately from your wife. You must, however, list money your wife has agreed to give you (for example, child support).

There are four public assistance programs you should know about:

i). General Relief or General Assistance (GA) - This program provides minimum emergency assistance to you and your children after you have used up your available money.
ii). Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) - You will receive money if you care for a child who is eligible. A child is eligible if s/he is poor and one or both parents leave the child or are unemployed.
iii). Food Stamps - You are eligible to receive food stamps if you receive welfare or if you have a low income. Food stamps are vouchers that you use in place of cash at the grocery store.
iv). Medi-Cal - You are eligible if you receive welfare or if you are unable to pay for your medical care. You will have all or part of your medical expenses paid by the state.

You should be able to receive emergency assistance immediately. All other types of aid can take a few weeks to receive.

You will be asked to show proof of statements you make (ages of children, place of residence, doctor's bills, etc.). Always give the eligibility worker a copy of your documents or ask the worker to make a copy and give you back the original documents. If you do not have the document the worker wants to see, ask if you can substitute another document (for example, school records for the birth certificate of your children). Or, offer to submit an affidavit (a sworn written statement) which supplies the necessary information.

If you are told that you are not eligible to receive assistance and you believe that you are eligible, ask to speak to a supervisor. You always have the right to speak with a supervisor. You can also ask to speak to other administrators or call the Case Complaint and Review Section. If you still can't get help, contact your local welfare rights organization or Legal Assistance office.

The welfare office will try to collect child support money from your children's mother. The worker will ask you for information about the mother and ask you to assign your rights to child support to the state. You can be refused assistance if you refuse to cooperate, unless you have good cause to refuse. You have good cause if you believe you or your children will be physically or emotionally harmed by the mother if she finds out where you are. In this instance, the welfare office can promise to collect the money without involving you or your children in the proceedings. Don't be afraid to tell the worker that you do not want the mother to see you or your children or find out where you are living.

For men who have fled from another area, even disclosing what county they have moved to can be dangerous. These men should refuse to cooperate, as the welfare department will obviously reveal the county, if not the new address of the man.

C. Compensation for Victims of Violent Crimes

Many states will give money to victims of violent crimes. A victim who lives with the person who injured him can still collect this money. Money is given as reimbursement for medical expenses, lost earnings, child care, and job retraining. The program usually pays only a fraction of the expenses, takes almost six months to actually pay, and rarely pays in "domestic" cases. Ask for an application form at your local police station, or contact the office of the Attorney General.

IX. Conclusions

If you are a battered man, the people who prepared this website urge you to seek the assistance you need to make a better life for yourself and your children. You have the right to receive help with your legal problems and with whatever other problems you have. Often times you need to fight harder for them, because many of these agencies aren't used to thinking about the welfare of the father, or believe that there are so few men who get battered, that they need to concentrate on women. This thinking is changing, but the change is slow. We hope you use this website to get started with the help you need.

If you need help, look in the yellow pages of your telephone book under the name of your city or county departments of family services, social services, health and/or welfare can often help you or refer you to someone who can. Also, check the white pages under the heading "Crisis" or "Suicide Hotline". Many areas have crisis hotlines that are answered 24-hours a day. And, you don't have to be suicidal to talk or ask for help.

Remember that your local sheriff and police departments exist to help you. You should always have their numbers handy for an emergency situation. County hospitals (look under "Hospitals" in the yellow pages) are designed to handle emergency problems. Other sources of help and/or referral are the Salvation Army or your private physician , therapist or attorney. Also, look in the yellow pages under "Attorney Referral Service" or "Legal Assistance: or "Bar Association" if you have a low income and need a divorce lawyer. 

And, while this is a little early to talk about it, after you get your problems solved and you're back on track, consider volunteering in one of the many organizations listed on this site, to be their for others when they have problems to go through. Be a local resource and let us know so we can list you as a source. One of the reasons there are so many services for women is that the women organized and made it happen. So many men return to business as usual after things have settled down and haven't made an effort to make it a little easier for the next man. So many really valuable services have closed down because the few men like myself burned out and couldn't do it alone anymore. Don't leave the next group of battered men in the same spot you may be in, trying to find answers, resources, help. Use the experience you gain to pave a little bit more of this dirt road. If enough of you paved just a little bit, by the time our sons might have to use these services, they'll be a freeway right to the help them need. Know that freeway won't be there if you don't do your part.

We hope you have found some information of value, and hopefully have found a resource or two to help you through your current situation. Stay focused, stay determined. Be safe and make this world safe for your children.

Children and Domestic Violence


Source: The Future of Children: Domestic Violence and Children, Vol 9 Number 3, Winter 1999.

Best Interest of the Child - Women & Child Abuse

Statistics show that mothers lead in the area of child abuse. (Source: Child Maltreatment 1997, US Department of Health and Human Services. Call 800.FYI.3366 for free copy). Abusive single moms, neglectful single moms, deadbeat moms. Also, the percentage of women who owe children support and don't pay is higher than the percentage of men who owe and don't pay. Society doesn't want to hear about this so the attack on men escalates. And innocent children are left to fend for themselves. Furthermore, we leave these women without the help they need, simply to support a system that forgets about the true safety of children to uphold the false impression of the loving mother. The fact is that there are many mothers who should be raising their children and many fathers who shouldn't. There also are thousands of mothers who shouldn't be raising anyone's children and thousands of fathers who should.

There are thousands of women who physically abuse their children, not to mention the psychological abuse and neglect. There are thousands of women who are physically abusive to their spouses, and this isn't just lesbian relationships, though most of the attention on women's violence is directly toward women in lesbian relationships. Where is the help and support for the other violent women. Ignoring the fact that some women are violent doesn't make the problem go away. And, it doesn't support these violent women to help them relearn the behavior of hitting that they are passing on to their children. Watch junior high and high school students. There's a lot of hitting from girls to guys. An excuse that the guys must have deserved it would never be tolerated it the boy was doing the hitting. Excusing women's violence against children by showing statistics that women spend more time with the children, almost says that you would hit them too if you "had" to spend that much time with children. That kind of permission for violence against children must not be tolerated. All violence, regardless of who inflicts it or why is wrong. If we really cared about women, we would get them the help they need to break the chain of violence that they are passing on to their children.

It's ironic. Most of the adult men who have been victims of a physically abusive wife, that I have talked to, stay in the relationship, not because they love their wives, but also to protect their children. They are often the butt of the violence because they stand between the wife and child. These men are caught in a double bind. The courts tend to prosecute men for not reporting their wives before they prosecute the abusive wives. And, if the men do report their abusive wife, in more cases than not, all the wife does is claim he was abusive to her and they lock him up on her word, leaving the children with the abusive mother. And, if the man removes the children from the violent home, they'll more often be charged with kidnapping when little is done to the woman who removes the children from the state. When we talk about it the police and press see us as complainers and turn the guilty mother free to abuse again. What does this say to the children? Is it best for the child to be placed back in the home with the abusive mother? We've got to recognize the magnitude of violence, regardless of where it comes from, and take some drastic steps to make the world safe for children. Otherwise, it won't be long before the world won't be safe for any of us. Think about it.

The Missing Persons of Domestic Violence: Male Victims

I met Alan and Faith nearly 25 years ago. I was in the process of interviewing men and women on what were then both a taboo topic and an issue that had been treated as an unmentionable personal trouble—violence in the family. I was one of the first researchers in the United States to attempt to study the extent, patterns, and causes of what I then called "conjugal violence," and what today advocates label "domestic violence." There was precious little research or information to guide my study—the entire scientific literature was two journal articles. With the exception of the tabloids, the media and daytime talk shows had not yet discovered the dark side of family relations. Both Alan and Faith discussed their experiences with violence in their intimate relations and marriages. The violence was sometimes severe, including a stabbing and broken bones. And yet, Alan and Faith ended up as mere footnotes in my initial book, The Violent Home (Sage Publications, 1974). I admit now and knew then that I had overlooked the stories of Alan and Faith. The reason why their stories were relegated to mere notes was they did not fit the perceptual framework of my research. Although I titled my study an examination of family or conjugal violence, my main focus, the issue I hoped to raise consciousness about, was violence toward women. Alan, as it turned out, had never hit his wife. The broken bones and abrasions that occurred in his home were inflicted by his wife. Faith was a victim of violence; her husband, ex-husband, and boyfriends had struck her and abused her numerous times. These events were dutifully counted and reported in my book and subsequent articles. Faith's situation was the focus of my article "Abused Wives: Why Do They Stay?" However, Faith's violence, which included stabbing her husband while he read the morning paper, was reported as a small quote in my book, with little analysis or discussion. In my first study of family violence, I had overlooked violence toward men. I would not, and could not, ever do that again.

My recognition of the issue of violence toward men came about in a strange way. Two years after my initial study of family violence, the American Sociological Association included a session on "Family Violence" as part of the association's annual meeting program. This was the first time this scholarly association had devoted precious meeting time and space to this topic. However, unlike most sessions, which are open to anyone registered for the meeting, this session required a reservation. I wrote the day I received my preliminary program to request admission to the session, and was subsequently informed that the session was "filled." I do not believe I stopped to consider how or why a session could be completely filled as soon as it was announced. I was desperate, however, to link up with others in my field who were interested in the rarely studied topic of family violence. So, uninvited, I went to the session anyway and sat in the back of the room, hoping to hear what was going on, but avoiding being labeled a "gate crasher."

The session was held in a small ballroom, and there were about 20 persons in attendance, all sitting in a circle. The room was far from overflowing. The session was chaired by two sociologists from Scotland who were about to publish their own book on family violence, titled Violence against Wives: A Case against Patriarchy. Much of the session focused on the application of feminist theory, or patriarchy theory, to explaining the extent and patterns of violence towards wives, both in contemporary society and over time and across cultures. Much of the discussion was informative and useful. However, eventually someone raised the question of whether men were victims of domestic violence. The session leaders and many others in the group stated, categorically, there were no male victims of domestic violence. At this point, I raised may hand, risking being discovered as a gate crasher, and explained that I had indeed interviewed men and women who reported significant and sometimes severe violence toward husbands. I was not quite shouted down, but it was explained to me that I must certainly be wrong, and even if women did hit men, it was always in self-defense and that women never used violence to coerce and control their partners, as did men.

Alan and Faith were suddenly no longer footnotes, but I did not fully appreciate the significance of this until two years later.

The research I conducted for The Violent Home was a small study, based on 80 interviews conducted in New Hampshire. That research pointed to the possibility that family violence was indeed widespread and the probability that social factors, such as income and family power, were causal factors. But the study was too small and too exploratory to be more than suggestive. In order to build a more solid knowledge base and understanding of family violence, my colleagues Murray Straus and Suzanne Steinmetz and I conducted the First National Family Violence Survey in 1976. The survey interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,143 individual family members. The results were reported in a number of scholarly articles and, finally, in the book Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. What surprised my colleagues and me the most was the high rates of violence towards children, between siblings, toward parents and between partners that were reported by those we interviewed. Up until this point, estimates of child abuse and wife abuse were placed in the hundreds of thousands and no higher than one million. But our study, based on self-reports, placed the rates in the one to two million range.

The most controversial finding, as it would turn out, was that the rate of adult female-to-adult male intimate violence was the same as the rate of male-to-female violence. Not only that, but the rate of abusive female-to-male violence was the same as the rate of abusive male-to-female violence. When my colleague Murray Straus presented these findings in 1977 at a conference on the subject of battered women, he was nearly hooted and booed from the stage. When my colleague Suzanne Steinmetz published a scholarly article, "The battered husband syndrome," in 1978, the editor of the professional journal published, in the same issue, a critique of Suzanne's article.

The response to our finding that the rate of female-to-male family violence was equal to the rate of male-to-female violence not only produced heated scholarly criticism, but intense and long-lasting personal attacks. All three of us received death threats. Bomb threats were phoned in to conference centers and buildings where we were scheduled to present. Suzanne received the brunt of the attacks—individuals wrote and called her university urging that she be denied tenure; calls were made and letters were written to government agencies urging that her grant finding be rescinded. All three of us became "non persons" among domestic violence advocates. Invitations to conferences dwindled and dried up.

Advocacy literature and feminist writing would cite our research, but not attribute it to use. Librarians publicly stated they would not order or shelve our books.

The more sophisticated critiques were not personal, but methodological. Those critiques focused on how we measured violence. We had developed an instrument, "The Conflict Tactic Scales." The measure met all the scientific standards for reliability and validity, so the criticisms focused on content. First, the measure assessed acts of violence and not outcomes—so it did not capture the consequence or injuries caused by violence. Second, the measure focused on acts and not context or process, so it did not assess who struck whom and whether the violence was in self-defense. These two criticisms, that the measure did not assess context or consequence, became a mantra-like critique that continued for the next two decades.

While the drumbeat of criticism continued, Murray Straus and I conducted the Second National Family Violence Survey in 1986. We attempted to address the two methodological criticisms of the Conflict Tactics Scales. In 1986 we interviewed a nationally representative sample of 6,002 individual family members over the telephone.

This time we asked about the outcomes of violence and the process and context—who started the conflict and how.

The findings again included surprises. First, contrary to advocacy claims that there was an epidemic of child abuse and wife abuse, we found that the reported rates of violence toward children and violence toward women had declined. This made sense to us, as much effort and money had been expended between 1976 and 1986 to prevent and treat both child abuse and wife abuse. Female-to-male violence showed no decline and still was about as frequent and severe as male-to-female violence.

The examination of context and consequences also produced surprises. First, as advocates expected and as data from crime surveys bore out, women were much more likely to be injured by acts of domestic violence then were men. Second, contrary to the claim that women only hit in self-defense, we found that women were as likely to initiate the violence as were men. In order to correct for a possible bias in reporting, we re-examined our data looking only at the self-reports of women. The women reported similar rates of female-to-male violence compared to male-to-female, and women also reported they were as likely to initiate the violence as were men.

When we reported the results of the Second National Family Violence Survey the personal attacks continued and the professional critiques simply ignored methodological revisions to the measurement instrument. This round of personal attacks was much more insidious—in particular, it was alleged that Murray had abused his wife.

This is a rather typical critique in the field of family violence—men whose research results are contrary to political correctness are labeled "perps."

Up until now I have focused only on our own research. However, it is important to point out that our findings have been corroborated numerous times, by many different researchers, using many different methodological approaches. My colleague Murray Straus has found that every study among more than 30 describing some type of sample that is not self-selective (an example of self-selected samples are samples of women in battered woman shelters or women responding to advertisements recruiting research subjects; non-select selective samples are community samples, samples of college students, or representative samples) has found a rate of assault by women on male partners that is about the same as the rate by men on female partners. The only exception to this is the U.S. Justice Department's Uniform Crime Statistics, the National Survey of Crime Victims, and the U.S. Department of Justice National Survey of Violence against Women.

The Uniform Crime Statistics report the rate of fatal partner violence. While the rate and number for male and female victims was about the same 25 years ago, today female victims of partner homicide outnumber (and the rate is higher) than male victims. The National Crime Victims Survey and National Survey of Violence against Women both assess partner violence in the context of a crime survey. It is reasonable to suppose both men and women underreport female-to-male partner violence in a crime survey, as they do not conceptualize such behavior as a crime.

It is worth repeating, however, that almost all studies of domestic or partner violence, agree that women are the most likely to be injured as a result of partner violence.

Two new studies add to our understanding of partner violence and the extent of violence toward men. First, David Fontes conducted a study of domestic violence perpetrated against heterosexual men in relationships compared to domestic violence against heterosexual women. The "Partner Conflict Survey" sample consisted of employees from the California Department of Social Services. Altogether, 136 surveys were returned out of 200 surveys distributed to employees in four locations (Sacramento, Roseville, Oakland, and Los Angeles). Not only did men experience the same rate of domestic violence as did women, but men reported the same rate of injury as did women.

More recently, a survey conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison Psychologist Terrie Moffit in New Zealand also found roughly the same rate of violence toward men as toward women in intimate relationships.

Most journalistic accounts of domestic violence toward women and many scholarly examinations include descriptions of the horrors of intimate violence. Reports of remarkable cruelty and sadism accompany reports on domestic violence. Fatal injuries, disabling injuries, and systematic physical and emotional brutality are noted in detail. I have heard many of these accounts myself and reported them in my own books, articles, and interviews.

The "horror" of intimate violence toward men is somewhat different. There are, of course, hundreds of men killed each year by their partners. At a minimum, one-fourth of the men killed have not used violence towards their homicidal partners. Men have been shot, stabbed, beaten with objects, and been subjected to verbal assaults and humiliations. Nonetheless, I do not believe these are the "horrors" of violence toward men. The real horror is the continued status of battered men as the "missing persons" of the domestic violence problem.

Male victims do not count and are not counted. The Federal Violence against Women Act identified domestic violence as a gender crime. None of the nearly billion dollars of funding from this act is directed towards male victims. Some "Requests for Proposals" from the U.S. Justice Department specifically state that research on male victims or programs for male victims will not even be reviewed, let alone funded. Federal funds typically pass to a state coalition against domestic violence or to a branch of a state agency designated to deal with violence against women.

Battered men face a tragic apathy. Their one option is to call the police and hope that a jurisdiction will abide by a mandatory or presumptive arrest statute. However, when the police do carry out an arrest when a male has been beaten, they tend to engage in the practice of "dual arrest" and arrest both parties.

Battered men who flee their attackers find that the act of fleeing results in the men losing physical and even legal custody of their children. Those men who stay are thought to be "wimps," at best and "perps" at worst, since if they stay, it is believed they are the true abusers in the home.

Thirty years ago battered women had no place to go and no place to turn for help and assistance. Today, there are places to go—more than 1,800 shelters, and many agencies to which to turn. For men, there still is no place to go and no one to whom to turn. On occasion a shelter for battered men is created, but it rarely lasts—first because it lacks on-going funding, and second because the shelter probably does not meet the needs of male victims. Men, who retain their children in order to try to protect them from abusive mothers, often find themselves arrested for "child kidnapping."

The frustration men experience often bursts forth in rather remarkable obstreperous behavior at conferences, meetings, and forums on domestic violence. Such outbursts are almost immediately turned against the men by explaining that this behavior proves the men are not victims but are "perps."

Given the body of research on domestic violence that finds continued unexpectedly high rates of violence toward men in intimate relations, it is necessary to reframe domestic violence as something other than a "gender crime" or example of "patriarchal coercive control." Protecting only the female victim and punishing only the male offender will not resolve the tragedy and costs of domestic violence. While this is certainly not a politically correct position, and is a position that will almost certainly ignite more personal attacks against me and my colleagues, it remains clear to me that the problem is violence between intimates not violence against women. Policy and practice must address the needs of male victims if we are to reduce the extent and toll of violence in the home.

Source: Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D., School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 215.573.7133

Gender Profiling Prevalent in Domestic Violence

For years, we have been told that domestic violence is a serious problem: it must not be tolerated in any form and every victim must be believed. Yet, countless victims of domestic violence are ignored by the system, dismissed as liars, and even charged as abusers. These victims have been hit, kicked, punched, bitten, choked, knifed, shot, run over with cars, and even set on fire. They are men.

Male victim. It's sounds like an oxymoron. How can you be a male and a victim. Is it because they don't hurt when they are hit? Is it because they don't bleed when they are cut? No. It's because they don't count, literally.

The recent Eastside Journal article about firefighter Mark Sundt typifies the plight of the invisible male victim. Sundt was charged with domestic violence against his girlfriend, yet the charges were eventually dropped. He tried to get the prosecutor to file charges against her, without success. Now he has filed a citizen's complaint in Northeast District Court.

Over the years, intense lobbying by women's advocacy groups resulted in enactment of the Federal Violence Against Women Act. The act provides billions of dollars for domestic violence programs, battered women's shelters, law enforcement and criminal prosecution. To aid in passage of the bill and ensure a continued stream of federal funding, these groups have deftly perpetuated myths that nearly all victims of domestic violence are female. They claim "the No. 1 reason women age 16 to 40 end up in the emergency room is violence,'' and "95 percent of domestic violence is committed by men.''

However, both government and academic studies repeatedly contradict these ubiquitous factoids. A Centers for Disease Control report (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary) debunks the ER claim. The 1998 Justice Department report "Intimate Partner Violence'' refutes the 95 percent claim: of 1,830 domestic violence murders, 510, or almost one third, were men. Another 1998 Justice Department report, "Violence Against Women Survey,'' found that while 1,309,061 women experienced domestic violence, 834,732 men were also abused -- 39 percent of all victims.

Extensive research documents that men and women are almost equally likely to initiate domestic violence. And, despite clear evidence that both men and women suffer domestic violence, the federal act remains blatantly gender-biased. The principle reason male victims are ignored is that no violence against women money can be used for male victims. Police and prosecutors who spend time on male victims of female violence suffer a double whammy: they directly expend scarce resources on the cases, and they lose additional funding because for every such male victim there is one less female victim for which federal money is exclusively earmarked.

If male victims even report a crime, they are usually victimized a second time by the system: at best treated with indifference or ridicule, at worst prosecuted as the "real'' abuser. Gender profiling has become a prevalent practice in domestic violence cases. Like racial profiling, gender profiling presumes guilt based on bias and prejudice.

Recent cases I have seen include Eastside men who have been punched, hit, choked, scratched, and threatened with weapons by female perpetrators, none of whom have been charged with crimes.

Change is needed. If you are a victim, stand up and be counted. Demand action, respect and equal rights. If you believe every victim counts, regardless of gender, speak up. Call your elected officials, police and prosecutors. Demand they stop sending male victims to the back of the bus, stop gender profiling, and stop giving female abusers a pass.

No victim can get real justice when only some victims are deemed legitimate. Every victim counts, and every abuser must be held accountable. Blaming only one gender for domestic violence in our society needlessly polarizes men and women, when we should be working together for better solutions.

Source: By Lisa Scott, Eastside Journal. Lisa Scott is a Bellevue family law/divorce attorney.

The "Other" War Congress Declared

Congress and the Judiciary declared a 5 BILLION dollar War on men, fathers, and families with VAWA. Lisa Scott, a Bellevue family law and divorce attorney - speaks out in "Gender profiling prevalent in domestic violence."

For years, we have been told that domestic violence is a serious problem: it must not be tolerated in any form and every victim must be believed. Yet, countless victims of domestic violence are ignored by the system, dismissed as liars, and even charged as abusers. These victims have been hit, kicked, punched, bitten, choked, knifed, shot, run over with cars, and even set on fire. They are men.

Male victim. It's sounds like an oxymoron. How can you be a male and a victim. Is it because they don't hurt when they are hit? Is it because they don't bleed when they are cut? No. It's because they don't count, literally.

The recent Eastside Journal article about firefighter Mark Sundt typifies the plight of the invisible male victim. Sundt was charged with domestic violence against his girlfriend, yet the charges were eventually dropped. He tried to get the prosecutor to file charges against her, without success. Now he has filed a citizen's complaint in Northeast District Court.

Over the years, intense lobbying by women's advocacy groups resulted in enactment of the Federal Violence Against Women Act. The act provides billions of dollars for domestic violence programs, battered women's shelters, law enforcement and criminal prosecution. To aid in passage of the bill and ensure a continued stream of federal funding, these groups have deftly perpetuated myths that nearly all victims of domestic violence are female. They claim "the No. 1 reason women age 16 to 40 end up in the emergency room is violence,'" and "95 percent of domestic violence is committed by men.''

However, both government and academic studies repeatedly contradict these ubiquitous factoids. A Centers for Disease Control report (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary) debunks the ER claim. The 1998 Justice Department report "Intimate Partner Violence'' refutes the 95 percent claim: of 1,830 domestic violence murders, 510, or almost one third, were men. Another 1998 Justice Department report, "Violence Against Women Survey,'' found that while 1,309,061 women experienced domestic violence, 834,732 men were also abused -- 39 percent of all victims.

Extensive research documents that men and women are almost equally likely to initiate domestic violence. And, despite clear evidence that both men and women suffer domestic violence, the federal act remains blatantly gender-biased. The principle reason male victims are ignored is that no violence against women money can be used for male victims. Police and prosecutors who spend time on male victims of female violence suffer a double whammy: they directly expend scarce resources on the cases, and they lose additional funding because for every such male victim there is one less female victim for which federal money is exclusively earmarked.

If male victims even report a crime, they are usually victimized a second time by the system: at best treated with indifference or ridicule, at worst prosecuted as the "real'' abuser. Gender profiling has become a prevalent practice in domestic violence cases. Like racial profiling, gender profiling presumes guilt based on bias and prejudice.

Recent cases I have seen include Eastside men who have been punched, hit, choked, scratched, and threatened with weapons by female perpetrators, none of whom have been charged with crimes.

Change is needed. If you are a victim, stand up and be counted. Demand action, respect and equal rights. If you believe every victim counts, regardless of gender, speak up. Call your elected officials, police and prosecutors. Demand they stop sending male victims to the back of the bus, stop gender profiling, and stop giving female abusers a pass.

No victim can get real justice when only some victims are deemed legitimate. Every victim counts, and every abuser must be held accountable. Blaming only one gender for domestic violence in our society needlessly polarizes men and women, when we should be working together for better solutions.

Source: © 2001 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc., from the East Side Journal at or 1705 132nd Ave N.E., Bellevue, WA 98005 425.455.2222

Updates on this Case

This is the case involving the male firefighter that was the subject of an article and follow-up Opinion piece by Lisa Scott in the Eastside Journal, Bellevue, WA. at stating that gender profiling is prevalent in domestic violence cases. The continuing saga of Mark Sundt is a case in point.

On 3/15/01 the 5th hearing took place in this case involving the male victim of domestic violence. Remember that he was originally arrested for this same offense and now he has turned the tables and forced the issue that the facts clearly depict him as the true and only victim.

The case has been continued for 5 more weeks at the request of the defense so the probable cause hearing set for 3/23 has been cancelled.

The defense has also been granted a private investigator now for this case. Yes of course this will be at the State's expense. Our victim, Mr. Sundt, objected quite eloquently to this appointment of a private investigator at our expense. He spelled out that originally when the female was the alleged victim she had a prosecutor and a victim advocate working for her at the State's expense. Now that she is the suspect she has two Prosecutor's in the courtroom working on her case TO HELP HER DEFENSE, she has the original DV advocate still by her side in court, and of course the new DV advocate assigned to Northeast District Court had to jump in and is now also at her side, the Public Defender which was assigned to her was done without even determining if she qualified or not financially and now the female DV suspect also has a private investigator.

Mr. Sundt did not add up the dollars spent by the State so far on this case all for a female DV suspect but his point was made to anyone who actually listened. Mr. Sundt also reminded the court that he paid several thousand dollars to right a wrong while he was listed as the suspect.

Mr. Sundt is facing this battle alone. Mr. Sundt is not an attorney. Picture a teetor-totter with all of the State's paid players sitting on one end and Mr. Sundt as high in the air as he can go on the other end hoping that somebody will just look at the fact that the female already signed a statement admitting to her acts of assault against him.

Mr. Sundt later asked the court if he could be assigned an attorney, at the State's expense, to protect his rights which he states have been trounced upon and he fears further victimization by the system. He of course was denied along with his request that a victim advocate be assigned to him.

The Public Defender and the Prosecutor working against Mr. Sundt have both attacked Mr. Sundt publicly in the court and in the newspaper that Mr. Sundt is this 'bad man' and that they intend to liberally apply the rules of evidence against Mr. Sundt even though they know they will not be able to get most of that evidence later into the trial.

Mr. Sundt is forced to evaluate whether he wants to pay for an attorney to be present in the courtroom to protect his rights as a victim and to shut down the intended liberal use of the rules of evidence that the defense stated they will exploit against him.

Does anybody want to call that King County Prosecutor, Mr. Rogoff was it, who spoke out about how fair his office is in treating all victims of domestic violence. Maybe Mr. Rogoff could step into the courtroom on Mr. Sundt's behalf and put his money where his mouth is. Bill Wood at

Domestic Woes Not a One-Way Street

For all the times I stood up and shouted "unfair, unfair," on behalf on my own gender, it's now time for me to defend the other half of the room. Men are getting a bad deal.

It was while helping a friend edit an independent study for her social work degree this first came to my attention. I smiled politely when she first told me she was writing about male partner abuse. (It was sure to be a short report, I thought). Thus began my first introduction to the notion that real sexual prejudice and gender profiling exists for men, just as it does for women.

Although I am cautious to comment on families whose personal lives I am not intimate with, the acquittal of Carline Vandenelsen was my re-awakening to the topic.

While I'd likely be typing just as furiously in opposition were Vandenelsen sitting in a jail cell right now, the fact that she was completely acquitted by "reason of necessity" still astounds me.

By allowing Vandenelsen to break the law in such an obvious manner, the judge's ruling clearly shows when it comes to children, mothers trump fathers. I can't think of a better illustration that there are beliefs held near and dear to people in our society (glass ceiling and all) that unfairly disadvantage men while benefiting women.

According to the male partner abuse independent study, much of today's sexism against males is rooted in a shift of emphasis in feminism from equity feminism to gender feminism.

No longer do we want equity for all human beings, but now many feminists see men as the patriarchal oppressor, someone to take back the night from, not someone who can fight injustice and violence alongside them.

Society and laws that govern the family largely see women as victims of men (who are inherently bad), empowered by a society that oppresses women. Since we all know no man would have been acquitted on those charges, society also believes mothers are inherently better parents then fathers.

As a mother, I know that is not true. For all my "never send a man to do a woman's job" rhetoric, I can be just as egocentric as the next guy. I've witnessed my husband blossom with patience and maternal -- I mean paternal -- instinct when I was at the end of my rope, and visa versa.

I've also witnessed enough family breakdowns to know men don't have a corner on the market for bad behavior. Mothers, not just fathers, use their children for collateral, as mini private investigators, and as weapons against their former partners. Even Erin Pizzey, an incredible advocate for women and the founder of the first modern women's shelter 30 years ago, came under fire from those who insist all women are simply victims of male oppression for saying some people actually choose violent relationships.

While I in no way wish to diminish the horrible reality of women who are victimized by their male partners and their need for help and support, being male does not make one immune to victimization or violence. The independent study showed research conducted by the Canadian and British governments found a significant number of men, although usually physically stronger, are physically and emotionally abused by women.

What is disturbing is society's reaction to men being abused by women. Our first reaction is, I wonder what he did to drive his wife to shoot him? Violent behavior by women is almost always perceived as a pre-emptive strike or self- defence. While violent men are seen as pure evil, women who harm or kill their male partners are assumed mentally ill and are often pitied as victims who finally snapped under all the strain.

If you doubt this, ever wonder why we don't have an annual Phil Hartman march or rally for men, or why John Wayne Bobbit is in comedy instead of therapy?

Source: Copyright © 2001, The London Free Press. All rights reserved. Sharon Osvald is a London freelance writer. Letters to the editor should be sent to

Domestic Violence Statistics | 2010 and 2009 Abuse or

Mar 27, 2010 – Domestic Violence Statistics provides the most up to date stats of domestic abuse victims.


Evaluating Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

Evaluating Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is a valuable resource not only for researchers and evaluators, but for service providers and funders as well. Written in clear, straightforward language, it addresses many complex factors that come in to play when conducting victim-service evaluations, including issues of safety and confidentiality. A great tool for anyone involved in the work to end violence against women.

If you're a grantwriter or researcher, this book is a MUST; as it helps to explain the complexities of gathering meaningful information on case numbers, case outcomes and compilation of statistics with unique challenges due to issues of confidentiality, the transience of the population, and the overlapping or repeat services unique to these fields.

One of the most common requests we receive is from students seeking statistics for their reports and from programs seeking statistics to bolster their requests for grant money and other funding. This page should point you in the right direction for finding up-to-date information covering a variety of statistical reporting on abuse issues, whether you are looking for frequently cited resources or for statistics by state.

It must be noted however, that there always remains the "gray element" in crime; that is, those incidents which occur but are never reported or are classified in ways which make it difficult to determine the true nature of the incident.

A prime example of this is domestic violence in same sex couples. Whether it's because the officer taking the report didn't know, didn't care or didn't want to "call it that", or because the parties involved were reluctant to expose the nature of the relationship, most domestic violence incidents between gays and lesbians end up classified as "assault" or "battery" - seriously skewing the true statistics and making it almost impossible to use the common statistical reports for guidance or insight into the issue.

Another often problematic example occurs when trying to extrapolate information from statistical reports where external factors play an important role, yet aren't accounted for. Any amount of research concerning victimization is bound to run into strange and misleading numbers.

An obvious example of this concerns abuse in low vs. high income families. While on the surface, it may appear that low levels of income go hand-in-hand with higher levels of domestic violence, one must keep in mind that available income has significant weight on the options available to victims. While a low-income mother with three small infants might appear on statistical reports when getting a restraining order, when entering a domestic violence shelter, or when applying for TANF services due to family violence, the white collar mother with two in college might flee to a hotel for a few weeks, file for divorce, and move back to the city where the bulk of her family resides. In these scenarios, the low-income victim shows up all over the place in various statistical reports (from the court, from the shelter, and from the social services agency) while the white collar victim only shows up on a hotel register, on a civil court docket for divorce, and in the records of the local moving business. In other words, violence against her and/or her children, while every bit as dangerous and abusive, simply doesn't exist - on anyone's offical paper.

Not to People Like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages

As seen on "20/20," "48 Hours," "Sally Jesse Raphael," and in People magazine: A startling exposé of domestic violence against well-educated, well-to-do women, and a powerful indictment of the social service system that fails to protect them. How is it possible for a highly educated woman with a career and resources of her own to stay in a marriage with an abusive husband? How can a man be considered a pillar of his community and regularly give his wife a black eye? The very nature of these questions proves how convinced we are that domestic violence is restricted to the lower classes. Now Susan Weitzman explores a heretofore overlooked population of battered wives-the upper-educated and upper-income women who rarely report abuse and remain trapped by their own silence

Suffice it to say that when researching or using statistics, it's just as important to consider what the stats DON'T say, DON'T cover, or DON'T take into consideration.

With that said, check the left menu column for some of the most common sources for statistics. You'll note that with the exception of the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (which are usually current to within 6 months), most of these reports run at least two years, usually more, behind (the FBI UCR reports run on a more automated system and tracks a relatively small scope of data, whereas info for the others needs to be compiled). Also, special task forces are usually setup to research numbers on a particicular topic or covering a certain group and these may only run at 5 or even 10 year intervals due to the scope and cost of such undertakings.

If you need in-depth statistics or are seeking research summaries or reports, check under the topic areas above for research and additional reports. You can usually find crime maps and stats from your local sheriff's office.

Commonly Used Domestic Violence Citations

From the U.S. Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report, January 1994"

From: "Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998"

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has received more than 700,000 calls for assistance since February 1996. Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline, December 2001

It is estimated that 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the United States. Source: National Institute of Justice, July 2000

Studies show that child abuse occurs in 30-60% of family violence cases that involve families with children. Source: "The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering." J.L. Edleson, Violence Against Women, February, 1999

Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Source: Commonwealth Fund survey, 1998

About 75% of the calls to law enforcement for intervention and assistance in domestic violence occur after separation from batterers. One study revealed that half of the homicides of female spouses and partners were committed by men after separation from batterers (Barbara Hart, Remarks to the Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, April 1992)

Each year, medical expenses from domestic violence total at least $3 to $5 billion. Businesses forfeit another $100 million in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity. Source: Domestic Violence for Health Care Providers, 3rd Edition, Colorado Domestic Violence Coalition, 1991.

From 1983 to 1991, the number of domestic violence reports received increased by almost 117%. Source: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 1983 and 1991.

Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22% of middle-class marriages. Source: EAP Digest November/December 1991.

Every year, domestic violence results in almost 100,000 days of hospitalizations, almost 30,000 emergency department visits, and almost 40,000 visits to a physician. Source: American Medical Association. 5 issues American Health. Chicago 1991.

Studies by the Surgeon General's office reveal that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and cancer deaths combined. Other research has found that half of all women will experience some form of violence from their partners during marriage, and that more than one-third are battered repeatedly every year. Source: Journal of American Medical Association, 1990.

Battered women seek medical attention for injuries sustained as a consequence of domestic violence significantly more often after separation than during cohabitation; about 75% of the visits to emergency rooms by battered women occur after separation (Stark and Flitcraft, 1988).

Women who leave their batterers are at 75% greater risk of severe injury or death than those who stay. Source: Barbara Hart, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1988.

It is estimated that 25% of workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover and excessive use of medical benefits are due to family violence. (Employee Assistance Providers/MN)

In 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women. Source: "Violence Against Women", Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, January, 1994.

Of women who reported being raped and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18, three quarters (76 percent) were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabitating partner, date or boyfriend. Source: "Prevalence Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey", U.S. Department of Justice, November, 1998.

In 1994, women separated from their spouses had a victimization rate 1 1/2 times higher than separated men, divorced men, or divorced women. Source: "Sex Differences in Violent Victimization", 1994, U.S. Department of Justice, September, 1997.

In 2003, among all female murder victims in the U.S., 30% were slain by their husbands or boyfriends. Source: Uniform Crime Reports of the U.S. 1996, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003 (January - June).

A child exposed to the father abusing the mother is at the strongest risk for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Source: "Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family", APA, 1996

Forty percent of teenage girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. Source: Children Now/Kaiser Permanente poll, December, 1995.

Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion annually in medical expenses, police and court costs, shelters and foster care, sick leave, absenteeism, and non-productivity. Source: Medical News, American Medical Association, January, 1992.

Husbands and boyfriends commit 13,000 acts of violence against women in the workplace every year. Source: "Violence and Theft in the Workplace", U.S. Department of Justice, July, 1994.

The majority of welfare recipients have experienced domestic abuse in their adult lives and a high percentage are currently abused. Source: Trapped by Poverty, Trapped by Abuse: New Evidence Documenting the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Welfare, The Taylor Institute, April, 1997.

One in five female high school students reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. Source: Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), August 2001.


Bureau of Justice Statistics

What is the difference between intimate partner violence and domestic violence?

Intimate relationships are defined as current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same sex relationships. Intimates are distinguished from:

Domestic relationships include intimate partners as well as family members.


More than 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK are male, report reveals

Campaign group Parity claims assaults by wives and girlfriends are often ignored by police and media

About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men, contradicting the widespread impression that it is almost always women who are left battered and bruised, a new report claims.

Men assaulted by their partners are often ignored by police, see their attacker go free and have far fewer refuges to flee to than women, says a study by the men's rights campaign group Parity.

The charity's analysis of statistics on domestic violence shows the number of men attacked by wives or girlfriends is much higher than thought. Its report, Domestic Violence: The Male Perspective, states: "Domestic violence is often seen as a female victim/male perpetrator problem, but the evidence demonstrates that this is a false picture."

Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available. In 2006-07 men made up 43.4% of all those who had suffered partner abuse in the previous year, which rose to 45.5% in 2007-08 but fell to 37.7% in 2008-09.

Similar or slightly larger numbers of men were subjected to severe force in an incident with their partner, according to the same documents. The figure stood at 48.6% in 2006-07, 48.3% the next year and 37.5% in 2008-09, Home Office statistics show.

The 2008-09 bulletin states: "More than one in four women (28%) and around one in six men (16%) had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. These figures are equivalent to an estimated 4.5 million female victims of domestic abuse and 2.6 million male victims."

In addition, "6% of women and 4% of men reported having experienced domestic abuse in the past year, equivalent to an estimated one million female victims of domestic abuse and 600,000 male victims".

Campaigners claim that men are often treated as "second-class victims" and that many police forces and councils do not take them seriously. "Male victims are almost invisible to the authorities such as the police, who rarely can be prevailed upon to take the man's side," said John Mays of Parity. "Their plight is largely overlooked by the media, in official reports and in government policy, for example in the provision of refuge places – 7,500 for females in England and Wales but only 60 for men."

The official figures underestimate the true number of male victims, Mays said. "Culturally it's difficult for men to bring these incidents to the attention of the authorities. Men are reluctant to say that they've been abused by women, because it's seen as unmanly and weak."

The number of women prosecuted for domestic violence rose from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. "Both men and women can be victims and we know that men feel under immense pressure to keep up the pretence that everything is OK," said Alex Neil, the housing and communities minister in the Scottish parliament. "Domestic abuse against a man is just as abhorrent as when a woman is the victim."

'Male victims are almost invisible to the authorities,' says John Mays of Parity. Photograph: Guardian Mark Brooks of the Mankind Initiative, a helpline for victims, said: "It's a scandal that in 2010 all domestic violence victims are still not being treated equally. We reject the gendered analysis that so many in the domestic violence establishment still pursue, that the primary focus should be female victims. Each victim should be seen as an individual and helped accordingly."


Ian McNicholl, 47, has painful memories to remind him of the terror he endured when he found himself a male victim of domestic violence.

His then fiancee, Michelle Williamson, punched him in the face several times, stubbed out cigarettes on his body, lashed him with a vacuum cleaner tube, hit him with a metal bar and a hammer and even poured boiling water on to his lap. That at 6ft he was almost a foot taller than her made no difference. He still has burn marks on his left shoulder from when she used steam from an iron on him. Williamson, 35, is now serving a seven-year jail sentence for causing both actual and grievous bodily harm.

During the trial last year McNicholl told the court that, during more than a year of attacks and intimidation, he had lost his job, home and self-respect. He had been too scared to go to the police and had considered suicide. She was only arrested after two neighbours saw her punch him.

Sentencing her at Grimsby crown court last year, judge John Reddihough told Williamson: "Over the period of time you were with him you destroyed him mentally and seriously harmed him physically, leaving him with both physical and mental scars."

Emerging Issues

Technology has become a quick and easy way for stalkers to monitor and harass their victims. More than one in four stalking victims reports that some form of cyberstalking was used against them, such as email (83 percent of all cyberstalking victims) or instant messaging (35 percent). - Electronic monitoring of some kind is used to stalk one in 13 victims. Baum, Katrina, Catalano, Shannan, Rand, Michael and Rose, Kristina. 2009. Stalking Victimization in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics Available at

One in five teen girls and one in ten younger teen girls (age 13 to 16) have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves. Even more teen girls, 37 percent, have sent or posted sexually suggestive text, email or IM (instant messages).- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and 2008. Sex and Tech: Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults. Available at

More than half of teen girls (51 percent) say pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images, while only 18 percent of teen boys say pressure from a girl is a reason. Twelve percent of teen girls who have sent sexually suggestive messages or images say they felt “pressured” to do so.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and 2008. Sex and Tech: Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults. Available at

Russell Wilson Launches 'Pass The Peace' Campaign To Help Domestic Violence Victims


I used to beat people up. Truthfully, I used to beat people up a lot. Many of you readers probably think I have been Mr. Goody Two-Shoes my whole life, but honestly, I was a bully growing up. In elementary and middle school, I threw kids against the wall. I rubbed their heads in the dirt at recess. I bit them. I even knocked teeth out.

I had a lot of anger that I didn’t know what to do with. Thankfully, I was saved by my faith when I was 14 years old, and was able to start living for others instead of just myself. But if you’ve ever been at the bottom of a pile with me, you know that I still have a bit of that bully deep down inside—just ask DeMarcus Ware—and I work hard to keep it there.

As NFL players, we do not play a gentle game. But our hits, our anger, our aggressive behaviors need to be regulated and confined to the field. Recent incidents of domestic violence have forced The League, its fans and the players to take a hard look into our collective conscience. To be honest, many NFL players are reluctant to address such a sensitive issue. How do you fix a problem so big and complex? How do you speak about something so damaging and painful to families?

Domestic violence extends far beyond the spotlight of the NFL. It’s not unique to my profession. It’s not confined to America. All over the world, right at this moment, men, women and children are taking refuge in anonymous shelters. Many more are suffering silently, without protection. Every day, up to 10,000 Americans are turned away from shelters due to lack of resources.

What can we do to help? All I can do is my small part. And I invite you to help me. I’ve recently launched the “Why Not You Foundation” where I’ll be raising funds and awareness for a number of worthy causes. It’s a place where I plan to give back, and for my first initiative, I want us to Pass the Peace to support victims of domestic violence. The idea behind Pass the Peace is simple: It’s a promise. I’m sharing my love for you. I want to take care of you. I am here for you.

To be honest, many NFL players are reluctant to address such a sensitive issue. How do you fix a problem so big and complex?

Maybe in our cynical world, this seems too ambitious, or even naive. Maybe this issue is too taboo, too toxic. I’ve tended to avoid controversial topics throughout my career, but in my first piece for The Players’ Tribune, I wanted to be open and address something that’s important, timely and relevant. I’ve been silent on the issue for too long, falling back on the “I can’t speak to someone else’s personal life” excuse. But victims need physical, emotional and financial support and care, and the resources to get away from their abusers. Abusers, you need to get help—you can change.

When you Pass the Peace to a friend, I ask that you make a $2 donation or more to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. It couldn’t be easier. Simply text WNYPassThePeace to 41444 to make your contribution. For more information, please visit

How many of you reading right now knew that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month? I certainly didn’t. I had to Google it. And that’s part of why I felt so inspired to do my part. This initiative, this story, is about acknowledging something difficult, something we’d rather not see. When I look back at beating kids up on the playground, I don’t like that image. But I moved past that place in my life, and I’m proud of the man I am now.

This issue is much bigger than NFL suspensions. Domestic violence isn’t going to disappear tomorrow or the next day. But the more that we choose not to talk about it, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose.

I can’t fix the world. I can’t fix the NFL. I can’t change the guys around me. The only person I can change is the one in the mirror. I’m not a perfect person by any means. I’m just a recovering bully. But if we start being honest about our pain, our anger, and our shortcomings instead of pretending they don’t exist, then maybe we’ll leave the world a better place than we found it. For those of us in the NFL, there’s no excuse for violence off the field.

Domestic Violence: A Two-way Street One man battered every 14 seconds

Domestic violence is a confusing and disturbing phenomena, perhaps rooted in the frustrations and disappointments of a hectic society, but it is not gender specific as many would have us believe. In what has been called a "dance of mutual destructiveness, [1] mainstream research indicates that men and women abuse each other with almost equal frequency. For instance, the statistic that "one women is battered every 15 seconds" is based on research by Strass and Gelles which indicate assaults by husbands or boyfriends on 1.8 million women every year, but also found assaults by wives or girlfriends on 2 million men every year. "One man is battered every 14 seconds"? Yes, but who cares? "That study also found that 54% of all violence termed 'severe' was by women." [2] As cosponsors of the American Medical Association's Conference on Family Violence [3], we noted a certain reluctance on the part of some of the participants to address the cycle of family violence. Until we as a society decide to deal with both sides of the issue, we can never hope to find an effective solution to the problem.

Since society does not define abuse of men by women as a problem, official police data reflects a much more frequent response to abuse of women by men than of men by women. Therefore, it is not surprising to find over 90% of the calls to police or to hotlines coming from women, not men [4]. If a man called, who would listen?

Without treatment, the cycle continues.

Society's failure to address abuse by women has some rather tragic results:

Children, the tiniest victims.

Considering the failure of society to define violence by women as a problem, the child abuse data is particularly disturbing. Data from the states' protective service agencies indicate that children have much more to fear from their mothers than from their fathers, with mothers abusing their children at a rate approaching or exceeding twice that of fathers. In New Jersey, for instance, 70% of the confirmed parental child abuse is committed by mothers, not fathers, 66% in Alaska, 67% in Virginia, 68% in Texas, and 62% in Minnesota. One study of inner-city child abuse found 49% of the total child abuse being perpetrated by single parent mothers [6]. It was at the National Conference on Family Violence that Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders so clearly defined the family violence problem as a cycle that will not be broken until abused women stop abusing their children [7].

Intra-Lesbian Violence: Women in Danger.

Studies of intra-lesbian violence provide further evidence of the potential for female initiated violence. A surprising 54% of lesbians report having been physically abusive in their current relationship while 14% of gay men report abuse in their current relationship. Contrast this with 3% of women who report that they have suffered abuse from their current heterosexual partner and 11% of heterosexual men and women who report ever being involved in an abusive relationship at any time, either at present or in the past [8], [9], [10].

Defining domestic violence as the attempt of men to control women makes it difficult to develop legal procedures and treatment methods designed to treat intra-lesbian violence [11]. Programs should be designed to provide treatment for all perpetrators of domestic violence, not just those that happen to be male. Failing to do so is unfair to both the male and female victims of domestic violence initiated by women.

Finding solutions.

The solution is rather simple -- we must reevaluate how we address violence in our society, even how we define it. And, we must learn to be effective parents, spouses, and teachers without resorting to violence to resolve disputes with our loved ones and with those we are educating.

Most importantly, we as a society must begin to acknowledge that women are no less than equal partners in the cycle of violence. And, society must develop programs and law enforcement procedures to deal with that violence and the male and child victims of those violent acts.


1. "Women Are Responsible Too", Judith Shervin, Ph.D. and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1994.

2. Research by Murray Strauss and Richard Gelles as reported in "Women Are Responsible Too", Judith Shervin, Ph.D. and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1994.

3. March 11-13, 1994. "Spouse Abuse: A Two-way Street", Warren Farrell, Ph.D., USA Today. June 29, 1994.

4. National Crime Survey, Census Bureau in "Spouse Abuse: A Two-way Street", Warren Farrell, Ph.D., USA Today. June 29, 1994.

5. A study of child abuse in Lansing, Michigan. Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay in Child Abuse and Neglect, Volume 8. 1984.

6. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, MD, MPH to National Conference on Family Violence.

7. March 13, 1994.

8. "Violence in Gay and Lesbian Relationships ...", Lori Dawson, Caroline Waterman, Michael Bologna, SUNY.

9. "Is it a war against women?", John Leo, U.S. News and World Report. July 11, 1994.

10. "Spouse Abuse: A Two-way Street", Warren Farrell, Ph.D., USA Today. June 29, 1994.

11. "Lavender Bruises: Intra-Lesbian Violence, Law, and Lesbian Legal Theory", Ruthann Robson, Golden State University Law Review, Vol. 20. 1990.

Additional Sources

The Rights of Battered Men -

Martin Fiebert, Dept of Psychology, CSU - Bibliogrpahy with 122 scholarly investigations which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 77,000

DV Bibliography - MEDIA information - see the entire web site of or

Family Violence Expose - Best Self Help Florida

Safe For ALL web site against Domestic Violence

Restraining Orders:

Domestic Violence plus

DV And The Law,

Male Perspective plus

Female of the Species

Shelters For Battered Women

Violent Touch

Violent Women plus

Colorado Laws

Social Goals

Web Sites plus

Source: Health Data Summary July, 1994 (updated September 2000) FAMILY VIOLENCE FV 117 S or



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A woman's perpetration of violence was the strongest predictor of her being a victim of partner violence.

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