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Research on Battered Men

Myths About Emergency Room Data on Domestic Violence

Data from National Institute of Justice, Center for Disease Control refute myths that 20-35% of women's ER visits are for DV injuries, that DV accounts for more than rapes, auto accidents and muggings combined; or that they're the leading cause of injuries to women 15-44.

We hear that 20% to 35% of women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to domestic violence, that battering is "the leading cause of injury to American women," or to women 15 to 44, and that domestic abuse causes more injuries to women than rape, auto accidents, and muggings combined. There's only one problem: none of these statements are true. One often-cited study is a Journal of the American Medical Association study in a large urban hospital (Detroit). But a more recent JAMA-cited study found a virtually equal prevalence of domestic violence for male and female ED patients.

At any rate, data from both the National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control show that the "facts" about domestic violence listed above are, in fact, myths. "The new Justice Department numbers show that ALL violence is responsible for about 3% of women's INJURY-RELATED visits to emergency rooms, and domestic violence for about 1%. Since fewer than a third of women's emergency-room visits are injury-related, this means that domestic violence accounts for fewer than 0.3% of these visits."

     
Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics

Below are facts, charts and graphs from the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments


Cover: Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments 

Click on highlighted fact to see larger, readable exhibit

  • Only 1.85% of women's emergency room visits are due to domestic violence (37% of 5% - all forms of violence account for only 5% of ER visits.)
  •      
     
      The Women's Freedom Network
    August 29, 1997 Press Release
     

    New Justice Department findings show domestic violence advocates have exaggerated statistics, women's group says

    For immediate release

    On Monday, the Justice Department released the findings of a study, "Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments," showing that about 1.4 million violence-related injuries a year are treated in emergency rooms, far surpassing earlier government estimates. The study also shows that about 37% of violence-related injuries to women are inflicted by spouses, ex-spouses, or boyfriends.

    Bonnie Campbell, director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Office, has said that the numbers provide "sobering proof" that domestic violence is underreported. In fact, according to projections from the study, 204,129 women and 38,790 men annually seek emergency-room treatment from injuries related to domestic violence. These are disturbing numbers. But they also show that domestic violence advocates, politicians, and the media have consistently exaggerated the scope of the problem.

    The pamphlets, brochures, and other literature distributed by battered women's advocacy groups commonly assert that:

    • 20% to 35% of women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to domestic violence;
    • battering is "the leading cause of injury to American women," or to women 15 to 44;
    • domestic abuse causes more injuries to women than rape, auto accidents, and muggings combined.

    These claims have been repeated by major news organizations including Newsweek, Time, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They have been cited by the American Medical Association and by the Department of Health and Human Services, by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and by President Clinton.

    The new Justice Department numbers show that ALL violence is responsible for about 3% of women's INJURY-RELATED visits to emergency rooms, and domestic violence for about 1%. Since fewer than a third of women's emergency-room visits are injury-related, this means that domestic violence accounts for fewer than 0.3% of these visits. While it is possible that some domestic violence cases were not identified in the study, it is noteworthy that its estimates include not only positively established but probable cases of violence from injuries.

    Statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control last March, in a report titled "National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary," show that the leading cause of injury, to both women and men, is accidental falls, followed by motor vehicle accidents. According to the CDC, 13.6 of injuries to women seen in emergency room are from car accidents -- a total of nearly 2 million, or almost 10 times the number of injuries from domestic violence.

    Indeed, CDC numbers show that more than twice as many women visit emergency rooms due to being injured by an animal (459,000 a year) than by a male partner. The Justice Department report does confirm that women are much more likely than men to be physically harmed by an intimate partner. However, it shows that men account for about 16% of injuries from domestic violence, contradicting the common claim that 95% of abuse victims are women. The report also notes that the numbers should be treated with some caution because, for 35% of men with violent injuries (compared to only 20% of the women), the victim-offender relationship was not identified. It may be that because of cultural norms, men are reluctant to disclose that they were assaulted by a female partner.

    Furthermore, the Justice Department numbers clearly show, as do other statistics, that the primary victims of interpersonal violence in the United States are men: in this study, men accounted for 60% of patients with injuries from violence.

    "For years, claims about the horrific scope of violence against women have been used by the ideologues to portray American society as a violent patriarchy in which women are constantly under assault by male terrorism, and the greatest threat to women is the men in their lives," said Cathy Young, vice-president of the Women's Freedom Network. "The Justice Department numbers show what critics of gender-war feminism have been saying for some time: the numbers have been exaggerated to serve an ideological agenda and promote policies that create a virtual presumption of guilt in domestic abuse cases. Domestic violence, and the level of violence in our society in general, needs to be addressed. But there is no need to distort the truth or to foster division between the sexes."

         

    Return to Latest Research Findings page.
    Check out Books for or about Battered Men.
    Return to the MenWeb section on Battered Men.
    Summary of 32 studies on dating violence, by Rev. Jim & Bunny Sewell. "Studies comparing gender differences in dating violence"

         

    Other Resources

    Domestic Violence in Washington: 25,473 Men a Year
    According to a Nov. 1998 Department of Justice report on the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1,510,455 women and 834,732 men are victims of physical violence by an intimate. In Washington, that's 42,824 women and 25,473 men. That includes 2,754 on whom a knife was used, 5,508 threatened with a knife and 11,016 hit with an object. Here are the data.

    Help for Battered Men Practical suggestions, Hotline numbers, on-line resources. Print it out and hand it to a man you think may be battered--your caring opens him up to talking about it.

    Men's Stories Here are some personal stories by battered men, and links to sites with more of them. The more we talk about it, the more we tell our stories, the more we increase public awareness that men are battered and encourage battered men to get the help they need. Send us your story, so we can post it here (anonymously, of course, unless you tell us differently.)

    What's Wrong with the Duluth Model? The "Duluth Model" is the approach most widely used for perpetrator treatment--but it gender polarizes the "people problem" of domestic violence.. What's wrong with the Duluth Model? It blames and shames men. It's based on ideology, not science. It ignores drinking, drugs and pathology. Only one cause, only one solution. There's no real evidence it works. It ignores domestic violence by women. Women who need help can't get it. It's taught by wounded healers.

    Latest Research Findings National Violence Against Women survey shows 37.5% of victims each year are men. Men are at real risk of serious physical injury. Murray A. Straus looks at controversies in DV research. Martin Fiebert examines reasons women give for assaulting men. JAMA emergency room study shows equal number of men, woman victims.

     
         


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