NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Spousal Abuse Cuts Both Ways

November 23, 1999

It's not always the woman who gets slapped around in an abusive marriage. Statistics show that men can be victims of out-of-control wives as well.

  • Nearly one million cases of "intimate partner violence" are reported in America each year, according to the Department of Justice -- with female victims outnumbering males by more than five to one.
  • But a different federal poll -- the National Violence Against Women survey -- puts the ratio at just under two females assaulted for every male among intimate partners.
  • Experts say these surprising numbers have emerged as an unintended result of mandatory arrest laws and tougher police rules intended to protect women.
  • While men still cause far more injuries to their partners than women, those familiar with such situations say young women are getting more aggressive.

Police in some areas say they have run across violence-against-women cases involving daughters attacking their mothers

Officials and experts emphasize the need for better training of police in handling domestic violence cases. It is not unusual for police who are called to domestic violence scenes to arrest both parties when the officers are uncertain who is at fault. That may partially explain why more women are being arrested.

Source: Carey Goldberg, "Crackdown on Abusive Spouses, Surprisingly, Nets Many Women," New York Times, November 23, 1999.


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