NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Women Play Role in Domestic Violence Too

June 30, 2003

There is little doubt that women get hurt more than men in domestic violence situations. However, recent research indicates that women often play a role in domestic violence, new studies show.

The newest findings challenge the feminist belief that "it is men only who cause violence," says psychologist Deborah Capaldi of the Oregon Social Learning Center. "That is a myth."

  • The number of women who hit first or hit back is "much greater than has been generally assumed," Capaldi says, and the frequency of aggressive acts by women and the number of men who are afraid of partners who assault them is surprising.
  • Researchers found that while the lifetime risk of a woman being struck by a male partner is about 28 percent, a man's lifetime risk of being struck by a woman is about the same.

Although the researchers were quick to add that they weren't blaming women, they did suggest that domestic violence prevention and treatment programs should shift their focus toward managing conflict and aggression for both men and women.

Source: Karen S. Peterson, "Studies Shatter Myth About Abuse," USA Today, June 23, 2003.

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