Maybe it's time we changed our thinking.
We all do it: we hear the words “domestic violence,” and we imagine the scene in a very particular way. It involves a woman, small, slight of frame perhaps, and a large, burly man who towers over her, a menacing look on his face. Does it happen like this? Of course, it does. There are lots of other domestic violence scenarios that play out as well, though. In fact, recent studies show that domestic violence is more common in same-sex couples than in heterosexual couples.
While we tend to imagine women as the victims of sexual violence, the statistics say both sexes are vulnerable to this crime. One in three women has been abused by a partner. That's a shockingly high number. It's not much higher than the number for men, though. That number is one in four.
In addition, we most often think about domestic violence in the context of heterosexual relationships. The reality is more complicated. Studies have consistently found that partner violence rates among same-sex couples are at least as high, if not higher, than that in heterosexual couples.
- A National Violence Against Women survey found that the rate of women victimized by men is 21.5 percent, while the rate of women victimized by other women is 35.4 percent.
- A similar study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found slightly higher numbers but with the same basic discrepancy. In this second study, 35 percent of women suffered some form of domestic violence at the hands of male partners, while 43.8 percent of women suffered violence at the hands of female partners.
What Do the Numbers Tell Us?
Of course, these numbers don't minimize the horrors of domestic violence in any way. Nor do they suggest that male-female domestic violence is less common than other types. Perhaps the most important thing they tell us is simply that domestic violence is far too common across all types of relationships.
What else can we learn from these numbers, though? One thing they reveal is that we don't often think about other types of domestic violence because these other types tend to be underreported. Yet another study finds that only 16.5 victims of same-sex domestic violence actually report it. They may be afraid of being outed; they may be worried they'll be ignored; they may not realize they have the same legal protections as partners in heterosexual couples.
In addition, some researchers, such as Richard Carroll at Northwestern University, have argued that the higher rates of domestic violence among same-sex couples might be due to the higher stress of being part of a sexual minority.
The Bottom Line
More than anything else, though, these statistics tell us that despite ingrained cultural stereotypes, we don't really understand domestic violence much. We don't have a clear sense of who commits it, and we don't have a clear sense of why.
Domestic violence is never the answer, but if you've been accused, you should know that you're not alone. Don't let the shame of your offense keep you from getting your life back together. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help you defend yourself from charges and move forward from them.
For more information, contact the Lento Law Firm today. Call 888-555-3686.