Letters

Domestic violence

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7354.44 (Published 06 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:44

It's not only men who commit domestic violence

  1. Mark S Horner, general practitioner (ylw14@dial.pipex.com)
  1. Felton, Northumberland NE65 9PR
  2. Department of Medicine, Box 356421, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  3. Institut de l'Humanitaire, 75014 Paris, France
  4. Department of Internal Medicine, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris
  5. Research Unit on Epidemiology and Information Sciences (INSERM U444), 75012 Paris
  6. Griffith University, Brisbane 4305, Queensland, Australia
  7. Nursing and Women's Health Research Centre, Royal Brisbane and Royal Women's Hospital, Post Office Herston 4029, Queensland, Australia

    EDITOR—I am disappointed by Jewkes's editorial on domestic violence.1 The clear implication is that men are the oppressors and women suffer. Sadly this is often true, but it is far from being the whole picture.

    The 1996 British crime survey asked a representative sample of 16 500 adults in England and Wales directly about their experiences of crime, and whether it was reported to the police. The survey included a computer assisted self interviewing questionnaire, designed to give findings on the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales. The results found that 4.2% of women and 4.2% of men said that they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the past year.2

    Many studies have found similar results. The work of Straus (a good example of which can be found at http://www.vix.com/menmag/straus21.htm) is particularly authoritative. Indeed, when one considers that most violence against children is committed by women, in terms of gender it is women who are most likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence.

    Does this manner of presentation matter? I think it does. On a personal level it leads to the situation I encountered recently in my local police station. A man with quite severe injuries after an attack by his former (female) partner was in the cells for breach of the peace. On a broader level it adds to the negative image of men that is so widespread in parts of our popular culture. This does nothing to help the forging of a masculine identity in certain vulnerable young men, which Jewkes says is a risk factor for violence.

    Why, I wonder, is domestic violence so often portrayed in such a partisan and unscientific way?

    References

    Literature is biased as studies rarely look at female-to-male violence

    1. Chris Carlsten, resident in internal medicine
    1. Felton, Northumberland NE65 9PR
    2. Department of Medicine, Box 356421, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
    3. Institut de l'Humanitaire, 75014 Paris, France
    4. Department of Internal Medicine, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris
    5. Research Unit on Epidemiology and Information Sciences (INSERM U444), 75012 Paris
    6. Griffith University, Brisbane 4305, Queensland, Australia
    7. Nursing and Women's Health Research Centre, Royal Brisbane and Royal Women's Hospital, Post Office Herston 4029, Queensland, Australia

      EDITOR—Several papers in the BMJ have looked at domestic violence. 1 2 3 Although this …

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