Intimate partner violence affects men as well as womenBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3771 (Published 18 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3771
- Shaun Bhattacherjee, consultant forensic psychiatrist1
O’Doherty and colleagues’ meta-analysis of the effectiveness of screening women for intimate partner violence highlights the sex bias in the reporting of, and research into, this subject.1 Domestic violence is widely presented as, and perceived to be, a women’s health problem, and the authors make no reference to men who are victims of such violence.
The most reliable estimate of the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales indicates that men experience 40% of all domestic violence (800 000 assaults on men in 2013 v 1.2 million on women).2 The number of assaults on men is probably an underestimate because of the reluctance of these men to seek help,3 partly because of the taboo nature of violence against men, and the fear of being rejected, humiliated, or ridiculed by professionals.4 Even when these men do contact the police, violent women are more likely than violent men to avoid arrest,5 and violent women are often viewed by law enforcement officials and the criminal justice system as victims, rather than as the perpetrators of violence against men.6 Support services for men who are victims of domestic violence are lacking, and healthcare professionals often don’t have the appropriate training to deal with and support these men.5
Intimate partner violence is a serious public health problem that affects men as well as women. Public discussions about domestic violence that systematically privilege the experience of women, while ignoring that of men, collude with cultural norms that view the suffering of women as more important and more serious than that of men. This type of misandry obscures the equivalence of all human suffering, irrespective of the sex of the victim.
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3771
Competing interests: None declared.