Dating Abuse by NCFM Advisor Richard Davis

November 11, 2011

datingBy NCFM Advisor Richard Davis

Above all thought, children are linked to adults by the simple fact that they are in the process of turning into them.

Phillip Larkin, (1922-1986)

The Massachusetts Constitution

The constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was written by John Adams, Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin. It was formally accepted in 1780 and is the oldest acknowledged written constitution in continuous effect. Its formal structure was adopted and replicated by the U.S. Constitution. In its original version Article I was as follows:

Article I

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in find, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Similar to the United States Constitution. “All men are created equal,” the Massachusetts article was originally written as men rather than people. It was later amended to substitute the word “people” in place of “men” and equality under the law was expanded. Article I now reads as follows:

Article I:

All people are born free and equal, and have certain natural essential and unalienable rights among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.

Without a doubt this author believes it is right to be inclusive of all citizens regardless of sex, race, color, creed or national origin. In this 21st century we should all remain vigilant about continuing to be inclusive of all citizens and avoid the mistakes of past centuries by placing the rights of some citizens above others.

Valentine’s Day in America’s Hometown

The students of Plymouth South High School, in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the last seven years have been celebrating Valentine’s Day by having the boys stand in the bleachers and raise their right arms to pledge that they will never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. The girls of Plymouth South High School remain seated and silent.

The health education teacher began this White Ribbon Valentine’s Day tradition in 2000 to demonstrate that the men in Plymouth respect and love their women. The White Ribbon Campaign website,, claims to recognize that most men are not violent, however, on the website the White Ribbon Campaign suggests that the silence of men about domestic/dating violence infers that most men do condone domestic/dating violence against women (Harbert, 2006, p. A1).

The county’s district attorney told the students that, “Someone you know right now is the victim of violence. Someone in this room, a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is or has been a victim. It’s there. It’s not just on the front page of the paper, it’s on the back page too.”

The county’s sheriff told the students not to tolerate the myths and excuses that so often accompany incidents of domestic violence. The sheriff told the students that, “… claims of accidental injuries and cultural differences simply cannot go unchallenged.”

Another speaker told the students that, “… he never spoke out against the abusive relationships his sister endured when they were growing up in Fall River.” A school administrator noted that he is, “…reminded of the need to stand against violence every time he visits his mother.”

The director of the South Shore Women’s Center told the students that, “It [this Valentine’s celebration] represents equal and peaceful relationships. We’re trying to send a message of what its like to have respect for the women we care for and for this joining together as equals.”

The boys of the sophomore and junior class who stood to take this pledge received a standing ovation from the other students and teachers in the school gym. One student commented that, “The only way to lead is by example. People want to be good people. Sometimes it takes people to show them how.”

Perhaps this campaign might be more equitable and successful if it becomes more inclusive of all the students of Plymouth South High School. Perhaps it might be right to follow the lead of the Massachusetts Constitution and have all the boys and girls stand and pledge to equally respect each other.

There are important messages being missed in this celebration of male pledges. Respect does not appear on demand. Respect does not reveal itself when one person makes a pledge. Respect must be earned, respect must be shared, respect is a two way street (Chose Respect, 2007).

Despite the fact that the district attorney noted that boys and husbands could be the victims of domestic/dating violence, it appears that no one thought to have the girls stand and pledge their respect and love for men.

While the sheriff told the students not to tolerate the myths and excuses that so often accompany incidents of domestic/dating violence, the sheriff is involved in a celebration that addresses the violence by boys and men he then remains silent about the violence and abuse perpetrated by girls and women.

It should be apparent to everyone involved that the message from this Plymouth South High School celebration is not one of equal responsibility nor equal respect. The message of this Valentine’s Day celebration is that boys/men are the violent aggressive perpetrators of dating/domestic violence and girls/women are their passive docile victims.

Does the data document that girls and women are most often the passive and docile victims of violence or abuse at the hands of boys and men or is the Plymouth South High School celebration actually tolerating female offending while perpetuating the myth of female passivity?

An Overview

All dating and domestic violence incidents must be taken seriously as they may be precursors of more dangerous and violent events. When not confronted early and properly addressed, many of these apparently minor incidents may evolve into more violent forms of abuse (O’Leary, 2000).

When reading this chapter it is important to remember that its reason and purpose is to examine “dating violence and family conflict behavior,” rather than violent long term “battering behavior” (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin, & Petrie, 2004).

The National Violence Against Women survey, as do most dating and domestic violence surveys, documents that more than 90% of domestic violence incidents are relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000b; Rennison, 2003).

The authors of, Advancing The Federal Research Agenda On Violence Against Women, conclude that it is vital that researchers, domestic violence advocates and all interveners distinguish between what constitutes an act of violence, abuse or battering (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004).

The authors of the college text, Crisis Intervention, write that it is crucial, as this chapter of this book will explore, that all interveners understand both the causes and consequences of intimate partner violence and to recognize the importance of making the distinction between common couple violence (family conflict) and chronic battering (Hendricks, McKean, & Hendricks, 2003).

Battering Behavior

As noted elsewhere in this book, most researchers agree that a “batterer” is a family member or intimate partner who repeatedly uses force or physical violence for the express purpose of manipulating and controlling the behavior of another family member or intimate partner (Wallace, 2002).

Battering can occur without physical assaults as the constant threat of a violent physical assault can be enough to change or alter another’s behavior. Unwanted injurious sexual acts and violent episodes destroying property or harming pets can be considered “battering behaviors.” Having absolute and complete control of even the most minor of family finances is deemed by some researchers as “battering behavior” (Dutton, 1995).

The behavior of a “batterer” is not that of someone who is out of control. On the contrary, it is the specific long term intent and goal of a batterer to willfully control an intimate partner or family member by repeatedly using or threatening the use of force and violent physical assaults (Wallace, 2002).

Dating Violence or Family Conflict

Research documents that the majority of dating violence and family conflict is minor. Dating violence and family conflict can occur when a family member, regardless of age or gender, employs psychological and minor physical assaults (shoving, slapping or throwing objects) to “get their way” in a specific or a single general disagreement. This behavior is most often not repeated over a long term nor does it involve excessively violent physical or injurious sexual behavior (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000b).

Dating violence and family conflict are most often not long term controlling behaviors. They both can evolve from or be exacerbated by a number of reasons such as; sudden or chronic illness, special needs children, anger, anxiety, grief, alcohol or drug abuse, stress, work issues, depression or any number of psychological reasons.

Some form of dating violence or family conflict will occur in most relationships (Wallace, 2002). This author believes that it is now time to question the use of criminal justice intervention and the arrest process for each and every act of family conflict as an every growing number of studies now document that there can are often be negative unintended consequences for many family members (Eng, 2003).

At the very least it should be time to change mandatory law enforcement arrest policies that allow for little to no discretion between minor and severe acts and that do no allow law enforcement officers to respond to the needs and desires of individual families and victims (O’Leary, 2000). In fact one NIJ study documents that arrest rates for domestic violence are higher in those states that do not have mandatory arrest policies. In mandatory arrest states the rate of arrest increased by 95% and in states with discretionary arrest polices arrest increased 177% (Hirschel, Buzawa, Pattavina, Faggiani, & Reuland, M. 2007).

Risk Factors for Dating Abuse

There are few to no studies that document which behavior actually occurs first, the dating behavior or the violent behavior. Certainly it is apparent that many boys and girls do physically and psychologically assault each other, regardless of gender, before they date.

As the many studies cited in this chapter document, there appears to be no significant differences in offending or victimization concerning dating violence. There do appear to be some risk factors that can increase the risk of offending or victimization. These risks are:

  • Alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine use
  • Unhealthy weight control activities
  • First intercourse before the age of 15 years
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Pregnancy
  • Seriously considered or attempted suicide
  • A need for power and control
  • Demonstration of threats, verbal abuse, and aggression
  • Violence in the home
  • Owning a weapon (Selekman, 2006, p. 934).

It is important to remember that any single risk factor cannot and should not be considered to be the primary cause of dating violence. Certainly not everyone who displays a single risk factor will be an abuser or victimized by a dating partner.

Data clearly documents that the vast majority of females who become pregnant do not experience dating nor intimate partner violence. Data also documents that the vast majority of homes where there is a weapon present do not report incidents of dating or intimate partner offending or victimization.

However, some studies do seem to document that as the numbers of risk factors increase within a household there is a greater likelihood of a dating or intimate partner violence incident. As the numbers increase so does the likelihood of offending or victimization.


It is now recognized that the issue of unequal power and control can influence dating violence and family violence, not only violence against women. The issue of unequal power, control and resources effect child, sibling, spousal, intimate partner and elder abuse (Chalk & King, 1998). Psychologists and sociologists clearly recognize that the issues of power and control are not gender based (Myers, 2004).

The reasons for violence within relationships often reflect the various theories concerning violence in general (Moffitt & Caspi, 1999). Many evidence-based empirical studies document that the origins and patterns of the use of violence may be similar for males and females and that violence prevention and public policies should reflect those similarities (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin, & Petrie, 2004).

This chapter documents that the majority of dating violence intervention programs assume that females are most often victims and only rarely are they perpetrators. There is an inherent danger for all victims in concluding that one gender is violent and aggressive while the other is passive and docile (Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2005).

Rather than contemporary “one-solution-fits-all” criminal justice policies, procedures and programs need to be interventions, programs and sanctions that consider the context and circumstances of individual incidents and needs of specific families (Fagan, 1996).

Impediments to multiple and equitable interventions for specific individual incidents were created when it was proffered that the violence suffered by most if not all adult heterosexual women is different and distinct from all of the other forms of familial or intimate partner relationships (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin, & Petrie, 2004). Most researchers now agree that there is no single correct theory concerning the factors that cause dating or domestic violence (Wallace, 2002).

Women’s Rights Research

In 1966 the National Organization for Women (NOW) declared that women must seek “equality.”

…not in pleas for special privilege, nor in enmity toward men, who are also victims of the current half-equality between the sexes – but in an active, self-respecting partnership with men. (Young, 2006)

Contemporarily, the goal of many women’s rights researchers and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is to primarily or exclusively concern themselves with the violence against women by men. This sociological perspective has caused many contemporary researchers to charge that feminist researchers are less concerned about science than they are political activism (Macionis, 1997).

This author has three daughters and two sons, agrees with the 1966 goal of NOW and expects that all five be treated equitably. This chapter documents that the majority of dating and domestic violence organizations are only or primarily concerned with violence against women and most dating and domestic violence organizations do not provide nor proffer equitable dating and domestic violence intervention and education for males and females.

Most dating and domestic violence advocates, because they have linked feminism and domestic violence as the same issue, see any and all attempts to address the issue of male victimization as a concealed agenda to undermine and turn back the progress many women have made concerning efforts to provide services and programs to battered women. This paper, respecting NOW’s 1966 statement of equality, only requests equitable programs and resources for males and females and should not be viewed as an attack on feminism.

Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics document that the total number of child, sibling, spousal and intimate partner abuse of men, elders, gay, and lesbian abuse is greater than the abuse of adult heterosexual women by adult heterosexual men ( Violence against everyone regardless of age, gender and sexual orientation should be treated as a significant social problem.

Data documents that there is a need for programs and interventions to end the use of physical assaults and psychological abuse among family members and intimate partners regardless of age gender or sexual orientation. Age, gender, or sexual orientation should never be used as a general measuring tool concerning individual rights.

It is ill advised, and this author believes that it has become counterproductive, to generalize which gender is the most violent while not defining violence. It is without question that men commit more murders than women. However, it is also a fact that men murder men and kill themselves at rates that far exceed their murders of women.

It is counterproductive and irresponsible to provide interventions and policies that presume that men in general are guilty and arresting and sanctioning men without first exploring the context and circumstances of the specific events will resolve individual problems.

The willingness of each gender to accept its share of responsibility of the use of abusive behavior creates much progress concerning child abuse. As this paper documents such is not the case concerning dating violence.

The eagerness of each gender to blame the other has proven to be as dangerous as it is divisive. It will prove to be far more productive for the safety of all victims to determine which specific individual in each specific incident initiates, causes or creates the violence and then provide interventions based on those incidents, one incident and one individual at a time.

It is counterproductive to minimize, marginalize or ignore some victims or to paint one gender as always passive and the other as always aggressive. All physical assaults or coercive behavior that are specifically used to change or alter the behavior of another family member or intimate partner are wrong. All psychologically abusive behaviors, direct or indirect, used to change or alter the behavior of a dating partner, family member or intimate partner are wrong.

It is divisive to proclaim one gender to be the primary victim. This gender specific classification begins anew the old and odious process of placing the rights of one gender against those of another. It is also divisive to pass public policy that proclaims one “theory” superior to the other when there is no empirical evidence to document that to be a fact.

Dating and domestic violence intervention must be free of stereotypical gender bias and become more positive and inclusive, and less negative and exclusive. Promoting equality and eradicating stereotypical gender bias was and should remain the heart and soul of the feminist movement.

Too many advocates are concerned only with or about “their” victim and many advocates seem unable or unwilling to recognize that their behavior is the very same behavior they once railed against. Everyone, as feminists once claimed, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or percentage of victimization, deserves to have their needs and concerns heeded not hidden.

Jane Doe

The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, notes on its website that its goal is to bring together organizations and people who are committed to ending domestic violence and sexual assault (Jane Doe Inc, 2007). There is an expectation that Jane Doe, as a domestic violence organization, should or would be committed to ending domestic violence and sexual assaults against everyone regardless of gender. However, it appears that Jane Doe believes that domestic/dating violence is primarily a problem for heterosexual women.

”Men are sometimes victims of domestic violence,” said Nancy Scannell, legislative director of Jane Doe Inc., a Massachusetts-based domestic violence coalition. ”But the attempt to be inclusive [of male victims] should never be interpreted to mean that the issue is gender-neutral. It does not change our mind about why [domestic violence] happens. It happens because of sexism and power and control of men over women in our society” (Stockman, 2002).

A visit to the Jane Doe website reveals that their concerns for our daughters do seem to differ when compared with their concerns about our sons. It appears, at least to this author, that Jane Doe’s primary concern about our sons is that someday our sons will abuse someone’s daughter.

The Jane Doe website notes that 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. The Jane Doe website excludes any information about the victimization of boys despite the fact that data about the victimization of boys appears in the very same database that documents that 1 in 5 high school female students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Jane Doe is or should be aware that the survey it cites that documents the victimization of female high school students also documents the victimization of male high school students.

Jane Does clearly focuses on female victimization and male perpetration. The Jane Doe website notes that in homes where domestic violence occurs, children are at high risk of suffering physical assaults and other types of abuse.

The Jane Doe website claims that 95% of the domestic violence children observe is that of men abusing women. However, there is no citation for their claim because it simply is not true. The Jane Does website ignores the report, Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families, (McDonald, Jouriles, Ramisetty-Mikley & Caetano, 2006).

The above report documents that intimate partner violence is reported by 21.45% of the couples in the study. Male-to-female violence is estimated at 13.66% and female-to-male violence is 18.20%. Severe male-to-female violence is 3.63% and severe female-to-male violence is 7.52%.

The Jane Doe website does not report that data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families documents women neglect and abuse their children more often than men.

Data also documents more children live with single mothers rather than single fathers. However, simply because the children are there and the opportunity is greater for mothers to abuse their children is no reason for that differential any more than men abuse women because they can.

The Jane Doe website, similar to the majority of other domestic violence organizations, claims that the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than 90% of all domestic violence victims are women.

Jane Doe and most advocates are or should be aware that the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) and that the NVAWS does not substantiate the Jane Doe Inc. claim that 90 to 95% of victims are women (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000b).


There is not a solitary nationally accepted definition of dating violence/abuse (O’Keefe, 2005). However, dating violence/abuse is defined by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC) as the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship (CDC, Dating Abuse Fact Sheet).

Using the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 9.3% of females and 9.0% of males reported being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC, YRBS, 2005). The YRBS also documents that 10.8% of girls and 4.2% of boys report that they were forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to. Researchers believe that many of these incidents can be prevented by helping adolescents [both boys and girls] develop skills for healthy relationships with others (Foshee et al. 2005).

This above definition is a guideline and not a mandate. The definition varies between violence and abuse and somewhat differently from state to state. Some of the behavior, as defined above, is viewed as “abuse” or “coercive behavior” rather than “violence.” The National Domestic Violence Hot Line (NDVH) defines abuse as a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another (NDVH, 2007).

It is just as important to recognize that the nature and scope of the problem often lies in the definition of the problem and the methodology of the study. Dating violence studies range from as low as 9% to as high as 57% (O’Keefe, 2005; Cascardi & Avery-Leaf, 2003).

When verbal aggression against a partner is included as abuse, one study documents that 95% of women and 86% of men reported using verbal abuse at least once during the study period (Grauwiler & Mills, 2004, p. 5).

It is generally recognized that the distinct methodologies used in different surveys are the main factors that account for the dramatic differences in the collection of data (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000a).

Liz Claiborne Inc.

In the Fall of 2005, the United States Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA III). In the newspaper article, Domestic Violence Starting in Teenage Years,

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to be assured that VAWA provides intervention and prevention programs that address violence against young women. However, Senator Clinton, similar to the majority of our public policy makers, did not inquire or want to be assured about interventions and prevention programs for young men (Janelle, 2006).

In the same article, the CEO and Chairman of Liz Claiborne Inc. (LCI) notes that it is time to stop teen dating abuse and ensure that the young people – one would assume the CEO means both girls and boys – receive the assistance they need, so that abusive lifestyles as teenagers and young adults do not follow them into adulthood (Janelle, 2006).

Starting the week of April 25th 2006, 350 high schools will be teaching the LCI curriculum, Love is Not Abuse. LCI hopes this program will help teenagers to recognize and stop abusive relationships (Liz Claiborne Inc., 2006)

In February 2005, LCI commissioned a Teen Relationship Abuse Survey (TRAS, 2006). The findings of the LCI survey document that an overwhelming majority of teens – both girls and boys – claim that physical and verbal abuse is a serious issue for them.

The TRAS data documents the need for education, intervention, support and services for both boys and girls. However, LCI provides a curriculum in 39 states that primarily portray our sons as offenders and our daughters as their victims.

The data documents that LCI, similar to most high school and college dating violence intervention programs ignore evidence-based dating violence data. LCI primarily refers to males as abusers and females as victims. It appears that LCI has ignored the results of its own survey. On the LCI website is the following:

Abuser = He


Victim = She

When the reader uses a computer mouse and clicks on the above section of the LCI website a box will emerge that claims:

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates that more than 90% of all

domestic violence victims are female and that most abusers are male. Because

of this we use he [emphasis added] when referring to abusers. Whether the victim is female or male, violence of any kind is unacceptable.

LCI should be aware that the U.S. Department of Justice does not claim, estimate, nor document that 90% of “domestic violence” victims are females at the hands of males. In fact the LCI Teen Relationship Abuse Survey documents this claim not to be accurate. In reality the LCI “key findings” appear to minimize and ignore both the offenses by our daughters and the victimization of our sons.


One LCI key finding is:

FACT:  1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned

about [italics added] being physically hurt by their partner.

The TRAS survey provides no definition of just what is a “serious” relationship when it documents information about “serious” relationships. Hence, the differences reported between a “relationship” and a “serious relationship” is left to be viewed and reported differently by girls and boys. And given the different cultural norms and mores between girls and boys, it appears that girls and boys will view and report their relationships differently.

LCI reports that 1 in 3 (35%) of our daughters report [a fear of] being concerned about their safety. What LCI does not include in this facts section, is that their survey documents that 1 in 4 (25%) of our sons also report being concerned about their safety.

In bold at the top of page 11 is:

Of teens that have been in a relationship, a troublesome 30% (including more girls than guys) said they’ve been concerned for their physical safety.

Does LCI consider that the fear of our daughters’ safety is unacceptable violence while our sons actually being physically assaulted should be considered as acceptable violence? Why is the data about our sons ignored?

On page 11, the TRAS documents that 17% of boys and 13% of females report that their partner hit, slapped or pushed them. Is it possible that LCI has concluded that the “fear” of victimization by our daughters is a “key finding” and that the actual physical victimization of our sons is inconsequential? Why did LCI ignore the actual physical victimization of our sons.

What is the reason that LCI ignores the fact that the findings of the LCI “Teen Relationship Abuse Survey” clearly dispute their criminal justice-based claim that 90% of the abusers are male?

Power and Control Issues

On the top of page 3 of the TRAS survey it notes, “[P]ower and control actions and attitudes are

pervasive in teen relationships – many young people have dealt with a boyfriend or girlfriend

who tried to control their whereabouts.”

The survey asks if the boys or girls had partners who want to know:

Who were they with all the time, 32% of boys and 39% of girls responded yes.

Where they were all the time, 31% of boys and 35% of girls responded yes.

Tried to tell them what to do a lot, 33% of boys and 31% of girls responded yes.

Asked them to only spend time with him/her, 24% of boys and 24% of girls responded yes.

Tried to prevent them from spending time with family or friends, 22% of boys and 21% of girls responded yes.

Hence, the LCI’ sponsored TRAS clearly documents boys and girls equally attempt to control

or monitor the whereabouts of their partner. The TRAS on page 4 attempts to demonstrate that

there is a greater difference in relationships that are “serious” as compared with “non-serious”


However, as previously noted, without any accepted or defined differential between “serious”

and “non-serious” relationships or an understanding that both girls and boys “agree” how serious

their relationships are, that difference reported by TRAS is clearly one of perception and not an

empirical evidence-based reality.

Even if one would accept that perceptions are reality, in the instances that LCI claims are

“serious” instances, boys reported that their partner attempted to control their behavior half or

more than half as often as did girls in the “perceived serious” relationships.

Clearly, as the TRAS documents, power and control are issues that are relevant to the

behavior of both boys and girls, as victims and as offenders. However, it is just as clear that LCI

is determined, for reasons LCI should explain, to document the victimization of our daughters

while minimizing or ignoring the victimization of our sons.

Emotional Abuse

The LCI  website at “Fast Facts” claims that 1 in 4 teenage girls in relationships (26%) reported

enduring repeated verbal abuse from their partner. These “Fast Facts” do not mention the

emotional victimization of boys. Perhaps the exclusion of male victimization might have

something to do with the fact that the TRAS documents more boys (28%) than girls (26%) report

that form of abuse?

On page 15 of the TRAS it explores relationships between boys and girls who have had to

endure emotional abuse from their partner.

59% of boys and 64% of girls report that their partner made them feel bad or embarrassed about themselves.

28% of boys and 26% of girls report that their partner called them names or put them down.

8% of boys and 10% of girls report that their partner became physically or verbally abusive when drunk or high.

On their website, LCI notes, “[I]t’s not easy being a guy these days. Society puts all kinds of

pressure on boys, right from the day they’re born.” LCI then, similar to VAWA, proceeds to

minimize or ignore the difficulties boys have.

LCI, appears to be either unwilling or unable to accept their own survey data concerning the

offenses by our daughters and the victimization of our sons. In fact when you compare the data

in the TRAS and contrast it to the data on the LCI website, it appears that LCI intends to keep

silent about the victimization of our sons and provide few to no solutions for their victimization.

It’s Time to Talk Day

On October 11, 2005 Marie Claire magazine and LCI joined forces for an, “It’s Time to Talk

Day” as a way to encourage public dialogue about domestic violence. The It’s Time to Talk Day

is a  part of a national campaign that is intended to break the silence and get people talking about

the issue of domestic violence (It’s Time to Talk Day, 2006).

When most people think about a domestic violence victim they think of a woman who has

been beaten and battered by a man. Law enforcement officers know full well that some women

are beaten and battered by some men. However, contemporary domestic violence is more

broadly defined and is often characterized as verbal, emotional, manipulative, and coercive

behavior as well as physical abuse:

Abuse is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Battering is a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want

(The National Domestic Violence Hotline, May 2006).

It is universally accepted that adult heterosexual domestic violence does not begin the day girls become women or boys become men. It is generally agreed that girls and boys who initiate and/or experience dating violence are at a higher risk of abusive behavior towards each other when they are adults as victims and/or perpetrators (O’Keefe, 2005).

It’s Time to Talk

Although LCI claims, “It’s Time to Talk,” data on the LCI website documents that rather than breaking the silence about dating/domestic violence, LCI and the majority of nationally recognized domestic violence organizations, by excluding data concerning male victimization, they choose to remain silent about the victimization of boys/men.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) makes it quite clear on their website that the NCADV is only or primarily concerned about the victimization of women. The NCADV minimizes or ignores male victimization. What should be clear to NCADV, as the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: Intimate Partner Violence: Overview website article documents, is that male victimization is an issue that needs to be addressed, not minimized and ignored (CDC: Intimate Partner Violence: Overview).

While the NCADV claims that it is concerned about the children of battered women, one would assume that children would include both girls and boys. The NCADV website documents that the NCADV, similar to the majority of domestic violence organizations, is only or primarily concerned about our daughters, not our sons. The NCADV dating violence “Fact Sheet” minimizes, marginalizes, and ignores data concerning the victimization of our sons (NCADV Dating Violence Fact Sheet, 2007).

The LCI survey notes that its own research documents evidence that a significant number of today’s teens are victims of dating abuse. What should be a really troubling concern for all parents is the fact that LCI, the NDVH, the NCADV, and in fact the majority of domestic violence organizations, are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the victimization of our sons.

Keeping The Silence

Why is it that LCI has decided to ignore or minimize the data about female offenses and male victimization that is documented in the survey it commissioned in 350 schools nationwide?

Perhaps the LCI is concerned that if it accepts its survey data about dating/domestic violence, their theory that domestic violence happens because of sexism and power and control of men over women in our society will be revealed as a theory with little to no empirical evidence-based foundation.

The data in the TRAS leaves no doubt that many girls often behave as badly as many boys concerning verbal, emotional, manipulative, coercive and physically abusive behavior towards their partners.

It is difficult to understand how or why so many domestic violence organizations, in the 21st century, do not recognize that they are replicating the very behavior they railed against in the 20th century. Oppressive and prejudiced assumptions concerning gender are unfair, unwarranted and in fact are dangerous concerning the well being of girls/women and boys/men.

Is There a Gender Agenda?

While girls and young women have received considerable attention concerning dating violence victimization, the victimization of boys and young men and the offending by girls and young women is most often minimized or ignored by the majority of researchers and domestic violence organizations (Howard & Wang, 2003a).

The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) jointly prepared the report, “Our Vulnerable Teenagers: Their Victimization, Its Consequences, and Directions for Prevention and Intervention,” (Wordes & Nunez, 2002).

Despite the fact that the NCVC acknowledges that boys are victimized more often than girls and that the NCVC report is about “teenagers,” the cover of the report portrays only a girl. Sometimes pictures do speak a thousand words.

In fact the cover of the report about teenagers might be considered a metaphor for the collective minimization and marginalization of the victimization of our sons concerning dating violence by the media, public policy makers, researchers and domestic violence organizations.

On page i of the executive summary, Wordes & Nunez write, “Teenagers are Disproportionately Represented as Victims of Crime.” Wordes & Nunez then produce a report that disproportionately represents boys as the victims of dating violence.

The disproportionate representation of our daughters as offenders and the minimization or exclusion of the victimization of our sons is an accepted and common practice among many researchers and domestic violence organizations (Howard & Wang, 2003a).

On page 6 Wordes & Nunez play an active role in the minimization and marginalization of male victimization:

While studies have found that males and females are at equal risk of dating violence, the motivation for women is usually self-defense (White & Koss, 1991). Studies however, report that women are anywhere from two to six times (Bachman & Saltzman, 1995; White & Koss, 1991) more likely to be victims – it is generally believed that about 85% of dating violence is perpetrated by men and boys.

Wordes and Nunez may believe that is true, however, the White & Koss, 1991 study provides no data that can document that the motivation for the use of violence by females in dating violence incidents is usually self-defense.

Perhaps, Wordes & Nunez actually do believe their claim to be a fact. It may be possible that someone told Wordes & Nunez that the White & Koss study made such a claim. Nevertheless, had Wordes & Nunez read the White & Koss study they would have been aware that there is no data in the White & Koss study that documents the “self-defense” claim. In fact White & Koss clearly document on page 253 that, “…and the partner’s perceptions of the act were not addressed in the present study.”

The White & Koss study does cite, (Saunders, 1988), “Wife abuse, husband or mutual combat? A feminist perspective on the empirical findings,” where the Saunders makes the claim that battered women often use physical assaults in self-defense. However, Saunders also does not provide any empirical evidence-based data documenting the reasons for the use of self-defense in dating violence.

What Saunders provides is a hypothesis concerning studies of battered women in violent incidents. It is disingenuous and dangerous not to recognize or understand the difference between abusive behavior in dating relationships and the violent battering behavior between a small subsection of violent married or intimate partner adults.

More misleading than the White & Koss study is the Bachman & Saltzman 1995 citation that the White & Koss study offers as documentation that women are anywhere from two to six times more likely to be victims of dating violence. However, the fact is that the Bachman & Saltzman report is criminal justice data that has little to nothing to do with the victimization of girls and young women during dating violence incidents.

The Bachman & Saltzman 1995 report is criminal justice data drawn from the redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). It is difficult if not impossible to understand how Wordes & Nunez can think that the NCVS is documenting the issue of self defense used by girls in dating violence incidents.

In the more than 100 dating violence studies referenced below, none of the “dating violence” studies document that girls or women are two to six times more likely to be victims of dating violence than boys or men.

None of the more than 100 studies make the claim that 85% of dating violence is perpetrated by young men and boys. It is troubling to see that organizations that claim to stand for victim rights, purposefully and willfully minimize the victimization of boys and young men.

Gender Symmetry

Gender symmetry is generally accepted as meaning that males and females abuse each other at an equal rate. Further disagreement about gender symmetry without agreeing on a definition of just what “dating violence” actually is or what measurements accurately and truthfully portray someone as a victim of dating violence, are exercises in futility (Straus, 2006).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics website clearly document that males are far more “violent” towards each other than are females. However, it must be remembered that far more often than not criminal justice statistics provide measurements of the behavior of a subset of the population and not the population in general.

Regardless, if it is domestic or dating violence the majority of intimate partner incidents are often not measured as “violent” behavior that is intended to beat, batter and control the behavior of another person. The findings from the NVAWS reports that the majority of intimate partner physical assaults are relatively minor (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000a, p.11).

The NVAWS also documents that 1.3% of women and 0.9% of men report being physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually. It also reports that women report their victimization to law enforcement twice as often as men and law enforcement is three times more likely to detain an offender or make an arrest if the victim is female (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000b, p.29 & p. 49)

Concerning homicides, criminal justice data documents that men murder other men and kill themselves at rates that are far greater than the rate that men murder women. Homicides account for less than one half of one percent of all family violence between 1998 and 2002. Females account for 58% of family homicide victims and males account for 42% (Durose et al., 2005, p. 1). The majority of homicide victims are acquaintances or other people who are not related to each other.

Regardless of what type of victimization suffered, victims should not have to be “equally” victimized or equally injured to receive equal recognition, empathy, treatment and services. And more importantly, no victim should be trivialized, minimized or ignored.

The majority of nationally recognized domestic violence organizations use criminal justice data only when they intend to document that females are the victims of domestic violence abuse far more often than males.

These same advocates ignore criminal justice data when the Bureau of Justice Statistics documents that domestic violence affects less than one-half of one percent of families surveyed.  However, the same advocates, similar to the National Domestic Violence Hot Line, as their website documents, will use data from self reporting studies when they want to increase or expand upon the total number of female victims.

Advocates and organizations, similar to Jane Doe Inc., use self reporting studies to claim that one of every three females will be a victim of domestic violence at least once during their lifetime. Most of these organizations then ignore that the CDC reports 5.3 million incidents of intimate partner violence occur each year for women in America and 3.2 million for American men. The CDC Intimate Partner Violence: Overview article also documents that fewer incidents against men then women are reported.

Advocates have also increased the number of female victims by expanding the number of females who have been physically assaulted to include females who have been psychologically and emotionally abused. In almost all instances, advocates follow the lead of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as their websites document, and simply ignore or minimize male victimization.

The majority of crime data, hospital reports and women’s shelters most often include physical assaults and injuries and data from these sources also seem to substantiate the advocates claim that females are victims far more often than males. The majority of the self reporting studies seem to document gender symmetry. Most domestic violence organizations regardless of their point of view or political beliefs, as their websites document, pick and choose which of the studies they want to use depending on what particular point they are attempting to make (O’Leary, 2000).

The Violence Against Women Act

Many, if not all, domestic violence organizations include on their websites information and statistics about dating violence. Title III, Section 302 of the 2005 reauthorization of the VAWA provides funds for the treatment and education of adolescents, teenagers and young adults. There should be an expectation that these grants would serve our sons as well as our daughters.

However, impartiality concerning dating violence and the victimization of boys is not well served by the VAWA. The majority of domestic violence organizations VAWA helps to fund are only or primarily concerned with the victimization of females. VAWA is after all the Violence Against Women [italics and bold added] Act.

There appears to be a lack of impartiality concerning the vast majority of domestic violence organization websites. VAWA and domestic violence organization websites, similar to most adult domestic violence intervention and educational programs, focus primarily or exclusively on the dating violence suffered by our daughters.

Most domestic violence organizations extract research data from dating violence studies and surveys that document the physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered by teenage girls. When the victimization of our sons is mentioned, many domestic violence organizations minimize or ignore the research data that documents their victimization (Howard & Wang, 2003a).

These organizations need to explain to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons why they believe the lives of boys and girls are going to be made better when, as their websites document, the victimization of boys are ignored and the offenses by girls are often rationalized or minimized.

As noted elsewhere in this book, one of the most prominent and nationally recognized domestic violence organization the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) offers an educational program that calls on men to teach boys that violence and intimidation have no place in dating relationships ( This FVPF educational program, Coaching Boys into Men, ignores the fact that more than 100 studies now document that girls often use violence, manipulation and intimidation in dating relationships (

The California Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV), when its website was online, proclaimed that its mission is:

…to eliminate domestic violence in all forms of violence against women and their children and girls by promoting social change through leadership and advocacy in partnerships with their communities.

The CAADV made no mention of men or boys. Similar to the majority of domestic violence organizations, the CAADV believes that domestic violence puts women at risk for emotional, verbal and physical abuse by men.

Apparently the CAADV believes that boys and men are not at risk of emotional, verbal or physical abuse by women. Apparently the CAADV believes only the behavior by men against women is learned behavior that can be changed.

It should be apparent to the CAADV that men do not learn their abusive behavior against women on the first day boys become men. The CAADV excludes mentioning eliminating domestic violence against boys, perhaps because they believe that the victimization of boys and men is so rare there is no need to mention it.

Another national organization is the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women or VAWnet ( VAWnet, similar to many other domestic violence organizations, as its website documents, is far more concerned with the victimization of our daughters than it is about the victimization of our sons.

Similar to most domestic violence organizations VAWnet proclaims its mission is to end violence, sexual assault and other violence in the lives of women and their children. However, it appears that the real mission of VAWnet is to appear to provide subjective resources to women and girls, as if it were objective academic empirical research.

The VAWnet paper, “Are Heterosexual Men Also Victims of Intimate Partner Abuse?” provides a example that VAWnet is exclusively or primarily concerned with the victimization of our daughters and not of our sons. Their paper minimizes, marginalizes, and ignores female offending and male victimization, despite reams of academic empirical studies to the contrary, that men and boys do not perpetrate 95% of domestic/dating violence (Belknap & Melton, 2005).

Belknap & Melton, on the very first page of their paper, claim that their research is “grounded in feminism.” However, they seem to appear to have forgotten that feminism is grounded in “equal rights” not “female rights.” Clearly, as their above paper documents, Belknap & Melton are exclusively or primarily concerned with female and not male victimization.

On page 8 of their report Belknap & Melton write, “The research and critique of the research reported in this document hold some very important implications.” What is both ironic and sad is the fact that some of the implications of this specific report and the VAWnet in general will be that few girls and women will receive treatment for their violent behavior and because of that some girls and boys may very well continue to be both victims and victimizers.

Because of this single-gendered approach the FVPF, the CAADV, the VAWnet and in fact the majority of nationally recognized domestic violence organizations, appear to be organizations that are primarily concerned with violence against women rather than domestic violence organizations that are concerned about all victims of domestic violence regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation (Domestic Violence Organizations, 2007).

There may or may not be some value in continuing the argument concerning gender symmetry, however, it should concern all of us when domestic violence organizations (see above) are willing to sacrifice the safety of our sons for their individual and specific organizational goals and agendas.

It appears that the majority of domestic violence organizations believe that to stop violence against women there must be programs that educate boys not to abuse girls. The dating violence interventions suggested by most domestic violence websites proffer that the VAWA may also be considered the Violence Against our Daughters Act. Boys most often appear on these websites as abusers.

Juvenile Violent and Non-Violent Crime Rate

A March 2006, report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report (JOV) documents that family assaults by juveniles represent a larger proportion of female assaultive offending than male assaultive offending. The National Incident Based Reporting System data reports that 18% of aggravated assaults committed by juvenile males were against family members as compared to 33% for juvenile females (Snyder & Sickmund, 2006).

The JOV reports that 23% of males and females have used alcohol, 34.9% of males and 26.9% of females have been drunk, 10% of males and 9% of females have used marijuana and 9% of males and 6% of females have sold drugs.

The JOV report also documents that 33% of teenage boys and 21% of teenage girls claim they have assaulted someone with the intent to seriously hurt them. In 1980, the violent crime index rate for boys was 8.3 times the female rate.

By 2003 the male rate was just 4.2 times the female rate. The report also notes that the arrest rate for juvenile violent crimes committed by boys fell by 26% while the rate for girls rose by 47%.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports 1.5 million girls ages 12 to 17 started drinking alcohol in 2004 compared to 1.28 million boys. Among the same age group 730,000 girls compared to 565,000 boys started smoking cigarettes and 675,000 girls compared to 577,000 boys started using marijuana. The survey also reports that 14.4% of girls and 12.5% of boys reported misusing prescription drugs (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2007).

The 2004 Boston Youth Survey

On page B3 of the April l6, 2006 copy of the Boston Globe is a story about a group of girls attacking one young woman and stabbing her in the chest and in a separate incident on the same night a story about another girl who was stabbed in her left side and left bleeding after fighting with a group of girls.

In the same article a youth worker notes that most of the recent brutal fights have been between girls using razors, box cutters, and knives.  On the same date, 54% of girls awaiting court appearances in Boston, MA are being held for violent crimes The 2004 Boston Youth Survey (BYS) survey documents the aggressive behavior by both boys and girls in the Boston school system (Hemenway, Prothrow-Stith, Browne, 2005).

The survey is the result of a collaborative effort between the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center and the Boston Office of Human Services and Boston Youth & Families. The mayor’s office hopes the Boston Youth Survey (BYS) report can help the schools, parents and other professionals discover how they can best serve our daughters and sons.

The “Sexual Abuse and Dating Violence” section of the BYS survey paints a dramatically different picture than the one presented (passive females and aggressive males) by Jane Doe and most domestic violence organizations.

On page 74, the BYS documents that 8% of girls and 7% of boys experienced physical violence during the last 12 months by a dating partner.

The BYS also notes that 7% of girls and 5% of boys over their life time report experiencing sexual violence by their dating partner. This data is inconsistent with the claims of Jane Doe and the majority of domestic violence organizations and brings into serious question the issue of female passivity.

On page 52, the BYS report notes that 48% of girls and 54% of boys hit back when someone hits them first. The BYS notes that 35% of girls and 39% of boys pushed/shoved/kicked/slapped another student.

The BYS notes that 19% of girls and 26% of boys got into a physical fight when they got angry. And the BYS notes that 28% of girls and 32% of boys threatened to hit or hurt another student.

The behavior of many of the girls and boys in this BYS report seems to contrast with the claims made by the majority of domestic violence organizations, as their websites document, that females, girls or women, are most often passive and docile and males, boys or men, are violent and aggressive.

In fact, the BYS data is consistent with national data that has been available for years from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). The YRBS on page 44 documents 9.3% of girls and 9.0% of boys report that they were hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. The same page of the YRBS documents that 10.8% of girls and 4.2% of teenage boys were physically forced to have sexual intercourse against their will with a dating partner.

Is it that Jane Doe and the other national domestic violence organizations are completely ignorant about the results of the JOV, YRBS and the BYS surveys or is it possible, similar to adult domestic violence interventions, that these organizations purposely present data concerning the victimization of girls/women and suppress the documentation of the victimization of boys/men?

And most telling and more dangerous for both girls and boys as offenders or victims, is the fact that if these organizations continue to ignore the offenses by girls they may actually be placing girls at a greater, not less risk of their own victimization and factors concerning their offending.

The College Campus

A survey of 2,600 women and 2,100 men attending college in the United States reports that 85% of the men and 88% engaged in what it labeled verbal aggression against a dating partner, 37% of men and 35% of women reported physically assaulting their dating partner and 39% of men and 32% of women report their were physically assaulted by a dating partner (White & Koss, 1991). It seems to be apparent to this author after reviewing the data that those who are offenders are very often also victims in these incidents (White & Smith, 2001).

The American College Health Association report, Campus Violence White Paper, documents that 15.0% of females and 9.2% of males report being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Also 2.4% of females and 1.3% of males have been in a physically abusive relationship and 1.7% of females and 1.0% of males have been in a sexually abusive relationship within the last school year (Carr, 2005).

A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus, documents that women and men are equally likely (35% female to 29% male) to be sexually harassed on college campuses. The study reports that 62% of college students experienced sexual harassment and 32% reported being victims of physical harassment. The study found that male students were more likely to sexually harass someone than women were (51% to 31%) (AAUW, 2006).

The AAUW held a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 24, 2006 where Barbara O’Connor, the AAUW Educational Foundation president, said: “Because our research shows that sexual harassment takes an especially heavy toll on young women, we are concerned that sexual harassment may make it harder for them to get the education they need to take care of themselves and their families in the future.” (AAUW, 2006).

The Academy for Educational Development (AED) is a national organization that supports non-biased education. Its study, Raising and Educating Healthy Boys: A Report on the Growing Crisis in Boys’ Education, documents:  “…boys lag behind girls in reading and writing, they are more likely to be referred to a school psychologist, and they are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity” (AED, 2005).

A recent Newsweek article documents by every benchmark that it is boys, not girls, across the nation and in every demographic who are falling behind in school. Women account for 56% and men 44% of the college undergraduates. The single parent mother of one boy worries that, “… … it’s hard to see doors close and opportunities fall away.” The U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling believes that gap, . . . “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy” (Tyre, 2006).

The Title III, section 303 of VAWA provides grants to combat violent crimes against women on college campuses. This VAWA also directs the U.S. Attorney General to issue and make available minimum standards of training relating to violent crimes against women on campus. There is no mention of violence against men on campus.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2002 documents that male college students were twice as likely as female college students to be the victim of a violent crime on campus (Baum & Klaus, 2005).

Apparently, most of our public policy makers agree with the AAUW as Title III ignores any mention of the abuse of men on college campuses. It appears that in educational settings our public policy makers are ensuring that our sons lag behind our daughters in more than just reading and writing.

Self-Defense and Aggression

Jane Doe, similar to the vast majority of domestic violence organizations, expect that our public policy makers and the general public should also believe that most of the aggression or assaultive behavior used by girls/women is defensive in nature.

These organizations proffer that females often use physical assaults only in a response to assaults by boys/men. Girls/women are far more passive and docile, in dating or intimate partner relationships, than boys/men. At least, this is the tale that is contemporarily weaved.

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center (NYVPRC) website has a section that offers, “Facts for Teen: Youth Violence (NYVPRC, 2007).    This section claims that, “. . . teenage boys are much more likely to use force in order to control their girlfriends, while girls more often act violently in self-defense.” (O’Keefe, 1997) is used as the citation to document this “fact.”

O’Keefe (1997) writes on page 562 as a reason for females using dating violence, “For females, the second main reason was reported [italics added] as self-defense, whereas for males it was to gain control over their partner.”

However, when you carefully read O’Keefe, 1997 you will discover that the self-defensive act is only O’Keefe’s perception of what females were reporting and it is not the actual reported reason by females. It appears that O’Keefe reports what she believes females thought without an empirical data set that actually documents that females did act in self-defense.

On page 562, O’Keefe writes, “… it is also possible [italics added] that females may [italics added] inflict more violence than males in self-defense or in retaliation for the sexual assault. Hence, the O’Keefe subjective “possible” and “may” are transformed into objective facts that are not objective facts.

On page 563, O’Keefe writes:

Whereas being a victim of dating violence was a stronger predictor for females compared with males suggesting [italics added] that females are more likely than males to hit in self-defense or retaliation), it is important for both sexes to realize that every violent action creates a risk for a violent response or future violent acts.

Perhaps because O’Keefe intuitively believes that females often use violence only in self-defense has caused her to misinterpret her own data sets. Nevertheless O’Keefe should know better and that suggestions and possibilities are not empirical-based evidence of fact.

What is a fact is that on page 556, O’Keefe documents that there is no statistical significance reported in the study that can document that males initiated violence more often than females. If the initiation of violence is statistically equal, how is it possible to believe that the person who initiates the violence is acting in self defense?

On page 556 and 557 O’Keefe writes that:

Among males, the most frequently chosen reason for their use of violence was anger, followed by the desire to get control over their partner. Among females anger was also the most frequently chosen reason for their use of violence followed by self-defense.

Somehow what is in reality only “possible” and “suggested” has become a fact. However, no where is self-defense by girls documented in the O’Keefe (1997) study. The use of self-defense by girls is only O’Keefe’s belief that it is possible self-defense may be a reason for the use of violence by girls.

The O’Keefe claim that boys use violence because of a desire to get control over their partner is also without documentation. There are four tables presented in the O’Keefe study and not one of them provided any empirical evidence of O’Keefe asking the boys and girls to report that they use either self-defense or the desire to control their partner as a reason for their violence.

In fact, in the O’Keefe & Treister (1998) study the authors report on page 14 that:

Also, of interest is the finding of no gender differences [italics added] in the amount of interpersonal control [italics added] exhibited by males and females in dating relationships, suggesting that interpersonal control may not be gender-specific and that despite women’s subordinate position in the larger social structure, they are just as likely to act to control their dating partner.

In fact there are only a few studies where the researchers actually and specifically inquire about and empirically document the issue of self-defense by girls. One of those is a nationally recognized study by V. A. Foshee:

Another strength is that, unlike most other dating violence studies, the measure of victimization and perpetration used distinguished violence perpetrated or received in self-defense from that not in self-defense (Foshee, 1996, 284).

In the VAWnet teen 2005 dating violence paper by O’Keffe, she claims that “…much of the dating violence research overlooks whether female use of violence was in self-defense or in response to male physical or sexual violence.”

Is it an oversight by O’Keefe that in the VAWnet paper when O’Keefe cites studies by Foshee, O’Keefe does not document that the Foshee 1996 study documentss that even when controlling for violence perpetrated in self-defense, girls perpetrated more violence than boys?

Further, why does the O’Keefe VAWnet paper also exclude that Foshee, 1996 documents that 28% of girls and 15% of boys report that they had engaged in some act of physical aggression against their partner?

Do VAWnet and O’Keefe really believe that the willful exclusions of female dating violence offending is actually  in the best interest of dating violence intervention programs for girls and boys?

When examining the context of dating violence, it is important to understand who initiated the violence and the reason or motivation given for that initiation. The reason or motivation most often given by girls is that they used violence to demonstrate their anger or in retaliation for emotional hurt. Males are more likely to indicate their use of violence was caused because of jealousy (O’Keefe, 1996). Neither of these two motivations, by boys or girls, are reasons, they are only excuses for the use of violent behavior.

On page 556 of the O’Keefe (1997) study, O’Keefe documents that there is no statistically significant difference in the initiation of dating violence between boys and girls. O’Keefe documents that girls are more likely than males to slap, kick, bite, or hit with a fist or hit with an object. Regardless of the type of assaultive behavior, how can O’Keefe believe that the initiation of an assaultive act can become an act of self-defense?

On page 558 of the O’Keefe (1997) study, O’Keefe notes that inflicting a physical assault is the best predictor of receiving a physical assault. If domestic violence organizations want to protect victims, regardless of gender, the message they must present is that neither boys nor girls should initiate physical assaults.

The fact that boys and girls initiate physical assaults are an important and vital message that is rarely presented by the majority of the nationally recognized domestic violence organizations. What is the reason these organizations ignore or minimize male victimization and female offending?

One of the few studies that actually and factually explore the issues of gender differences in adolescent dating abuse prevalence, types and injuries and asks specific questions about self defense reports that:

Females perpetrate more mild, moderate and severe violence than males towards partners even when controlling for violence perpetrated in self-defense;

Females perpetrate more violence than males out of self-defense;

Males perpetrate more sexual dating violence than females;

Males and females sustain equal amounts of mild, moderate and severe dating violence;

Females sustain more sexual dating violence than males;

Females sustain more psychological abuse than males from their partners;

Females receive more injuries than males from dating violence (Foshee, 1996).

Another study that is often cited as documenting that girls most often use violence in self defense is (Makepeace, 1986). However, what the Makepeace study actually documented was that girls were more likely to feel that they were acting in self-defense to an emotional hurt and not a physical assault by a boyfriend. The Makepeace study did not document that girls were actually physically assaulted and that girls only hit back in self-defense.

A dating violence study of 207 male and 288 female college students reported that more males who used force also reported they were using physical assaults in retaliation after being hit first by their female dating partner. Both the males and females reported that getting control and reacting out of jealousy were important factors in their use of physical assaults (Follingstad et al, 1991).

There appears to be enough blame to go around for both boys and girls concerning the initiation of physical assaults (Chrisler, 2005; Straus, 2006). Some of this behavior seems to continue into adulthood. A National Institute of Justice report, documents that 56% of women admit that they were the first to use force in an intimate partner violence incident (NIJ, Research in Brief November, 2004). These women also admit that their use of force was not primarily or exclusively used to protect themselves. The report notes that their behavior increased their risk of being severely abused by their partner, hence, for their own safety it is important that the use of initiation by females be documented and examined.

It was the O’Keefe (1997) study that reports that the number one reason for someone becoming the recipient of dating violence is that they are the person who initiate the violence (O’Keefe, 1997). This number one risk factor, initiation of assaults by females is rarely, if ever, mentioned in prevention and intervention programs.

On page 4 of the O’Keefe (2005) study, O’Keefe writes that:

One of the most consistent and strongest factors associated with inflicting violence against a dating partner is the belief that it is acceptable to use violence.

On page 563 of the O’Keefe (1997) study, O’Keefe writes:

It is interesting to note that the mean scores of for both males and females of justification of female-to-male violence, indicating that both sexes are more accepting of females’ use of violence compared with males.

And also:

Whereas adolescents are taught that a man should never hit a woman, the portrayal of a woman slapping a man is frequently romanticized in the media.

Hence, the O’Keefe (1997) study documents that the best way to ensure that anyone, regardless of gender, who does not want to become a recipient of dating violence is not to initiate the dating violence incident. Further, ignoring the fact that females initiate and perpetrate dating violence, regardless of severity, as often or more often than males is actually placing girls in danger and not protecting them.

Despite the facts above, lay people, domestic violence advocates, public policy makers and many professionals continue to believe and publish that girls/women are far more passive and docile in dating/domestic violence incidents than are boys/men. For the safety of both girls and boys these inconsistencies in dating violence intervention programs need to be explored.

Avoiding the Obvious

Does Jane Doe, similar to the vast majority of nationally sponsored and federally funded domestic violence organizations, really expect that our public policy makers are so naïve that somehow they will believe that the similarities in the abusive and aggressive behavior between girls and boys in high schools somehow magically evaporates the day girls become women and boys become men?

Is it possible that our public policy makers are completely and absolutely ignorant of all of the data concerning the fact that both girls and women will often use dating and domestic violence to control or manipulate the behavior of boys and men?

Data from a wide variety of studies concerning Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are noted on pages 36 through 46 (see recommendation #10 of this book) of the National Research Council report, Advancing the Federal Research Agenda on Violence Against Women (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004, pp. 36-40).

Apparently the majority of domestic violence advocates and public policy makers are either unaware – they rarely mention male victimization perhaps because the believe it is a rare event – of the above studies.

It is difficult to understand why the majority of advocates and public policy maker have chosen to ignore all of these studies, with the single exception of the National Crime Victimization Survey, that document male victimization is quite common.

Our public policy makers have, for the third time, passed a Violence Against Women [italics added] Act that minimizes female offending and male victimization. What public policy makers need to put in place is a Family Violence Act that is concerned with all victims regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.

In fact, in VAWA III our public policy makers have increased the funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This is a hotline that claims, knowing that data does not support their claim, that in 95% of abusive relationships men abuse women. The NDVH, largely funded by VAWA funds, continues to minimize or ignore the victimization of boys/men and the offenses by girls/women.

In the “Abuse in America” section of the NDVH website, it is apparent that the intent of the NDVH is to minimize or ignore the victimization of men. There is not a single representation of a male victim, regardless of age, anywhere on the NDVH website.

Not presenting one pictorial representation of the victimization of males appears to be a less than subtle attempt at reinforcing negative male stereotyping and implicit bias and leads other organizations, public policy makers, and the public in general to continue to ignore the plight of male victimization, regardless of age.

Senator Joseph Biden

Senator Joseph Biden, is the architect of the Violence Against Women Act, Biden noted at the July 2005 Committee on the Judiciary Senate hearings, that the primary regret he has about VAWA, is that so many men think it doesn’t apply to them. Biden insists that he truly believes that men are included and covered.

Somehow Senator Biden did not notice, as he sat at the July 2005 Committee on the Judiciary Senate hearings for the reauthorization of VAWA that, not one of the domestic violence advocates mentioned the issue of male victimization (Committee on the Judiciary, 2005). It is apparent that these advocates also do not think that VAWA applies to men.

Perhaps Senator Biden has never looked at the obvious bias and implicit discrimination created through the minimization and ignoring of male victimization on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website which is funded by millions of Federal dollars.

Perhaps Senator Biden is not aware of the fact that as of August 13, 2006 there has never been a single picture of a heterosexual male victim, boy or man, anywhere on the NDVH website.

Senator Biden seems unaware of the fact that the majority of domestic violence advocates, public policy makers, criminal justice professionals, and the general public believe that VAWA is intended for women, not men, simply because the act is titled the Violence Against Women [italics and bold added] Act.

Perhaps Senator Biden has not noticed the fact that of the billions spent on VAWA not a single dime has been allocated to a domestic violence intervention or program that specifically focuses on heterosexual male victimization.

Senator Biden, seems unwilling or unable to recognize that these are just some of the reasons there are a growing number of organizations, similar to the California Men’s Centers San Diego who know that men are minimized and ignored and that VAWA does not properly address their concerns about male victimization.

Circumstances and Context

When researchers move beyond the collection of raw data and explore the circumstances and context of individual events, it is obvious that girls report suffering more from dating violence than do boys. There are now many studies that document that girls report experiencing more emotional problems, injuries, and fear.

Domestic and dating violence organizations that claim that boys are not bothered emotionally, that boys report moderate rather than severe injury and that boys only rarely express fear of girls, are organizations that are implicitly minimizing the victimization of boys.

Because of contemporary cultural gender expectations, the disparity of physical strength and the differences in gender mores and gender norms, the fact that boys report victimization less than girls should be no surprise.

Given the expectations of both parents and their peers, there should be little expectation that a boy is going to self report in a survey that he was beaten up and injured by a girl and there is even less of a chance that a boy will report he fears being beaten up and injured by a girl.

Below are some results from the study, Gender and Contextual Factors in Adolescent Dating Violence (Molidor & Tolman, 2000):

Victimization of Boys Victimization of Girls

Overall Violence                                 38.1%                                      34.9%

Severe Physical Violence                    13.1%                                      22.5%

Moderate Violence                             32.9%                                      21.0%

When examining for context it is important to note that while some non-sexual related dating violence studies document that more boys than girls report initiating the incident they also conclude that although there is a difference in the physicality, there is little to no difference in the attempts of coercive control exhibited by boys or girls. The studies also document that there is a much greater acceptance for justification of girl to boy assaults as compared to boy to girl assaults (Cascardi & Avery-Leaf, 2003).

Ideology Skews Public Policy

On November 1, 2001, the first issue of Criminology & Public Policy appeared. It was introduced, as it notes in the first issue, as a result of scholars and researchers observing that contemporary criminal justice policy far too often did not reflect the insight and knowledge provide by contemporary science.

An important reason for the gap between policy relevant research findings and policy-in-action is that most policy-related research does not make its way into the hands of policy makers (Clear & Frost & 2001, p. 1).

The National Research Council (NRC) was organized by the National Academy of Sciences for the purpose of gathering research to advise congress concerning the proper implementation of public policy.

As noted elsewhere in this book, the (NRC) report, Advancing the Federal Research Agenda on Violence Against Women, notes that:

As previous National Research Council committee found, the design of prevention and control strategies – programs and services available to victims and offenders that aim to decrease the number of new cases of assault or abusive behavior, reduce the risk of death or disability from violence, and extend life after a violent event – frequently is driven by ideology and stakeholders interest rather than by plausible theories and scientific evidence of causes (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004, p. 6).

While the behavior of ideological domestic violence advocates is not equitable concerning victims services, it is understandable how ideological-held-beliefs would cause Liz Claiborne Inc., the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the American Association of University Women to be unwilling or unable to acknowledge male victimization.

The ideology of these organizations is driven by the fact that they are primarily concerned with the welfare of females and their belief that sexism and the oppression of women by men is the exclusive or primary cause of domestic violence. Female victimization is their specific goal.

However, it is neither acceptable nor understandable why or how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for the Victims of Crime, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), or in fact any federal agency or any public policy maker who will also minimize or ignore male victimization. By their very nature these organizations and public policy makers must be concerned with all victims regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is not the only public policy maker that ignores the victimization of boys and men. The majority of federally funded public policy is ideologically based and not evidence-based.

The National Center for Victims of Crime

The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) claims that information on its website is intended to improve our nation’s response to dating violence. The natural assumption by all parents should be that the NCVC will include all victims of dating violence, regardless of gender.

However, the information on the NCVC website minimizes, marginalizes and ignores our the victimization of boys. At one time, not long ago, the NCVC dating violence did present a fair and balanced approach.

The NCVC dating violence section once noted that 45% of females and 43% of males reported being the victim of violence from a dating partner at least once. Why did they remove that information from the website?

Similar to the majority of dating violence advocates the NCVC ignores information or resources for our boys. On their website is the following: Twenty percent of teenage girls and young women have experienced some form of dating violence – controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. There is no similar information concerning the percentage of boys who have experienced some form of dating violence.

The Centers for Disease Control

The CDC in its May 19, 2006 / 55(19); 532-535 weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students — United States, 2003, documents that similar numbers of girls and boys report engaging in physical dating violence incidents.

The CDC, MMWR reports that 8.9% of boys and 8.8% of girls reported that they were the victims of physical dating violence. Then, apparently without reason or logic, the CDC, MMWR notes the following:

Dating violence victimization can be a precursor for intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization in adulthood, most notably among women. Among adult women in the United States, an estimated 5.2 million IPV incidents occur each year, resulting in approximately 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths.

The CDC, MMWR does note that the data concerning the nonfatal IPV were collected from the National Violence Against Women Survey and the data about IPV homicides were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports Supplementary Homicide Reports. However, what can be the reason that the CDC, MMWR choose to ignore the relevant data concerning male victimization in the survey and report?

Is it possible that the authors of this CDC, MMWR are unaware that the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, acknowledges that intimate partner violence appears to be widely underreported by men?

The CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Intimate partner Violence: Fact Sheet, reports the following:

Nearly 5.3 million incidents of IPV occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older, and 3.2 million occur among men. Most assaults are relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000a).

In the United States every year, about 1.5 million women and more than 800,000 men are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner. This translates into about 47 IPV assaults per 1,000 women and 32 assaults per 1,000 men (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000a).

What, other than ideology, could cause the authors of the May 19, 2006 MMWR to believe that it is productive and positive to ignore the data concerning male victimization? The CDC also acknowledges that the differential noted above is far smaller because of the under reporting by male victims.

It appears that the information about male victimization was purposely ignored by the authors of the CDC, MMWR report as it is improbable to impossible to believe the authors are not aware of male victimization. If it is not ideologically-held beliefs that cause this painting of male victimization as invisible, what is it?

Further, it appears to be quite possible that this continued and constant marginalization, minimization and exclusion of any mention of male victimization in many dating, domestic violence and intimate partner violence studies, similar to this CDC, MMWR report, that causes the media, public policy makers and the general public to so often simply dismiss male victimization.

Safety First

In a cart before the horse leap of logic, many domestic violence advocates attempt to document that female and male domestic/dating violence offenders can not be equally guilty of offending by presenting data that document females:

(1)  Are injured more often than males,

Seek medical treatment more often than males,

Fear for their safety more often than males and,

Are hurt emotionally more often than males (O’Keefe, 2005).

Somehow many if not most advocates, as their websites document, are unwilling or unable to recognize or acknowledge that the majority of dating violence incidents are not chronic violent beatings or battering behavior. And the National Violence Against Women Survey and all of the other studies documents, most dating and family violence incidents are minor.

Primary and empirical-based research in the reference section of this book, documents that the vast majority of studies clearly demonstrate that females often can be equally as guilty as males in exhibiting coercive and manipulative behavior. Also, most studies in the reference section document that that females and males initiate domestic/dating violence incidents on an equal basis. The reference section provides the website or URL’s for these studies.

The four reasons listed above by O’Keefe, 2005, are the results or the effects of an incident and are not informative concerning what behavior affects or causes those incidents. And as O’Keefe, documents, the primary predictor of getting physically assaulted is to physically assault someone else first (Health Inc, 2006).

It appears that if domestic violence organizations similar to Jane Doe, the National Domestic Violence Hotline the Family Violence Prevention Fund, VAWnet and others, continue to minimize and ignore female initiation and male victimization, they are actually hindering not helping in the construction of a gender-inclusive understanding of the issue of dating/domestic violence that will make both boys and girls safer (Straus, 2005).

The fact is that there are a growing number of young men who talk to each other about the need to intervene when they witness males hitting females. There are now dating violence prevention and intervention workshops in our public and private schools, as noted in the reference section of this book, that often address the fact that males should not hit females.

However, perhaps because most domestic/dating violence interventions ignore female offending and male victimization, as their websites document, males being slapped or hit with objects by females is still publicly portrayed as being far less offensive that men hitting women. Just as troubling is the fact that in some instances this use of violence by females is still portrayed as being romantic or humorous (O’Keefe, 1997).

While the majority of domestic violence organizations claim their goal is to protect females, not warning females about the consequences of their initiating physical assaults actually places those females in greater danger of being assaulted. What can the reasons be that the majority of domestic violence organization websites minimize or ignore male victimization and female offenses?

Dating violence interventions and prevention programs are important not only for teenage intervention but also because that behavior may replicate itself in adult relationships (O”Keefe, 2005).

Replacing the myriad of causal factors that are often unique, situational and individual, with a “one-gender-fits-all” sexism and the oppression of women theory not only ignores reams of academic empirical studies to the contrary, this “one-gender-fits-all” is also a theory that can actually endanger, not protect females (Finkelhor & Straus, 2006).

There appears to be a disturbing lack of logic and commons sense to believe that child, sibling, dating, same-sex couple, and elder abuse have a myriad of complex causal factors while the abuse of adult heterosexual males and heterosexual females occurs exclusively or primarily because of sexism and the oppression of women.

The issue of unequal power in familial abuse is not specific to adult heterosexual males and females (Chalk & King, 1998). Most children, regardless of gender, learn at an early age that parents, regardless of gender, have more physical and economic power than children.

In fact most family violence researchers recognize that the issue of power and control runs through child, sibling, spousal, intimate partner, and elder abuse (Crowell & Burgess, 1996).  The issues of power and control are often the first lessons children, both male and female, learn from adults, both male and female.

It appears that the issues of power and control are the rules of adults that children are expected to learn to abide by. Spanking or other forms of coercive behavior are no more nor no less than one person using force or manipulative behavior to change or alter the behavior of another person (Straus, 2006).

Many teenagers and young adults have heard from their parents, regardless of gender, that as long as you live in their house you must abide by their rules. These are gender neutral-lessons we all learn as children from inside the family household not from the outside social structure (Jaffee, Caspi, Moffitt, & Taylor, 2004).

The reasons stated for the majority of abuse in the dating violence studies referenced in this paper are jealously, anger, stress, antisocial psychological behaviors and a myriad of other intimate discords.

It appears to be not only illusionary but also dangerous to believe that in the adulthood of heterosexual males and females that the myriad of causal factors of dating violence should be ignored or are only minimal factors that should be replaced with the one-size-fits-all patriarchal explanation (Updike, 1999).

Further, there is no empirical evidence-based evidence that can document that the abuse of heterosexual women is primarily caused because of sexism and the oppression of heterosexual women by heterosexual men and that heterosexual intimate partner abuse is dramatically different than other relationship abusive behavior.

While some forms of partner manipulation, coercion, aggression and abuse between boys and men can differ from that of girls and women, many if not most of those behaviors do not (Hamel, 2006).

There are a growing number of studies that document the “behavioral patterns of various forms of violence, such as male violence against women and men and female violence against men and women, may be similar” (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004, p. 100).

The needs of one group of victims do not invalidate nor should they be more important than the needs of another. It is important that interventions, policies and procedures are designed to reflect the perpetration and victimization of boys and young men and girls and young women.

An evaluation of school-based programs that primarily focus on males as the assaultive and aggressive perpetrators and females as docile and passive victims failed to change the beliefs or attitudes of the students towards the use of dating violence and they suggest that programs should reflect data from the majority of empirical studies that document both boys and girls can be either or both offenders and/or perpetrators of dating violence (Cascardi & Avery-Leaf, 2003).

One of the early and most respected researchers concerning dating violence reports that if the underlying problems of dating violence are not openly and honestly dealt with those same problems may very well re-emerge in future relationships (Makepeace, 1987).

The failure of the majority of domestic violence organizations to recognize the victimization of boys by girls also hinder research and impede prevention studies that can help document a better understanding of risk factors that place both boys and girls at risk of physical victimization. The ignoring of female offending by domestic violence organizations increases the chances of victimization for both females and boys (Hamel, J. 2006).

Should not all domestic violence organizations be as equally concerned about our sons as they are our daughters? What is it that causes our public policy makers, VAWA and the majority of domestic violence organizations to minimize and ignore the victimization of boys by girls?

Should not all these organizations be as equally concerned about our sons as they are about our daughters? Neither our sons nor daughters should need to document equal percentages of victimization before receiving equal compassion, empathy, education and access to services and funding.

How do these domestic violence organizations expect to explain how or why these myriad of complex, multifaceted, and dramatically different reasons given by teenagers and young adults for their use of dating violence can all stunningly and mysteriously change to become sexism and the oppression of women the day our daughters become women and our sons become men?

Why, given only very limited, if any empirical-based evidence, do our public policy makers and the majority of domestic violence organizations continue to claim and/or believe that 58% to 95% of domestic violence is committed by assertive and aggressive males against passive and docile females?

The September 2005 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly contains an article. The Myth of Female Passivity (Richardson, 2005) and the June 2005 issue of the journal are just two of many empirical evidence-based journals that clearly document many women can be just as assertive, coercive and physically assaultive as men (Stake, 2005; Chrisler, 2005).

Was it not the intent of 20th century feminism to expect and demand the same for our females and males? Why is it that in the 21st century so many dating and domestic violence advocates appear to think and behave in the same sexist and biased manner that many of them once railed against?

Placing the needs of one victim against those of another only serves to disenfranchise all victims. It is time that domestic violence organizations, including many that often claim to be human rights organizations, recognize not only the rights but the needs of all victims regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.

There appear to be few teenagers or young adults that believe or adhere to the ideological feminist “sugar and spice and puppy dogs tails” perception of dating and domestic violence that is so often presented by advocates (Prothrow-Stith & Spivak, 2005).

The opinions and beliefs of teenagers and young adults, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, are too important to be ignored. They must be allowed to become the instruments and tools that can break the cycle of violence that begins in the family, in childhood and continues on into adulthood.

Everyone agrees that males must become more involved with the issue of dating and domestic violence. However, few of our public policy makers and even fewer dating and domestic violence advocates seem willing or able to understand that many, if not most males, avoid the issues of dating and domestic violence because ideological feminist domestic violence advocates have misidentified the problem.


First and foremost this paper is far more concerned with the cause than the consequences of dating and domestic violence because prevention should always preclude intervention.

Cause is generally defined as that without which an effect or a phenomenon would not exist. If we first can identify the causal factors and provide proper intervention and education, we will also be treating the consequences by lessening the number of abusers and the victims of their abuse. As always, it must be the horse and then the cart.

A visit to the websites of the vast majority of the nationally recognized dating/domestic violence websites will document that the most of these organizations actively engage in minimizing or ignoring male victimization regardless of age.

After reading the studies referenced in this paper it should be difficult if not impossible to understand how federal funds for dating violence should be allocated to biased and prejudiced domestic violence organizations that adhere to dated 20th century “one-size-fits-all theories.”

These organizations continue to ignore the reams of empirical evidence-based studies that document that domestic or dating violence is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires interventions for both our sons and our daughters (Fiebert, 2005).

The National  Institute of Justice research report, The Criminalization of Domestic Violence: Promises and Limits, concludes:

Let’s not be embarrassed or embarrass ourselves by continuing on this frustrating path of fad-driven and nonsystematic policies with weak after-the-fact evaluations. Collaborative research to develop and test theoretically driven interventions and policies will make a significant contribution to the development of policies for legal interventions to protect battered women. A continuation of the research efforts of the past two decades will not. (Fagan, 1996, p. 48).

The National Research Council report to Congress, Advancing the Federal Research Agenda on Violence Against Women, concludes:

Finally, there is emerging and credible evidence that the general origins and behavioral patterns of various forms of violence, such as male violence against women and men and female violence against men and women, may be similar (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004, p. 100).

The majority of dating violence studies document that physical violence in dating relationships is reciprocal. In fact many studies document that girls initiate and use non-sexual physical violence more than boys (O’Keefe, 2005).

O’Keefe, claim that most of the dating violence studies ignore the intention, circumstance, context or consequence of this dating violence. Because of these limitations, O’Keefe and the domestic violence organizations claim the YRBS does not present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Yet, as this chapter documents, almost each and every domestic or dating violence website contains the claim that it is a “fact” that 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

However, the truth, as noted above, is that this ubiquitous “1 in 5” data so often cited as “fact” by domestic or dating violence websites was retrieved from a small, single, stand-alone state sample of the national YRBS report.

All domestic violence organizations that present data that documents female victimization and purposely ignore male victimization ignore the fact that the YRBS data does not document the intention, circumstances, context or consequences of dating violence behavior.

The absence of intention, circumstances, context or consequences of dating violence behavior does not prevent the YRBS data concerning the victimization of our daughters from appearing almost everywhere without a word of descent from advocates.

If not for ideology, how can all of these nationally recognized domestic violence organizations, ethically or morally, continue to claim that the YRBS data is valid and should be believed when documenting female victimization and that the same YRBS data should be ignored and dismissed concerning male victimization?

There seems to be little to no mention of this double standard in the literature concerning dating or domestic violence? For the safety of all victims regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation, our public policy maker should become more concerned about this apparent double standard.

The fact is that females suffer more severe injury, seek more medical attention, are often emotionally distressed and, because they are more fearful than boys, girls report incidents more often than boys. However, these behaviors are after-the-fact consequences.

Further, because of physical differences in strength and contemporary cultural gender norms, females will most often suffer more long term consequences and suffer more emotionally and economically than some males. Again, these are after-the-fact consequences and not causal factors (Straus, 2006).

For the safety of both our daughters and our sons, it is time for advocates and all members of Congress who proclaim they are concerned about domestic and/or dating violence and anyone who claims they want to prevent or minimize dating and/or domestic violence to read the above NIJ, NRC and CDC reports.

For the safety of both our daughters and our sons, it is time for advocates and members of Congress to become aware of and become more concerned with empirical-based evidence and less concerned with ideologically held beliefs (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin & Petrie, 2004).

As the studies referenced by this paper document, there should be little doubt that some dating violence incidents are similar to some of the oppressive and violent relationships between some spouses or intimate partners. However, studies clearly document the majority of this behavior is not severe long-term violent behavior (O’Keefe, 2005; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000a).

It should be obvious, for the safety of everyone involved, that it is time that dating and domestic violence organizations to stop concluding that female violence against males is most frequently in self-defense and that male victimization is often irrelevant because the after-effects are that females will suffer more physically and emotionally (Straus, 2006).

The dating violence studies referenced herein document that the majority of domestic and dating violence incidents are minor and that domestic and dating violence prevention will succeed only when advocates become open and inclusive of all victims regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.

An ever increasing number of empirical-evidenced based studies now document the victimization of males at the hands of females. If domestic or dating violence organizations are to prevent or minimize dating or domestic violence regardless of age or sexual orientation they must begin to take the offending of females and the victimization of males more seriously than they presently do (O’Leary, 2000).

Public policymakers and domestic violence advocates must commit to a long-term holistic effort to provide prevention and intervention programs for teenagers and young adults regardless of gender. Although after-the-fact interventions for females remains greater than for males the minimizing and marginalizing of male victimization has created negative not positive concerns for all victims (Straus, 2006).

It is time we point our finger at our own heart and head and not at each other. It is time to begin at the beginning not the end. We must place the cause before the consequence to effectively minimize or eliminate that consequence.


  1. Imagine that you are a county District Attorney and that you have the power to change laws in your jurisdiction. Upon reviewing all of the contemporary domestic violence studies from the U.S. Department of Justice would you continue with contemporary mandatory or preferred arrest policies or allow, after proper dating/domestic violence training, law enforcement officers to use the same discretionary arrest policies that they use for all other crimes?
  2. After law enforcement returns to discretionary arrest policies you discover that county, state, and national domestic violence organizations have mobilized a massive campaign to bring national attention to their opposition and they demand that you return to the mandatory dating/domestic violence arrest policies. What data and empirical evidence will you cite to document that for the safety and protection of those being abused, law enforcement should adhere to discretionary arrest policies?
  3. Consider the assertion, “that criminal justice statistics provide a measurement of only the behavior of a subset of the population and not the population in general.” Does this fact undermine or support the general belief that males in general are prone to abusive behavior and females are prone to passive and docile behavior?
  4. Does the Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned Teen Relationship Abuse Survey (TRAS, 20060) undermine or support the belief that, in dating relationships, males are almost always guilty of being the abuser and females most often only act out in “self-defense”? Is there any reason to believe that there is some age when boys and girls end “dating violence” and begin “domestic violence” behavior?
  5. Recommend the best possible prevention policy to combat dating/domestic violence. These policies must be supported by “evidence-based” data and remain within both personnel and fiscal realty. Using one of the educational programs discussed in this chapter and use some of the “online references” in this book to demonstrate how to use your limited resources to reduce both dating and domestic violence behavior among all the varied demographic populations with your jurisdiction.



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