A new publication calls into question the generally held view that casts males as the perpetrators of domestic violence and females as the victims. The study found that in most couples, men and women are about equally violent.
Lead researcher David Fergusson said agencies dealing with domestic violence should not assume men were the perpetrators or that women hit out only in self-defence.
“In fact, women initiate violence more than men.”
He said domestic violence typically involved both parties.
“If one partner was violent, so was the other one. This contrasts quite sharply with the dominant popular view that domestic violence is largely perpetrated by men on women.”
Professor Ferguson told TV3 News [download 5,421 KB wmv video], that our response to domestic violence has been shaped by a small amount of extreme violence.
“In those extreme incidents we find a predominance of males. But when we move away from the extreme to the more commonplace, both men and woman behave badly in the home.”
“There is a big industry out there, a violence industry. It’s all based on men being the bad guys.”
At the end of the interview Prof Ferguson said:
“There should be broader recognition of the wider issue of couple violence, and services there to assist people to deal with couple violence and its implications.”
Ferguson told the NZ Herald that those who dished out the violence were generally victims too.
“It’s mutual conflict, so they are violent households.”
The study may be seen to contradict the view that men are more violent in relationships.
“It is the case that severe assaults, the kind you see in women’s refuges, are probably committed by males, but most of the family violence that goes on involves mutual conflict between couples,” Professor Fergusson said.
“This study should reshape what we think about gender and violence …
“These are black-and-white stereotypes – males are brutes and females are victims – that dominate our thinking. The evidence doesn’t suggest that, but changing that view is going to take a lot of work. Anybody who challenges that view is likely to be criticised.”