In the context of a debate in the House of Commons on the Domestic Abuse Bill (on which I have posted previously) the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, made this statement,
“…of the 2 million victims, we estimate that around 1.3 million are female and around 695,000 are male, and within that 695,000 we believe – it is very difficult to identify this, and there are problems in doing so – that the majority of perpetrators are male.”
The statement is false. It has been known to be false for decades. It is doubly false, in fact because it is neither difficult nor problematic to confirm that it is false.
A weight of evidence, both recent and going back decades, confirms that the overwhelming bulk of partner abuse against men, and the majority of domestic abuse of men, is perpetrated by women. This article will present the data.
If there is one thing which gets the Parliamentary Opposition fired up, it’s a Government Minister misleading the House. Usually they smell blood. There are precedents aplenty that the sequence of events should now go like this,
- The Opposition feign outrage at Parliament being misled;
- The Minister is eventually obliged to retract and eat humble pie;
- That may not be enough, and the Minister may finally be drummed out of office.
Does anyone think that any of these things will happen in this case? Of course not. Because Ministers may tell porkies of any magnitude with impunity so long as the tale aligns with the approved narrative.
Not that I have any wish to see the Minister resign. What would be the point, if only to be replaced by another just the same? The better outcome would be for the Minister to be sufficiently embarrassed that she realises that her source of guidance on this matter is seriously unreliable – and never uses them again.
But now for the evidence…
Attention should be paid to where evidence relates to partner abuse or any domestic abuse. Where partner abuse is specified, sexuality will imply the sex of the perpetrator given the sex of the victim. This cannot be assumed in the case of other forms of domestic abuse.
(A) Survey Data and Police Reports from the UK
In chronological order…
A.1 Home Office (1999)
“An Analysis of Male Victimisation” by Dr Malcolm George based on the Home Office Research Study 191 (HORS 191), “Domestic Violence: Findings from a new British Crime Survey self-completion questionnaire”, Catriona Mirrlees- Black, Home Office 1999: Quote, “95% of assaults against men were by women”
A.2 Home Office (British Crime Survey, 2007/8 + 2008/9)
Home Office Statistical Bulletin, “Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2008/09 (Third Edition)”, Table 3.07, from which…
|Category of abuse||Heterosexual|
|All domestic abuse||4.1%||8.9%||5.9%||17.3%|
|Non-sexual partner abuse||3.3%||6.2%||4.3%||12.4%|
|Non-sexual family abuse||1.5%||3.3%||2.2%||8.5%|
|Sexual assault or attempts||0.3%||4.2%||2.6%||8.7%|
|Number of respondents||20,892||512||24,795||473|
From this it follows that 689 heterosexual men who were surveyed reported that they had experienced non-sexual partner abuse, i.e., by a woman, and that 32 gay men who were surveyed reported non-sexual partner abuse, i.e., by a man. Hence, non-sexual partner abuse against men was perpetrated by women in 95.6% of cases.
In the case of family abuse, the sex of the perpetrator cannot be concluded on the basis of sexuality. However, it is noted that most domestic abuse is partner abuse, hence it can be concluded that most domestic abuse against men is perpetrated by women. [To spell this out, assume that all domestic abuse against men which is not committed by the partner is perpetrated by men. Even under this assumption the above tabulated data show that there were 213 men suffering domestic abuse by other men, and 689 men suffering abuse by women. Thus even with this extreme assumption, women account for at least 76% of domestic abusers of men].
A.3 Scottish Government (2012)
Data on police reports of domestic abuse in Scotland (2000 to 2012) are given in “Scottish Government (2012a) Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2010-11 and 2011-12” (Scottish Government: Edinburgh), and are quoted by Brian Dempsey in “Men’s experience of domestic abuse in Scotland: What we know and how we can know more“, School of Law, University of Dundee (2013), page 21, and given below,
|Year||Male victim |
Hence, over a 12 year period in Scotland the proportion of men reporting domestic abuse to the police who reported female perpetrators was between 91.8% and 94%.
A.4 Crime Survey for England and Wales (2015)
Data was provided by ONS in response to an ad hoc request in July 2015 and is reproduced in the Table below. The data are percentages of those reporting partner abuse (ages 16 to 59): “Sex of perpetrator of partner abuse, by sex of victim, year ending March 2015 CSEW”, 12th July 2016. Of the 283 men reporting partner abuse in the 2015 CSEW, 20 reported male perpetrators and 127 reported female perpetrators (plus 6 reporting both). Hence, of those men reporting partner abuse who specified the sex of their abuser, 83% reported a lone female perpetrator and 87% reported abuse including a female abuser.
|Perpetrator||Male Victim||Female Victim|
|Both male and female||2%||1%|
|Don’t know/can’t remember||15%||6%|
|Don’t wish to answer||32%||32%|
|Number of respondents||283||834|
A.5 Scottish Government (2018)
“Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland in 2017-18”, https://www.gov.scot/publications/domestic-abuse-recorded-police-scotland-2017-18/
16% of domestic abuse reports to Scottish police in 2017/18 were men reporting abuse by women, whilst 2% were men reporting abuse by men. Hence, 89% of men reporting domestic abuse reported a female perpetrator.
A.6 Scottish Government (2018)
“Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2017-2018: main findings”, Figure 9.11. Of male respondents reporting partner abuse, 88% reported perpetration by their female partner and 9% by their male partner, i.e., 90.7% of men who reported the sex of their abuser reported abuse by a woman. Quote,
“Abusive partners were overwhelmingly of the opposite gender.”
A.7 Crime Survey for England & Wales (2018)
Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2018, Appendix Tables (November 2018), Table 8. Data relates to people ages 16 to 59.
|Heterosexual or straight||4.0%||7.2%||2.2%||5.1%||4,361||5,037|
|Gay or lesbian||8.2%||10.0%||5.1%||8.4%||108||83|
From this it follows that 96 heterosexual men who were surveyed reported that they had experienced non-sexual partner abuse, i.e., by a woman, and that 6 gay men who were surveyed reported non-sexual partner abuse, i.e., by a man. Three bisexual men reported partner abuse, by a perpetrator of unknown sex. Hence, between 6 and 9 men who were victims of partner abuse were victimised by other men, and between 99 and 96 were victimised by women. Hence, non-sexual partner abuse against men was perpetrated by women in 91.4% to 94.3% of cases.
In the case of domestic abuse perpetrated by a person other than the victim’s partner, the sex of the perpetrator cannot be concluded on the basis of sexuality. However, it is noted that most domestic abuse is partner abuse, hence it can be concluded that most domestic abuse against men is perpetrated by women. [To spell this out, even if it is assumed that all domestic abuse which is not committed by a partner is perpetrated by men, the tabulated data still shows that there are more female abusers of men than male abusers of men].
A.7 Survey of Male DA Victims by Charity FNF-BPM Cymru (2018)
This unpublished survey requested input from males who had experienced domestic abuse. 92.6% of respondents were resident in the UK; 97.8% of respondents identified as male; 85% of respondents stated they were white and 94.7% that they were heterosexual.
Outcome: 95.0% of abusers identified as female (671 out of 706)
(B) Academic Studies (Worldwide)
B.1 Partner Abuse State-of-Knowledge (2013),
The Partner Abuse State-of-Knowledge (PASK) is the most comprehensive review of domestic violence research literature conducted to-date. This three-year research project was conducted by 42 scholars at 20 universities and research centres and combines the results of hundreds of studies into domestic abuse, worldwide. Headline conclusions were,
“Rates of female-perpetrated violence are higher than male-perpetrated (28.3% vs. 21.6%)”
“Among large population samples, 57.9% of inter-partner violence reported was bi-directional, 42% unidirectional; 13.8% of the unidirectional violence was male to female (MFPV), 28.3% was female to male (FMPV).”
“Among school and college samples, percentage of bidirectional violence was 51.9%; 48.1% was unidirectional; 16.2% was male-to-female (MFPV) and 31.9% was female-to-male (FMPV).”
Given that most perpetrators of partner abuse against women are men, the above conclusions can only be consistent with the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of partner abuse against men being female perpetrators.
(B.2) Compilation of Studies by Martin Fiebert (2014)
“Reference Examining Assaults by Women on Their Spouses or Male Partners: An Updated Annotated Bibliography”, by Martin S Fiebert, Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, (Sexuality and Culture, June 2014, 18 (2), 405-467). Quote,
“This annotated bibliography describes 343 scholarly investigations (270 empirical studies and 73 reviews) demonstrating that women are as physically aggressive as men (or more) in their relationships with their spouses or opposite-sex partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 440,850 people.“
There are reams of other peer reviewed academic journal publications backing up the incontrovertible fact that domestic abuse is essentially gender-symmetric, and respectable authors have been insisting as much for decades. The barriers in the way of accepting this well established fact are political and psychosocial. One despairs of ever penetrating the crania of those who will not hear, especially when it remains expedient to be deaf and politically hazardous to be anything else.