1 in 5 men report committing domestic violence

The prevalence of intimate partner violence is higher than that of diabetes. Prevention methods must change

Published September 16, 2014 3:09PM (EDT)


Ray Rice did not report his own history of violence against his significant other until he was forced to. That might be one of the only things that distinguishes him from the one in five U.S. males who does report committing violence against a spouse or partner, according to a new report. One in five. That makes reported domestic violence more prevalent than diabetes; consider the implications for domestic violence that goes unacknowledged by offenders.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, show that men who commit physically violent acts against their partners tend to exhibit a series of specific warning signs when they go for routine medical exams. These indicators could be important keys to stopping cycles of domestic abuse, according to the study's lead author, Vijay Singh, a clinical lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"Most of our efforts to prevent intimate partner violence have focused on screening and improving outcomes for women who are victims, because their health and well-being is our priority," Singh said. "Our research shows that male perpetrators of intimate partner violence seek routine medical services, and they have physical symptoms that are common reasons patients seek medical care. This suggests that we may be missing an important opportunity in the primary care setting to identify their aggressive behavior and potentially intervene."

An important takeaway from the study is something that survivor advocacy organizations have been trying to reinforce for years: domestic abusers are not just people we see on the news; they are not just the Ray Rices who get caught on tape. Twenty percent of American men report "pushing, grabbing, shoving, throwing something, slapping or hitting, kicking, biting, beating up, choking, burning or scalding, or threatening a partner with a knife or gun." But no doubt more than 20 percent are responsible for the roughly 320,000 outpatient health visits and 1,200 deaths among women due to intimate partner violence that occur in the U.S. each year.

"When people think of men who abuse their partners, they often think of violent people who they have never come across," Singh said. "However, our study showed one out of every five men in the U.S. reported physical violence toward an intimate partner. It's likely that we've all met these men in our daily environment. This is an issue that cuts across all communities, regardless of race, income, or any other demographics."

By Jenny Kutner

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Domestic Abuse Domestic Violence Intimate Partner Violence Ray Rice Research Study University Of Michigan