Updated 17 September 2014

One in five men reports violence toward partner

A study by the University of Michigan reports that twenty percent of American men admit to violence toward their intimate partner.


One in five men in the U.S. reports violence towards their spouse or significant other, says a new nationally-representative study by the University of Michigan.

Warning signs

The analysis also found that male aggression toward a partner is associated with warning signs that could come up during routine health care visits, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia, in addition to better known risks like substance abuse and a history of either experiencing or witnessing violence as a child.

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and are based on the most recent data available from the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication from 2001-2003. The survey assesses intimate partner violence and characteristics among male perpetrators.

Read: Lawfully wedded punchbag?

“When people think of men who abuse their partners, they often think of violent people who they have never come across, or people they have only heard about in the news,” says lead author Vijay Singh, M.D., MPH, MS, a clinical lecturer in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

“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.”

In the headlines

Domestic violence has become a growing health concern. In the U.S. each year, roughly 320,000 outpatient health visits and 1,200 deaths among women are due to intimate partner violence, and $8.3 billion is spent in related medical and mental health services alone.

Read: Stress from domestic violence affects foetus

The subject has also recently been in the headlines, with the case of NFL running back Ray Rice. The Baltimore Ravens released Rice after a video of him hitting his wife in a casino elevator surfaced in the news.
The U-M study found that more than half of the men who reported violence toward a partner had at least one routine health visit over the last year and nearly one third noted at least one emergency room visit over the last year.

“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. Very little work, however, has been done on how to identify male perpetrators,” says Singh, who is also a member of the University of Michigan Injury Centre and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

“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 behaviour and potentially intervene.”
Definition of intimate partner violence

Singh says further work needs to be done on developing identification and intervention programmes focused to on male aggression toward a partner. 

Read: Facebook saved me from my husband   

The nationally-representative sample included 530 men with an average age of 42. Roughly 78 percent were non-Hispanic white, 56 percent were educated beyond high school and 84 percent were employed.

Intimate partner violence was defined as 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.

Additional Authors: Richard Tolman, Ph.D., Maureen Walton, M.P.H., Ph.D., Stephen Chermack, Ph.D. and Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.

Read more:

Gallery of abuse
Facebook saved me from my husband
Abuse has lasting affect on women


Image: Domestic violence from Shutterstock

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