By Monica Henry
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monica Henry takes issue with a recent article spotlighting Murray Straus' research finding that women initiate "a large proportion" of domestic assaults. Given the known problems with his research methods, why give him the spotlight?
(WOMENSENEWS)--As a victim advocate, I must take issue with the weight that Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett place on research by Murray Straus in their book "The Truth About Girls and Boys."
In an excerpt recently published by Women's eNews, "Women Are Aggressors in Household Violence Too," the authors write: "After a thorough review of the literature on who initiates violence in couples, Murray Straus, of the University of New Hampshire, reports: 'It is painful to have to recognize the high rate of domestic assaults by women. All six major studies which have investigated this topic found that women initiate violence in a large proportion of the cases.'"
That finding, says Jack C. Straton, is part of a longstanding backlash on women's safety. In his article "The Myth of the Battered Husband Syndrome," Straton raises three problems with studies Straus co-authored in 1980 that found nearly equivalent violence rates between men and women:
No 1: Using a set of questions that cannot discriminate between intent and effect and that "equates a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs." This questioning technique, he writes, "labels a mother as violent if she defends her daughter from the father's sexual molestation. It combines categories such as 'hitting' and 'trying to hit' despite the important difference between them." Straton also says that Straus' research looks at only one year. And that "equates a single slap by a woman to a man's 15 year history of domestic terrorism."
No. 2: Straus interviewed only one partner, while other studies have found that partners' accounts of violence did not match.
No. 3: Straus' study "excluded incidents of violence that occur after separation and divorce," yet these account for nearly 80 percent of spouse-on-spouse assaults, with a male perpetrator 93.3 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
(For the footnotes on all this read Straton's full piece.)
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