The violence we ignore McNair tragedy underscores fact that men are often victimized by wives and girlfriends
By Ned Holstein and Glenn Sacks
July 16, 2009
Police recently concluded that former Baltimore Ravens star Steve McNair was shot dead in his sleep by girlfriend Sahel Kazemi in a murder-suicide. Yet while there are more than 10,000 media entries on Google News for "Steve McNair," only a few of them mention the phrase "domestic violence."
Violence by women against their male partners is often ignored or not recognized as domestic violence. Law enforcement, the judicial system, the media and the domestic violence establishment are still stuck in the outdated "man as perpetrator/woman as victim" conception of such violence. Yet more than 200 studies have found that women initiate at least as much violence against their male partners as vice-versa. Men make up about a third of domestic violence injuries and deaths in heterosexual relationships. Research shows that women often compensate for a disadvantage in physical strength by employing weapons and the element of surprise - just as Ms. Kazemi did.
The most recent large-scale study of domestic violence was conducted by Harvard researchers and published in 2007 in the American Journal of Public Health. The study, which surveyed 11,000 men and women, found that, according to both men's and women's accounts, 50 percent of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal (involving both parties). In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70 percent of the time.