Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Domestic Violence / Child Abuse / and Murder -
It Ain't Just a "Guy Thing"

research by Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.


Murder, She Wrote:

A survey of murder cases disposed in 1988 in the courts of large urban counties indicated that 16 percent of murder victims were members of the defendant's family. (Dawson John M. And Patrick A. Langan, Ph.D., 1994, "Murder in Families," U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C.)

Source: U.S. Department of Justice NCJ-143498

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Among murder victims, 6.5 percent were killed by their spouses, and 3.5 percent by their parents, 1.9 percent by their own children, 1.5 percent by their siblings, and 2.6 percent by some other family member. (Ibid.)

One-third of family murders involved a female as a killer. In sibling murders, females were 15 percent of killers, and in murders of parents, 18 percent. But in spouse murders, women represented 41 percent of killers. In murders of their offspring, women accounted for 55 percent of killers. (Ibid.)

There are differences in outcomes of cases where a woman is accused of killing her husband and those where a man is accused of killing his wife:

  • In spousal murder cases in large urban counties in 1988, women defendants were more likely than men defendants to have their cases-- *diverted, rejected or dismissed (12% vs. 9%) *result in an acquittal (13% vs. 1%).

  • Of those accused of killing their spouses-- *41% of the men and 31% of the women were convicted at trial *46% of the men and 38% of the women pleaded guilty.

  • Persons convicted of killing their spouses were about as likely as other murderers to be convicted on the most serious arrest charge

  • For convicted murderers, the most serious conviction offense was-- *first-degree murder for 18% of the women who killed their husbands and 24% of the men who killed their wives

  • *voluntary/nonnegligent manslaughter for 54% of the women who killed their husband and 37% of the men who killed their wives.

    The study of murder cases in large urban counties in 1988 found some sentencing differences between murderers convicted of killing their spouses and other murderers:

  • *Of the men convicted of killing their wives, 94% were sentenced to prison, including 15% who were sentenced to life terms. Women who killed their husbands were less likely to receive a prison sentence: 81% were sentenced to prison, including 8% who received a life term.

  • *Spousal murderers were more likely than nonfamily murderers to be sentenced to probation rather than incarceration (9% vs. 3%). Of the women convicted of killing their husbands, 16% were sentenced to probation compared to 5% of the men who killed their wives.

    Of those convicted of spouse murders, men receive longer prison sentences than women:

  • In large urban counties, the average prison sentence length on a murder or nonnegligent manslaughter conviction (excluding life sentences or the death penalty) was-- *17.5 years for men convicted of killing their wives * 6.2 years for women convicted of killing their husbands.

    * * * * *

    The background characteristics of prisoners who victimized intimates were similar to those of prisoners convicted of similar crimes who victimized nonintimates

    Female prisoners are more likely than male prisoners to have harmed an intimate.

    In 1991, of the State prisoners incarcerated for violent crimes excluding robbery, over a quarter of the female prisoners and a tenth of the male prisoners harmed an intimate. About a third of the female prisoners incarcerated for homicide killed their husband, ex-husband, or boyfriend.


    In any given year, nationwide, men are the preeminent victims of homicide (1976-96: 76.3% - 340,687) compared with women (1976-96: 23.7% - 105,175).

    Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook, 1998: "Violence by Intimates":

    In the two decades 1976-1996, nearly 52,000 men and women have been murdered by those with whom they shared an intimate relationship.

    The distribution of categories of murderers was similar for the male and female victims of intimate murder between 1976 and 1996:

  • During the two decades, 20,311 men were intimate murder victims -

    62% killed by wives,
    4% by ex-wives,
    34% by non-marital partners such as girlfriends.

  • During the two decades, 31,260 women were intimate murder victims -

    64% killed by husbands,
    5% by ex-husbands,
    32% by non-marital partners such as boyfriends.

    The New England Journal of Medicine -- February 17, 2000 -- Vol. 342, No. 7

    To the Editor:

    In their article on domestic violence, Eisenstat and Bancroft ignore a considerable body of evidence, most recently reconfirmed by Schafer et al., (1) that demonstrates that men and women are equally likely to be victims of domestic violence. What differs markedly are the consequences to the victim. Women are far more likely to suffer death or serious injury. Nonetheless, it is inaccurate to state that "more than 90 percent of cases involve women being abused by men." Furthermore, the assertion of rising prevalence is not substantiated in the literature; what has changed is our awareness of and willingness to act against this enormous social problem.

    Although "neither victims nor batterers fit a distinct personality or socioeconomic profile," there clearly are risk factors for domestic violence that Eisenstat and Bancroft chose not to discuss. These factors include lower socioeconomic status, lower educational level, urban residence, a history of violent behavior, younger age, and a relationship other than marriage between the abuser and the victim (that is, they are separated, divorced, or have never been married).

    Francis X. Brickfield, M.D.
    3910 Tallow Tree Court
    Fairfax, VA 22033


    1. Schafer J, Caetano R, Clark CL. Rates of intimate partner violence in the United States. Am J Public Health 1998;88:1702-4.
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    Am J Public Health 1998 Nov;88(11):1702-4

    Rates of intimate partner violence in the United States.

    Schafer J, Caetano R, Clark CL

    Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, OH 45221-0376, USA.

    OBJECTIVES: Estimates of intimate partner violence in the United States based on representative samples have relied on data from one person per household or limited numbers of indicators from both partners. The purpose of this study was to estimate nationwide rates of intimate partner violence with data from both couple members by using a standardized survey instrument, the Conflict Tactics Scale. METHODS: A multistage probability sampling design was used to conduct separate face-to-face interviews in respondents' homes with both members of 1635 representative couples living in the 48 contiguous states. RESULTS: Both partners' reports were used to estimate the following lower- and upper-bound rates: 5.21% and 13.61% for male-to-female partner violence, 6.22% and 18.21% for female-to-male partner violence, and 7.84% to 21.48% for any partner-to-partner violence. CONCLUSIONS: High rates of intimate partner violence in the United States corroborate previous claims that the amount of intimate partner violence is substantial.

    DA*DI: the above research outcomes are nearly identical to those found a decade earlier by Strauss and Geller and others.

    To the Editor:

    The overwhelming body of research points to parity between men and women as perpetrators of intimate violence, yet in their review, Eisenstat and Bancroft cite selectively a small number of articles to bolster the notion that domestic violence is an exercise of male oppression. Most research demonstrates that the rates are roughly equal and that women are more likely to initiate violence than men. (1) The article perpetuates the false notion that men constitute the majority of child abusers, even though federal statistics clearly show that women are the perpetrators of almost 61 percent of child abuse. Women are the perpetrators of 55.3 percent of physical abuse, 71.9 percent of neglect, 78.3 percent of medical neglect, and 57 percent of emotional abuse. Men constitute the majority of perpetrators only of sexual abuse (71.5 percent), but sexual abuse accounts for only 15.3 percent of child abuse. (2)

    Wayne Blackmon, M.D., J.D.
    George Washington University Law School
    Washington, DC 20052


    1. Fiebert MS. References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: an annotated bibliography. Sex Cult 1997;1:273-86.
    Return to Text

    2. Child maltreatment 1996: reports from the states to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, D.C.: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, 1996.


    Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (Not):

    Source: Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence

    Child abuse data submitted to the federal government generally do not include specific information on the relationship of the abuser to the abused.

    However, among those states that do collect such data, biological mothers are much more likely to abuse/neglect their children (68% - 70%) than are biological fathers (30% - 32%).

      Physical abuse was linked to 63% of maltreatment deaths.

      Detailed information from States (7-10) reporting case-level data on victims of substantiated or indicated maltreatment in 1993 found the following:

    • Neglect was the most common form of maltreatment found among all age groups (57%). Younger children (under age 8) were more likely than older children (ages 8-17) to have been neglected (65% vs. 46%).
    • Older victims were more likely than their younger counterparts to have been physically (28% vs. 17%) or sexually abused (18% vs. 9%).
    • Female victims were more likely than males to have experienced sexual abuse (19% vs. 6%) and less likely to have experienced neglect (53% vs. 61%).
    • 50% of deaths resulting from child maltreatment were linked to neglect; 63% were linked to physical abuse.
    • Almost one-half (43%) of all deaths involved children under 1 year and 4 in 5 (81%) were under 4 years.
    • More than one-half (56%) of fatalities were male.

      Over 1,000 children died as a result of maltreatment in 1994

      The 1994 national summary data on substantiated or indicated maltreatment found the following:

    • 53% of victims were female.
    • 59% of victims were white, 27% were black, 10% were Hispanic, and 4% were other races.
    • 20% of victims were age 2 or younger, 53% were age 7 or younger, and 6% were age 16 or older.
    • 4 in 5 perpetrators were parents of the victim.
    • A reported 1,111 children died as the result of maltreatment in 1994.
    • About 13% of victims in substantiated or indicated cases were removed from their homes.

      Most perpetrators were female and under age 40 in 1993

      The 1993 case-level data on perpetrators of substantiated or indicated maltreatment were provided by seven States. This information showed that:

    • 62% of perpetrators were female.
    • Most perpetrators under age 40 were female (65%).
    • 63% of perpetrators were associated with only one victim, 19% were associated with two victims, 10% with three victims, and 8% with four or more victims.

    Comments from the Men's Health Network:

    Many apologists for maternal abuse/neglect claim "opportunity" as a justification for the higher maternal-abuse figures, and with some justification. For instance, a study of inner city child abuse (Lansing) published in a major journal in 1984 indicated that approximately 50% of the confirmed child abuse/neglect was committed by single parent mothers.

    "Opportunity" is somewhat offset by the "you just wait until your father gets home" pressure for a father to punish children for an infraction committed under the mother's supervision.

    The "opportunity" excuse fades further in a 10-year study of confirmed parental child abuse/neglect in a state that awards over 40% "visitation" time to separated noncustodial parents (usually fathers). In that state, prior to the state-wide guideline, 64% of confirmed child abuse was committed by mothers, 36% by fathers. Following implementation of the "visitation" guideline, the gap has widened and now stands at 69%-70% mothers, 30%-31% fathers.

    Few realize that most (70 percent) of all child abuse (at ALL levels of trauma) are caused by women. This, of course, flies in the face of conventional wisdom that women aren't violent.

    Contemporary society focuses so much attention on DV between women and men where - contrary to the politically correct info - the abuse (at ALL levels of violence) is 48% to 52%, respectively, (Steinmetz, Straus and Gelles reported this as early as 1976).

    The reality is that 18,000 children a year are PERMANENTLY disabled from their abuse. The numbers of permanently disabled women from DV situations is a mere handful, by comparison.

    Currently, Women have such tremendous lobbying clout as to be able to literally obfuscate the very real and serious problem of their own violent behavior - to the extent female violence never makes it into the policy sphere. Policymakers don't even consider child abuse to be DV - as evidenced by the dominant discourse centering on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

    The implications of the foregoing are clear. Until we as a society can begin to accept that violence is NOT gender-specific (male), but that it IS limited to a small (approximately 16%) subset of the population, we cannot begin to address meaningful intervention.

    Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.

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