The Other Side of the Abuse Story


Community columnist Stewart Shaw’s recent article “Working to end abuse” is based on patently false information, lacks even the pretense of objectivity and violates the very concept of journalistic integrity. This article amounts to nothing more than ideological propaganda.

The article states, “Recognize that abuse is a male problem, not a female problem. Generally, women don’t attack their partners — men do. Female-perpetrated violence against other people constitutes a tiny fraction of the total. And men and boys physically, mentally, verbally and sexually assault other men and boys, as well as women.”

This comment defies long-established facts as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 150 scholarly studies spanning two decades and countless science-based studies. Moreover, the complete reverse is the truth.

The CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” from May 19, 2006, reported that high school girls physically attacked their boyfriends at an almost nearly identical rate as high school boys have attacked their girlfriends. The girl’s attack rate, however, was the slightly higher rate. The nationally representative survey was conducted in 2003 on almost 15,000 students in grades 7 through 12.

The survey defines dating violence as hitting, slapping or physically hurting the partner on purpose. This report also confirmed that more than 100 previous studies have found females are equally likely as males to engage in domestic violence and again, the female rate was slightly higher in most of these studies: (www.

The most comprehensive research into dating violence worldwide is the University of New Hampshire’s Family Research Laboratory’s ongoing International Dating Violence study — covering 19 countries at first, then expanded to 32 — which finds that the median rate of female-on-male dating violence (29.2 percent) is actually higher than the rate of male-on-female dating violence (24.7 percent).

Even when limiting the investigation to severe violence, female perpetrators predominated at 9.4 percent as compared to 9 percent male perpetrators. (See:  and mas2/ID41E2.pdf).

The Trends in Intimate Violence Intervention conference was held in New York City from May 22-25. Several scientists presented studies and papers that show it is males who comprise the largest victim’s group where intimate partner violence and dating violence is concerned, and women are the largest perpetrator group.

Recently, Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Lab at the University of New Hampshire, completed an international study on partner violence among university students. His queries of more than 13,600 students revealed that the most common instance of partner violence is mutual abuse.

The second most common situation of partner violence is when the female is the perpetrator against the male, he said. This leaves the reverse — when males abuse females — to be the least common in practice, although the most common in publicity.

However, despite the overwhelming evidence that men represent the largest victims group, there is no funding for support or services for male victims of abuse or their children. All they get is a piece of paper. This has resulted in discrimination suits in California, with suits pending in several other states.

To further complicate matters, the Violence Against Women Act states, “Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title.” VAWA 2005, Section 40002(b)(8).

The current appropriations bills that fund the Violence Against Women Act programs and regulate the Victims of Crime Act, which are going before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education, request not one cent be allocated for the majority of abuse victims, who are males.

Even given overwhelming facts that men comprise the majority group of abuse victims, that the Constitution requires they receive equal protection under the law, and VAWA itself mandates support and services be provided to male victims of abuse, one has to question the wisdom and motives behind the construct of the appropriations legislation.

Aside from the process basing its justifications on patently false or outdated statistics, it will create a legislative system that discriminates against a subject class who comprise the majority of abuse victims.

Moreover, our “anti-abuse” programs are clearly dangerous to safety and well-being of their children.

Intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence, and dating violence are the two areas where the most false and/or misleading information is produced and disseminated into our daily lives. The major result of this is the most widespread, systemic abuses of human and civil rights since the abolition of slavery.

The Winona Daily News is now among those causing serious harm to more than half the victims of intimate partner violence and dating violence in our society by ignoring established facts and publishing false information.

Terri Lynn Tersak is president and CEO of the True Equality Network, which is concerned about respecting accuracy in domestic abuse reporting.