Women Engage In Domestic Violence As Much As Men?

Women engage in domestic violence as much as men?

Women engage in domestic violence as much as men? Photo: Kelly Brook laughing on TV about punching her boyfriends in the face in separate incidents

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the studies that reveal women engage in domestic violence as much as men, and explore our attitudes to women hitting men.

First a quick update:

“You’re wrong  about the  Ray Rice video”
The media and public became outraged by the second video of Ray  Rice hitting  his wife, but the revealing video was the first showing him without concern for her when she  was unconscious. https://patrickwanis.com/blog/wrong-ray-rice-video/

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Now, let’s talk about the studies that reveal women engage in domestic violence as much as men, and explore our attitudes to women hitting men.

Is domestic violence a gender issue?

John Wayne, the epitome of rugged masculinity, was beaten by his wife Conchita Martinez; Humphrey Bogart who played the cool masculine male, ranked as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema, was battered by his wife Mayo Methot; Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary broke his nose with a lump of wood because he didn’t put enough wood on the fire; Christian Slater’s first wife Ryan Haddon Slater, threw a whisky glass at him, it shattered against his head and he needed 20 stitches around his ear and neck; Phil Hartman was murdered by his abusive and battering wife.

Before we go any further, with the exception of extreme cases such as the murder of Phil Hartman by his wife and the mutilation of John Bobbitt by wife Lorena, please note that when men engage in domestic violence, they are more likely to seriously injure their partner and, women are the greater victim of domestic violence.

International research suggests that almost 50% of domestic violence is committed against men.

“It turns out that in close relationships, women are plenty aggressive. Women are if anything more likely than men to perpetrate domestic violence against romantic partners, everything from a slap in the face to assault with a deadly weapon. Women also do more child abuse than men, though that’s hard to untangle from the higher amount of time they spend with children. Still, you can’t say that women avoid violence toward intimate partners…Women don’t hit strangers. The chances that a woman will, say, go to the mall and end up in a knife fight with another woman are vanishingly small, but there is more such risk for men.”
– Roy F. Baumeister, Florida State University psychology professor Roy F. Baumeister, 2007

John Archer, professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire and president of the International Society for Research on Aggression, in 2000 analyzed studies of 34,000 men and women in the US and UK dating back to 1972. He found that women lash out more frequently than their husbands or boyfriend, female aggression tends to involve pushing, slapping and hurling objects, and; men made up 40% of the victims in the cases that he studied.

The first point is that violence between parents is damaging to children who witness the violence. According to research, in 90% of domestic violence incidents in family households, children were in the same or the next room.

Children who witness domestic violence are emotionally and psychologically scarred experiencing fear, anger, sadness, confusion, isolation, helplessness, powerlessness and guilt since they subconsciously blame themselves (children are egocentric – they believe they are the center of the universe and therefore the cause of their parents’ behaviors, emotions and responses.)

Children who witness domestic violence will engage in aggressive behavior or will find ways of escaping the emotional pain – self-harming or acting out with drugs and promiscuous behavior.

Children who grew up around domestic violence, even if that violence is in the form of scratching, slapping and kicking, will repeat that learned behavior by concluding that is the way people express themselves in relationships and/or that it is okay for a woman to hit a man and vice versa. Alternatively, they can grow up to become victims of abuse themselves, depending on their temperament, subconscious conclusions and interpretation of the violence and, with whom they identify the most – the abuser or the victim.

Second, when women lash out and become violent they are encouraging violence as well as demonstrating by their behavior that the way to respond to intense emotions, frustration and anger is with violence.

A 2013 study by Domestic Violence Victoria, Australia, revealed that it was women who tended to blame the victim slightly more than men did. Blaming the victim encourages and gives approval to violence by saying he/she deserved it, he/she provoked it.

Women who argue ‘he deserved the slap’ are saying that there is justification for violence.

British actress and model, Kelly Brook, trivialized domestic violence and then blamed the victims.

In excerpts she released from her autobiography, Brook revealed that she had punched in the face, two of her former partners, Jason Statham and Danny Cipriani, in separate incidents.

Kelly Brook said “Men are such  pigs”, and when asked about the violence against her former boyfriends, she blamed them – she giggled, smiled and guffawed as she said “I get that fiery passion from my parents. I’m not going to do that in the future, I’m just going to pick more wisely in the men I be with.” Click to read more.

Kelly  Brook’s comments would  be equivalent to Ray Rice saying that it was Janay Rice’s fault that he hit her and he won’t do it again because next time he will choose a better wife, and, therefore he won’t have reason to hit her. We would never accept that!

We cannot end domestic violence nor reduce societal violence by simply saying “Real men don’t hit women” without also addressing violent women.

For example: February 17, 2015 –  “Princess Love flew off the handle and attacked her boyfriend Ray J, who is said to have sustained broken ribs, a busted lip and a torn ACL. Police took Princess Love into custody, and charged her with domestic abuse and battery.” Ray J reportedly paid her bail and $10,000 in legal fees.

What is the definition of a real woman in terms of violence in personal relationships?

Can we truly say that real men don’t hit women but real women can hit men?

Why is violence only measured by the extent of the potential injuries one person can inflict on another?

It is not okay for a boy to hit, kick, scratch or slap your young daughter; is it okay though, for a girl to hit, kick, scratch or slap your young daughter?

“People tend to see violence as caused primarily by the characteristics of individual men using violence. This is in contrast to the evidence, which shows that violence is learned behaviour and that social factors such as the media, laws and the attitudes of others are strong influences.”  – Click to read more.

We laugh when a woman hits or slaps a man as did the media and late night TV show hosts when Solange Knowles kicked and hit Jay-Z in an elevator. He did not retaliate – his bodyguard held her back as she continued trying to kick him. https://elitedaily.com/life/culture/why-the-media-condemned-chris-brown-and-laughed-about-solange-knowles/594709/

“But women’s violence has become increasingly legitimised. There is a sense now that it’s OK to ‘slap the bastard’.” – Dr Anne Campbell, psychologist at the University of Durham

Notice what happens in this video – a social experiment where two actors play out roles of gender violence. When the man assaults the woman, bystanders of both genders intervene; when the woman equally assaults the man, bystanders of both genders do nothing, except to laugh and view it as comedy or worse, a display of female empowerment.


“It’s a complex argument but we do get more women aggressing against male partners than men against female partners…The view is that women are acting in self-defence but that is not true – 50 per cent of those who initiate aggression are women. This sends a dangerous message to men because we are saying they are not going to get any legal redress so their option instead is to hit back.” – Dr Malcolm George, a lecturer in neuroscience at London University.

In 2011-2012, 1.2 million women experienced domestic violence in the UK; so too did 800,000 men according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK. Note, too, that men generally won’t report violence by women because of fear of humiliation by male police officers and shame in society. 

“Violence is violence, no matter who it’s aimed at.” – ManKindInitiative.

Finally, the only real way to end domestic violence in the long term is for adults to stop modeling violent behavior to their children. And the way to stop modeling violent behavior is for both men and women to learn emotional intelligence, to learn how to control their emotions and express them in a more productive and healthier manner which strengthens relationships rather than destroys people’s bodies, psyche and souls.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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    Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    Again, another excellent article Patrick. The bottom line is that violence is a reactionary response to feelings of anger, hurt, shame or fear and if we had the emotional intelligence to recognize that, we would realize that being violent is not the way to address the issue. The problem is that Society views the fact that women slapping or kicking a man is less likely to actually hurt him (which is true in a technical sense) so it can be scoffed at or downplayed. This is not an option, we need to learn to stop handling our problems with violence in our Society and what Society tells us is that different variations of violence are okay. Female violence towards men is likely to actually hurt them so that’s okay but male violence towards women is more likely to kill them so it’s a no-no. But the truth is that neither is a NO NO. Finally, women also misinterpret male boundaries with violent actions. Sometimes a woman smacks a man or hits him on the back (not forcefully) because she thinks that this is the way to get his attention or make him listen to her better but she doesn’t realize that for a man, being hit (with any kind of force) is akin to a direct assault and he instinctively feels the need to defend himself. Instead of paying more attention to her or listening better, he hits her back with ten times more force than she does. A lot of domestic violence cases result from these kinds of situations. I should know, I had to spend my whole childhood dealing with domestic violence and living in neighborhoods where domestic violence was rampant. If only people had discussed the idea of having emotional intelligence to handle conflict back then!

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