Longtime Fathers & Families supporter Arnold Robbins, MD, DFAPA, a practicing psychiatrist from Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrote an interesting article for a recent edition of the Psychiatric Times called Newer Perspectives on Domestic Violence (4/1/10). In it he details some of the recent research on domestic violence.
He also discusses the issue of lesbian domestic violence, which is very relevant since domestic violence is traditionally framed as something done only by men to women. Dr. Robbins writes:
Nor is the incidence of DV among lesbian cohorts minimal. In fact, abuse among lesbians occurs with far greater frequency than among heterosexuals (given as 24% by the study above), and far more frequently than male-on-female abuse. Estimates of abuse have ranged between 47% and 73% (Coleman, 1990; Bologna, Waterman, Dawson, 1987; Lie. et al. 1991) among lesbian subjects who responded to questionnaires assessing prevalence of some form of physical, sexual, or emotional-psychological abuse in at least one relationship.
Estimates of verbal abuse in lesbian relationships have been as high as 95% (Kelly & Warshafsky, 1987). About half of lesbian subjects who participated in research surveys indicated they had experienced 10 or more abusive incidents during their relationships, and about three-quarters had experienced 6 or more (Renzetti 1992).
This is worthwhile, but I think it would be more telling to note lesbian DV without emotional/psychological/verbal abuse. Women are much more likely than men to see an argument in terms of abuse, so these lesbian abuse numbers are probably higher than what the average man would report as abuse in a domestic violence study. Thus the numbers are a bit skewed in relation to heterosexual DV. Still, research has long shown that physical domestic violence is as common in lesbian couples as heterosexual ones–more evidence of the fallaciousness of the DV gender paradigm.
Robbins also discusses recent research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. This group reviewed the social and antisocial behavior of more than 800 participants. Robbins writes that their findings include:
o Nearly twice as many women as men said they perpetrated domestic violence in the past year including kicking, biting, or punching their partner, threatening to hit or throw something at their partner, and pushing, grabbing, or shoving their partner.
o A link was found between chronically aggressive adolescents, male or female, and domestic violence at later periods of life.
o Though most investigators find a positive correlation between alcohol/substance abuse and DV, this study did not substantiate that.
o A diagnosis of an episode of major depression was significantly related to committing DV.
o Being on welfare was significantly related to committing DV.
o Having a partner who used drugs heavily, sold drugs, had a history of violence toward others, had an arrest record, or was unemployed was significantly related to committing DV.
o Disorganized neighborhoods where attitudes toward drug sales and violence were favorable also increased person”s likelihood of committing DV.
According to Robbins, in their conclusions, the authors state that “The take home message from this study is that it may be possible to prevent some forms of domestic violence by acting early to address youth violence. Our research suggests the earlier we begin prevention programs, the better, because youth violence appears to be a precursor to other problems including domestic violence.’