Researcher: What Happens When Abused Men Call the Police?

I recently attended the excellent Los Angeles domestic violence conference “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention.”

The conference featured many domestic violence dissidents–researchers and clinicians who do not believe that the mainstream domestic violence establishment and its “men as perpetrators/women as victims” conceptual framework is properly serving those involved in family violence.

Denise Hines, Ph.D. is a research assistant psychology professor at Clark University and a research associate at the Family Research Laboratory and Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. At the conference, Dr. Hines detailed her findings on what happens when abused men seek help by calling the police. About a third of all domestic violence injuries are suffered by men.

Hines’ study included 302 heterosexual men, ages 18 to 59, who had been in a relationship lasting at least one month within the previous year, had been physically assaulted by their female partners within the previous year, and had sought outside assistance/support. The median age of the abused men was 40, and the median age of their abusive female partners was 38. The relationships had lasted on average a little over eight years, and 73% of them had minor children. About two-thirds were married, separated, or divorced.

The men in the survey who called the police found them to be “very helpful” in only 19% of cases, and “not at all helpful” in 50% of cases. More importantly, when an abused man called the police, the police were more likely to arrest him than to arrest his abusive female partner. The men who called the police were arrested in 26% of cases, whereas their abusive partners were arrested in only 17%. Half the time the police arrested nobody, despite the abuse, and in 8% of the cases they arrested both the abuser and the victim.

In those cases where the police did identify the abused man’s female partner as the aggressor, in 29% of cases, they refused to arrest the abusive woman. In 39% of these cases they said that there was nothing they could do and left.

One abused man said:

The [police] first response was to arrest me, even after she turned on them, they did nothing.

To read all reports from the Conference, please click here.

From Ideology to Inclusion 2009 featured some of the world’s leading experts on domestic violence, many of whom serve on the Editorial Board of the new peer-reviewed academic journal, Partner Abuse, published by Springer Publishing Company. The conference was presented by the California Alliance for Families & Children and co-sponsored by The Family Violence Treatment & Education Association. Some of you may remember that I also wrote extensively about the 2008 conference–to learn more, click here.

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