Assault and Abuse Against Women Epidemic

Echoing a long-held canard that activists on these issues are just uptight, a member of the opposition suggested yesterday that we lighten up. It’s true that some pornographers, such as Hustler, think domestic violence is funny. However, in light of the facts, we don’t think “lighten up” is the right attitude. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports the following:

  • 4 million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average 12-month period.
  • On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
  • 92% of women say that reducing domestic violence and sexual assault should be at the top of any formal efforts taken on behalf of women today.
  • 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.
  • 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Some estimates say almost 1 million incidents of violence occur against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend per year.
  • For 30% of women who experience abuse, the first incident occurs during pregnancy.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.
  • 74% of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while they were at work.

Infoplease relates these findings from National Violence
against Women Survey
, July 2000:

Domestic Violence Pervasive
According to the National Violence against Women (NVAW) survey, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, intimate partner violence is pervasive in U.S. society. Nearly 25% of surveyed women and 7.5% of surveyed men said they were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime. Stalking by intimates is more prevalent than previously thought, exceeding previous nonscientific “guesstimates” of stalking in the general population. Almost 5% of surveyed women and 0.6% of surveyed men reported being stalked by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime.

Women Bear the Brunt of the Violence
Women experience more intimate partner violence than do men. The NVAW survey found that women are significantly more likely than men to report being victims of rape, physical assault, or stalking than men. Women also experience more chronic and injurious physical assaults at the hands of intimate partners…

Emotional Abuse Frequently Accompanies Physical Abuse
Violence perpetrated against women by intimates is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior. The survey found that women whose partners were jealous, controlling, or verbally abusive were significantly more likely to report being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by their partners, even when other sociodemographic and relationship characteristics were controlled. Indeed, having a verbally abusive partner was the variable most likely to predict that a woman would be victimized by an intimate partner. These findings support the theory that violence perpetrated against women by intimates is often part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control…

Domestic Violence Underreported to Police
Most intimate partner victimizations are not reported to the police. Only approximately one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalkings perpetrated against female respondents by intimates were reported to the police. Even fewer rapes, physical assaults, and stalkings perpetrated against male respondents by intimates were reported. The majority of victims who did not report their victimization to the police thought the police would not or could not do anything on their behalf.

See also Testimony in Minneapolis: “Pornography is probably the most extreme
example of anti-women socialization that men receive in this society”

Added on 3/3/07: See also the National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet on Domestic Violence:

It is estimated that, regarding violent behavior toward females within the context of an intimate relationship, only 20% of all rapes, 25% of all physical assaults, and 50% of all stalking are ever reported to the police [Tjaden & Thoennes study]. Victims may be reluctant to come forward for a variety of reasons. First, they may fear retaliation from their partner. They may have been directly threatened that if they tell anyone they will be killed, or they may just fear the worst. Second, there is shame associated with choosing a partner who could be violent, and there is shame associated with staying with a violent partner. Finally, some victims may have tried to seek help from the police, the courts, or others and been dissatisfied with the help they received.

9 thoughts on “Assault and Abuse Against Women Epidemic

  1. It’s pretty silly to pretend that Peter was suggesting that you
    lighted up *about domestic violence.* He wasn’t. He was suggesting that you lighted up about pornography. And about the “head” game. It’s a joke, and if you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t be in the lobbying, activism, and publicity businesses.

    And it’s not really a “canard,” because you obviously are pretty
    uptight. Otherwise, why would you have banned my IP address, forcing
    me to post this from a neighbor’s computer, just for disagreeing with you once too often?

    It’s also pretty silly to pretend that Peter doesn’t know that
    domestic violence is a huge problem. It is. The question is, does this problem have anything to do with porn? None of the evidence you’ve provided shows that there is a legitimate causal connection between domestic violence and porn. You’ve certainly shown that people who
    commit domestic violence tend also to like porn, but I bet they also like donuts and football and card games, too. The fact that they tend to like that stuff doesn’t mean that football or card games cause domestic violence. It doesn’t show anything.

    So the fact that people who commit domestic violence also like porn doesn’t show that porn is causing the domestic violence. Lots of things are causing it. Violence in the mainstream media, which *by definition* is more prevalent than porn, probably has something to do with it, right? So does the apparent prevalence of abuse a generation ago. It’s well-known that abused kids become abusive adults, right?

    Finally, it’s pretty silly to suggest that the topic of domestic
    violence was germaine to the conversation you were having with Peter yesterday. I thought you guys were talking about whether you should publish the Goldberg’s address, whether he should publish yours, free speech, and the prior existence of “brutal porn” in your neighborhood.
    He didn’t mention domestic violence at all, and neither did you until he told you to lighten up about something else. What gives?

  2. Also, I wanted to draw your attention to your FAQ, where you say, “There’s no basis for assuming anonymous comments on the Internet accurately reflect the views of the citizenry as a whole. There’s no accountability. For all we know, many of the comments that are supposedly from different people could be from the same person.”

    This passage is a fairly clear statement of why anecdotal evidence is unreliable. I knew you could understand. There’s no basis for assuming that, for any particular story, it reflects the typical case. It’s not the anonymity or lack of accountability that causes the failure, though, it’s the lack of statistical information about the typical case. If you knew through carefully collected and honestly reported statistics what the typical case is like, you could then use any number of anecdotes to illustrate the point. Unfortunately, as you’ve pointed
    out several times, no good statistics exist concerning your topic. Nor are any likely to become available. As you point out, they’re too difficult to gather. Too bad.

    Even your petition, which you claim contains the names of slightly more than 1,000 residents of Northampton, doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the community as a whole. That document contains signatures of approximately one thirtieth of the community. That’s not very much.

  3. Porn is clearly a significant factor in domestic violence, just as smoking is a significant factor in lung cancer (although it took cigarette makers many years to admit it).

    Research suggests that people’s attitudes toward women and sexual violence are pliable. The bad education of porn can and should be countered with better messages about sex and love.

  4. For argument’s sake, at least, I’ll accept the notion that porn is a significant factor b/c of its viewpoints you believe are harmful. But if that is a proper basis for the de facto censorship of porn as you advocate, then there’s alot to be banned, including but not limited to many a TV commercial and video games. And don’t claim you are merely educating; you are not. You advocate and support any measure which will minimize the chances that people will be exposed to porn. It seems as if you’ve never meet an anti-porn law or regulation that you didn’t like.

  5. I respectfully disagree that porn plays as big a role in domestic violence as you seem to believe. First, pervasive domestic violence existed in our society long before the advent of pornorgraphy, and still thrives today in the most sexuality conservative societies, perhaps more so than in our own. Second, stress, alcohol and other emotional and developmental difficulties come into play more often than porn. Nagging even (and the inablity to responsiblity deal with it) causes more domestic violence than porn, and a sexually unfilled partner in a relationship is far more likely to cheat or restore to erotic than to try to beat sex out of their partners, these days, contrary to what might have been the case even less than one hundred years ago. If you want to prevent domestic violence, you are barking up the wrong tree.

    On the other hand, I do appreciate your desire to help those who are in harmful situations in the porn industry and as consumers who are addicted, but you seem to fail to understand that the culprit is not the porn itself, but the personalities involved.

  6. That’s false. We do not support the ordinances advocated by Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, which would have made pornographers liable for certain harms their wares inspired. (However, if a performer is harmed in the making of porn, or if valid consent was not obtained, then we certainly support holding the pornographer liable.)

    Our main goal is to encourage people to positively choose the ‘beautiful’, as you might put it, through awareness, rather than goad them to it through coercive state action. As has been observed, Prohibition was not particularly popular or successful.

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