Men: Hidden Victims of Domestic Violence
When most people think of domestic violence, they think of men abusing women. While that stereotype is often true, many women are also guilty of violence against their partners.
It happened just last week when Mary Delgado, a former NFL cheerleader and contestant on the reality TV show "The Bachelor," was arrested in Seminole, Florida, for attacking her fiance Byron Velvick. The couple got into an argument, and Delgado became violent, striking Velvick in the chest and face, splitting his lip. Though Velvick reportedly did not want to press charges, police arrived and arrested Delgado.
In January 2006, the wife of Indianapolis Colts cornerback Nick Harper stabbed her husband with a knife during an argument. According to police, Daniell Harper got a knife from a kitchen drawer and began waving it over her husband as he lay in bed at their Indianapolis home.
In April 2002, actress Tawny Kitaen, wife of Cleveland Indians pitcher Chuck Finley, was charged with domestic violence for beating her husband. Finley did not call the police, but a third party did after seeing the blood and bruises on Finley from his wife's attack.
Of course, this is just a small sample of cases; most women who attack and abuse their boyfriends and husbands are not famous, and neither are their victims. Domestic violence by women is very underreported. Many men are reluctant to admit that they were abused by a woman, and unless the injuries are serious or a third party intervenes, the man may simply put up with it.
Studies have shown that women assault men about as often as men assault women. While men tend to cause more damage because on average they are stronger, not all men are bigger than their partners, and women can even the odds with weapons such as knives, high heels, and sharp nails.
Men may also fear that if they fight back in self-defense, they themselves will be accused of abuse because of society's assumption that men are always the aggressor.
There are hundreds or thousands of battered women's shelters across the country, but few if any shelters for battered men who may need a safe place to stay.
In recent years, police officers have become more aware of male domestic violence victims, and many men are more willing to come forward. Stereotypes can be misleading, and domestic violence is a serious crime that should not be tolerated whether the victim is male or female.
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Benjamin Radford is LiveScience's Bad Science columnist. He is author of "Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us." This and other books can be found on his website.
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