The most comprehensive review of the scholarly domestic violence research literature ever conducted concludes, among other things, that women perpetrate physical and emotional abuse, as well as engage in control behaviors, at comparable rates to men. The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project, or PASK, whose final installment was just published in the journal Partner Abuse, is an unparalleled three-year research project, conducted by 42 scholars at 20 universities and research centers, and including information on 17 areas of domestic violence research.
“Over the years, research on partner abuse has become unnecessarily fragmented and politicized,” commented John Hamel, Editor-in-Chief of Partner Abuse and PASK Director. “The purpose of this project is to bring together, in a rigorously evidence-based, transparent and methodical manner, existing knowledge about partner abuse, with reliable, up-to-date research that can easily be accessed by anyone. PASK is grounded in the premises that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not to their own facts; that these facts should be available to everyone, and that domestic violence intervention and policy ought to be based upon these facts rather than ideology and special interests.”
Among PASK’s findings are that, except for sexual coercion, men and women perpetrate physical and non-physical forms of abuse at comparable rates, most domestic violence is mutual, women are as controlling as men, domestic violence by men and women is correlated with essentially the same risk factors, and male and female perpetrators are motivated for similar reasons.
“Although research confirms that women are more impacted by domestic violence,” stated Hamel, “these findings recommend important intervention and policy changes, including a need to pay more attention to female-perpetrated violence, mutual abuse, and the needs of male victims.”
Hamel also argues that men are not only disproportionately arrested in domestic violence cases, but sometimes arrested for arbitrary reasons, citing, for example, that police often arrest the bigger and stronger party in cases where the perpetrator is unclear. “Such policies are not only ineffective but violate people’s civil rights,” Hamel concludes. “People in the domestic violence field say that ‘it’s all about the victims.’ Well, the victim is not always the one hit, but sometimes the one arrested.”
Read more about the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project, or visit the world’s largest domestic violence research database at http://www.domesticviolenceresearch.org for free access to thousands of pages summarizing 1,700 peer-reviewed studies.
Watch an interview clip with John Hamel discussing PASK’s key findings and policy implications.