Domestic Violence Statistics

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I was reading Tara Brach's True Refuge. I loved her book 'Radical Acceptance' but found a suspicious statistic concering Domestic Violence. Sadly she seems to have accepted the hysterical 'facts' which falsely villify men. I wrote to her via but don't really expect a response. What to do?

Domestic Violence Statistics

Hi Tara,

'Radical Acceptance' was recommended to me by a friend many years ago and loved it. In turn I have recommended it to many of my friends. I was also happy to hear of your new book, 'True Refuge'. I found it most helpful until I got to the section on domestic violence and read on page 142, that 'the conservative AMA estimates that more than 30% of all married women, as well as 30% of all pregnant women, have been beaten by their spouses.' In the past I have noted that there are numerous citations which vilify men and which are generally pure fiction. I would appreciate it if you could cite your source for this claim so that I can investigate its accuracy.

From my own readings, I estimate that in our culture at this time in domestic relations men and women are about equally likely to be victims (and victimizers). This is certainly not true in public where men are significantly more inclined to violence and, hence, more likely to be both injured and injuree. One of the earlier studies which support this is available on line and can be a good starting point

An example of an obviously incorrect claim which vilifies men is: "Domestic violence results in the death of an average of four women every day in the United States, and is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and economic groups, and transcends all social barriers (Mills, 1998)." Mills, L. (1998). Mandatory arrest and prosecution policies for domestic violence. Criminal Justice and Behavior 25:306-318

Further investigation reveals: Novello, A., Rosenberg, M., Saltzman, L., & Shosky, J. (1992 Jun 17). From the Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, JAMA, 267(23), 3132 which states 'One study found violence to be ... the leading cause of injuries to women ages 15 through 44 years (Am J Epidemiol. 1991;134:59-68). That study, conducted for a 1-year period by the Philadelphia Injury Prevention Program, examined injuries to women resulting in emergency department visits or death.'. At no point did Ms. Novello imply that this very limited result could be generalized to a much larger population as Ms. Mills claimed. Further, a review of the actual study reveals that it is an exceptionally limited and biased sample, a single impoverished neighborhood rife with drugs and prostitution and there were no controls for non-domestic violence which could be quite significant in this very limited group.

It makes me sad when people vilify men with false claims. Domestic violence is a very serious and complex problem but creating false hysteria and artificial divisions does not aid in the process of addressing the real issues. I hope that in the future you will not me misled by these false claims but will instead approach the problem with a more compassionate response.

Response from Tara's Office

The statistic was quoted on pg 44 of Peter Levine's book, "Waking the Tiger". More on this theme is here: Hope this might help clarify. Best wishes, Janet

My Response to Tara's Office

Hi Tara (and Janet),

Thanks for the quick response. I was surprised and pleased to get a response, but was disappointed as well. If I understand correctly, you know that your 'facts' are wrong, i.e. that the governing body of the A.M.A. has not passed any resolution which states what you claim, but you don't care.

I could with equal veracity write that 'the A.M.A. states that women and blacks do not have the brain capacity to be doctors or engage in other intellectually demanding professions such as therapist or author of books on meditation' (the last one is a bit of a stretch, but I had to throw it in as it is so absurd). Of course any well read person will know that those old papers have long been refuted just as they will know that those 'facts' cited by the Clark County Prosecutors are misstatements and exaggerations and equally false.

In the particularly extreme claims by Ms. Mills (cited previously) it seems that she intentionally misquoted the Surgeon General's rather facile comments committing academic fraud, effectively lying. I assume that the authors who wrote the papers degrading blacks and women were misguided, but honest, writing the truth as they saw it. I have difficulty with today's 'feminists' such as Ms. Mills who seem to have knowingly falsified their 'facts' as well as the countless others who repeat those false aspersions.

It has been my experience that when I call their attention to the false aspersions vilifying men (such as the Clark County Prosecutors office), they don't care. They simply note that they are making correct citations and don't care that the original source of their citation was a lie, long refuted. However, I imagine that the women and black degrading authors also would have continued with their degradations even if someone had demonstrated the error of their methodology.

I am especially sad that you, whom I have long respected as a loving and compassionate author, don't care that you are repeating false aspersions against a group of people. I hope you will reconsider. Wishing you all the best,

Brian Click here to see the next rambling tale.

This page was last updated on August 13, 2013