Exaggeration and Resistance in Discussing Domestic Violence

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Exaggerated claims about domestic violence against women contrast sharply with stiff resistance to recognizing domestic violence against men. For example, a scholar who contributed significantly to the Journal of the American Medical Association‘s seminal issue on domestic violence declared in a co-authored book-chapter that spouse abuse (meaning abuse of wives) “results in more than three times as many injuries as auto accidents.”^ Nationally representative injury surveys, conducted for broad public purposes, indicate that this claim greatly exaggerates the extent of spouse abuse. Nonetheless, the same book-chapter dismissed domestic violence against men on the basis of “widely discrepant estimates” “no consistent findings,” “no clinical reports of abused or battered husbands in a medical context” and that the “syndrome of entrapment associated with battering has been identified as a problem only among women.”^ More generally, the extent of domestic violence against men has been a subject of violent scholarly conflict for nearly two decades. At the same time, widely exaggerated claims about domestic violence against women have proliferated in public discourse.

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