Contact: Teri Stoddard
Fatal Error: Flawed Fact Sheets Place Women at Risk
WASHINGTON / October 16, 2013 – Leading domestic violence organizations are disseminating partner abuse information that is inaccurate, misleading, and serve to place women at risk, according to SAVE, a national victim-advocacy organization.
SAVE reviewed the online Fact Sheets of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Futures Without Violence, and the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. SAVE evaluated their statements according to 10 objective criteria of accuracy, balance, and completeness. The review unearthed numerous factual errors (1).
The most serious omission was a lack of mention of mutual partner violence. According to a research summary by the Partner Abuse State of the Knowledge project, nearly three out of five — 58% — incidents of partner aggression are mutual (2). But the three Fact Sheets were entirely silent regarding this widespread scenario.
A Centers for Disease Control survey found that injury was more than twice as likely when the violence is reciprocal — 28.4% — compared to unidirectional violence — 11.6% (3). In some cases, these injuries proved fatal.
The Fact Sheet review also revealed the extent of female-initiated violence is often downplayed. As a result of these distortions, needed services and protections are not available. In the end, women caught in same-sex abusive relationships and male victims in heterosexual relationships become marginalized.
“If we ignore the problem of mutual abuse, victims and offenders often will have nowhere to turn for help,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “Whenever we read about a woman killed by her intimate partner, we should asking if a full understanding of the problem could have prevented the tragedy.”
Each year, approximately 1,500 Americans are killed by their intimate partners, a large majority of whom are female. SAVE urges domestic violence groups to disseminate information that is based on current scientific research (4).
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to domestic violence and sexual assault: www.saveservices.org
- Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling. Rates of bi-directional vs. uni-directional intimate partner violence: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse Vol. 3, No. 2, 2012. http://www.springerpub.com/content/journals/PA-KnowledgeBase-41410.pdf
- Whitaker DJ et al. Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 97, No. 5, 2007.