The Myth of the "Battered Husband Syndrome"

EuroPROFEM - The European Men Profeminist Network 


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34en_vio ... Violence


The Myth of the "Battered Husband Syndrome"


By Jack C. Straton, Ph.D.
Department of Physics
Portland State University

The Scheme:


 The Male Lobby wants to divert money from shelters for battered women to fund services for men.


The Goal:


 To regain male power and control over women by making sure that more women are turned away from shelters for lack of space than at present (eight of nine in Portland).


The Strategy:


 Try to get the public to believe that men are battered as often as women and are thus entitled to services. This is a tough job considering that everything from common experience to medical studies to U.S. National Crime Survey data show that only three to four percent of interspousal violence involved attacks on men by their female partners.


Their "proof":


 Since they are unable to counter these scientific data, they turn to disputed sociological studies for their "proof." In 1980 (and again in 1985) Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz published national studies of conflict in intact marital relationships claiming that violence rates were almost equal for all couples, about 12 percent.,


The Straus Study has Four Fatal Flaws:


1. Experts in the scientific community say that the findings and conclusions are contradictory, inconsistent, and unwarranted:,,,

• Straus used the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), which cannot discriminate between intent and effect: a woman pushing a man in self-defense is viewed as equivalent to a man pushing a woman down the stairs.

• It labels a mother as violent if she defends her daughter from the father’s sexual molestation.

• It equates "hitting" to "trying to hit."

• It equates a single slap by a woman to a man’s 15 year history of domestic terrorism.


2. The Straus study ignored actual harm:

• It ignored the difference between a slap that stings and a punch that causes permanent injury.

• In contrast, the U.S. National Crime Surveys (NCS) shows that 93% of those seeking medical care from a private physician for injuries received in a spousal assault are women.

• The NCS shows that 98% of those hospitalized for injuries received in a spousal assault are women.


3. Straus’ study is not a true report of reality:

• Straus interviewed only one partner, but other studies, that independently interviewed both partners found that their accounts of the violence did not match.

• CTS studies have failed to detect any difference in self-reporting of violence against children by step- versus birth-parents — in vivid contrast to the actual findings that a step-parent is up to 100 times more likely to assault a small child than is a birth parent. Any research technique that contains a 10,000 percent systematic error is totally unreliable.

• The Straus study relied on self-reports of violence by one member of each household. Yet men who batter are well known for their denial. Edleson and Brygger found that men under-report their violence by 50 percent.


4. The Straus study excluded most situations in which women experience domestic violence

• Straus studied only intact couples. Yet the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 75.9 percent of spouse-on-spouse assaults occurred after separated or divorce, with a male perpetrator 93.3 percent of the time.

• The CTS does not include sexual assault as a category although more women are raped by their husbands than just beaten.

• Adjusting Straus’ own statistics to include the above three realities makes the ratio of male to female violence more than 16 to one.


What is the Reality?


 Police and court records have persistently indicated that women constitute 90 to 95 percent of the victims of reported assaults.

 Criminal victimization surveys using national probability samples over the last 20 years (which are free of any self-reporting bias) replicate these numbers:

• The 1973-81 U.S. National Crime Survey, including over a million interviews, found that only 3 to 4 percent of interspousal violence involved attacks on men by their female partners.,

• The 1981 and 1987 Canadian surveys, found that the number of assaults of males was too low to provide reliable estimates.

• The 1982 and 1984 British surveys found that women accounted for all of the victims of marital assaults.


How to Stop Violence Against Men


 Eighty-seven percent of men murdered in the U.S. are killed by other men.

 Men are killing men (and children and women) in Bosnia, El Salvador, Rwanda, . . . .

 Instead of attempting to vandalize services for the enormous number of women who are terrorized by their mates, men who claim to care for other men had better address our real enemies; ourselves.

 If men succeed in destroying shelters for battered women, men will continue to die.

 If men put an end to male violence, men will live.


Created by

Jack C. Straton

C/o University Studies

Portland State University

Portland, OR,


Jack Straton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from the University of Oregon in 1977, worked as a professional jazz drummer for three years, and then returned to the U of O in the 1980s to earn a doctorate in quantum theory. Both as a volunteer and professional diversity trainer over the past 18 years, he has presented several hundred workshops on ending sexual assault and racism. Jack founded Men Against Rape groups in Eugene, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Manhattan, Kansas. He has published extensively in professional journals from his research in Quantum Scattering Theory, Gender Equity, and Diversity Training Methods. He has served as co-chair of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) and, as coordinator of the NOMAS Task Group on Child Custody Issues, is recognized as one of the leading writers and speakers in the country with expertise on ethical and public policy issues related to the overlap between child custody, child abuse, and woman abuse. 


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