Statistic of the Day: 1 in 5 American men admit to domestic violence

domestic-violence1People are justifiably outraged by Ray Rice’s treatment of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer. But what’s even scarier is that one out of five men admit that they’ve committed domestic violence against a partner or spouse. A new nationally-representative study by the University of Michigan asked 500 men the following question:

 Over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of these things (pushed, grabbed, or shoved; threw something; slapped or hit; kicked, bit, or hit with a fist; beat up; choked; burned or scalded; threatened with a knife or gun) to your current spouse/partner?

Nineteen percent, or one out of five men, admitted to doing so at least once. And, of course, these were just the men who were willing to report it to the researchers, which means that the phenomenon is likely ever more common. The lead author of the study, Vijay Singh, explains, “If men could enter responses in a private way, (the percentage) could have been even higher.” The rate would also go up if it included other kinds of abuse: “It did not ask about emotional abuse. It did not ask about sexual abuse,” Singh said.

But even one out of five is unacceptably high. To put it in perspective, domestic violence is more common than diabetes.

As Singh points out, this study shatters the idea that domestic violence is committed by easily identifiable and publicly violent “other people.”

When people think of men who abuse their partners, they often think of violent people who they have never come across, or people they have only heard about in the news… However, our study showed one out of every five men in the U.S. reported physical violence toward an intimate partner. It’s likely that we’ve all met these men in our daily environment. This is an issue that cuts across all communities, regardless of race, income, or any other demographics.

So, as we think about Ray Rice, let’s remember domestic violence isn’t rare. It’s an epidemic. The only difference with Ray Rice is that we saw the video.

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AvatarKatie Halper is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker. 


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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