THURS 03/09/2009 - Women are three times more likely to be arrested for domestic violence, although men commit more abuse, new research has revealed.
The findings are part of a new report into gender and domestic violence conducted by Professor Marianne Hester of the University of Bristol's School for Policy Studies on behalf of the Northern Rock Foundation.
According to the researchers, it is the first study in the UK to examine the issue of gender and domestic violence in any great detail and studied 96 examples from "perpetrator profiles" tracked from 2001 to 2007. The research looked at 32 cases where women were the aggressors, 32 where men were in that role, and 32 where both partners were known to abuse.
It found men were significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, harassment and to damage the women's property, while the women were more likely to damage their own. Men's violence tended to create a context of fear and control, whereas women were more likely to use verbal abuse or some physical violence. However, women were more likely to use a weapon, although this was at times in order to stop further violence from their partners.
In terms of arrests, there were more arrests overall of men than of women. All cases with seven or more incidents, most of which involved men, led to arrest although women were three times more likely to be arrested. During the six-year period men were arrested once in every ten incidents and women arrested once in every three incidents.
Many cases where women were recorded as sole perpetrators were characterised by the police as the women being alcoholic or possibly as mentally ill.
Issues of divorce and child contact were common in dual-perpetrator cases and also included the greatest number of instances where both partners were heavy drinkers or alcoholics and where the circumstances appeared quite chaotic. Alcohol abuse by partners in some instances made it unclear who the perpetrator was.
Children were present in 55 per cent of cases when the violence or other abuse took place. In cases involving post-separation violence, issues related to child contact were cited in 30 per cent of cases.