Male college students also victims of violence at girlfriends’ hands

February 12, 2010 |

Thinking about a typical victim of college dating violence, you’re probably imagining her, not him.

Researchers often think the same way, according to a Kansas State University expert on intimate partner violence. Sandra Stith, a professor of family studies and human services, said most research has looked at men as offenders and women as victims.

“In the research on college students in particular, we’re finding both men and women can be perpetrators,” she said. “In our growing-up years, we teach boys not hit their sister, but we don’t teach girls not to hit their brother.”

She and a K-State research team are looking at the impact that being a victim of violence has on male versus female college students in heterosexual relationships.

“Most research shows female victims having higher levels of depression, anxiety and school problems than nonvictims,” Stith said. “Our research indicates that both male and female college students are being victims of violence, and we want to see how it affects both.”

In 2008, Stith and her former student at Virginia Tech, Colleen Baker, published research in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma that found the biggest predictor of whether male and female college students would use violence against a partner was whether the partner was violent toward them.

“It’s a dramatically more important factor than anything else,” Stith said. “If your girlfriend hits you, that dramatically increases the likelihood that you’re going to hit her, and vice versa.”

In general, Stith said there are lower levels of violence among college couples than among married or cohabiting couples, and the violence is more likely to involve shoving and pushing by both men and women.

“Previous research indicates that as young people grow up, the violence may become less frequent or severe or it may be eliminated,” Stith said. “Sometimes it’s about immaturity.”

Although alcohol is often a factor in violence among older couples who are married or in long-term relationships, Stith said drinking — particularly binge drinking — plays a big part in college student violence. Other factors include a lack of anger management skills and having grown up with parents who are violent with one another.

“When students get angry with their boyfriend or girlfriend, violence sometimes seems to be the normal thing to do,” she said.

Stith said when researching alcohol problems, she found that college students often had different standards for themselves when it came to what constitutes a drinking problem. Whereas they see themselves as just partying and participating in normal college life, they would say an older, professional adult behaving the same way has a problem with alcohol.

“I think they might be normalizing their aggressive behaviors, too,” she said. “They may think that when they’re drinking and get angry and she slaps him and he grabs her, that it’s not domestic violence. They may think that domestic violence is what happens in married people’s lives.”

Stith said one of her basic philosophies is that society needs to work toward ending all violence, not just male violence.

“We need to address female violence, too,” she said. “We need to say that when you’re in a relationship with someone you care about, you don’t hit and you don’t kick.”

Stith’s research team that is looking at the impacts of dating violence includes the following family studies and human services students and researchers: Yvonne Amanor-Boadu, post-doctoral research assistant; Marjorie Strachman Miller, doctoral student; Josh Cook and Michelle Gorzek, master’s students; and Lauren Allen, a junior from Olathe and a 2007 graduate of Olathe Northwest High School.

5 Responses to Male college students also victims of violence at girlfriends’ hands

  1. Anonymous February 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Here’s another in today’s news:

    “Durham police late Wednesday arrested the woman who four years ago falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her.

    Crystal Mangum assaulted her boyfriend, set his clothes on fire in a bathtub and threatened to stab him, investigators said.”

    In the comments below, it was said that it will be interesting when the researcher stumbles across violent women that like to frame men, because of the myth that women aren’t violent, the women use that bias against men, framing them how ever they like to get revenge or what ever they’re after.

    Violent women also beat their kids. Sometimes violent drunk women drop their kid off in a trash bag and go back to the bar to party, Casey Anthony for example. Or the woman that drove her car with two kids in it, into a lake, and went back to the bar. Violent women slapping and kicking is common, and so is other violence women do. Men are never told, never warned, and they find out later when it’s too late to help them. Men die just as quickly as a woman, but no one bothers to warn a man.

  2. Anonymous February 13, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    It’s a steady stream of news reports today of violent women out there. Saying “slap and kick” is really holding back on the shear potential for violence that women display each day:

    “A Harvard-trained biology professor is facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of three faculty members at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, police said early Saturday.

    Authorities said Amy Bishop wounded three other employees Friday. She was arrested outside the sciences building where the shooting occurred, authorities said”.

    This could go on and on, and I think it’s time to stop painting fantasy pictures of women as victims and only men as the violent agressive types. When Oprah goes on her show coaching women about how to dump their boyfriend because he’s violent, really, let’s not forget that Oprah is living in a fantasy world and we’re not. Society, start educating men too about violent women. Men can be stabbed and shot by a woman just as quickly as she can raise her hand and do it. If you’re in this situation, men, don’t ignore a woman’s full potential to kill you, slice and dice you, frame you, light you on fire, gouge your eyes out, or any other of a huge list of things she can do if she’s violent and agresive.

  3. Anonymous February 12, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    The researcher in this article did try to minimize violent women by saying they might slap or kick their boyfriend, like a woman wouldn’t be as agressive or violent as a man. Let’s be fair for a moment and look at today’s news for what a real violent woman does:

    “A Tarzana woman was found guilty Thursday of dousing an exotic dancer and single mother with gasoline and setting her on fire last year outside the Tarzana bikini bar Babes N’ Beer.”

    See how common it is? That’s today’s news, and that’s not a slap or a kick, that’s some real violence, from women. That’s not a man doing that, that’s a woman. There are violent women that get drunk, grab a knife and stab you. You will start bleeding, a lot, big puddles of blood. If there’s a gun, they shoot you. This is real violent behavior from drunk women, not that minimized slap and kick stuff. It’s the same thing you can get from violent drunk men. Society needs to take the blinders off and stop pretending women never get agressive and violent. If you’re a guy and you’re around a woman like this, leave or always have witnesses around you. No one will believe you if you were alone around her.

  4. Anonymous February 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Finally, someone attempts to look at women with their blinders off. Yes women can sometimes be agresive and violent. Lets all say it out loud before we get clobbered by NOW. I would be interested to read what the researcher says when she stumbles across women that know about this bias and have no qualm about using it to stack the deck against a man while she’s drunk. If you’re in that kind of relationship guys, you’re in for a rough road ahead and no one will believe you. Get her into A.A. or pack and leave. It doesn’t get better.

  5. passing for human February 12, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Just don’t let them breed.

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