People 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.