In response to the letter submitted by Ms. Abernathy titled “Domestic Violence: A Family Problem.” The data presented is not a valid representation of (a) the current data regarding lethality levels in domestic violence cases and (b) incorrectly argues that intervention and treatment programs are available to solely one gender.
When data is presented that is outdated or incorrect, it does a disservice to all victims of domestic violence, male and female.
In 2004, Alaska Troopers received 1,281 reports of assaults involving domestic violence. Of those, 76 percent of perpetrators were found to be male and 70 percent of victims were female. UAA “Special Report May 2010.”
The 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey reports that nationwide women were victims of domestic violence at a rate of 4.2 percent in 2009 and 3.1 percent in 2010. Men were victims of domestic violence at a rate of 1.0 percent in 2009 and .8 percent in 2010 (U.S. Department of Justice “Criminal Victimization 2010” Jennifer Truman, PhD.).
With regards to lethality levels, between 1980 and 2010 women were killed by intimate partners at a level of 41.5 percent. Comparatively, men were killed by intimate partners at a level of 7.1 percent (U.S. DOJ “Homicide Trends in the US 1980-2008” Alexia Cooper Et Al.).
Nationwide, there has been a marked increase in the recognition that males can be victims of intimate partner violence. This year, the Department of Justice released an updated definition of rape which removed antiquated gender stereotypes. Alaska’s laws regarding domestic violence are gender neutral, in recognition that all people can be victims. Nationally, programs such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline offer assistance and help for all victims regardless of gender. Within Alaska, many shelters and organizations offer assistance to male victims.
The one area that we can agree with Ms. Abernathy is that domestic violence is a family problem. In Alaska, 43 percent of domestic violence incidents occur when children are present (UAA “Assaults in Domestic Violence” Marny Rivera PhD.). The effects of domestic violence on children are pervasive and life-long.
Incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska are present at an alarming rate. Sadly, Alaska leads the nation in both of these areas. But we can become leaders in prevention, advocacy, and treatment for offenders. If you are interested in learning more about the current data, services for victims, or how you can help, please contact the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Executive Director, ANDVSA