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08/29/2006

'Family News': Eh, nobody will actually check the survey, so we'll just say it's so

by Jeremy Hooper

In a blatant attempt to paint gay relationships as abusive, the folks at Family News In Focus today have written a piece headlined "Domestic Violence Among Gays Ascends." In said piece, they assert that violence in gay relationships is a widespread problem, saying:

In fact, according to the National Violence against Women Survey, 39- percent of homosexuals report being raped, physically assaulted or stalked by their partners. Chambers says many gays grew up in a home where they were abused and that transfers into their relationships later in life.

But here's what they don't tell you: The National Violence Against Women Survey ACTUALLY shows that women living with same sex partners experienced FAR LESS domestic violence than heterosexual women, with 11.4% of the women who had lived with a woman as part of a couple reporting that they've been raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a female cohabitant. This compared to 20.3% of women who had married or lived with a man as part of a couple reporting violence by a husband or male cohabitant. The numbers do show the total number of women with a history of same-sex cohabitation who reported domestic violence to be at 39.2% -- but a whopping 30.4% say it was a male from a past relationship who did the assaulting!

As far as the men go: The survey DID show that men living with male partners have experienced more partner violence than do men who live with female partners, with around 23% of the men who had lived with a man as a couple reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a cohabitant. This compared to the over 7% of men who had married or lived with a woman as a couple who reported such violence by a wife or female cohabitant. But all this really shows is that it is the male of the species who is far more likely to perpetuate the violence, no matter the gender. SHOCKING, right?

So what the survey really seems to suggest is that male-male situations and male-female situations are almost identical in terms of domestic violence incidents (23%, 21.7% respectively). And in fact, since the number of male-female incidents are SO MUCH higher than the number of female-female incidents, one could even assume that introducing TWO MEN in the picture (as in the case of male-male partnerships) should logically make the total percentage of their reported incidents much higher than the heterosexual couple respondents' total. But that's not the case at all!

Furthermore, if you compare male-male and female-female incidents against the COMBINED TOTAL of ALL male-female incidents (29.9%.), the possibility of violence in heterosexual arrangements far exceeds the suggested possibility in either form of homosexual arrangement. And why wouldn't you look at the data this way? After all, you have two possible aggressors in each homosexual situation, so why should heterosexual couples be any different?

As for the 39% figure that Family News in Focus quotes for total homosexuals reporting domestic violence -- that would seem to just be a blatant overstatement, as that number is indicated by none of these results. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, and just assume they made an error. There are lots of numbers here.

Bizarrely, this survey and the dissolution of Vermont's first civil-unioned couple (a situation where one-half of the duo claimed violence and got a restraining order) are the only bits of "evidence" FNIF even tries to use to justify their claim "Domestic Violence Among Gays Ascends" claims. And they somehow lead professional "ex-gay" Alan Chambers to say things like:

It’s something that we knew would come to light more as the issue of gay unions began to be on the radar screen of the American public.

and..

"I’m not saying that all gay people are violent. But in these relationships I believe that that has to be taken into consideration and is a factor for why so many of these relationships end in violence.

But they provided NO BASIS for Alan to make such claims. In fact, if one really wanted to apply the true lessons learned from The National Violence Against Women Survey, they could make the case that women, in terms of domestic violence threat, would be FAR BETTER OFF in a lesbian relationship. After all, female-female is the only arrangement where percentage of violent incidents seems to be in the local double digits! But of course we would never make such a suggestion because we are rational people who are not trying to use a study of a very real problem to our advantage. We'd encourage our heterosexual and "former homosexual" buddies at Family News in Focus to follow suit. After all, people who live in any houses shoudn't throw stones at their partner.

Domestic Violence Among Gay Couples Ascends [FNIF]
Findings from the National Violence against Women Survey, July 2000 [InfoPlease]

***Additional info we neglected to mention, as pointed out by Box Turtle Bulletin: When you break down the 23% of men with a history of same-sex cohabitation who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by an intimate partner by gender, you find that actually on 15.4% of these men say it was a male partner who victimized them!

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