Men & women equally abuse victims, study says

Campus violence most often linked to drinking, University of British Columbia professor says

Mike Condra, director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services, says experiencing violence can cause lasting psychological damage regardless of the victim’s gender.
Mike Condra, director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services, says experiencing violence can cause lasting psychological damage regardless of the victim’s gender.
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Journal File Photo

According to a new study, violence is no longer a gendered term.

A report funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research says male university students are almost as likely to experience violence as their female counterparts.

The study also finds close to one in five North American university students have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence in the last six months.

“Sometimes people are surprised to learn that both males and females experience violence,” Health, Counselling and Disability Services Director Mike Condra said, adding that violence against men may go unnoticed because it tends to be less severe than violence against women.

“We always have to remember that in relation to experiencing violence at the hands of a partner, if one person is physically less strong than the other, and that’s most often the females, then the effect of violence has far greater potential to be lethal as well as psychologically destructive,” he said.

Condra said experiencing violence can cause lasting psychological damage regardless of the victim’s gender.

“We expect warmth and caring and concern by our friends and people who we’re in a relationship with,” he said. “Because it’s something we don’t expect, it also makes it very, very hard to say, ‘Yes, my partner hits me.’”

Elizabeth Saewyc, a University of British Columbia professor who conducted the study, said the report is part of a larger project researching alcohol abuse on university campuses.

Campus violence is most often linked to drinking, she said, adding that the majority of those who had experienced violence were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

“When it comes to physical violence, in two-thirds of the cases for men and in a third of the cases for women, they had been drinking when they experienced that physical violence,” she said, adding that attitudes towards alcohol consumption may need to be re-evaluated if the trend continues.

“The percentage who had experienced violence from intimate partners was the same, so nearly half of men and half of women experienced emotional violence from their intimate partner and nearly one quarter of men and women had experienced physical violence from their intimate partner,” she said.

Saewyc said the study shows although men are often portrayed as the sole perpetrators of violence, women appear to just as often be on the giving end of violence.

Jared Shivak, Committee on Gender member 2008-09 and Sci ’10 said it doesn’t surprise him that university-age men experience almost as much violence as women.

“I guess one of the misconceptions with violence, I guess if you’re talking about relationship violence in particular, is that stuff like that only happens to women and that men are never victimized,” he said. “And that’s one of the misconceptions about feminism and gender rights, in general, is that it only wants to help women and men are only the bad guys.”

Shivak said he thinks it may be harder for males to admit to experiencing violence, especially on a university campus.

“Physical [violence] is one thing, but certainly, with emotional, there’s sort of a stigma attached to admitting anything like that, admitting emotions,” he said. “There’s a lot of stigma against not only if you admit weakness as a male, but to admit that this was done by a woman, I suppose, would be possibly worse.”

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