Using Capture-recapture to Estimate the Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence: The Gender Symmetry Debate

By Lori A. Post, Nancy J. Mezey, Christopher D. Maxwell and Karin Rhodes.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Objectives: There is a need for innovative methodologies to establish the “true” prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among men and women and throw additional light on the “gender symmetry” impasse. For almost 30 years, feminist researchers contend that national surveys are flawed due to nonresponse bias. Family violence researchers claim there is a clinical bias in feminist studies. The present study provides a new method to establish IPV prevalence rates.
Methods: In one rural Midwest county, we collected IPV data from multiple county-wide criminal justice and social service data sources over a 2.5 year period. Using capture-recapture techniques, prevalence rates of IPV are derived by gender.
Results: Using help-seeking data sources, we found the prevalence of reported male-on-female violence to be 17 times the rate of female-on-male violence.
Conclusions: Innovative statistical techniques in violence research find a lack of gender symmetry in IPV help seeking. There are few venues for IPV-involved men to seek help outside of the criminal justice system.

Keywords: Capture-Recapture, Log Linear Modeling, Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Violence

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.223-236. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 619.489KB).

Dr. Lori A. Post

Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Dr. Post is Associate Professor and Research Director in the Yale School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Post’s area of research expertise is violence/injury prevention. To this end, she has been the principal investigator on several federal, state, and foundation grants. Specifically, she had a nine year sexual assault surveillance system project funded by the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC also funded her quasi experiment longitudinal study looking at the role of coordinating services to prevent or interrupt intimate partner violence. Dr. Post has also had significant funding devoted to the use of technology for violence prevention. In addition to her sexual assault surveillance system, the Department of Health and Human Services funded her technology based informatics project that involved networking disparate data archives, criminal records registries to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation in health care settings.

Dr. Nancy J. Mezey

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey, USA

Nancy J. Mezey received her Ph.D. in sociology from Michigan State University. She is currently an Associate Professor of Sociology at Monmouth University where she serves as the Sociology Program Director, Associate Director of the Institute for Global Understanding, and Director of Gender Studies. Her areas of interest are in family sociology, race-class-gender studies, gender studies, and the sociology of sexualities. She is author of the book, New Choices, New Families: How Lesbians Decide about Motherhood, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2008.

Dr. Christopher D. Maxwell

Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Christopher Maxwell serves as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for the College of Social Science, and is Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. Dr. Maxwell’s research interests include testing for the benefits and costs of sanctions and therapeutic treatments for spouse abusers, the impacts of police and court services on victims of domestic violence, the epidemiology of violence against intimates, and the causes and correlates of violence against intimates. He has published his research in several referred journals including Criminology, Criminology and Public Police, Justice Quarterly and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the John T and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health. Between 2004 and 2009 he served as the Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, and is currently Faculty Associate at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Dr. Maxwell earned a B.A. degree in sociology and criminal justice and a B.A. degree in psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington (1990), and M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (1998) degrees in criminal justice from Rutgers University-Newark.

Dr. Karin Rhodes

Assistant Professor and Director, Division of Health Policy Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Karin Rhodes, MD, MS (Health Studies) is an Assistant Professor and Director of Health Care Policy Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on use of the acute health care setting for screening and intervention with intimate partner violence and other major psychosocial health risks. Dr. Rhodes has received federal funding to evaluate the impact of computer screening on doctor-patient communication. She is the recipient of a NIMH-funded career development award to evaluate the psychological profiles and design interventions for self-identified perpetrators of family violence. She is also involved in a number of studies investigating the quality of emergency services, access to follow up care and the intersection between acute care and the mental health, social services, and criminal justice systems.