Last month Dr. Rochelle Braff of the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse along with Isobelle Barrett Meyering, Research Assistant, explored the issues that gender plays in exploring domestic violence from a research perspective. Their findings were covered in the paper called “The Gender Debate in Domestic Violence: The Role of Data.”

The main purpose of this paper was to explore the impact that gender has on the data resulting from domestic violence crime statistics. The paper discussed the significant differences in the research findings of two main groups: feminist researchers versus family conflict researchers. There were a number of key findings which concluded that gender does indeed play a role and in fact can cause skewing of the data.

The first point is that ‘gender asymmetry’ has often been found by feminist researchers exploring domestic violence crime statistics. The research of feminist researchers has typically shown that women are often more likely to be a target of domestic violence abuse rather than men. They also peg men as more likely to be the perpetrator of the crime rather than a woman. However in contrast with family conflict researchers, their findings have often been that there is ‘gender symmetry’ meaning that women and men are both victims and the causes of the violent acts in similar numbers.

Furthermore, gender also plays a role into how domestic violence is defined by researchers as well as how the data collection is done in relation to crimes committed.

Feminist researchers tend to look at violence in relationships along wider guidelines than family conflict researchers. The feminist researchers tend to look at the entire relationship including what cause the incident as well as the outcomes following the domestic violence incident. Family conflict researchers on the other hand tend to only focus on the violent acts themselves and focus little on how the incident came to develop within the relationship or the subsequent outcomes in the relationship following the incident.

Family conflict researchers tend to also favor quantitative measures in data collection versus feminist researchers the use a combination of qualitative data collection methods as well as quantitative data collection methods.

These significant differences in how data is collected and analyzed by feminist researchers versus family conflict researchers tends to lead to significant differences in the findings from their research. It is important to note that these differences are significant because they severely impact obtaining an accurate analysis of domestic violence issue and in order to find the true cause and outcome of the situation all of the available data from both sets of researchers must be analyzed.

In conclusion the findings of this research concludes that researchers must look at both the findings of feminist researchers and family conflict researchers in order to get an accurate understanding of the factors that affect domestic violence. However the researchers have also concluded that from looking at real life examples of domestic violence situations as discussed in this paper, there are indeed some ‘gender asymmetry’ patterns that have shown themselves when analyzing the data from these events.

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