When we think about domestic violence, most of us picture the man as the aggressor and the woman as the victim. However, studies have shown that a surprising number of men are actually domestic violence victims. Moreover, many incidents of domestic violence are mutual, meaning that both parties could be considered aggressors… or victims.
A recent domestic incident in Longmont provides us with a real-world reminder of this fact.
What happened? Back in January, neighbors say that they heard a couple fighting for about 30 minutes before the man was heard to say “it’s OK, baby,” followed by the woman yelling and a loud crashing sound. Thankfully, one of those neighbors then went outside, because they discovered that the man had been stabbed.
When police arrived, the man told them that his girlfriend, Felicia Albillar, had stabbed him. She was then taken into police custody and is being held without bail. Ms. Albillar faces felony assault and menacing charges, as well as a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Though witness statements suggest that in this alleged incident Albillar was likely the primary aggressor, often when couples fight and someone alleges domestic violence, police must make the judgment call on which party to charge. According to studies, more often than not police tend to charge men.
So how common is domestic violence against men – and how can we level the playing field when the violence is mutual?
The Stats on Male Victims of Domestic Violence
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey to produce victimization estimates for intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual violence. The results suggest not only that domestic violence has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., but also that quite a few of the victims are men.
In fact, according to the report, about 5,365,000 men and 4,741,000 women experienced intimate partner violence during the 12 months studied – that’s more men than women. The research also defined different types of violence, finding that about 40% of the victims of severe physical violence were men.
Severe physical violence was defined as being beaten, burned, choked kicked, slammed with a heavy object, or hit with a fist, whereas actions such as slapping, pushing, and shoving were merely considered “physical violence.”
Interestingly, the study also seems to show that men may experience the emotional impact of domestic violence differently from women. While 50-60% of female victims report negative impacts such as feeling fearful or experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, only about 17-18% of male victims report these symptoms.
Remember also that incidents of domestic violence are often mutual. Both parties may lose their tempers and act violently. In fact, the nature of domestic violence means that the circumstances are often favorable to low-level, mutual violence. Alternatively, one party may initiate the violence, and the other party could respond to it with violence. Additionally, some attacks can be retaliatory for prior instances.
Overall, academic studies suggest that about 40% of marital domestic violence is mutual.
The bottom line? It often gets complicated when couples fight. Despite this, men are overwhelmingly the ones arrested when police respond to a call. Why?
Men May Be Profiled in Domestic Violence Arrests
As mentioned above, when domestic violence is mutual, police are left to decide who should be charged. Although they have the option of arresting all parties involved, more often than not police often choose to arrest only one party.
In fact, domestic violence law and policy seems to favor this policy, as officers are often required to identify the primary physical aggressor by using factors such as the comparative extent of injuries to each party and the threat of future harm against other household members.
You can probably guess who tends to pose more of a likely “threat” in heterosexual couples. Partially because of this, the man tends to be identified as the primary aggressor. This, combined with societal norms of domestic violence, means that men are likely to be profiled.
If You Are Arrested for an Incident of Mutual Domestic Violence, Seek Legal Help
Colorado domestic violence charges are quite serious, even for first-time offenders. You could face hefty fines, jail time, and even lose parental rights to your children.
Because of this, if you have been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to fight back. Particularly in a case where the violence was mutual, but you were unfairly identified as the primary physical aggressor.
For serious charges such as this, you need to get in touch with a serious criminal defense attorney, who will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. You owe it to yourself and to your family.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.