State Commission Releases Report on Male Involvement in Family Violence Incidents
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) has released Male Involvement in Family Violence Incidents. The data in this report examines the roles of those involved in family violence incidents by gender in Georgia from 2016-2020.
The Issue - Family violence is a nationwide epidemic that carries an estimated cost in the United States of $3.6 trillion annually. Georgia is no stranger to the problem. From 2016-2020 there were 254,905 reported family violence incidents and 770 known family violence-related fatalities statewide. GCFV’s Executive Director April Ross comments, “The reduction of family violence fatalities is a core mission of the Commission - this includes victims, perpetrators and bystanders. Every life lost to domestic violence is tragic.” In all reported incidents of family violence statewide, offenders were identified as male in 70% of reports and female 29% of the time, and their gender was unknown in 1% of incidents. Males were identified as the victims in reported incidents of family violence 30% of the time, whereas females were identified as the victim in 70% of incidents.
Barriers to Reporting and Services - Practitioners are well aware that some populations of victims face additional and distinct barriers that create greater reluctance or avoidance of reporting family violence to law enforcement and/or seeking other help to escape abusive situations. Examples include individuals in the LGBTQ community, immigrant communities, and male victims. Male victims of family violence must confront a gender paradigm, a set of beliefs that form expectations of roles and behaviors, that inhibits reporting their abuse to formal and informal systems. Male victims accounted for 19% of all victims served by State-Certified Family Violence Programs between 2017-2020, however males represent only 16% of adult victims served. GCFV Director April Ross comments, “Our agency is focused on widening the lens and creating a more inclusive approach to family violence. Through studying special populations of victims, such as the male victims of family violence who are the focus of this report, we hope to create awareness, and improve both responsiveness and service accessibility for all victims of family violence.”
Under the prevailing gender paradigm, males are perceived as the aggressive, dominant figure in their intimate and familial relationships. While this may be true of abusive men, it is an unfair presumption of all males. GCFV Chair and Solicitor-General of Hall County Stephanie Woodard notes, “Gender alone is not an appropriate determinant of who is capable of exerting abusive tactics - family violence can be perpetrated by either gender. Acknowledging male victims of family violence does not minimize the validity and plight of female victims. It is important that all victims have access to needed services and interventions.”
Recommendations - Research reveals that disclosing abuse and seeking help can increase the risk of lethal violence for victims of family violence. Male Involvement in Family Violence Incidents acknowledges that all family violence victims experience barriers to reporting their abuse and reaching the support needed to achieve safety, but offers that male victims face inherent isolation which accompanies family violence victimization. The Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) is responsible for certifying and granting funding to family violence programs throughout Georgia. CJCC Director Jay Neal comments, “state certified family violence programs stand ready to serve all victims of family violence and are working each day to support survivor's efforts to live a life free from violence. Reports like this one are important because it provides an opportunity to evaluate historical data to guide and plan for future needs facing victims of family violence.” The report recommends inclusive language in organizational names, materials and training as imperative to creating an environment that welcomes all victims of family violence, as well as education for individuals and agencies charged with responding to family violence about the realities and challenges faced by male victims.
The report is accessible for free online at https://gcfv.georgia.gov/resources/data.
About the Georgia Commission on Family Violence: GCFV is a state agency created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1992 to develop a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. The mission of GCFV is to provide leadership to end family violence by promoting safety, ensuring accountability, and improving justice for generations to come. Legislatively charged with the study and evaluation of needs, priorities, programs, policies, and accessibility of services relating to family violence in Georgia, GCFV conducts research and provides training, monitors legislation and policies affecting victims of family violence, helps to create and support task forces made up of citizen volunteers working to end family violence in their communities, and certifies Georgia’s Family Violence Intervention Programs. For more information, visit gcfv.georgia.gov.
To obtain resources and support: If you or someone you know is being abused, there are community and statewide resources available to you. Call 1-800-33-HAVEN (English/Spanish/TTY), the 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline, for a confidential place to get help or find resources.