Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Studies show young women becoming more violent with partners

Studies show young women becoming more violent with partnersBy DAMIAN GRASS Associated Press Posted July 19 2006, 11:49 AM EDT

MIAMI -- Marjorie Lamour's relationship with her boyfriend began fraying with heated arguments over uncontrollable rages and jealousy issues. Soon there was shoving, slapping and kicking. After the break up, the stalking started _ phone calls, showing up unannounced, small gifts offered in hopes of rekindling the relationship.But Lamour was not the victim of abuse; she was its perpetrator. It wasn't until her family intervened that Lamour realized she had a problem.

``I've always known that I had a bad temper, and that I was taking it out on my boyfriend,'' said Lamour, a 23-year-old college student from Fort Lauderdale.

Contrary to stereotypes, women can be just as likely to mentally and physically abuse their partners, according to two studies recently released by the University of Florida and the University of South Carolina. However, the amount of battered men in the United States is still lower than women and male abusers are much more likely to kill or seriously injure their victims.

The five-month survey of 2,500 students from both universities revealed that 32 percent of the women said they mentally, emotionally or physically abused their partners, compared to only 24 percent of men. In the other study, 25 percent of 1,490 students surveyed admitted to having been stalked, with 58 percent of the stalkers being women. The studies looked at unmarried students who were not living with their romantic partners.

Some of the discrepancy might be explained by women being more willing to classify their actions as abusive than men or acts of self-defense, but that can't be the whole explanation, said Angela Gover, a UF criminologist who led the research.

Donna Leclerc, executive director of Domestic Abuse Shelter Homes in Sarasota, is not surprised by the studies' findings.

``We're definitely seeing a developing trend in our groups,'' Leclerc said. ``In the 1,100 victims of family violence we see a year, I would say 30 to 40 percent of them (victims) are men as young as 19.''

A recent 26-year-old college graduate said it took him a long time before he looked for professional help about his abusive ex-girlfriend.

``Our relationship was great at first. We met on campus and we were fine, but then she started having trouble controlling her anger and jealousy by screaming and hitting me one moment and asking for forgiveness the next, and somehow insinuating that I started the fights,'' said the man, who asked not to be named because family and friends don't know why the couple broke up.

``It really became a roller-coaster of a relationship, which would always leave me confused and actually believing that I was at fault.''

Jan Brown, who runs a national domestic abuse help line for battered women and men, receives hundreds of calls a month from men, including doctors, attorneys, police officers and college students, fed up with living this secret.

``Guys are raised not to show their emotions, and it's hard for them to talk, so I just listen and try to get them the help they need,'' Brown said.

In fact, some experts say the number of men who are the victims of abuse is underreported because the victims are usually too embarrassed to contact authorities. And, some say, many female abusers dismiss the allegations by saying their partners don't listen to them or understand their needs.

Lamour said she began harassing her ex-boyfriend over the phone, and followed him wherever he would go.``Before my family stepped in, I knew I was in bad shape. I would park in front of his house hours at a time just to get his attention. I did not want him to forget about me, and I was doing whatever it took to get him back,'' she said. ``Yeah, pretty pathetic. I know that now.''


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