Statistics on domestic violence against men can be challenging to obtain, since the overwhelming majority of reported domestic violence incidents involve female victims. One survey produced by the American Bar Association suggests that 25% of all women and 7.6% of all men will experience at least one incidence of domestic violence in their lifetimes. Other surveys and studies claim that domestic violence against men only comprise 5-10% of all official domestic violence reports received. An estimated 15% of male homosexuals have reported at least one incidence of physical or sexual assault by a same-sex domestic partner. Legally speaking, domestic violence against men can also include physical assaults by non-related roommates, male siblings and male children who reside under the same roof.
Even using the most liberal estimates of domestic violence against men, it would be difficult to use the word "prevalent" to describe the situation. For a number of reasons, males continue to comprise the largest group of domestic abusers, especially against intimate partners. This is not to suggest that males cannot be physically or sexually abused by their partners, however.
A number of men do report incidents of physical abuse committed by an aggressive spouse or girlfriend during a domestic argument or altercation. Many times a physically stronger male will tolerate the abuse rather than escalate the incident or cause more serious physical harm in response. Other male victims are reluctant to defend themselves against a female assailant because they are too shocked or embarrassed to admit they have been overpowered by a woman.
Domestic violence against men is often under reported because the victim refuses to press formal charges against his female assailant. Some male victims would rather handle the issue privately without involving outside law enforcement or social service agencies. Once the incident becomes public knowledge, a male victim of domestic violence could face ridicule from other male co-workers or relatives, for instance.
In a culture where male machismo and masculinity is strongly valued, any suggestion of a male being too weak to fend off a female assailant could prove too difficult for a victim to face. A spouse or girlfriend may be emotional or mentally abusive, but the use of physical violence and intimidation during domestic incidents is almost always seen as a male's weapon of choice. Women may injure a man as a result of taking defensive measures, but they are rarely viewed by law enforcement officers as the instigators or aggressors.
In many domestic violence situations, the responding police officers are often required by law to arrest at least one of the combatants. Quite often the criteria for determining who gets arrested is the presence of physical injuries. In certain cases involving domestic violence against men, the female aggressor may actually have more physical injuries than the male victim. Therefore, it is possible that a certain number of men arrested for domestic violence may have actually been the victims during the actual assault.
Sometimes the officers will determine the incident involved mutual combat, but the male will still be removed from the home in order to restore order in the home. It is entirely plausible that incidents of domestic violence against men may be higher than raw statistics would suggest, but this would still suggest only 20% or so of all acts of domestic violence have been committed against men.