A new study has found that while women still remain the major victims of abuse, an increasing number of the so-called weaker sex is more likely than men to stalk, attack and psychologically abuse their partners.
The study, by a team of researchers led by Angela Gover, a University of Florida criminologist, surveyed 2,500 students at UF and the University of South Carolina between August and December 2005.
They found that in the 29 per cent of people who physically assaulted their dates, 32 per cent of women reported being the perpetrators of violence, as compared to 24 per cent of men.
Angela Gover said that the statistics showed a change in how women in relationships act.
“We’re seeing women in relationships acting differently nowadays than we have in the past. The nature of criminality has been changing for females, and this change is reflected in intimate relationships as well," she said.
A separate survey of 1,490 University of Florida students, found that while 25 per cent said they had been stalked during the past year, and 7 per cent reported engaging in stalking, 58 per cent of whom were female.
However, the facts remain that women still made up the largest number of victims in both surveys, accounting for 70 per cent of those being stalked.
Today’s women are more likely to understand they have options instead of putting up with any kind of abuse could be another reason why women were turning violent.
“Maybe some of these women have been abused by their partner for some time and they’re finally fighting back,” she said.
"I think we may also be seeing sort of a new dynamic in dating relationships in terms of women feeling more empowered. They recognize they don’t have to be in a dating relationship forever. They can get out of it,” she added.
The researchers found that child abuse was the single biggest determining factor for men and women becoming perpetrators or victims of either dating violence or stalking.
Even if one never personally experienced abuse, witnessing violence between one’s parents as a child increased the likelihood of stalking or being stalked as a young adult and it made girls more susceptible to becoming victims of dating violence when they grew up.
The survey found that men and women who were abused as children were 43 per cent more likely than their peers who were not mistreated to perpetrate physical violence and 51 per cent more likely to be victims of physical violence in a dating relationship.