Women need anger management more than men??!! Perhaps so, at least when it comes to relationships.
I recently read a fascinating study which turns the stereotype of domestic violence upside down. This study, conducted by Archer, combined the results of 82 research projects of couples seeking anger management treatment found that 64% of women became aggressive in comparison to 61% of men and that 44% of women had become physically violent towards their partner in comparison to 31% of men.
These statistics, surprising as they may be, are not that different than what I see in my anger management class which is typically are split almost down the middle with an equal number of men than women. In fact, the number of women currently enrolled in Dr Joe’s online anger management classes slightly outnumbers men.
Despite all the evidence that anger management problems are essentially the same in men as women the stereotype remains that men are most likely to be violent offenders. Why is this? There are several reasons. Men are often loathe to report be assaulted because of the stigmatization of being seen as wimpy. The converse is also true as many females don’t want to be seen as aggressive.
I know this statement may raise a lot of controversy but in my private practice anger management couples I have often seen women either initiating or escalating fights with their partners and then calling the men overly aggressive when they are exhibiting the same behavior as men, if not worse. I have found this a very difficult dynamic to suggest because with me being a man women oftentimes become defensive and accuse me of being insensitive and biased. Conversely, I have heard many men complain privately of seeing a female therapist who automatically assumed that they were the primary abuser and did not want to hear their side of the story.
Whats the truth? My guess is that while there are certainly circumstances where either the husband or the wife is the primary abuser in many circumstances both parties feel deeply wounded by the other and tend to play down their own role in the conflict. Its not his fault and its not her fault, its about how each is pushing the other’s buttons.