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June 10, 2006

Number of men who are domestic abuse victims far higher than the number actually reported, police say


It was a domestic in progress on Broad Street in the City of Tonawanda. When officers arrived, they could hear children screaming from the inside of the home.

The victim, who had managed to escape, was waiting for officers outside. The victim reported being punched, cut and spit at. But the aggressor in the situation, who had broken a window to enter the home, wasn’t a muscle-bound guy.

It was a 130-pound woman, arrested in May on charges that ranged from second-degree harassment with physical contact to acting in ways that could injure a child.

Of the hundreds of domestic incidents that devour the time of local police officers, most are instigated and perpetuated by men. But the small percentage of women-led assaults and harassments that domestic cases breed are growing locally.

Officers say it could be women are acting more aggressively, or it could be that changing stereotypes are influencing more men to come forward and report the abuse.

Lt. John Ivancic, with the City of Tonawanda Police, said the abuse women tend to inflict on their male partners isn’t that different than the aggression men show toward women.

“There are women who use weapons, but they’re just as likely to use their fists and feet,” Ivancic said. “And a lot of guys won’t raise their hand to a woman, even though she raised her hand to him first.”

Such is the case with Kelly Caldwell, a repeat domestic offender who lives in the City of Tonawanda. Police have responded to incidents of Caldwell acting aggressively toward boyfriends for multiple years.

Some of the cases are sealed, but others paint an abusive picture.

One January night in 2004, officers responded to a 911 call involving Caldwell. She had punched her boyfriend at the time repeatedly in the face, which resulted in a cut on his forehead, according to police reports.

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