In two related studies, researchers surveyed 1,400 Swedes about domestic violence and found that 8 to 11 percent of men reported being victims of physical violence at the hands of their spouse in the past year.
The corresponding figure for women was 8 percent.
“We were surprised by the results,” professor Gunilla Krantz, who led the research, said in a statement.
“Both men and women use the kind of violence that can harm the other person. The concept that women use violence only in self-defense is not true – women are capable of using it aggressively as well.”
The respondents mentioned behaviour ranging from punching, kicking and pushing to strangleholds and threats at gunpoint.
The study also revealed, however, that between 8 and 11 percent of male victims reported that they had also been perpetrators of violence and Krantz added that the results should be interpreted “with caution”.
“We do not know in detail what led women to use violence in aggression,” she explained.
“More women (30 percent) than men still reported that they had acted in self-defense, whereas men were most likely to maintain that they had reacted to insults or humiliation.”
Researchers also found that female victims of domestic violence suffered from more severe health effects than men, with women were more likely to report depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.
Ten percent also reported experiencing suicidal thoughts.
“Because men are often bigger and stronger, they do not feel as threatened by physical violence on the part of their female partners,” said Krantz.
Women were also more likely than men to have been the victims of sexual abuse, with 10 percent of women reporting they’d been sexually abused by their partner, compared to 3.5 percent for men.
The results of the study have been published in the BMC Public Health journal.