What is Domestic Violence?The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics offers this answer:
Domestic violence is any harm inflicted by “Intimate partners (current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends), immediate family members (parents, children, or siblings), [or] other relatives.”
Due to the nature of domestic violence, it is often committed within the privacy of the home or exerted by perpetrators on victims often within easy reach. These conditions also make it easier to commit repeated acts of violence. In fact, cases of domestic violence can continue for months, years, or lifetimes without ever being confronted or stopped.
Forms of Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence is not limited to physical forms of battery or abuse. Rather, it takes a variety of forms. Domestic violence can include emotional, physical, sexual, economic, or psychological methods of abuse or control. It also includes not only acts but threats of harm. It is often used to intimidate, coerce, manipulate, frighten, or isolate the victim. Its wide range of forms adds to the difficulty of discovering, stopping, and prosecuting abusers. More difficult still, instances of domestic violence span all types of relationships, situations, and demographics. Though certain populations are more susceptible to experiencing domestic abuse, anyone could be affected by domestic violence. These attributes make domestic violence a difficult and vast problem to tackle.
NOTE: If you or someone you know is currently experiencing domestic abuse, utilize a domestic abuse hotline telephone number to receive help, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Domestic Violence Fact Sheet and StatisticsAccording to domestic violence statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017, forms of domestic violence could affect up to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in America at some point in their lifetime. Here are more domestic abuse statistics honed in by category:
Violence by Age
- Out of the total victims of rape, violence, or stalking inflicted by an intimate partner, both male and female, over half first experienced intimate partner violence in some shape or form when they were less than 25 years old. (CDC, 2010 as cited by SafeHorizon.org)
- Among women who experience domestic violence during their lifetime, 22.4% (more than 1 in 5) were subjected to their first victimization when they were between 11 and 17 years old. (CDC, 2010)
- Of menwho have experienced domestic violence at some time in their lives, 15% experienced their first occurrence of intimate partner violence when they were between 11 and 17 years old. (CDC, 2010)
- The age range that statistically experiences the largest number of intimate partner violence incidents is 18-24 years of age. (according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2014)
Violence by Gender
- It is estimated that 35.6% of women and 28.5% of men in America have experienced domestic violence in the form of rape, stalking, or physical violence during their lifetime. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010)
- Of female victims of completed rape, 79.6% experienced their first rape before 25 years of age, 42.2% of the total having occurred before 18 years of age. 12.3% of the total experienced their first rape at or before 10 years of age.
- For male victims of completed rape, 27.8% experienced their first rape at or before 10 years of age. (BJS, 2014)
- It is estimated that almost 1 in 3 (28.8%) U.S. women and almost 1 in 10 (9.9%) of U.S. men suffer some lasting or lifetime impact as a result of intimate partner violence (IPV) or an IPV-related incident. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010)
Violence by Race
- CDC’s 2011 data revealed a percentage breakdown by race of women who suffer from instances of rape and non-rape domestic violence in the form of either sexual violence, stalking, or physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetime. Rape victims in the United States are estimated to include:
- 27.5% of American Indian/Alaska Native women
- 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women
- 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women
- 13.6% of Hispanic women (CDC)
- Victims of non-rape sexual violence could account for up to:
- 55.0% of American Indian/Alaska Native women
- 46.9% of non-Hispanic white women
- 38.2% of non-Hispanic black women
- 35.6% of Hispanic women
- 31.9% of Asian or Pacific Islander women (CDC)
Violence by Location
- In New York City alone, the New York City Police Department is called regarding 230,000 domestic incidents annually. (NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence as cited by SafeHorizon.org)
- The State of Alaskareports the largest percentage of females estimated to become rape victims during their lifetimes, weighing in at 29.2% in 2014. (NISVS)
- The three states with the largest per-capita percentage of female victims who have suffered any form of sexual violence other than rape are:
- Alaska, estimated at 58% of the state’s total female population.
- Oregon with an estimated 55.7%.
- Washington with 53.2%. (NISVS)
Signs of Domestic Violence and Abusive Relationships
Signs and Types of Domestic Violence AbuseDomestic violence and physical abuse can manifest in many ways. Physical abuse refers to physical harm caused by such actions as hitting, punching, kicking, burning, choking, or pulling hair. According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, physical abuse also includes assault with a weapon.
Emotionalabuse or psychological abuse includes actions, communications, or other interactions meant to exert control over the abuse victim that are not physical. These can include forced isolation, blame, slander, intimidation, derision or contempt, manipulation, or mind games.
Domestic violence can also be distinguished by the type of victim. elder abuse refers to inflicting any type of abuse on an elder -- often an elderly parent or parent-in-law. Spousal abuse, sometimes referred to as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), refers to abusive acts inflicted by one marriage partner on the other. Child abuse refers to inflicting abuse on minors.
Signs of Abusive RelationshipsWhether or not you personally experience an abusive relationship, you could be affected by domestic violence indirectly through your job, your friends, or via other external events. Be aware of the effect that domestic violence can have on the people around you and make sure you’re well-versed on the signs of abuse.
Abusive Relationship Cycle: Abusive relationships are often characterized by a cyclic pattern of behavior. Episodes of abuse are often followed by periods of various behaviors meant to demonstrate remorse, change, repentance, reconciliation, or love. Convinced by the abuser’s story, the victim remains in the abuser’s proximity and thus a pattern of abuse and then contrived reconciliation is initiated, allowing the abuser to gain deeper control the more the cycle of abuse recurs.
Abusive Indicators: As mentioned in previous sections, abuse covers a wide variety of behaviors ranging from physical harm to psychological and emotional attacks. Evidences of physical abuse could include burns, black eyes, bruises, cuts, mentions of internal injuries, or hospital visits. Other forms of abuse are more difficult to spot but can be revealed in conversation or via careful attention to detail.
Warning Signs: The National Domestic Abuse Hotline catalogs a number of warning signs that could indicate an abusive relationship. When someone expresses fear of their partner, an unwillingness to talk about them about certain subjects, or indicates that they are being deprived of things like decision-making or access to things such as finances, their children, or extracurricular activities, there may be reason to suspect abuse.
Conversely, to determine whether someone might be an abuser, watch for indications of disapproval or dissatisfaction in his or her partner or a family member, mood swings or sudden anger, obsessive control or distrust in his or her partner, or other troubling or potentially abusive behaviors. Take these observations seriously whether you notice them in your own relationship or in the relationships or behaviors of others.
Getting Out of An Abusive RelationshipVictims that take the steps to leave an abusive situation may be the most recognizable, and may also be the most vulnerable. Be available to immediately help friends or acquaintances who share their situation with you if they are in the process of extricating themselves from an abusive situation. If you are in the process of leaving an abusive relationship, seek support from friends, family, or one of the resources mentioned in this article. There are people ready to help.
Domestic Violence HelpThe abusive cycle is extremely powerful and the probability of returning to an abusive relationship is statistically high even after a victim decides to leave. If you know someone who is considering leaving or has recently left an abusive partner or family member, take proactive steps to help them progress into recovery and healing rather than falling back into the relationship. Ample resources exist to support victims of abuse wherever they are in their recovery cycle. Some resources are listed in this article and others can be found by contacting local law enforcement, hospitals, community centers, health clinics, or other local authorities.
If you yourself have recently left an abusive relationship, take action to help prevent yourself from being ensnared again. Tell trusted friends, family, and mentors about the situation and ask them to keep you accountable and steadfast in your decision to leave the relationship. Cut off communication with the abuser and refuse to entertain ideas of returning to him or her no matter what they say to convince you to return. Reach out to support services in your area or contact one of several national hotlines available to you that can connect you with local resources to aid you.
List of Domestic Violence Hotlines and ResourcesIf you or someone you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, there are resources available to you to help you escape and rebuild. Here is a list of entities ready to provide domestic violence help to victims of abuse. Additional resources are available elsewhere within this guidebook.
Domestic Violence HotlinesNational Domestic Violence Hotline www.thehotline.org/
EMERGENCY HOTLINE NUMBER: 1.800.799.7233
Online emergency chat: Available
EMERGENCY HOTLINE NUMBER: 1.866.331.9474 Text: loveis to 22522
Online emergency chat: Available
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline www.childhelp.org/hotline/
EMERGENCY HOTLINE NUMBER: 1.800.422.4453
Online emergency chat: Not at this time
National Sexual Assault Hotline - RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) www.rainn.org/
EMERGENCY HOTLINE NUMBER: 1.800.656.4673
Online emergency chat: Available
Continue Reading the Other Parts of This Guide:
Part 1: What is Domestic Violence?
Part 2: Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
Part 3: Signs of Domestic Violence and Abusive Relationships
Part 4: Domestic Violence Help
Thanks to Quinn at: https://online.rutgers.edu