Domestic violence affects men and women worldwide regardless of age, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or educational background. It is defined as pattern of abusive behaviors aimed at gaining and maintaining control over an intimate partner. The relationship may be one of co-habitation, marriage or family. Other familiar terms are domestic abuse, spousal abuse, intimate partner abuse, intimate partner violence, relationship violence, family violence and battery.
While studies and statistics show that the majority of victims are women, men are also victims and are equally affected. Survivors of relationship violence often recall feelings of resentment, hopelessness, walking on eggshells, being afraid to speak up, not wanting to “make waves” or “rock the boat”. They describe their relationships as being stressful, draining, dreadful or scary, with a spectrum of fear ranging from the feeling that something just isn’t right to full blown terror.
The impact can be devastating; emotional and physical injury, financial ruin and, sometimes, death. Children also become victims of short and long term consequences that include depression and substance abuse as well as becoming victims or abusers in their own relationships as adolescents and adults.
- On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States. In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.7
- Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 8
- About 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. 9
- Two-thirds of female victims of stalking were stalked by a current or former intimate partner. 40% of men were stalked by an intimate partner and 41% by an acquaintance. 10
- Several studies show that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of abuse. 11
- 15.5 million U.S.children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. 12
- Children who experience childhood trauma, including witnessing incidents of domestic violence, are at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy. 13
- According to a study of domestic violence shelters and services in the U.S., in a single day in 2008, 16,458 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility, while an additional 6,430 children sought services at a non-residential program. 14
Abuse takes many forms. It doesn’t have to happen every day, leave visible injury or require medical attention. Many victims of domestic violence become victims of stalking as well. It is important to identify the different types of abuse, the myths and how to ensure your safety and the safety of your children and your pets.
Abuse is never acceptable, in any form. If you feel you are in an abusive relationship, contact a coalition in your state or any of these organizations that may apply to your situation:
The National Domestic Violence Helpline 800-799-SAFE (7233)
The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 866-331-9474
The National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673)
ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)