Domestic violence encompasses partner violence, family violence, spouse abuse, child abuse, battering and wife beating. This type of violence takes many forms and can happen consistently or sporadically.
It can include the following behaviors exhibited by a boyfriend, husband or intimate partner:
- Name-calling or put-downs
- Isolation from family or friends
- Withholding money
- Actual or threatened physical harm
- Sexual assault
There are other examples of domestic violence, however, the behaviors listed are common warning signs -- knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence. Approximately 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women. However, violence also happens in both gay and lesbian relationships and in a small number of cases, by women against men. Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc., to coerce and control the other person. The violence may not happen often but it remains as a hidden and constant terrorizing factor.
The facts on domestic violence:
A woman is beaten every 15 seconds.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, mugging and rape combined.
- Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and give birth to low birth-weight babies.
- 63% of young men between the ages of 11 and 20 serving time for homicide have killed their mother's abuser.
- One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person.
- Domestic violence does not occur only in poor, urban areas. Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels and ages are battered.
- 22 to 35 percent of women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse.
- One in four pregnant women have a history of partner violence.
- Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by their batterer than those who stay.
- In the United States, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home.
- There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children.
Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the Nation on Crime and Justice, October 1983; Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991; Surgeon General, United States, 1992; March of Dimes, 1992; The Basics of Batterer Treatment, Common Purpose, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA; Domestic Violence: Battered Women, Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, Mass.; Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992; U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against Women: Victims of the System, 1991; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence