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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior directed at a former or current partner, spouse, or boyfriend or girlfriend. The abuser uses fear, manipulation, and intimidation to gain power and control over the other person. The abuse can take many forms, including physical battering, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and sexual abuse, and may involve using children, pets, threats, intimidation, and isolation.

Emotional abuse means intense and repetitive degradation, creating isolation, and controlling the actions or behaviors of the spouse through intimidation or manipulation to the detriment of the individual.

Domestic violence affects all types of people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual identity, socio-economic status, and religion. It is also called intimate partner abuse, family violence, battering, elder abuse, teen relationship abuse, domestic battery, and confinement.

Domestic violence is the most under reported crime in America.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (“Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report,” Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p. 3)

One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)

About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. (Sara Glazer, “Violence, Against Women” CO Researcher, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., Volume 3, Number 8, February, 1993, p. 171.; CDC, 2000)

Domestic Violence & Substance Abuse: In more than 90% of cases which report domestic violence, at least one person was abusing some substances.

Approximately 85% (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, Feb. 2003) of the victims of domestic violence are women. (Statistics, National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, Ruth Peachey, M.D. 1988) Abuse occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.

Fifty percent of all homeless women and children in this country are fleeing domestic violence. (Senator Joseph Biden,U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against Women: Victims of the System, 1991)

An abusive incident is rarely an isolated event. Abuse tends to increase and become more violent over time.

Many abusers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.

25% – 45% of all women who are abused are abused during pregnancy.

Domestic violence does not end immediately with separation. Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation.

Nearly 2.2 million people called a domestic violence crisis or hot line in 2004 to escape crisis situations, seek advice, or assist someone they thought might be victims.

Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60-70% reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the 3-12 months follow up period compared to women who did not access shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault than did seeking court or law enforcement protection, or moving to a new location. (Campbell, JC, PhD, RN, FAAN. Anna D. Wolf, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Protective Action and Re-assault: Findings from the RAVE study.)

Rape and Sexual Assault

Rape is generally defined as forced or non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Rape may be accomplished by fear, threats of harm, and/or actual physical force. Rape may also include situations in which penetration is accomplished when the victim is unable to give consent, or is prevented from resisting, due to being intoxicated, drugged, unconscious, or asleep.

Sexual assault is a broader term than rape. It includes various types of unwanted sexual touching or penetration without consent, such as forced sodomy (anal intercourse), forced oral copulation (oral-genital contact), rape by a foreign object (including a finger), and sexual battery (the unwanted touching of an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal).

The term “drug-facilitated sexual assault” is generally used to define situations in which victims are subjected to nonconsensual sexual acts while they are incapacitated or unconscious due to the effects of alcohol and/or other drugs and are therefore, prevented from resisting and/or are unable to give consent.

Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America , someone is sexually assaulted.

One in six American women are victims of sexual assault, and one in 33 men.

In 2004-2005, there were an average annual 200,780 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

About 44% of rape victims are under age 18, and 80% are under age 30.

Since 1993, rape/sexual assault has fallen by over 69%.

In 2005, there were 191,670 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assaults according to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey.

Of the average annual 200,780 victims in 2004-2005, about 64,080 were victims of completed rape, 51,500 were victims of attempted rape, and 85,210 were victims of sexual assault.

One of six victims are under age 12.

73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.

38% of perpetrators were a friend or acquaintance of the victim.

28% were an intimate partner.

7% were another relative.