Domestic Violence is a Serious, Widespread Social Problem in America: The Facts

Fact Sheets by Topic Facts on Domestic Violence
Children and Domestic Violence
Guns and Domestic Violence
Health Care and Domestic Violence
Housing and Domestic Violence
Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence
International Gender-Based Violence
IPV and Healthy People 2010 Goals Fact sheet
The Military and Domestic Violence
Preventing Violence Against Women & Children
Reproductive Health and Violence
Teenagers and Domestic Violence
The Workplace and Domestic Violence
Prevalence of Domestic Violence
  • Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year1 to three million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.2
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.3
  • Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey.4
  • Nearly 25 percent of American women report being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, conducted from November 1995 to May 1996.5
  • Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.6
  • In the year 2001, more than half a million American women (588,490 women) were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner.7
  • Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence (588,490 total) and men accounted for approximately 15 percent of the victims (103,220 total).8
  • While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.9
  • In 2001, intimate partner violence made up 20 percent of violent crime against women. The same year, intimate partners committed three percent of all violent crime against men.10
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.11
  • Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate.12
  • Male violence against women does much more damage than female violence against men; women are much more likely to be injured than men.13
  • The most rapid growth in domestic relations caseloads is occurring in domestic violence filings. Between 1993 and 1995, 18 of 32 states with three year filing figures reported an increase of 20 percent or more.14
  • Women are seven to 14 times more likely than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate partner.15
Domestic Homicides
  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner.16
  • Women are much more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner. In 2000, intimate partner homicides accounted for 33.5 percent of the murders of women and less than four percent of the murders of men.17
  • Pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any other cause18 , and evidence exists that a significant proportion of all female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.19
  • Research suggests that injury related deaths, including homicide and suicide, account for approximately one-third of all maternal mortality cases, while medical reasons make up the rest. But, homicide is the leading cause of death overall for pregnant women, followed by cancer, acute and chronic respiratory conditions, motor vehicle collisions and drug overdose, peripartum and postpartum cardiomyopthy, and suicide.20
Health Issues
  • The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide committed by intimate partners exceed $5.8 billion each year. Of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion are for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion are for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages.21
  • About half of all female victims of intimate violence report an injury of some type, and about 20 percent of them seek medical assistance.22
  • Thirty-seven percent of women who sought treatment in emergency rooms for violence-related injuries in 1994 were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.23
Domestic Violence and Youth
  • Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.24
  • Eight percent of high school age girls said “yes” when asked if “a boyfriend or date has ever forced sex against your will.”25
  • Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.26
  • During the 1996-1997 school year, there were an estimated 4,000 incidents of rape or other types of sexual assault in public schools across the country.27
Domestic Violence and Children
  • In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.28
  • Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.29
  • Studies suggest that between 3.3 - 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.30
  • Three in four women (76 percent) who reported they had been raped and/or physically assaulted since age 18 said that a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, or date committed the assault.31
  • One in five (21 percent) women reported she had been raped or physically or sexually assaulted in her lifetime.32
  • Nearly one-fifth of women (18 percent) reported experiencing a completed or attempted rape at some time in their lives; one in 33 men (three percent) reported experiencing a completed or attempted rape at some time in their lives.33
  • In 2000, 48 percent of the rapes/sexual assaults committed against people age 12 and over were reported to the police.34
  • In 2001, 41,740 women were victims of rape/sexual assault committed by an intimate partner.35
  • Rapes/sexual assaults committed by strangers are more likely to be reported to the police than rapes/sexual assaults committed by “nonstrangers,” including intimate partners, other relatives and friends or acquaintances. Between 1992 and 2000, 41 percent of the rapes/sexual assaults committed by strangers were reported to the police. During the same time period, 24 percent of the rapes/sexual assaults committed by an intimate were reported.36
  • Annually in the United States, 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner.37
  • Seventy-eight percent of stalking victims are women. Women are significantly more likely than men (60 percent and 30 percent, respectively) to be stalked by intimate partners.38
  • Eighty percent of women who are stalked by former husbands are physically assaulted by that partner and 30 percent are sexually assaulted by that partner.39