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Domestic violence in the United States

Joel Bergner, A Survivor's Journey, The Domestic Violence Awareness Mural, 2010. Brooklyn Neighborhood, 12th Street, NE, Washington DC.

Domestic violence in United States is a form of violence expressed by one partner or partners against another partner or partners in the content of an intimate relationship in the United States. It is recognized as an important social problem by governmental and non-governmental agencies, and various Violence Against Women Acts have been passed by the U.S. Congress in an attempt to stem this tide. Women are more likely to suffer domestic abuse (also referred to as 'intimate partner violence' or 'IPV') in the U.S., although the issue affects many. Victimization due to violent assault in general is common in the U.S. among both sexes, with an estimated 1.9 million women and 3.2 million men physically assaulted annually, and domestic violence is a large part of that problem, with 22.1% of women and 7.4% of men having been physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or date in their lifetime (the preceding data is according to a 2000 U.S. Department of Justice Report).[1]

Victimization from domestic violence transcends the boundaries of sexual orientation and gender, with significant percentages of LGBT couples facing these issues.[2] Men are subject to domestic violence in large numbers, such as in situational couple violence as mentioned above, but they are less likely to be physically hurt than female victims.[3][1] Social and economically disadvantaged groups in the U.S. regularly face worse rates of domestic violence than other groups. For example, about 60% of Native American women are physically assaulted in their lifetime by a partner or spouse.[4]

Many scholarly studies of the problem have stated that is often part of a dynamic of control and oppression in relationships, regularly involving multiple forms of physical and non-physical abuse taking place concurrently. Intimate terrorism, an ongoing, complicated use of control, power and abuse in which one person tries to assert systematic control over another psychologically, often results after the violence against women described. For both sexes, shelters exist in many states as well as special hotlines for people to call for immediate assistance, with non-profit agencies trying to fight the stigma that men and women both face in reporting these issues.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: "the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior."[5]


  • Governmental definitions 1
  • A global problem 2
  • Forms 3
  • Incidence 4
    • Gender aspects of abuse 4.1
    • Statistics 4.2
      • Over a year 4.2.1
      • During pregnancy 4.2.2
      • During one's lifetime 4.2.3
      • Injury 4.2.4
      • Rape 4.2.5
      • Murder 4.2.6
      • Dating violence 4.2.7
      • Stalking 4.2.8
  • Socio-economic impacts 5
    • Effects on children 5.1
    • Homelessness 5.2
    • Economic impacts 5.3
  • Religion 6
  • History 7
    • Laws 7.1
      • Violence Against Women Acts 7.1.1
      • Family Violence Prevention and Services Act 7.1.2
      • Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) 7.1.3
      • Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban 7.1.4
      • United States federal probation and supervised release for domestic violence offenders 7.1.5
      • United States asylum for victims of domestic violence 7.1.6
  • Law enforcement 8
  • Support organizations 9
    • Christian 9.1
    • Hotlines 9.2
  • Reduction programs 10
    • Community activism by men 10.1
    • Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model) 10.2
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14

Governmental definitions

The following definition applies for the purposes of subchapter III of chapter 136 of title 42 of the US Code:

The term 'domestic violence' includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.[6]

It was inserted into the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 by section 3(a) of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.[7]

It also applies for the purposes of section 7275 of subpart 17 of Part D of subchapter V of chapter 70 of title 20,[8] section 1437F of subchapter I of chapter 8 of title 42,[9] and subchapter XII-H of chapter 46 of title 42 of the US Code.[10]

The U. S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner". The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.[11]

A global problem

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in a 2006 report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) website that:
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her.[12]


Domestic violence may include verbal, emotional, economic, physical and sexual abuse. All forms of domestic abuse have one purpose: to gain and maintain control over the victim. Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner: dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.[13]

The dynamics between the couple may include:

  • Situational couple violence, which arises out of conflicts that escalate to arguments and then to violence, is not connected to a general pattern of control, generally infrequent, and likely the most common type of intimate partner violence. Women are as likely as men to be abusers, however, women are more likely to be physically injured, require police intervention and become fearful of their mates.[14]
  • Intimate terrorism (IT), involves a pattern of ongoing control using emotional, physical and other forms of domestic violence and is what generally leads victims, who are usually women, to women's shelters. It is what was traditionally the definition of domestic violence and is generally illustrated with the "Power and Control Wheel"[15] to illustrate the different and inter-related forms of abuse.[16]
  • Violent resistance (VR), or "self-defense", is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners.[17] It is generally used infrequently because men are usually able to physically overpower women. Michael Johnson finds that "Most women who resist violently soon turn to other means of coping with their abuse."[14]
  • Common couple violence, where both partners are engaged in domestic violence actions.[18]
  • Mutual violent control (MVC) is a rare type of intimate partner violence that occurs when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.[19]


Domestic violence

The ten states with the highest rate of females murdered by males were, as of 2010,

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • searchable online directory of 3,000 domestic violence agencies in U.S., a free service of National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Theresa's Fund
  • FaithTrust Institute (formerly Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence), a multifaith, multicultural training and education organization in the United States with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence.

External links

  • Joanne Carlson Brown and Carold R. Bohn, ed. (1989). Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique. New York: Pilgrim.  
  • Annie Imbens and Ineke Jonker (1992). Christianity and Incest. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.  
  • Carol J. Adams and Marie M. Fortune, ed. (1995). Violence against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook. New York: Continuum.  
  • Marie M. Fortune (1991). Violence in the Family: a Workshop Curriculum for Clergy and Other Helpers. Cleveland: Pilgrim.  
  • Carolyn Holderread Heggen (1993). Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. Scottsdale, Arizona: Herald Press.  
  • Anne L. Horton and Judith A. Williamson, ed. (1988). Abuse and Religion: When Praying Isn't Enough. Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books.  
  • Mary D. Pellauer, Barbara Chester, and Jane A. Boyajian, ed. (1987). Sexual Assault and Abuse: A Handbook for Clergy and Religious Professionals. San Francisco: Harper & Row.  
  • Rita-Lou Clarke (1986). Pastoral Care of Battered Women. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.  
  • Shannan M. Catalano. Intimate Partner Violence: Attributes of Victimization, 1993-2011. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d Tjaden, Patricia; Thoennes, Nancy (November 2000). "Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women". National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice. 
  2. ^ a b c Heavey, Susan (January 25, 2013). "Data shows domestic violence, rape an issue for gays".  
  3. ^ a b Compton, Michael T. (2010). Clinical Manual of Prevention in Mental Health (1st ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing. p. 245.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Domestic Violence. Merriam Webster. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2011.
  6. ^ US Code. Title 42. Chapter 136. Subchapter III. Section 13925(a)(6)
  7. ^ The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005
  8. ^ US Code. Title 20. Chapter 70. Subchapter V. Part D. Subpart 17. Section 7275(a)(1).
  9. ^ US Code. Title 42. Chapter 8. Subchapter I. violence&url=/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00001437---f000-.html Section 1437F(f)(8)
  10. ^ US Code. Title 42. Chapter 46. Subchapter XII-H. Section 3796gg–2.
  11. ^ "About Domestic Violence". Office on Violence Against Women. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  12. ^ Moradian, Azad. Domestic Violence against Single and Married Women in Iranian Society. Tolerancy International. September 2009. Retrieved 16 Nov. 2011.
  13. ^ Domestic Violence and Abuse: Warning Signs and Symptoms of Abusive Relationships Sept. 6, 2009.
  14. ^ a b A Sociologist’s Perspective on Domestic Violence, A Conversation with Michael Johnson, Ph.D. Theodora Ooms, interviewer. Center for Law and Social Policty (CLASP). Page 3. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Power and Control Wheel, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  16. ^ A Sociologist’s Perspective on Domestic Violence, A Conversation with Michael Johnson, Ph.D. Theodora Ooms, interviewer following May 2006 conference. Center for Law and Social Policty (CLASP). Pages 2-4. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  17. ^ Bachman, R. and D. Carmody (1994). "Fighting Fire with Fire: The Effects of Victim Resistance in Intimate Versus Stranger Perpetrated Assaults Against Females". Journal of Family Violence 9 (4): 317–31.  
  18. ^ Johnson, Michael P., Kathleen J. Ferraro (2000). "Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making Distinctions". Journal of Marriage and the Family 62 (4): 948–63.  
  19. ^ Saunders DG (1988). "Wife Abuse, Husband Abuse, or Mutual Combat? A Feminist Perspective on the Empirical Findings". In Bograd ML, Yllö K. Feminist perspectives on wife abuse. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. pp. 90–113.  
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  25. ^ Brinkerhoff, David B.; Lynn K. White; Suzanne T. Ortega; Rose Weitz (2008). Essentials of Sociology (7th ed.). Thomson/Wadsworth. p. 13.  
  26. ^ References Examining Assaults By Women On Their Spouses Or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography. Last updated: May 2011. Retrieved on 2011-12-23.
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  34. ^ Roberts, Albert R.; Springer, David W., eds. (2007). Social work in juvenile and criminal justice settings (3rd ed.). Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. p. 270.  
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  37. ^ Archer, John (2000). "Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 651–680.  
    • O'Leary, K. Daniel (2000). "Are women really more aggressive than men in intimate relationships? Comment on Archer". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 681–684.  
    • Frieze, Irene (2000). "Violence in close relationships—development of a research area: Comment on Archer (2000)". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 681–684.  
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  39. ^ Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS: Critical Intersections. Intimate Partner Violence and HIV/AIDS. The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. World Health Organization. Information Bulletin Series, Number 1. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
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  42. ^ Steven W Perry, American Indians and Crime – A BJS Statistical Profile 1992-2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, December 2004, available at
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  44. ^ Murray Straus, Richard J. Gelles. Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. Transaction Publishers. p. 105.  
  45. ^ Vivian, Dina; Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Jennifer (1994). "Are Bi-directionality Violent Couples Mutually Victimized? A Gender-sensitive Comparison". Violence and Victims 9 (2): 107–123.  
  46. ^ Browne, Angela; Williams, Kirk R. (1989). "Exploring the Effect of Resource Availability and the Likelihood of Female-perpetrated Homicides". Law and Society Review 23: 75–94.  
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  48. ^ a b In-depth study on all forms of violence against women. United Nations, General Assembly. 6 July 2006. Page 54. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
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  1. ^ Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, has compiled an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women on men. This bibliography examines 275 scholarly investigations: 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses appear to demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000.[30] In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that "...consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men."[31]
  2. ^ The National Institute of Justice states that studies finding equal or greater frequency of abuse by women against men are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale. This survey tool was developed in the 1970s and may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence.[47]
  3. ^ India and Bangladesh were also noted as countries with a high prevalence of death during pregnancy due to domestic abuse.[50]
  4. ^ "He concludes that conservative Protestant fathers’ neotraditional parenting style seems to be closer to the authoritative style—characterized by moderately high levels of parental control and high levels of parental supportiveness—that has been linked to positive outcomes among children and adolescents."
  5. ^ ‘The upshot is that we have no evidence so far that a gender-traditionalist ideology—at least of the soft patriarchal variety—is a strong predictor of domestic physical abuse.’
  6. ^ "Gender hierarchicalist males—at least those who have frequent and active church involvement—turn out, on average, to be better men than their theories: more often than not, they are functional egalitarians, and the rhetoric of male headship may actually be functioning as a covert plea for greater male responsibility and nurturant involvement on the home front."


  • External links



Legal remedies

See also

The Duluth Model|Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model), featured in the documentary Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America,[112][113] was the first multi-disciplinary program designed to coordinate the actions of a variety of agencies in Duluth, Minnesota dealing with domestic violence for a more effective outcome and has become a model for programs in other jurisdictions.[114] A nationwide study published in 2002 sponsored by the federal government found that batterers who complete programs based on the "Duluth Model," are less likely to repeat acts of domestic violence than those who do not complete any batterers' intervention program.[115]

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model)

Men's groups against domestic violence and forced rape, found around the world, take measures to reduce their use of violence. Typical activities include group discussions, education campaigns and rallies, work with violent men, and workshops in schools, prisons and workplaces. Actions are frequently conducted in collaboration with women's organizations that are involved in preventing violence against women and providing services to abused women. In the United States alone, there are over 100 such men's groups, many of which focus specifically on sexual violence.[111]

Community activism by men

Reduction programs


One of the Salvation Army's missions is working with victims of domestic abuse. They offer safe housing, therapy, and support.

The first Theological Education and Domestic Violence Conference, sponsored by the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, was held in 1985 to identify topics that should be covered in seminaries. When church leaders first encounter sexual and domestic violence, they need to know what community resources are available. They need to focus on ending the violence, rather than on keeping families together.[108]

A contributing factor to the disparity of responses to abuse is lack of training. Many Christian seminaries had not educated future church leaders about how to manage violence against women. Once pastors began receiving training, and announced their participation in domestic violence educational programs, they immediately began receiving visits from women church members who had been subject to violence.[108]


Support organizations

Along with protecting the victim, law enforcement officers have to ensure that the alleged abusers' rights are not violated. Many times in cases of mutual combatants, it is departmental policy that both parties be arrested and the court system can establish truth at a later date. In some areas of the nation, this mutual combatant philosophy is being replaced by the primary abuser philosophy in which case if both parties have physical injuries, the law enforcement officer determines who the primary aggressor is and only arrests that one. This philosophy started gaining momentum when different government/private agencies started researching the effects. It was found that when both parties are arrested, it had an adverse effect on the victim. The victims were less likely to call or trust law enforcement during the next incident of domestic abuse.[107]

  • Are there signs of physical abuse?
  • Were there witnesses?
  • Is it recent?
  • Was the victim assaulted by the alleged suspect?
  • Who is the primary aggressor?
  • Could the victim be lying?
  • Could the suspect be lying?

Each agency and jurisdiction within the United States has its own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) when it comes to responding and handling domestic calls. Generally, it has been accepted that if the understood victim has visible (and recent) marks of abuse, the suspect is arrested and charged with the appropriate crime. However, that is a guideline and not a rule. Like any other call, domestic abuse lies in a gray area. Law enforcement officers have several things to consider when making a warrantless arrest:

However, the study was subject of much criticism, with concerns about its methodology, as well as its conclusions.[102] The Minneapolis study was replicated in several other cities, beginning in 1986, with some of these studies having different results; one of which being the fact that the deterrent effect observed in the Minneapolis experiment was largely localized.[106] In the replication studies which were far more broad and methodologically sound in both size and scope, arrest seemed to help in the short run in certain cases, but those arrested experienced double the rate of violence over the course of one year.[106]

Many U.S. police departments responded to the study, adopting a mandatory arrest policy for spousal violence cases with probable cause.[103] By 2005, 23 states and the District of Columbia had enacted mandatory arrest for domestic assault, without warrant, given that the officer has probable cause and regardless of whether or not the officer witnessed the crime.[104] The Minneapolis study also influenced policy in other countries, including New Zealand, which adopted a pro-arrest policy for domestic violence cases.[105]

The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment was a study done in 1981–1982, led by Lawrence W. Sherman, to evaluate the effectiveness of various police responses to domestic violence calls in Minneapolis, Minnesota, including sending the abuser away for eight hours, giving advice and mediation for disputes, and making an arrest. Arrest was found to be the most effective police response. The study found that arrest reduced the rate by half of re-offending against the same victim within the following six months.[101] The results of the study received a great deal of attention from the news media, including The New York Times and prime-time news coverage on television.[102]

Statistics on incidents of domestic violence, published in the late 1970s, helped raise public awareness of the problem and increase activism.[95][96] A study published in 1976 by the Police Foundation found that the police had intervened at least once in the previous two years in 85% of spouse homicides.[97] In the late 1970s and early 1980s, feminists and battered women's advocacy groups were calling on police to take domestic violence more seriously and change intervention strategies.[98] In some instances, these groups took legal action against police departments, including Los Angeles's, Oakland, California's and New York City's, to get them to make arrests in domestic violence cases.[99] They claimed that police assigned low priority to domestic disturbance calls.[100]

In the 1970s, it was widely believed that domestic disturbance calls were the most dangerous type for responding officers, who arrive to a highly emotionally charged situation. This belief was based on FBI statistics which turned out to be flawed, in that they grouped all types of disturbances together with domestic disturbances, such as brawls at a bar. Subsequent statistics and analysis have shown this belief to be false.[93][94]

Law enforcement

In 2014 the Board of Immigration Appeals, America's highest immigration court, found for the first time that women who are victims of severe domestic violence in their home countries can be eligible for asylum in the United States. [91] However, this ruling was in the case of a woman from Guatemala and thus applies only to women from Guatemala. [92]

United States asylum for victims of domestic violence

  • Requires first-time domestic violence offenders convicted of domestic violence crimes to attend court-approved non-profit offender rehabilitation programs within a 50-mile radius of the individual's legal residence.
  • Makes probation mandatory for first-time domestic violence offenders not sentenced to a term of imprisonment.[90]

The United States federal probation and supervised release law:

United States federal probation and supervised release for domestic violence offenders

The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is a United States federal law enacted in 1996 to ban firearms and ammunitions to individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states.[88][89]

Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban

The DELTA program, funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), works towards preventing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in certain funded communities. The way that the DELTA program works towards prevention is by understanding factors that influence violence and then focusing on how to prevent these factors. This is done by using a social ecological model which illustrates the connection between Individual, Relationship, Community, and Societal factors that influence violence. [1]

Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA)

  • Formula Grants. This money helps states, territories, and tribes create and support programs that work to help victims and prevent family violence. The amount of money is determined by a formula based partly on population. The states, territories, and tribes distribute the money to thousands of domestic violence shelters and programs.
  • The 24-hour, confidential, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline provides support, information, referrals, safety planning, and crisis intervention in more than 170 languages to hundreds of thousands of domestic violence victims each year.
  • The Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Program teaches people ways to prevent violence.[87]

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) provides federal funding to help victims of domestic violence and their dependent children by providing shelter and related help, offering violence prevention programs, and improving how service agencies work together in communities.

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act

  • 49.8% reduction of non-fatal, violent victimizations committed by intimate partners.
  • In the first six years, an estimated $14.8 billion in net averted social costs.
  • 51% increase in reporting of domestic violence and 18% increase in National Domestic Violence Hotline calls each year, evidence that as victims become aware of remedies, they break the code of silence.[49][87]

Three Violence Against Women Acts (VAWA) (1994, 2000, 2005) United States federal laws have been signed into law by the President to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The law helped victim advocates and government agencies to work together, created prevention and victim support programs, and resulted in new punishments for certain violent crimes, which by 2005 resulted in:

October is observed as domestic abuse month in the United States. This poster was issued by various branches of the United States Military to educate and prevent domestic abuse.

Violence Against Women Acts

Victims of DV are offered legal remedies, which include the criminal law, as well as obtaining a protection order. The remedies offered can be both of a civil nature (civil orders of protection and other protective services) and of a criminal nature (charging the perpetrator with a criminal offense). People perpetrating DV are subject to criminal prosecution, most often under assault and battery laws. Other common statutes used include, but are not reduced to, harassment, menacing, false imprisonment. Perpetrators of DV can be charged under general statutes, but some states have enacted specific statutes dealing only with DV. Under South Carolina code, the crime of "Criminal domestic violence" states that "it is unlawful to: (1) cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member; or (2) offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril." If aggravated circumstances are present, people can be charged with the crime of "Criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature". Criminal domestic violence is not the only charge possible in South Carolina, people can also be charged under other general statutes.[84][85][86]


Modern attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement of the 1970s, particularly within feminism and women's rights, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. The first known use of the expression "domestic violence" in a modern context, meaning "spouse abuse, violence in the home" was in 1973.[82][83] With the rise of the men's movement of the 1990s, the problem of domestic violence against men has also gained significant attention.

Political agitation during the 19th century led to changes in both popular opinion and legislation regarding domestic violence within the United Kingdom and the United States.[70][73] In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating.[74][75] Other states soon followed suit.[71][76] In 1878, the Matrimonial Causes Act made it possible for women in the UK to seek separations from abusive husbands.[77] By the end of the 1870s, most courts in the United States were uniformly opposed to the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives.[78] By the early 20th century, it was common for the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence in the United States, but arrests remained rare.[79] Wife beating was made illegal in all states of the United States by 1920. [80] [81]

Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife.[70][71] One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be "free from bodilie correction or stripes by her husband."[72]


Another 2007 study by Christopher G. Ellison found that "religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence, and this protective effect is stronger for African American men and women and for Hispanic men, groups that, for a variety of reasons, experience elevated risk for this type of violence."[69]

One 2004 study by William Bradford Wilcox examined the relationship between religious affiliation, church attendance, and domestic violence, using data on wives' reports of spousal violence from three national United States surveys conducted between 1992 and 1994.[67] The study found that the lowest reported rates of domestic violence occurred among active conservative Protestants (2.8% of husbands committed domestic violence), followed by those who were religiously unaffiliated (3.2%), nominal mainline Protestants (3.9%), active mainline Protestants (5.4%), and nominal conservative Protestants (7.2%).[67] Overall (including both nominal and active members), the rates among conservative Protestants and mainline Protestants were 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively.[67] Examining Wilcox's study, Van Leewen finds that the parenting style of conservative Protestant fathers is characterized by features which have been linked to positive outcomes among children and adolescents,[nb 4][68] that there is no evidence that gender-traditionalist ideology of the "soft patriarchal" kind is a strong predictor of domestic physical abuse,[nb 5][68] and that "gender hierarchialist males" who are frequent and active church members function positively in the domestic environment. [nb 6][68]


The Centers for Disease Control has released that the medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity cost of intimate partner violence was an estimated $8.3 billion in 2003 dollars for women alone.[66]

  • 25% - 50% of victims of abuse from a partner have lost their job due to domestic violence.
  • 35% - 56% of victims of domestic violence are harassed at work by their partners.
  • More than 1.75 million workdays are lost each year to domestic violence. Lost productivity due to missed workdays and decreased productivity, with increased health and safety costs, results in a loss of $3 to $5 billion each year.[65]

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States reports that:

Economic abuse can occur across all socio-economic levels.[64]

Economic impacts

According to the authors of "Housing Problems and Domestic Violence," 38% of domestic violence victims will become homeless in their lifetime.[49] Domestic violence is the direct cause of homelessness for over half of all homeless women in the United States.[62] According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.[63]


Up to 10 to 20% children in the United States FDB see abuse of a parent or caregiver annually. As a result, they are more likely to experience neglect or abuse, less likely to succeed at school, have poor problem-solving skills, subject to higher incidence of emotional and behavioral problems, and more likely to tolerate violence in their adult relationships.[61]

Effects on children

Regarding ethnicity, socio-economic standing and other factors often have more to do with rates of domestic violence. When comparing the African American population to European Americans by socio-economic class, the rates of domestic violence are roughly the same. Since there are more poor African Americans, though, there is a higher incidence of domestic violence overall. It is not possible to evaluate the rate of domestic violence by ethnicity alone, because of the variability of cultural, economic and historical influences and the forms of domestic violence (situational couple violence, intimate terrorism) affecting each population of people.[60]

While domestic violence crosses all socio-economic classes, Intimate Terrorism (IT) is more prevalent among poor people. When evaluating situational couple violence, poor people, subject to greater strains, have the highest percentage of situational couple violence, which does not necessarily involve serious violence.[60]

Socio-economic impacts

According to the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner Violence Survey results of 2010, 1 in 6 women (15.2%) have been stalked during their lifetime, compared to 1 in 19 men (5.7%).[58] Additionally, 1 in 3 bisexual women (37%) and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (16%) have experienced stalking victimization in their lifetime during which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.[59]


Dating violence is often a precursor to domestic violence. 22% of high school girls and 32% of college women experienced dating violence in a 2000 study. 20.6% of women experienced two or more types of dating violence and 8.3% of women experienced rape, stalking or physical aggression while dating.[57]

Dating violence

Women are more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. Of those killed by an intimate partner, about three quarters are female and about a quarter are male. In 1999 in the United States, 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner,[53] and 1,181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners in 2005.[54][55] In 2007, 2,340 deaths were caused by intimate partner violence—making up 14% of all homicides. 70% of these deaths were females and 30% were males.[56]


  • 1 in 33 men and 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape against a partner. More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes.[49][52]
  • A 2013 CDC study stated that 28% of straight women who had been raped experienced their first rape as a child, with the crime taking place between the ages of 11 and 17.[2]


In 1992, domestic violence was the leading cause of injury for women between 15 and 44; more than rapes, muggings, and car accidents combined.[51]


  • According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, nearly 25% of women experience at least one physical assault during adulthood by a partner.[49]
  • 22% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life, according to a United Nations study. Since this population included women who had never been married or partnered, the prevalence of domestic violence may have been greater.[48]
  • According to a report by the United States Department of Justice in 2000, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.[1]
  • 60% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be physically assaulted in their lifetime.[49]
  • A 2013 report by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 26% of male homosexuals and 44% of lesbians surveyed reported experiencing intimate partner violence. The study evaluated 2010 data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which involved over 16,000 U.S. adults.[2]

During one's lifetime

The United States was one of the countries identified by a United Nations study with a high rate of domestic violence resulting in death during pregnancy.[50][nb 3]

During pregnancy

  • 1% of all women (age > 18) who participated in a UN national study in 1995–96, who may or may not have been married or partnered, were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12-month period. Since this population included women who had never been partnered, the prevalence of domestic violence may have been greater.[48]
  • A report by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 found that 1.3% of women and 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year.[1]
  • About 2.3 million people are raped or physically assaulted each year by a current or former intimate partner or spouse.[49]
  • Physically assaulted women receive an average of 6.9 physical assaults by the same partner per year.[49]

Over a year


The National Institute of Justice contends that national surveys supported by NIJ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women.[47][nb 2]

New research published in the Journal of Family Psychology says that contrary to media and public opinion women commit more acts of violence than men in eleven categories: throw something, push, grab, shove, slap, kick, bite, hit or threaten a partner with a knife or gun. The study, which is based on interviews with 1,615 married or cohabiting couples and extrapolated nationally using census data, found that 21 percent of couples reported domestic violence. The Washington Times confirms study.

Straus and Gelles found that in couples reporting spousal violence, 27 percent of the time the man struck the first blow; in 24 percent of cases, the woman initiated the violence. The rest of the time, the violence was mutual, with both partners brawling. The results were the same even when the most severe episodes of violence were analyzed. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, and the data was the same.[44] The simple tally of physical acts is typically found to be similar in those studies that examine both directions, but some studies show that male violence may be more serious. Male violence may do more damage than female violence;[45] women are more likely to be injured and/or hospitalized. Wives are more likely to be killed by their husbands than the reverse (59 percent to 41 percent per Dept of Justice study ), and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouses than by all other types of assailants combined.[46]

As pointed out by a 2006 Amnesty International report, The Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women From Sexual Violence in the USA[41] the data for Native women are very different. Statistics gathered by the U.S. government reveal that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be sexual assaulted than women in the United States in general;[42] more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime.[43]

The National Violence Against Women Survey for 2000 reported that 25% of women and 7.6% of men reported being victims of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.[39] The rate of intimate partner violence in the U. S. has declined since 1993.[40]

Studies have found that men are much less likely to report victimization in these situations.[33] According to some studies, less than 1% of domestic violence cases are reported to the police.[34][35] In the United States 10–35% of the population will be physically aggressive towards a partner at some point in their lives.[36][37][38] As abuse becomes more severe women become increasingly overrepresented as victims.[36]

In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1995 women reported a six times greater rate of intimate partner violence than men.[26][27] The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicates that in 1998 about 876,340 violent crimes were committed in the U.S. against women by their current or former spouses, or boyfriends.[28] According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States 4.8 million women suffer intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes and 2.9 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners.[29] A large study, compiled by Martin S. Fiebert, shows that women are as likely to be abusive to men, but that men are less likely to be hurt. However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38 percent of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.[30][31][nb 1] Women are far more likely to use weapons, such as sharp or blunt objects other than a knife or firearm.[32]

Women are generally subjected to domestic violence more often and more severely than are men, according to research.[25][3]

Gender aspects of abuse

[24][23][22] than in other families, which is very problematic, since police officers must play a key role in responding to incidents of DV.police officers Several studies in the U.S. have found that domestic violence is significantly more common in the families of [21] In 2009, for homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93% of female victims were murdered by a male they knew, 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.[20]

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