Epidemiology of domestic violence
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. However, studies have found that men are much less likely to report victimization in these situations.
Some studies have found that "women are as physically aggressive or more aggressive than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners". However, studies have shown that women are more likely to be injured. Archer's meta-analysis found that women suffer 65% of domestic violence injuries. A Canadian study showed that 7% of women and 6% of men were abused by their current or former partners, but female victims of spousal violence were more than twice as likely to be injured as male victims, three times more likely to fear for their life, twice as likely to be stalked, and twice as likely to experience more than ten incidents of violence.
Some studies show that lesbian relationships have similar levels of violence as heterosexual relationships, while other studies report that lesbian relationships exhibit substantially higher rates of physical aggression.
- 1 By demographic
- 2 Measuring domestic violence
- 3 International levels
- 4 References
Percent of women surveyed (national surveys) who were ever physically assaulted by an intimate partner: Barbados (30%), Canada (29%), Egypt (34%), New Zealand (35%), Switzerland (21%), United States (25%). Some surveys in specific places report figures as high as 50-70% of women surveyed who were ever physically assaulted by an intimate partner. Others, including surveys in the Philippines and Paraguay, report figures as low as 10%.
South Africa is said to have the highest statistics of gender-based violence in the world and this includes rape and domestic violence (Foster 1999; The Integrated Regional Network [IRIN], Johannesburg, South Africa, 25 May 2002). 80% of women surveyed in rural Egypt said that beatings were common and often justified, particularly if the woman refused to have sex with her husband. In India, around 70% of women are victims of domestic violence. Up to two-thirds of women in certain communities in Nigeria's Lagos State say they are victims to domestic violence.
Between 1993 and 2001, U.S. women reported intimate partner violence almost seven times more frequently than men (a ratio of 20:3). Statistics for the year 1994 showed that more than five times as many females reported being victimized by an intimate than did males.
There is currently limited research on the abuse of lesbian women by their lesbian partners. However, an investigation by the Canadian Government saw some 19% of a survey of lesbian women respond to being victims of their partners.
Domestic violence during pregnancy can be missed by medical professionals because it often presents in non-specific ways. A number of countries have been statistically analyzed to calculate the prevalence of this phenomenon:
- UK prevalence: 3.4%
- USA prevalence: 3.2-33.7%
- Ireland prevalence: 12.5%
- Rates are higher in teenagers
- Severity and frequency increase postpartum (10% antenatally vs. 19% postnatally); 21% at 3 months post partum
There are a number of presentations that can be related to domestic violence during pregnancy: delay in seeking care for injuries; late booking, non-attenders at appointments, self-discharge; frequent attendance, vague problems; aggressive or over-solicitous partner; burns, pain, tenderness, injuries; vaginal tears, bleeding, STDs; and miscarriage.
Domestic violence can also affect the fetus and the subsequent child. Physical abuse is associated with neonatal death (1.5% versus 0.2%), and verbal abuse is associated with low birth weight (7.6% versus 5.1%).
Women's violence towards men is a serious social problem. While much attention has been focused on domestic violence against women, researchers argue that domestic violence against men is a substantial social problem worthy of attention. However, the issue of victimization of men by women has been contentious, due in part to studies which report drastically different statistics regarding domestic violence.
Some studies—typically crime studies—show that men are substantially more likely than women to use violence. According to a July 2000 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, data from the Bureau of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey consistently show that women are at significantly greater risk of intimate partner violence than are men. Other studies—typically family and domestic violence studies—show that men are more likely to inflict injuries, but also that when all acts of physical aggression or violence are considered in aggregate, women are equally violent as men, or more violent than men.
In May, 2007, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control reported on rates of self-reported violence among intimate partners using data from a 2001 study. In the study, almost one-quarter of participants reported some violence in their relationships. Half of these involved one-sided ("non-reciprocal") attacks and half involved both assaults and counter assaults ("reciprocal violence"). Women reported committing one-sided attacks more than twice as often as men (70% versus 29%). In all cases of intimate partner violence, women were more likely to be injured than men, but 25% of men in relationships with two-sided violence reported injury compared to 20% of women reporting injury in relationships with one-sided violence. Women were more likely to be injured in non-reciprocal violence.
Straus argues that these discrepancies between the two data sets are due to several factors. For example, Straus notes that crime studies use different methodologies than family conflict studies. Additionally, Straus notes that most studies show that while men inflict the greater portion of injuries, women are at least as likely as men to shove, punch, slap or otherwise physically assault their partner, and that such relatively minor assaults often escalate to more serious assaults. Men generally do not report such assaults if asked general questions about violence or abuse; older studies frequently failed to ask about specific actions, thus falling afoul of quite different cultural gender norms for what constitutes abuse. Minor assaults perpetrated by women are also a major problem, even when they do not result in injury, because they put women in danger of much more severe retaliation by men.
The 2000 CDC report, based on phone interviews with 8000 men and 8000 women, reported that 7.5% of men claim to have been raped or assaulted by an intimate at some time in their life (compared to 25% of women), and 0.9 percent of men claim to have been raped or assaulted in the previous 12 months (compared to 1.5% of women).
A 2007-2008 online non-random, self-report survey of the experiences and health of men who sustained partner violence in the past year. The study showed that male victims of IPV are very hesitant to report the violence or seek help. Reasons given for non-reporting were they (1) may be ashamed to come forward; (2) may not be believed; and (3) may be accused of being a batterer when they do come forward. The 229 U.S. heterosexual men, between 18 and 59, had been physically assaulted by their female partner within previous year and did seek help. The researchers say their findings emphasize the need for prevention on all levels:
- Primary prevention: Educate public and providers that both sexes can be IPV victims
- Secondary prevention: First responders (police, hotlines, medical professionals) should take concerns seriously from all individuals (including males) seeking help
- Tertiary prevention: Rehabilitative services available to all individuals
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that for each year between 2000 and 2005, "female parents acting alone" were most common perpetrators of child abuse.
When it comes to domestic violence towards children involving physical abuse, research in the UK by the NSPCC indicated that "most violence occurred at home" (78 per cent). 40—60% of men and women who abuse other adults also abuse their children. Girls whose fathers batter their mothers are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually abused by their fathers than are girls from non-violent homes. In China in 1989, 39,000 baby girls died during their first year of life because they didn't receive the same medical care that would be given to a male child.
Teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling behavior by one teenager over another teenager who are in a dating relationship. While there are many similarities to "traditional" domestic violence there are also some differences. Teens are much more likely than adults to become isolated from their peers as the result of controlling behavior by their boyfriend/girlfriend. Also, for many teens the abusive relationship may be their first dating experience and have never had a "normal" dating experience with which to compare it. While teenagers are trying to establish their sexual identities, they are also confronting violence in their relationships and exposure to technology. Studies document that teenagers are experiencing significant amounts of dating or domestic violence. Depending on the population studied and the way dating violence is defined, between 9 and 35% of teens have experienced domestic violence in a dating relationship. When a broader definition of abuse that encompasses physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is used, one in three teen girls is subjected to dating abuse." Additionally, a significant number of teens are victims of stalking by intimate partners. Although involvement with romantic relationships is a critical aspect of adolescence, these relationships also present serious risks for teenagers. Unfortunately, adolescents in dating relationships are at greater risk of intimate partner violence than any other age group. Approximately one third of adolescent girls are victims of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Estimates of sexual victimization range from 14% to 43% of girls and 0.3% to 36% for boys. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2009, nearly 10% of students nationwide had been intentionally hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Twenty-six percent of girls in a relationship reported being threatened with violence or experiencing verbal abuse; 13% reported being physically hurt or hit.
Measuring domestic violence
Measures of the incidence of violence in intimate relationships can differ markedly in their findings depending on the measures used. Care is needed when using domestic violence statistics to ensure that both gender bias and under-reporting issues do not affect the inferences that are drawn from the statistics.
Some researchers, such as Michael P. Johnson, suggest that where and how domestic violence is measured also affects findings, and caution is needed to ensure statistics drawn from one class of situations are not applied to another class of situations in a way that might have fatal consequences. Other researchers, such as David Murray Fergusson, counter that domestic violence prevention services, and statistics that they produce, target the extreme end of domestic violence and preventing child abuse rather than domestic violence between couples.
"Community-based samples" show a symmetry in the rates women and men are perpetrators or victims of certain forms of domestic violence. "Agency samples" and "hospital samples" show that men commit up to 90% domestic violence.
Survey approaches to gathering domestic violence statistics tend to show parity in the use of violence by both men and women against partners, while approaches using data from reports of domestic violence offending tends to show women experiencing violence from male partners as the majority of cases (over 80%).
Research based on the survey-based Conflict Tactics Scale, a measure of intrafamily conflict and violence focusing on the adults in the family developed by Murray Straus (1979)[clarification needed], includes national surveys on the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States and other countries. These include the two U.S. National Family Violence Surveys (1975 and 1985) and the National Violence Against Women Survey (2000) (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). This research has tended to show that men and women are equally violent. The National Violence Against Women Survey (2000) found that women experience more intimate partner violence than do men, women experience more chronic and injurious physical assaults at the hands of intimate partners than do men, and that violence perpetrated against women by intimates is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).
Research based on reported domestic violence or on police records show men to be the perpetrators and women the victims of most domestic violence.
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However, the mere intervention of police may introduce a degree of gender bias into reporting.
When faced with a domestic violence situation, police officers often find it far easier to take action against a male protagonist than a female one. Removing one party will normally defuse an altercation. Often police will choose the man, possibly due to simple gender bias, and possibly because his arrest is not normally going to involve any children; while removing the woman may entail involving other social services to care for the children for a time, something that may not be in the children's best interests, or may cause a significant delay. The fact that the majority of police officers are also male and that non-domestic offending is often committed by males may also influence an officer's decision.
Also, police responding to a complaint may act more favorably to the complainant than other parties (although some researchers also report instances where men were attacked, called the police instead of fighting back, and yet were arrested themselves).
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Some researchers have found that women are more likely to report domestic violence to police than men are, and this is a cause of gender bias. For example, in Ireland, 29% of female victims and 5% of male victims of domestic abuse reported the abuse to the police. In the United States, male victims are less likely than female victims to report rape, physical assault, or stalking.
Injury and hospital admission statistics also suggest that males are more frequently perpetrators of injury causing violence. However, both the large difference in likelihood of reporting noted above, and the relative strengths and other physical differences between males and females, could be factors in this reporting bias, as males may be more likely to injure females in otherwise equivalent circumstances.
The problem of under-reporting to police is believed to be substantial. However, estimates about how much domestic violence is not reported vary widely. It must also be remembered that a significant amount of non-domestic violence crime is also not reported to police. Depending on what statistics are chosen, anywhere between a tenth of incidents and nothing significantly less than what would be expected for any other incident are reported to police.[clarification needed]
Many crime victimization surveys, from many countries, do show that there is a correlation between the under-reporting of crime and the degree of intimacy between the victim and the offender. The degree of seriousness of offending also affects reporting, with less serious offending less likely to be reported to police. Also the nature of the offending affects reporting, with sexual offenses far less likely to be reported, even when they are serious.
The World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the same year, concluded that civil society and governments have acknowledged that violence against women is a public health and human rights concern. Work in this area has resulted in the establishment of international standards, but the task of documenting the magnitude of violence against women and producing reliable, comparative data to guide policy and monitor implementation has been exceedingly difficult. The World Health Organisation Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women 2005 is a response to this difficulty. Published in 2005 it is a groundbreaking study which analysed data from 10 countries and sheds new light on the prevalence of violence against women. It seeks to look at violence against women a public health policy perspective. The findings will be used to inform a more effective response from government, including the health, justice and social service sectors, as a step towards fulfilling the state’s obligation to eliminate violence against women under international human rights laws.
A 1992 Council of Europe study on domestic violence against women found that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6 and 10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year.
The British Crime Survey for 2006-2007 reported that 0.5% of people (0.6% of women and 0.3% of men) reported being victims of domestic violence during that year and 44.3% of domestic violence was reported to the police. According to the survey, and 312,000 women and 93,000 men were victims of domestic violence.
The Northern Ireland Crime Survey for 2005 reported that 13% of people (16% of women and 10% of men) reported being victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
The National Study of Domestic Abuse for 2005 reported that 213,000 women and 88,000 men reported being victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. According to the study, one in seven women and one in sixteen men were victims of severe physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, or sexual abuse.
In the United Kingdom, the police estimate that around 35% of domestic violence against women is actually reported. A 2002 Women's Aid study found that 74% of separated women suffered from post-separation violence.
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. 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. 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.
Studies have found that men are much less likely to report victimization in these situations. According to some studies, less than 1% of domestic violence cases are reported to the police. In the United States 10–35% of the population will be physically aggressive towards a partner at some point in their lives. As abuse becomes more severe women become increasingly overrepresented as victims.
In Canada, the Assembly of First Nations evaluation of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program conducted by CIET offers an inclusive and relatively unbiased national estimate. It documented domestic violence in a random sample of 85 First Nations across Canada: 22% (523/2359) of mothers reported suffering abuse in the year prior to being interviewed; of these, 59% reported physical abuse.
Results of studies which estimate the prevalence of domestic violence vary significantly, depending on specific wording of survey questions, how the survey is conducted, the definition of abuse or domestic violence used, the willingness or unwillingness of victims to admit that they have been abused and other factors. For instance, Straus (2005) conducted a study which estimated that the rate of minor assaults by women in the United States was 78 per 1,000 couples, compared with a rate for men of 72 per 1,000 and the severe assault rate was 46 per 1,000 couples for assaults by women and 50 per 1,000 for assaults by men. Neither difference is statistically significant. He claimed that since these rates were based exclusively on information provided by women respondents, the near-equality in assault rates could not be attributed to a gender bias in reporting.
One analysis found that "women are as physically aggressive or more aggressive than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners". However, studies have shown that women are more likely to be injured. Archer's meta-analysis found that women in the United States suffer 65% of domestic violence injuries. A Canadian study showed that 7% of women and 6% of men were abused by their current or former partners, but female victims of spousal violence were more than twice as likely to be injured as male victims, three times more likely to fear for their life, twice as likely to be stalked, and twice as likely to experience more than ten incidents of violence. However, Straus notes that Canadian studies on domestic violence have simply excluded questions that ask men about being victimized by their wives.
Some studies show that lesbian relationships have similar levels of violence as heterosexual relationships.
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. The rate of intimate partner violence in the U. S. has declined since 1993.
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 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; more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime.
According to Southern Connecticut State University: "In 95% of family violence cases the victims are women beaten by male partners. In 1% of the cases the reverse is true. There are an estimated 28 million battered women in the U.S., more than half of all married women in the country. In the U.S., one woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 9 seconds. Battering is the single major cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S.; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. 70% of the assault victims seen in the emergency room of Boston City Hospital are women who have been attacked in their own homes. 3 out of 5 women in the U.S. will be battered in their lifetime." Domestic Violence Facts
Family judges often issue orders of protection or restraining orders in the absence of any direct threat of harm (Heleniak, Rutgers Law Review, Spring 2005). Eighty-five percent of these orders are issued against men (Young, Independent Women’s Forum, 2005). Often these orders are used as "part of the gamesmanship of divorce." (Kasper, Illinois Bar Journal, June 2005 and Kiernan, New Jersey Law Journal, April 1988)
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.
Honor killing in the United States
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Findings from the 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey show that among the female victims of physical assault, 31 percent were assaulted by a current or previous partner. Among male victims, 4.4 percent were assaulted by a current or previous partner. Thirty per cent of people who had experienced violence by a current partner since the age of 15 were male, and seventy per cent were female.
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- Fact Sheet: Lesbian Partner Violence
- "[A 1991 study] reported, in a survey of 350 lesbians, that rates of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were all significantly higher in lesbian relationships than in heterosexual relationships: 56.8% had been sexually victimized by a female, 45% had experienced physical aggression, and 64.5% experienced physical or emotional aggression. Of this sample of women, 78.2% had been in a prior relationship with a man. Reports of violence by men were all lower than reports of violence in prior relationships with women (sexual victimization, 41.9% (vs. 56.8% with women); physical victimization 32.4% (vs. 45%) and emotional victimization 55.1% (vs. 64.5%)." Dutton, 1994
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- Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence
- "A review of the research literature indicates that female intimate partner violence (IPV) is a frequent as male IPV. It is just as severe and has much the same consequences for males as for females." Donald G. Dutton."Female intimate partner violence and developmental trajectories of abusive females." International Journal of Men's Health. Spring 2007. 
- A 2007 study of over 2,400 Spanish high school students found that girls are substantially more likely than boys to exhibit physical aggression (41.9% vs. 31.7%), including higher rates of hitting/kicking (13.4% vs 5.3%), slapping (12.4% vs 3.1%) and shoving/grabbing (22.5% vs 11.9%). See Munoz-Rivas, M. J., Grana, J. L., O'Leary, K. D., & Gonzalez, M. P. (2007). Aggression in adolescent dating relationships: prevalence, justification, and health consequences. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 298-304.
- A 2000 meta analysis found that men inflict 65% of domestic injuries, but women are more likely (d=-.05) to use any act of violence or aggression. See Archer, J. (2000)."Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review". Psychological Bulletin, 126, 651-680.
- Erin Pizzey, founder of one of the world's first refuges for battered women, distinguished between the "genuinely battered" and the "violence prone, " additionally arguing that roughly two-thirds of the women at her shelter were violence prone, often provoking physical aggression and initiating violent conflicts. See Pizzey's "Comparative Study Of Battered Women And Violence-Prone Women, ", co-researched with Dr. John Gayford of Warlingham Hospital.
- A study of university students in Spain found that "Violent psychological behaviors (characterized by the presence of verbal aggression and coercive and jealous behaviors) and physical aggression were significantly higher in women, though the consequences of physical aggression were worse for the women's health." See Marina J. Muñoz-Rivas, et al. Physical and Psychological Aggression in Dating Relationships Amongst Spanish University Students Psicothema 2007. Vol. 19, no. 1 , p. 102-107
- Straus, Murray A. (1999). "The Controversy Over Domestic Violence by Women". In Violence in Intimate Relationships.
- Denise A. Hines, Emily M. Douglas. "Men Who Sustain Partner Violence and Seek Help: Their Abuse and Help-Seeking Experiences and Implications for Prevention." NIH. April 1, 2009 Welcome to the Men Experiences with Partner Violence Project
- Stats for 2000 ; for 2001 ; for 2002  for 2003 ; for 2004  for 2005 
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- Archer, John (2000). "Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 651–680. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.5.651. PMID 10989615. "Meta-analyses of sex differences in physical aggression to heterosexual partners and in its physical consequences are reported. Women were slightly more likely (d = –.05) than men to use one or more acts of physical aggression and to use such acts more frequently. Men were more likely (d = .15) to inflict an injury, and overall, 62% of those injured by a partner were women."
- O'Leary, K. Daniel (2000). "Are women really more aggressive than men in intimate relationships? Comment on Archer". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 681–684. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.5.685. PMID 10989617. "J. Archer's conclusion that women engage in slightly more physical aggression than men in intimate relationships but sustain more injuries is reasonable in representative samples."
- Frieze, Irene (2000). "Violence in close relationships—development of a research area: Comment on Archer (2000)". Psychological Bulletin 126 (5): 681–684. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.5.681. PMID 10989616. "Assumptions of and conclusions made by feminist researchers about the problems of battered wives are reviewed. It is argued that their focus on marital violence as a form of aggression against women by men and their concern for severely beaten wives may have caused them to ignore high levels of female violence in marriage and dating. J. Archer's meta-analysis of studies of marital and dating violence showed that both sexes display violence in these relationships, although women are more likely to be injured."
- Fiebert, Martin (May 2011). "References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: an annotated bibliography". California State University. Retrieved 13 October 2011. "This bibliography examines 282 scholarly investigations: 218 empirical studies and 64 reviews and/or analyses, which 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 369,800."
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- Straus, 2005
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- Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, US Department of Justice, Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, 2000
- Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey