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Domestic Violence Statistics

Domestic violence is wrong. There is never any excuse for it. One of the reasons it continues as a significant problem is that perpetrators are not always reported to the authorities.

|SEE ALSO: Understanding Violence Definition|

Years of being beaten, told they are worthless, and being trapped in a hostile environment take its toll on a person’s psyche. It is unfortunate, but many of those being abused in this way start to believe that they somehow deserve it. Children who observe this in the home, who have nothing to do with it, also start to feel they are somehow the cause of it. Because of the intimidation, the blame shifts from the person who is violent to the others in the home, especially when the perpetrator insists the others are the reason for the violent outbursts. Even though this is not true or fair, it is a kind of psychological brainwashing that is a very present part of our lives.

Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave

To outsiders who have never experienced this particular type of trauma, they wonder why the person being attacked does not simply leave the situation. From the point of view of the person being attacked, they do not see the option of leaving as a solution. The reasons are:

  1. They are often threatened with death if they leave and there is plenty of evidence these threats are very real
  2. They do not have any confidence they will be able to make it on their own
  3. Children are hostages. If all children are not taken away at the same time, they are abused to punish the spouse who left

The fear of being attacked for reporting domestic violence to authorities is quite real. 20% of the 1.5 million annual victims of domestic violence get a restraining order, but 50% of these restraining orders are violated. It is very clear to everyone that restraining orders only work half the time. If the perpetrating partner has either stalked or raped the victim, that means that more than 66% of the restraining orders have violations. Many of these violations result in death of the victim. This TED Talk by Leslie Morgan sheds some more light on why domestic violence victims don’t leave, based on her personal experience.

Why Violence?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the issues regarding domestic violence are about power and control using both physical and sexual violence. Power and control are expressed in these ways:

Threats and Coercion – Threats are both made and carried out. They include such things as threatening to hurt someone, to leave them, to commit suicide, to report them to welfare, to force the victim to drop criminal charges, and to force a person to commit crimes.

Males as a Privileged Class – This is where the man treats the woman as a slave, making her servile to his needs and desires, with the male making all the decisions and defining the roles.

Abuse Around Money – Enforcement of this type of abuse is by not allowing the partner to keep or get a job, making them have to beg for money, taking money away from them, or putting them on an allowance, all without having any access to or information about family finances. Our article Financial Abuse explains this further.

Abuse of Children – Besides physical abuse of children, they can also become objects for coercion, which makes the spouse feel guilty about them. Having the children set up as messengers between the spouses, using the rights of visitation as a form of blackmail, and ultimately threatening to take the children completely away are some methods of such abuse.

Denial and Blaming – Often, the perpetrators of abuse deny the incidents ever happened, or make light of a very serious situation. In countless cases, the victims get the blame for somehow causing the abuse to occur. For example, if the woman had only kept the kitchen clean like she should, she would not have received a beating.

Being Isolated – This is where the male controls everything his spouse does; who she communicates with, what she sees, and where she goes. Jealousy is usually the reason to limit any outside connections and is often disguised as “loving” the spouse and wanting to protect her from harm, even though the harm is coming from the supposed protector.

Emotional Attacks – Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. Constant attacks on self-esteem, such as saying a person is unworthy, stupid, or a failure, degrades the person and reduces resistance to control. Name-calling, making a person believe they might be crazy, brainwashing, mind games, humiliation, and guilt are all forms of emotional abuse.

Intimidation – Intimidating behaviors include breaking things, sudden outbursts of violence, abusing children and/or pets, showing weapons in a threatening manner, destroying items of personal importance, evil words, strong looks, and actions such as pushing or shoving. Keeping the spouse unnerved by surprising violent outbursts eventually degrades them into submissiveness.

Facts and Figures

The statistics on domestic violence are terrifying.

The Effect on Women

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 25% of all women will experience domestic violence sometime during their lives
  • Each year, 1.3 million women are physically attacked by their spouse or boyfriend
  • 15% of the time women are the attackers
  • 85% of the time women are the victims of the attacks
  • Same-sex violence, i.e. women on women or men on men, exists as well
  • Women are most likely to experience harm from someone they know
  • Younger women, in their early twenties, are the most likely victims of domestic violence

The Effect on Children

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • When children see domestic violence, they are likely to copy the behavior and continue the trauma in the next generation
  • Boys who see domestic violence as children are two times more likely to abuse their future spoues
  • The perpetrators of domestic violence not only attack their intimate partners, but 30% to 60% also abuse the children in the family

Women are Injured and Killed

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 33% of the women homicide victims die at the hand of their spouse or boyfriend
  • For homicides between intimate partners, independent of which partner dies, the female has been physically abused by the male 70% to 80% of the time
  • Less than 20% of domestic violence victims seek treatment at hospitals for injuries
  • Domestic partner violence creates visits for mental health problems in excess of 18.5 million visits per year
  • 16,800 homicides come from domestic violence each year in America

Who Gets Raped?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Of those reporting domestic violence, 16% of women experienced a rape or an attempted rape
  • Of those reporting domestic violence, 3% of men experienced a rape or an attempted rape
  • Intimate partner rape affects 7.8 million women
  • Forced sex exists in about 40% to 45% of abusive relationships
  • 5% of women and 2% of men experienced being stalked
  • 81% of women who escape the abuser experience stalking by the same abuser, who then physically attacks them. 31% of these women are also assaulted in a sexual way by an ex-partner

What is the Cost to Society?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Each year, the cost to society for domestic violence has the estimation of US$ 5.8 billion
  • US$ 4.1 billion is the cost for healthcare services
  • 8 million work-days are lost when the victim is too beaten up to go to work, which is equal to 32,000 fulltime jobs
  • The cost for the 16,800 homicides has the estimation of US$ 37 billion

State Laws Differ

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Each state has its own definition of what constitutes as domestic violence
  • Many states require the two people to be spouses, intimate partners, or have a child
  • Quite a few states include past dating relationships under domestic violence laws
  • The states of Delaware, South Carolina, and Montana have excluded protection for same-sex relationships, under laws covering domestic violence

Can it End?

Domestic abuse statistics tell a grim tale. Domestic violence is only stopped in three ways:

  1. The perpetrators stop or go to prison
  2. The victims find safe harbor
  3. Someone dies

There are many things a domestic violence victim can do to break free of their vicious cycles. Entities the likes of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and DomesticShelters.org offer information, insights, shelters, planning assistance and rehabilitation help to victims and their families. You can read more about the National Domestic Violence Hotline in our article here.

Our advice to victims is to consider their escape from domestic violence like escaping from prison. Keep plans secret. Reach out for help. Prepare the escape plan to include taking all the children with you and be sure the perpetrator cannot find out where you are after you leave. It is possible to escape with good planning. Don’t be a victim – plan your safe escape!

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