Barbara Hart, a nationally recognized expert on family violence, defines domestic violence as:

"Domestic violence involves a continuum of behaviors ranging from degrading remarks to cruel jokes, economic exploitation, punches and kicks, false imprisonment, sexual abuse, suffocating actions, maiming assaults and homicide. Unchecked, domestic violence usually increases in frequency and severity. Many victims suffer all forms of abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse may be subtler than physical harm, but this does not mean that it is less destructive to victims. Many have said that the emotional scars take much longer to heal than the broken bones."

 

Statistics - Domestic Violence

Domestic violence may involve any physical abuse or threat or pattern thereof, between intimately involved partners, roommates, or family members. Domestic violence and other domestic friction is a significant contributor to homelessness and general domestic upheaval. Although most domestic violence victims are ostensibly women, some social recognition is beginning to manifest for male domestic violence victims as well.

National Prevalence...

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) has received more than 700,000 calls since February 1996. - NDVH, December 2001
  • Approximately 1.5 million women are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in the United States. - National Institute of Justice, July 2000
  • Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year to 4 million women who are physically abused by their husbands or live-in partners per year. -Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998
  • While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. -Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998
  • Violence by an intimate accounts for about 21% of violent crime experienced by women and about 2 % of the violence experienced by men.-Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998

Homicide

  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. In 1998, approximately 1,830 murders were attributed to intimates; nearly three out of four of the murder victims (1,320 total) were women. - U.S. Department of Justice, Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000
  • In 1996, among all female murder victims in the U.S., 30% were slain by their husbands or boyfriends.- Uniform Crime Reports of the U.S. 1996, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1996
  • 31,260 women were murdered by an intimate from 1976-1996. - Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March 1998

And, of course, kids…

  • Studies show that child abuse occurs in 30-60% of family violence cases that involve families with children.- "The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering." J.L. Edleson, Violence Against Women, February, 1999
  • A child's exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.-Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, APA, 1996

Dating Violence

  • One in five adolescent girls will be physically and/or sexually abused in a dating relationship.- Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Abuse, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicide; Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2001
  • Physical and sexual abuse against adolescent girls in dating relationships increases the likelihood that the girl will abuse drugs and/or alcohol, develop an eating disorder, consider and/or attempt suicide, engage in risky sexual behavior and/or become pregnant.- Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Abuse, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicide; Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2001

Stalking

  • It is estimated that 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the United States. - National Institute of Justice, July 2000

Domestic Violence and Special Populations
Domestic violence cuts across lines of race, nationality, language, culture, economics, sexual orientation, physical ability, and religion to affect people from all walks of life. Domestic violence is serious wherever and whenever it happens. Racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other forms of oppression can impact how people experience violence in their lives and how they are able to get help. Substance abuse problems or mental illnesses, while not responsible for domestic violence, can change a family’s experience of violence and the kind of treatment that is needed. People have developed specific resources to make sure that all individuals in any circumstance can get the help and support they need to end domestic violence in their lives. The following links represent some of the resources available. We will continue to add more resources as we find out about them. Please send us any suggestions for links that should be included here.

Battered Immigrant Women
When working with battered immigrant women, it is important to recognize and address the myriad other issues facing them. Of these, the most complex involves her legal status to remain in the country.

Many battered immigrant women report that they will not leave a violent relationship until their immigration concerns are addressed. This finding has also been confirmed by multiple studies. Undocumented battered immigrant women face threats of deportation by their abusers. Their abusers often threaten to withdraw support of their immigration petitions, and feed them misinformation about the laws in this country. In many cases, the abuser speaks better English than the woman and is able to talk his way out of being arrested when police come to the scene. For these and many other reasons, immigrant women may be reluctant to come forth and ask for assistance U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

It is important for advocates to familiarize themselves with some basic immigration issues. Because immigration law is complex and often changes, program advocates should develop strong relationships with local attorneys that specialize in this field.

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