4 Things You Need to Know About Domestic Violence

RAFT Team, February 10, 2020

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control  over the other.

You need to know four things about domestic violence:

  • Domestic violence is prevalent.
  • It includes many forms, some more hidden than others.
  • Domestic violence has broad consequences to both individuals and society.
  • There are many resources to help, whether you're a survivor, an advocate, or a concerned member of the community.

The Prevalence of Domestic Violence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:

  • 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Over 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 11 million women (26%) and 5 million men (15%) report they have experienced intimate partner violence before they turned 18. Teen dating violence is more prevalent than many realize. It can even occur electronically: texting over and over or sharing images online without permission.

NCADV reports:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S.
  • On a typical day, more than 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violence crime.
  • Only 34% of people injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
  • 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. 90% of the time, children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

A recent study explores the media’s role in normalizing and perpetuating domestic violence. It finds that the media often normalizes it, uses passive voice when reporting it, or inaccurately emphasizes the shared responsibility of the abuser and the survivor for the abuser’s violence. Labeling the survivors as “accusers” furthers this distortion, as it positions the abuser as the victim and the survivor as the aggressor.

Additional Types of Domestic Violence

Many think of domestic violence survivors as battered and bruised. While this is often true, domestic violence has many faces, some more subtle to the outsider but just as damaging.

Educational Sabotage. A recent study published in the journal “Violence Against Women” brings to light an often overlooked aspect of abuse: educational sabotage. This tactic affects a survivor’s efforts and ability to earn a higher level of education. By hindering this effort, the abuser limits the survivor’s ability to become financially independent. 

Following Natural Disaster. Domestic violence increases after natural disasters. Displacement, social isolation coupled with psychological trauma and financial loss all contribute to this statistic.

  • Following Hurricane Katrina, there was a 98% increase in violence against women.
  • Workload for domestic violence agencies tripled and police calls doubled following the 2004 Whakatane Flood in New Zealand.

The Consequences of Domestic Violence

Teens who experience abusive relationships often struggle with depression and anxiety, and even consider suicide. They’re more apt to use tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, or be more apt to lie, steal, and bully others. And those who experience this type of behavior as teens are more susceptible to victimization after high school. 

NCADV reports:

  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year. 
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year. 
  • Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse. 
  • Physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health effects have been linked with intimate partner violence including adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancy in general, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

The Office on Women’s Health reports:

  • Half of women who experienced sexual assault had to quit or were forced to leave their jobs in the first year after the assault. Total lifetime income loss for these women is nearly $250,000 each.
  • Half of all homeless women and children become homeless while trying to escape intimate partner violence.
  • Women with a disability are more likely to experience violence of abuse compared to women without a disability.

Resources to Help Domestic Violence Survivors

Many organizations and agencies have assembled tools and resources to help survivors and their advocates.

No matter who are, you can help stop the prevalence of domestic violence. If you're a community member, educate yourself on the statistics, stand up for survivors, and share resources. If you're an Advocate, thank you! Take care of yourself so you can continue to support the survivors you work with on a daily basis. Together we can make a difference!