Domestic violence, as defined by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NCADV, ‘is 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’.
The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship that’s used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another person.
ALSO READ: Check out a comprehensive resource on domestic violence at The Recovery Village.
Domestic violence may include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence and its forms vary drastically in different relationships, however in almost all situations the abuser tries to maintain power and control over their partner.
Domestic violence can affect anybody irrespective of age, gender, ability, sexuality, ethnicity and race. In fact, in 2001 approximately 15% of the victims of intimate partner violence were men and another statistic by the NCADV stated that 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
It is a commonly held belief that domestic violence only occurs in uneducated, minority or dysfunctional relationships. That is far from the truth. Domestic violence occurs at every level of society regardless of income or educational background with as many as 50% of all couples experiencing domestic violence at some point in their lives.
The following are 13 lesser known facts about domestic violence:
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten
- Everyday in the US more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriend
- More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs
- On average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year
- 25% – 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy
- Domestic violence does not end immediately with separation. Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation
- 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female
- At least 1/3 of the families using New York City’s family shelter system are homeless due to domestic violence
- 1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year
- Victims do not choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship. In fact 65% of abused women are killed when or after they leave their abuser.
- 76% of femicide victims had been stalked by the person who killed them
It is difficult to determine whether or not a person is abusive when a relationship is at its early stages as domestic violence often intensifies as the relationship progresses. Abusers could seem wonderful and supportive in the beginning of a relationship, however, as time goes on they tend to become controlling and aggressive. Often abuse starts to shows up in minor arguments and quarrels in the form of name calling, possessiveness and jealously. The threat and intensity of abuse often magnify. Many times abusers use intimidation, threat, emotional abuse, economic status, isolation, and blame to gain power over their victims.
It is important to realize that domestic violence does not always manifest itself in the form of physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse are just as dangerous and life threatening. Many times misinformation or hurtful myths prevent individuals from seeking timely help. It is important to understand that victims of domestic violence must be supported as much as possible and referred to the right sources as soon as possible. One must never blame a victim of domestic violence nor pass any kind of judgement.
Sanah Rizvi is a feminist by choice and writer by passion. She is a contributing writer with Women’s Web and is a thought provoking blogger at Dancing To The Rain.