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With one in four women victimized by domestic violence in her lifetime, each of us knows someone who has been affected, whether we know it or not. The survivor may be a family member, a coworker, someone who worships with you, a friend, or an acquaintance.
Domestic violence occurs in every culture, country, and age group. It affects people from all socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds and happens in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships. Children are also affected by domestic violence, even if they are not abused or do not witness it directly.
The majority of victims of domestic violence are women, although men can also be victimized. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, women are 90-95 percent more likely to be victims of domestic violence than are men. Those men who are victimized include both men who experience intimate partner violence in gay relationships and men who are battered by a female partner.
Women with fewer resources or greater perceived vulnerability, including girls and those experiencing physical or psychiatric disabilities or living below the poverty line, are at the greatest risk for domestic violence and lifetime abuse.
Here are examples of how specific constituencies have been affected by domestic violence.
Teens – with technology at their fingertips – are increasingly vulnerable to dating violence.
Fear is the driving force behind many immigrants’ reluctance to report acts of domestic violence to the authorities.
The same issues of power and control can be present in the whole continuum of relationships, no matter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity:
View the Directory of Community Service and Domestic Violence Service Providers for the LGBT Community. This Directory was prepared by DCADV's Committee for LGBT Concerns. The service providers listed in the directory have self-identified as being LGBT "friendly" with a knowledge of domestic violence (updated November 11, 2008).
Women with disabilities, including mental illness, and Deaf women are at greater risk for intimate partner violence than women without disabilities. Not only does their disability make them more vulnerable, the barriers to seeking safety can be higher.
DCADV is working to address this problem. In 2011 we began collaborating with the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Delaware to increase awareness among individuals with disabilities and providers about the dynamics of domestic violence, and to connect them with services and supports using a Trauma-Informed Approach. At the same time, we are expanding the awareness among domestic violence service providers of the special needs and vulnerabilities of victims with disabilities, including those with mental illness. Read more about our Mental Health, Trauma, and Disabilities work.
The challenge to assist elderly women facing abusive relationships may escalate as the “baby boom” generation begins to enter old age. Today, it is estimated that:
Advocates have identified two categories of domestic violence against the elderly:
Domestic Violence is a business issue that cannot be ignored. Many people facing domestic violence spend at least eight hours a day in the workplace. Domestic violence affects employee health and well-being, productivity, benefits, costs, and risk to employer. It is therefore important that employees who are victims or perpetrators and employers notice the signs and find ways of dealing with the situation.
The cost of domestic violence – both to victims and to our economy – is devastating. The cost to our economy is more than $8.3 billion, in health care, mental health services, and lost productivity.xii The National Institute of Justice found that the total yearly cost to victims of domestic violence is more than $8.8 billion.xiii
i Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal an Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus.
ii Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study, Teenage Research Unlimited for Liz Claiborne, Inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. February 2008.
iii Silverman, J. Raj A, et al. 2001. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. JAMA. 286:572-579.
iv Baum, Katrina, Catalano, Shannan, Rand, Michael and Rose, Kristina. 2009. Stalking Victimization in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.
v NNEDV website, Public Policy, May 2011.
vi Greenwood, Gregory L., PhD, MPH, et al., “Battering Victimization Among a Probability-Based Sample of Men Who Have Sex With Men”, American Journal of Public Health, December 2002, Vol. 92, No. 12.
vii In Brief: Interpersonal Violence and Women with Disabilities: A Research Update (September 2009) www.vawnet.org
viii Devine, Holly MSW and Briggs, Carol. Disabled Women and Domestic Violence, abusesanctuary.blogspot.com, March 2011.
ix Melissa M. Batt, “Domestic violence in elderly women: A systematic review” (January 1, 2010) Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). Paper AAI484206.
x National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, www.preventelderabuse.org
xii Max W. Rice, DP, Finkelstein E, Bardwell RA, Leadbetter S. The economic toll of intimate partner violence aganst women in the United States. Violence and Victims 2004; 19(3):259-72. Via the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.
xiii Lawrence A. Greenfield et al., US Department of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, March, 1998