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What You Should Know About Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic Violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that can happen in a dating, marital, or live-in intimate partner relationship. In an abusive relationship, one partner tries to maintain control over the other by using physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual violence. Although factors such as drug and alcohol use, stress, or a family history of abuse may contribute to the problem, domestic violence is primarily an issue of power and control.

Abuse may include:

  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, choking, punching, or biting
  • Making light of the abuse, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
  • Constant jealousy and control
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Forced sex
  • Isolation from family/friends
  • Economic control – keeping the victim from working, not allowing access to family income
  • Destruction of personal property
  • Excessive criticism
  • Extreme anger
  • Withholding medication
  • Using race, age, sexual identity, immigration status, class, appearance, religion, HIV status, etc. against you

Domestic Violence Does Not Discriminate

Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence occurs across all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. It has no boundaries and exists among dating relationships, same-sex relationships, and older victims. It also impacts the lives of children, people with disabilities, and immigrants. Learn more about who is affected by domestic violence.

Intimate partner violence is pervasive worldwide. A woman is battered by an intimate partner every 15 seconds (United Nationals Study on the Status of Women, 2000). More than 625,000 intimate partner victimizations occur each year and, on average, more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends (U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006).

The majority of victims are women. Studies of samples from shelters, hospitals, and police reports find that as many as 90-95% of intimate partner abuse involves a male perpetrator against his female partner or ex-partner.

Victims are getting younger. Girls between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.

  • Girls who reported dating abuse were six to nine times as likely to contemplate or attempt suicide than non-abused girls (Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Abuse Unhealthy Weight Control Journal of American Medical Association, 2001).

The impact on families is devastating. Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.

  • Men who witness family violence were almost four times more likely than other men to have committed domestic violence as adults, according to one large study.
  • When asked if they had witnessed domestic violence in their homes in the last year, one out of four Delaware 8th graders said “yes” (Delaware School Survey, 2007).

Domestic violence takes a huge financial toll. The cost of intimate partner violence is more than $5.8 billion every year, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses.

  • As many as half of domestic violence victims report that they have lost a job at least in part due to domestic violence.
  • Women who experience domestic violence were more likely to experience unemployment, have health problems, and be welfare recipients.
  • Domestic violence has been estimated to cost employers in the U.S. up to $13 billion a year.

The needs of the victims often exceed the resources available. The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that during a one-day national survey in 2010, more than 70,000 domestic violence victims were served nationally, and more than 200 of them were in Delaware. More than 9,000 needs were unmet nationwide, due to lack of funding and resources. While a handful of those unmet needs on that one day were in the First State, our domestic violence service providers report that 57% of service programs report a rise in demand for services (NNEDV Census).

Source: Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Fact Sheet