Family Peace Project
Family Violence Fact Sheet for Community Leaders
Family violence is physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within families directed at a child (child abuse), partner (partner violence), sibling, or elder (elder abuse).
Family violence occurs as a pattern of violence over time, with the violence taking a variety of forms:
- Physical assault-pushing punching, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, tearing hair, assaults with a weapon
- Forced sexual contact and rape
- Destruction of property
- Injury or destruction of pets
- Threats and intimidation, including threats to harm children or other family members
- Control of money, transportation, activities and social contacts
Three out of four offenders committing violence against women are spouses (9%), ex-spouses (35%), and boyfriends or ex-boyfriends (32%). When only spousal abuse is considered, divorced or separated men committed 79% of such violence and husbands, 21% (CW Harlow (1991). Female Victims of Violent Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics).
Battering by male partners is the single most common source of injury to women, more common than auto accidents, muggings, and rape by a stranger combined (E Stark & A Flitcraft (1988). Violence among intimates: An epidemiological review. Pp. 293-318, in VN Hasselt, et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Family Violence, New York; Plenum).
70% of men who batter women also batter their children, making the presence of spouse abuse the single most identifiable risk factor for predicting child abuse (Bower, Arsbitell, & McFerroen (1989). On the relationship between wife beating and child abuse, Feminist Perspectives of Wife Abuse).
1 in 4 women seeking health care from a family doctor reports having been physically assaulted by their partners within the last year (LK Hamberger, DG Saunders, & M Hovey (1992). Prevalence of domestic violence in community practice and rate of physician inquiry, Family Medicine, 24(4)).
Of women seeking health care from a family doctor, 37% report being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and 29% report having been sexually assaulted as an adult. Women who have experienced sexual trauma report more distress than non victimized women (EA Walker, N Torkelson, WJ Katon, & MP Koss (1993). The prevalence rate of sexual trauma in a primary care clinic, Journal of the Board of Family Practice, 6:465-471).
Abused children are arrested by the police four times more often than non-abused children (R Gelles & MA Straus (1988). Intimate Violence, New York: Simon and Schuster).
Annual estimates based upon reported partner violence injuries include: 28,000 emergency room visits, 175,000 days of work lost, 21,000 hospitalizations & 99,800 days of hospitalization, and 39,000 physician visits. In one study the average charge for emergency medical services for a woman, child or older person presenting to an emergency room with acute injuries from abuse was $1,633.00. (SV McLeer & R Anqar (1989). A study of battered women presenting in an emergency department, American Journal of Public Health, 79(1): 65-66).
12% to 35% of women who visit emergency departments are there for symptoms related to ongoing abuse, either because of injury or as a manifestation of the stress of living in an abusive relationship (E Stark, A Flitcraft, and W Frazier (1979). Medicine and patriarchal violence: The social construction of a private event, International Journal of Health Services, 9 (3); J Abbot, R Johnson, J Koziol-McLain & S Lowenstein (1995). Domestic violence against women. JAMA 273(22): 1763-1767).
Rates of Family Violence:
- Women experiencing physical violence in a relationship (national sample)
- 16% report physical violence in the past year
- 25% report physical violence during their marriage
- Women experiencing physical violence in a relationship (women seeing a family doctor)
- 25% report assault in past year, and 15% report injury in past year
- 39% report assault rate in their lifetime, and 25% report injury in their lifetime
- Children physically abused by parents:
- For children 3-17: 3.8% experience severe physical violence each year (beating up, striking with an object, threatening or assaulting with a weapon)
- For children 3-17: 8.6% experience physical violence each year (kicks, bites, hitting & severe physical violence)
- Children sexually abused. [Rates vary due to differences in survey population, methods & definitions.]
- Girls before age 18: 10-50% are sexually abused by physical contact (forced touching of the victim or perpetrator, intercourse, oral & anal intercourse, etc.). Our analysis of the literature leads us to conclude that 1 in 3 girls is sexually abused by physical contact before age 18.
- Boys (before age 18): 10-30% are sexually abused (contact & non-contact abuse). Our analysis of the literature leads us to conclude that 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by physical contact before age 18.
Family violence produces hidden costs and lost productivity for our society:
- Acute psychological trauma, physical injury, and death.
- Chronic stress related psychological & medical problems from ongoing family violence.
- Chronic psychological & medical problems from past family violence.
- Loss of future productivity for abused children due to physical and psychological trauma.