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Home > Domestic Violence > What Is Domestic Violence

What Is Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member.  Abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.  Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.  Domestic violence can happen between couples who are married, live together or date.  Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and all education levels.

Facts and Statistics

  •  Every 9 seconds a woman is battered in the United States. 1
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. 2
  • On average, more than 3 women and 1 man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.3
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.4
  • In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.5
  • Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.6
  • Children who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.7
  • Victims of intimate partner violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.8
  • There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, which costs $37 billion.9


  1. AMA, 1998, Georgia Department of Human Resources, 1999
  2. Center of Disease Control 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
  3. Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.
  4.   Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989) Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M. H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  5. Campbell, et al. (2003). “Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide.” Intimate Partner Homicide, NIJ Journal, 250, 14-19. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.
  6. Break the Cycle. (2006). Startling Statistics. http://www.breakthecycle.org/html%20files/I_4a_startstatis.htm.  
  7. Strauss, Gelles, and Smith, “Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence” in 8,145 Families. Transaction Publishers (1990).
  8. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. 2003. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA.
  9. The Cost of Violence in the United States. 2007. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA.
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