Guest Author - Jeanette Stingley
Statistics about intimate partner violence (IPV) vary because of differences in how different data sources define IPV (see Overview section for the CDC definition) and collect data. For example, some definitions include stalking and psychological abuse, and others consider only physical and sexual violence. Data on IPV usually come from police, clinical settings, nongovernmental organizations, and survey research.
Most IPV incidents are not reported to the police. About 20% of IPV rapes or sexual assaults, 25% of physical assaults, and 50% of stalkings directed toward women are reported. Even fewer IPV incidents against men are reported (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a). Thus, it is believed that available data greatly underestimate the true magnitude of the problem. While not an exhaustive list, here are some statistics on the occurrence of IPV. In many cases, the severity of the IPV behaviors is unknown.
Nearly 5.3 million incidents of IPV occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older, and 3.2 million occur among men. Most assaults are relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a).
In the United States every year, about 1.5 million women and more than 800,000 men are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner. This translates into about 47 IPV assaults per 1,000 women and 32 assaults per 1,000 men (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a).
IPV results in nearly 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths nationwide every year (CDC 2003).
Estimates indicate more than 1 million women and 371,000 men are stalked by intimate partners each year (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a).
IPV accounted for 20% of nonfatal violence against women in 2001 and 3% against men (Rennison 2003).
From 1976 to 2002, about 11% of homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner (Fox and Zawitz 2004).
In 2002, 76% of IPV homicide victims were female; 24% were male (Fox and Zawitz 2004).
The number of intimate partner homicides decreased 14% overall for men and women in the span of about 20 years, with a 67% decrease for men (from 1,357 to 388) vs. 25% for women (from 1,600 to 1,202; Fox and Zawitz 2004).
One study found that 44% of women murdered by their intimate partner had visited an emergency department within 2 years of the homicide. Of these women, 93% had at least one injury visit (Crandall et al. 2004).
Previous literature suggests that women who have separated from their abusive partners often remain at risk of violence (Campbell et al. 2003; Fleury, Sullivan and Bybee 2000).
Firearms were the major weapon type used in intimate partner homicides from 1981 to 1998 (Paulozzi et al. 2001).
A national study found that 29% of women and 22% of men had experienced physical, sexual, or psychological IPV during their lifetime (Coker et al. 2002).
Between 4% and 8% of pregnant women are abused at least once during the pregnancy (Gazmararian et al. 2000).
In general, victims of repeated violence over time experience more serious consequences than victims of one-time incidents (Johnson and Leone 2005). The following list describes just some of the consequences of IPV.
At least 42% of women and 20% of men who were physically assaulted since age 18 sustained injuries during their most recent victimization. Most injuries were minor such as scratches, bruises, and welts (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a).
More severe physical consequences of IPV may occur depending on severity and frequency of abuse (Campbell et al. 2002; Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Plichta 2004; Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a). These include:
Pregnancy difficulties like low birth weight babies and perinatal deaths
Sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS
Central nervous system disorders
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
Replaying assault in mind
Heart or circulatory conditions
Children may become injured during IPV incidents between their parents. A large overlap exists between IPV and child maltreatment (Appel and Holden 1998). One study found that children of abused mothers were 57 times more likely to have been harmed because of IPV between their parents, compared with children of non-abused mothers (Parkinson et al. 2001).
Physical violence is typically accompanied by emotional or psychological abuse (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a). IPV—whether sexual, physical, or psychological—can lead to various psychological consequences for victims (Bergen 1996; Coker et al. 2002; Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Roberts, Klein, and Fisher 2003):
Suicidal behavior in females
Inability to trust men
Fear of intimacy
Victims of IPV sometimes face the following social consequences (Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Plichta 2004):
Restricted access to services
Strained relationships with health providers and employers
Isolation from social networks
Women with a history of IPV are more likely to display behaviors that present further health risks (e.g., substance abuse, alcoholism, suicide attempts).
IPV is associated with a variety of negative health behaviors (Heise and Garcia-Moreno 2002; Plichta 2004; Roberts, Auinger, and Klein 2005; Silverman et al. 2001). Studies show that the more severe the violence, the stronger its relationship to negative health behaviors by victims.
Engaging in high-risk sexual behavior
Decreased condom use
Early sexual initiation
Choosing unhealthy sexual partners
Having multiple sex partners
Trading sex for food, money, or other items
Using or abusing harmful substances
Driving after drinking alcohol
Unhealthy diet-related behaviors
Abusing diet pills
Overuse of health services
Costs of IPV against women in 1995 exceed an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity (CDC 2003).
When updated to 2003 dollars, IPV costs exceed $8.3 billion, which includes $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking, and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives (Max et al. 2004).
Victims of severe IPV lose nearly 8 million days of paid work—the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs—and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity each year (CDC 2003).
Women who experience severe aggression by men (e.g., not being allowed to go to work or school, or having their lives or their children’s lives threatened) are more likely to have been unemployed in the past, have health problems, and be receiving public assistance (Lloyd and Taluc 1999).
Groups at Risk
Certain groups are at greater risk for IPV victimization or perpetration.
The National Crime Victimization Survey found that 85% of IPV victims were women (Rennison 2003).
Prevalence of IPV varies among race. Among the ethnic groups most at risk are American Indian/Alaskan Native women and men, African-American women, and Hispanic women (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000b).
Young women and those below the poverty line are disproportionately victims of IPV (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000b).