Domestic Violence Knows No Gender, Race, Age, Status

Trigger warning: non-graphic statistics on assault and sexual violence.

Just a few decades ago, domestic violence simply wasn’t something that people talked about. Abuse within the home was considered to be a private family matter, except for when it was portrayed for comedic purposes in television and advertisements. By the 1960s, scholars and social service providers were just starting to recognize that child abuse is a major and pervasive social issue, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Battered Women’s Movement, as it was called at the time, brought domestic violence to the public’s attention. This led to substantial reform, to include new laws and resources such as shelters, hotlines, and advocacy groups.

The first known study showing that man are also victims of abuse was presented in 1975. However, many men are reluctant to report acts of domestic violence for multiple personal and socio-cultural reasons. This has led to under-reporting of acts of intimate partner violence among men.

Domestic violence is not restricted to any single group, and it’s something that we as a society need to talk about. It’s important to recognize that domestic violence can impact anyone, so it feels safe for anyone to get help.

Every minute in the United States, 20 people experience domestic violence. According to a 2017 CDC report, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their life. The CDC also notes that 16.9% of women and 8% of men will experience sexual violence (this statistic does not include rape), although the report also concludes that data on sexual violence against men may be under-reported.

Domestic violence also crosses race and ethnicity lines, with 47.5% of American Indian or Alaskan Native women, 45.1% of non-Hispanic Black women, 37.3% of non-Hispanic White women, 34.4% of Hispanic women, and 18.3% of Asian-Pacific Islander women experiencing sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner within their lifetime.

According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the most common age when intimate partner violence is first experienced by women is age 18-24 (38.6%), followed by age 11-17 (22.4%), age 35-44 (6.8%) and age 45+ (2.5%). For men the most common age is age 18-24 (47.1%), followed by age 25-34 (30.6%), age 11-17 (15.0%), age 35-44 (10.3%) and age 45+ (5.5%).

If we, as a society, are going to effectively combat domestic violence, we need to support everyone impacted by it regardless of demographics. But if we ignore anyone because of our preconceptions and biases, we’ve failed them.

Additional information: Domestic Violence in the 1970s, written by Catherine Jacquet for the National Institute of Health.