Domestic violence

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Domestic violence as a category of crime was originally applied to wife-beating, but it grew to include any violent altercation between husband and wife. With the rise of unmarried couples living together, police began applying the term to boyfriends and girlfriends. In recent decades, the new tolerance for homosexuality has prompted several organizations to broaden their definitions.

Domestic violence occurs least often in a marriage, more often with an unmarried heterosexual couple living together, and most often among homosexual couples. See Homosexual Couples and Domestic Violence.

  • Fifty-seven percent of homeless families identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.[1]
  • Abusive husbands harass 74 percent of employed battered women at work, either in person or over the telephone. The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion.[2]
  • The U.S. Department of Justice reported that 37 percent of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.[3]
  • Boys who witness domestic violence in their own home are 33% more likely to become batterers.[4]
  • Forty to sixty percent of men who abuse women also abuse children.[5] See also child abuse.
  • Ninety to ninety-five percent of domestic violence victims are women.[6]

The degree that domestic violence is overwhelming against women is challenged by male advocacy groups, who also contend it neglects the impact of verbal abuse.[7][8]

Irreligion and domestic violence

See also: Irreligion and domestic violence

Research suggests that irreligiousity is a causal factor for domestic violence.[9]

The abstract for the 2007 article in the journal Violence Against Women entitled Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence indicated:

The authors explored the relationship between religious involvement and intimate partner violence by analyzing data from the first wave of the National Survey of Families and Households. They found that: (a) religious involvement is correlated with reduced levels of domestic violence; (b) levels of domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; (c) the effects of religious involvement on domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; and (d) religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence, and this protective effect is stronger for African American men and women and for Hispanic men, groups that, for a variety of reasons, experience elevated risk for this type of violence.[10]

Also, a quote from the journal article Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence:

Another line of thought suggests that religious people may be less likely to perpe- trate domestic violence (Fergusson, Horwood, Kershaw, & Shannon, 1986). A 1999 study of U.S. couples found that both men and women who attend religious services regularly are less likely to commit acts of domestic violence than those who attend rarely or not at all (Ellison et al., 1999). A follow-up study identified three pathways through which religious involvement may operate; namely, increasing levels of social integration and social support, reducing the likelihood of alcohol or substance abuse, and decreasing the risk of psychological problems (Ellison & Anderson, 2001). However, even after considering such indirect effects of religion through the use of sta- tistical controls, that study found that regular religious involvement still had a protec- tive effect against the perpetration of domestic violence by both men and women (Ellison & Anderson, 2001). In addition, that study showed that evidence of such pro- tective religious effects persisted regardless of whether domestic violence was measured using data from self reports or partner reports, which makes it difficult to attribute these observed religious effects to simple social desirability or other response bias.[11]

The Journal of Family Issues also reported that religious belief diminishes the likelihood of domestic violence.[12]

See also:


  1. The United States Conference of Mayors, A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America's Cities: 1999, December 1999, p. 94
  2. Center for Disease Control, 2003
  3. Department of Justice, August 1997. Violence related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments. Michael R. Rand. Bureau of Justice Statistics
  4. Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J. & Steinmetz, S. Behind Closed Doors. Doubleday, Anchor, 1980
  5. American Psychl. Ass'n, Violence and the Family: Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 80
  6. A Report of the Violence against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.
  9. doi: 10.1177/1077801207308259 Violence Against Women, Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence, November 2007 vol. 13 no. 11 1094-1112
  10. doi: 10.1177/1077801207308259 Violence Against Women, Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence, November 2007 vol. 13 no. 11 1094-1112
  11. doi: 10.1177/1077801207308259 Violence Against Women, Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence, November 2007 vol. 13 no. 11 1094-1112
  12. Why Religion Matters Even More: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability By Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D., Heritage Center website