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]


  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.