DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACT SHEET
Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon, yet society has only recently begun to recognize the tragedy of violence against women as a social problem of extraordinary proportions. For far too many women, home is a place of greater danger than places in public view – more dangerous than places of work, more dangerous than interstates and freeways, and more dangerous than city streets. Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. This crime against women affects nearly one-third of American women. It is a devastation to be abused by a loved one who you think loves you in return and has a ripple effect on numerous victims.
Domestic abuse creates a cycle of violence. Children who are abused or witness abuse are at a higher risk of abusing their own family and significant others as an adult. In addition, they also are at risk for long-term physical and mental health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse. It is evident that these abuse victims follow the example they learned in childhood and continue the cycle of violence when they are adults. According to the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline, domestic violence is witnessed by between 3.3 and 10 million children every year, and these are only the cases that are reported. Forty percent of girls aged 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend; and approximately one in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
It has been only been about 40 years since our country finally began to take notice of what is happening behind closed doors. In 1978, the United States formed the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence along with the first battered women’s program opening in North Carolina. By the early 1980s, statistics proved that isolated cases of abuse were part of a shocking national problem. As a result, victims became more visible, as well as the inadequacy of society's response. The battered women's movement emerged, becoming one of the most powerful social justice and service movements in United States history.
Shelters and hotlines began to spring up around the country and what began as a social, service-based response to crisis began to take on political urgency. The staggering numbers of women and children turning to shelters continually outpaced the growth of the movement. The shelter work uncovered endless horror stories: law enforcement officials who mislabeled domestic disturbances, judges who ruled in favor of perpetrators, and health care providers who mishandled violence-related injuries. At every turn, women seeking help could expect indifference, hostility, and endangerment. It became clear that helping women in crisis required more than front-line emergency service: it required changing the established social institutions and the laws affecting them.
During the 1980s, a vibrant network of nearly two thousand domestic violence programs in the United States organized into state coalitions to take on the challenge of pressuring social institutions to adequately respond to victims. The 1990s proved to be a turning point decade with the Violence Against Women Act being passed in 1994. This major federal bill provided more than $1 billion to assist shelters, train law enforcement personnel and judges, and support other crime-prevention efforts addressing violence against women. The decade also saw the trial of O. J. Simpson for allegedly murdering his former wife, Nicole, and her friend. Though he was eventually acquitted of criminal charges, Simpson's case launched unprecedented media coverage of the issues of domestic violence.
Over the last 20 years, researchers have finally started to explore the lives and experiences of battered women who killed their abusive male partners due to the evidence found in the area of domestic violence over the decades. Yet tragically, domestic violence remains an unavoidable threat to the fabric of all families and the well being of society’s future.
As Abraham Lincoln once stated, “To SIN BY SILENCE when we should protest makes cowards of men.” SIN BY SILENCE can help create and inspire advocates to be part of a movement of change that alters the country’s political and judicial scenarios and stigmas. It is about changing lives and being part of a larger movement that addresses all types of violence against all women.
The goal of the SIN BY SILENCE team is for the documentary to be the catalyst that can lead to the collaboration of knowledge and action. Knowledge that is developed through the CWAA stories of pain, tragedy, inspiration and triumph. Action that will lead to safer communities, homes and families.
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS
One in four women (25 percent) have experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
Up to 6 million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.
Women account for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence, men for approximately 15percent.
Women aged 16-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Forty percent of girls aged 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
On average, between 1993 and 2004, children under age 12 were residents of households experiencing intimate partner violence in 43 percent of incidents involving female victims and 25 percent of incidents involving male victims.
Studies suggest that between 3.3 - 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Separated and divorced females are at a greater risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
Out of almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49 percent of these were crimes against spouses between 1998 and 2002.
Nearly 2.2 million people called a domestic violence crisis or hot line in 2004 to escape crisis situations, seek advice, or assist someone they thought might be victims.
Nearly three out of four (75 percent) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 30 percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.
The health-related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year. Of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion is for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion is for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages.
About half of all female victims of intimate violence report an injury of some type, yet only 20 percent of them seek medical assistance.
Thirty-seven percent of women who sought treatment in emergency rooms for violence-related injuries in 1994 were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
On average, more than four women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
# # #