Domestic Violence Essay Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Domestic violence in Pakistan is an endemic social and public health problem. According to a study carried out in 2009 by Human Rights Watch, it is estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of women in Pakistan have suffered some form of abuse.[1] An estimated 5000 women are killed per year from domestic violence, with thousands of others maimed or disabled.[2] Women have reported attacks ranging from physical to psychological and sexual abuse from intimate partners.[3] In 1998 of 1974 reported murders the majority of victims were killed by either family members.[4] A survey carried out by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Pakistan as the third most dangerous country in the world for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; it is followed by India and Somalia.[5] The majority of victims of violence have no legal recourse.[6]Law enforcement authorities do not view domestic violence as a crime and usually refuse to register any cases brought to them.[6] Given the very few women's shelters in the country, victims have limited ability to escape from violent situations.[2]



As defined by the World Health Organization, domestic violence encompasses physical and psychological distress including sexual coercive acts towards primarily women by a current or former male intimate partner.[7]

The landmark Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act passed in 2012 by the Pakistani Senate defines domestic violence as including, “all acts of gender based and other physical or psychological abuse committed by a respondent against women, children or other vulnerable persons…”[8] The definition then further specifies assault, attempt at assault, criminal force, criminal intimidation, emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and economic abuse as some of the actions that fall under domestic violence.[8]


An estimated 5000 women are killed per year from domestic violence, with thousands of others maimed or disabled.[2] Lisa Hajjar, an Associate Professor at the University of California, describes abuse against women in Pakistan as "endemic in all social spheres".[9] In an observational study published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences based on a convenience sample of 218 women in the gynecology wards of three hospitals, 97% of the interviewed women said they had been victims of some form of assault, ranging from verbal abuse or threatened, to being subjected to beatings or non-consensual sex.[10] A study by the United Nations found that 50% of married women have experienced sexual violence and 90% have been psychologically abused.[11] Studies by the Pakistan Nation Women's Division and Zakar et al. confirmed these statistics of high percentages of domestic violence in Pakistani households.[11][6]

Research has also shown high rates of domestic violence primarily in rural communities and Afghani refugees living in Pakistan.[12][13] A cross-sectional survey of 490 randomly selected women from a rural health center in Pakistan of reproductive age reported that 65% of those interviewed had experienced domestic violence.[12] A special report by the United Nations of the state of violence against women in Pakistan reported that Afghani refugees are left out of Pakistani services and of Pakistani statistics.[13] The report noted that violence against women like child abuse and domestic violence is considerably high, however, proper statistics on this population are difficult to obtain.[13]

Types of abuse[edit]

Physical violence[edit]

Dowry deaths[edit]

Dowry deaths have been described by the United Nations as a form of domestic violence in Pakistan.[14] Women are often attacked and murdered if their in-laws deem their dowry to have been insufficient.[15] Amongst dowry-related violence, bride burnings, also known as "stove deaths",[16] are widely reported. In 1988 a survey showed that 800 women were killed in this manner, in 1989 the number rose to 1100, and in 1990 it stood at 1800 estimated killings. According to the Progressive Women's Association, such attacks are a growing problem and, in 1994 on International Women's Day, announced that various NGOs would join to raise awareness of the issue.[17] Newspapers in Lahore in a six-month period (1997) reported on average 15 attacks a month.[18]Women's eNews reported that 4,000 women had been attacked in this manner in Islamabad's surroundings over an eight-year period, and that the average age range of victims was between 18 and 35, with an estimated 30 percent being pregnant at the time of death.[16] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that about four women are killed in this manner every day, by either family members or husbands.[19]Shahnaz Bukhari, who runs the Progressive Women's Association in Islamabad, has said of such attacks: "Either Pakistan is home to possessed stoves which burn only young housewives, and are particularly fond of genitalia, or looking at the frequency with which these incidences occur there is a grim pattern that these women are victims of deliberate murder."[16]

Acid attacks[edit]

Acid attacks in Pakistan came to international attention after the release of a documentary by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy called Saving Face (2012).[20] According to Shahnaz Bukhari, the majority of these attacks occur in the summer when acid is used extensively to soak certain seeds to induce germination.[21] Various reasons have been given for such attacks, such as a woman dressing inappropriately or rejecting a proposal of marriage. The first known instance of an acid attack occurred in East Pakistan in 1967.[22] According to the Acid Survivors Foundation, up to 150 attacks occur every year. The foundation reports that the attacks are often the result in an escalation of domestic abuse, and the majority of victims are female.[20]

Honour killing[edit]

A recent report noted that one in five homicides in Pakistan are attributed to honour killings.[23] The prevalence of such honour killings that have been reported are around 2,000 killings every four years.[23] Overall, out of all homicides of both men and women in Pakistan, honour killings of women constitute 21%.[11] Moreover, the perpetrator in most honour killings is the husband.[23] One study found as high as 92% of all honour killings are committed by the spouse.[23] The highest occurring reason in spousal honour killings was alleged extramarital affairs.[23] Much of the data has been collected by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan through newspaper reports, however, it is clear there needs to be more systematic research by a health agency is needed to assess this public health crisis and effectively plan for solutions as many cases go unreported.[23] Another analysis of this research states that a possible explanation of the high rate of honour killings towards married women could be attributed to the generally high statistics of domestic violence in Pakistan.[11]

Psychological abuse[edit]

Psychological abuse generally includes yelling, insulting, controlling behaviors, and threatening. In a study by Zakar et al., of 373 randomly selected married women of reproductive age interviewed in Pakistani hospitals, 60.8% reported as current victims of severe psychological violence with 15% having been victims in the past.[6] The percentage of women going through current psychological violence far surpassed the percentages of women going through current sexual (27.3%) and physical (21.7%) violence. Moreover, more than half of these participants, 54%, reported being currently in a poor state of mental health.



Associated with poverty is illiteracy and social stigma against domestic violence.[24] Lack of an education due to financial reasons accompanies a lack of awareness about women’s rights.[25] Moreover, because mental health illiteracy is especially widespread in low-income areas, many women to not get appropriate treatment for the after effects of domestic violence.[6]


Another reason given for abuses is patriarchalism in Pakistani society, which marginalizes women’s role.[4] In some traditional societies, a man is considered to have the right to physically beat his spouse on his wish.[14] According to Rahel Nardos, it is "the dual constructs of women as the property of men and as the standard-bearers of a family's honour set the stage for culturally sanctioned forms of violence".[26] In some cases, women perpetuate patriarchalism and domestic abuse especially in regard to mothers-in-law.[27][25] Many women are expected to be homemakers and to perform key household duties, however, if a woman is not performing her duties by her mother-in-law's standards, the mother-in-law may seek to punish the woman through her son.[27]

In analysis of data from 3,867 married or previously married women from the 2012 - 2013 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, association was found between the intergenerational transfer of spousal violence and cultural views of women.[28] Strikingly, 47% of these women agreed that beating of a spouse was justified if the wife had argued with her husband.[28] Statistics such as this prove that patriarchalism within the Pakistani society has led many Pakistani women to believe that domestic violence is normal or even at times justified. This idea is enforced by a study done of 759 Pakistani women between the ages of 25 and 60 years old in which 27% admitted they had never told anyone of the spousal violence they had endured or were currently enduring.[29]

Child marriage[edit]

Defined as marriage before the age of 18 years, child marriage is widespread in Pakistan and linked to spousal violence.[30] Child marriage occurs most often in rural and low-income households where education is minimal.[30] The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey conducted from 2012 to 2013 reported that 47.5% of currently married women aged 15 to 24 had been married before the age of 18.[30] Moreover, of those child marriages, one-third of those women reported spousal violence.[30]

Marriages within the extended family[edit]

Consanguineous marriages, or those within blood relations such as first and second cousins, are considered marriages in biraderi, or brotherhood, within many Pakistani subcultures.[31] Based on reported research, about two-thirds of all Pakistani marriages are within families.[31] Analysis of a Pakistani Health Demographic Survey from 2012 to 2013 showed that women in consanguineous marriages are more likely to face psychological domestic abuse.[31] However, findings in this study also reported the prevalence of domestic violence within the larger Pakistani population as well.[31]

Increased urbanization[edit]

Another factor given for the rise in domestic violence has been due to increased urbanization. As people move from villages and increasingly live apart from an extended family, assaults are less likely to be prevented by the intervention of family members, who in past times often intervened in domestic conflicts.[32] In particular, women who move cities or areas after marriage away from their respective family are more at risk for domestic violence.[6] These women are left without parental or familial support as the only contacts they have are now limited to their husband and husband's family.[6] Violent spousal relationships are perpetuated by isolation of the victim and lack of social support.[6]

Impact on women[edit]

Physical and psychological health outcomes[edit]

Domestic violence leads to increased risk towards certain health outcomes like major depression, dysthymia, conduct disorder, and drug abuse.[11] Moreover, because women are primary caretakers in Pakistan, children also face increased risk for depression and behavioural problems.[6] Zakar et al. found in their study that of those interviewed (373 women from Pakistani hospitals) including women who had experienced severe domestic violence, 54% reported poor current mental health. Associated with this self-reported statistic of women in a poor state of mental health was also a high prevalence of mental health disorders with anxiety and depression being the most common.[6]

In particular, physical violence has long-term, negative psychological impacts on women with stigma against mental health serving as an impediment to treatment.[11][6] At times, physical violence may cause permanent disfiguration of the body causing physical ailments that lead to a variety of psychological disorders like depression.[6][26] Furthermore, women are often unable to receive treatment for psychological disorders as mental health within the cultural realm of Pakistan is not considered a health matter.[6][19] Mental health illiteracy leads to treatment of mental health disorders superstitiously or not at all.[6][26]

Another study that examined domestic violence and pregnancy among Pakistani women found that 51% of respondents reported experiencing domestic violence in the six months prior to or after pregnancy.[33] The researchers of this study and others have suggested due to the prevalence of domestic violence in pregnant women that domestic violence be screened for during antenatal care.[33][34]

Bargaining power[edit]

Women in domestic violence relationships often have no recourse of escaping due to fear of murder from the perpetrator.[35] A vivid example of this is the practice of watta satta, or bride exchange, whereby [31] a daughter from one family is swapped for a daughter of another in a brother-sister pair.[35] Power dynamics between the families follow a revenge-based model. If a husband is harsh on his wife then the mutual threat exists of the husband's brother-in-law being harsh on his sister.[35] These reciprocal threats leave women in positions with little to no bargaining power.[35] This leaves women in a position where they cannot escape a marriage because of cross bride exchange family entanglement.[35][6] Adding to the complexity, divorce is also highly stigmatized within the Pakistani culture.[35][6][25]

Bargaining power of women in domestic violence relationships is also minimal due to residence with the husband's family.[35] Particularly, in rural areas, if a woman in a domestic violence relationship is living with her husband's family, she has little recourse to seek help or escape.[31][35] Studies on attitudes of domestic violence in Pakistan have shown that though these families in rural areas may wish to help their daughter, it is costly to continuously visit her.[31] In other cases, domestic violence perpetrator families have been shown to taunt or ridicule those seeking justice.[31]

Policy initiatives[edit]

General legislation against domestic violence[edit]

In 2009 a Domestic Violence Protection bill was proposed by Yasmeen Rehman of the Pakistan People’s Party. It was passed in the National Assembly[36] but subsequently failed to be passed in the second chamber of parliament, the Senate, within the prescribed period of time.[37] The Council of Islamic Ideology objected to the bill, claiming that in its current form it will increase divorces and argued that the bill considered women and children the only victims of domestic violence, ignoring elderly and weak men.[38] The council claimed that the punishments suggested by the bill were already enacted by other laws and suggested lack of action on these laws as the reason for increase in domestic violence.[39] After the passage of Eighteenth constitutional amendment, the matter pertaining to the bill became a provincial issue.[40] It was re-tabled in 2012, but met with a deadlock in parliament because of stiff opposition from the religious right. Representatives of Islamic organizations vowed resistance to the proposed bill, describing it as "anti-Islamic" and an attempt to promote "Western cultural values" in Pakistan. They asked for the bill to be reviewed before being approved by the parliament.[41] The bill was passed for Islamabad Capital Territory.[40][42]

Specific legislation against certain offenses[edit]

Dowry deaths[edit]

In 1976 the Pakistani government passed legislation on dowry and bridal gifts in an attempt to eliminate the custom but, because of cultural and societal norms combined with government ineffectiveness, such killings over inadequate dowries continue.[4]

Acid attacks[edit]

In 1999 the Senate of Pakistan rejected a resolution which would have condemned the practice of murdering women for the sake of family honour.[43] In 2011 the Senate passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill to repress acid attacks in the country; the senate also passed the prevention of anti-women practices bill.[44]

Honour killing[edit]

On April 21, 2001, the national government leader Pervez Musharraf declared that honour killings were "vigorously condemned" by the government and would be treated as murder.[45] The Ministry of Women Development set up ten crisis centres to help the victims of domestic violence and raise the awareness level of the people on this issue.[46] Particularly in 2004, Pakistan's Criminal Law (Amendment) Act passed that provided legal protection for womenOn April 21, 2001, the national government leader Pervez Musharraf declared that honour killings were "vigorously condemned" by the government and would be treated as murder.[45] The Ministry of Women Development set up ten crisis centres to help the victims of domestic violence and raise the awareness level of the people on this issue.[46] Particularly in 2004, Pakistan's Criminal Law (Amendment) Act passed that provided legal protection for women against any offense committed by family members for the sake of honour.[11] However, Pakistan's legal system has done little to uphold this legislation.[11][47] The National Commission on the Status of Women reports that Pakistan is doing little to bring justice to perpetrators.[47] If the family of the victim forgives the perpetrator, then the perpetrator will be set free despite clear violation of Pakistani law.[47] Oftentimes, families who are caught in an honour killing case come from rural areas where families must work together in a village on the daily to live.[47] When an honour killing occurs, the family of the victim are highly likely to forgive the perpetrator based on what elders of the village advise them to do.[48]

Support organizations[edit]

From both international and internal funding, there are a variety of NGO's that provide support to women who have endured or are enduring domestic violence.

See also[edit]


  1. ^Cited in: Gosselin, Denise Kindschi (2009). Heavy Hands: An Introduction to the Crime of Intimate and Family Violence (4th ed.). Prentice Hall. p. 13. ISBN 978-0136139034. 
  2. ^ abcHansar, Robert D. (2007). "Cross-Cultural Examination of Domestic Violence in China and Pakistan". In Nicky Ali Jackson. Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 211. ISBN 978-0415969680. 
  3. ^Ajmal, Umer Bin (25 April 2012). "Domestic violence". Dawn. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  4. ^ abcZaman, Habiba (2004). Suad Joseph; Afsaneh Najmabad, eds. Family, Law and Politics: Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: 2. Brill. p. 124. ISBN 978-9004128187. 
  5. ^Anderson, Lisa (15 June 2011). "Trustlaw Poll: Afghanistan is most dangerous country for women". Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  6. ^ abcdefghijklmnopZakar, Rubeena; Zakar, Muhammad; Mikolajczyk, Rafael; Kraemer, Alexander (2013). "Spousal Violence Against Women and Its Association With Women's Mental Health in Pakistan". Health Care for Women International. 34: 795–813. doi:10.1080/07399332.2013.794462. 
  7. ^WHO (2005).WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women. Geneva: World Health Organization
  8. ^ ab"Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act"(PDF). 2012. 
  9. ^Hajjar, Lisa (2004). "Domestic Violence and Sharía: A Comparative Study of Muslim Societies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia". In Lynn Welchman. Women's Rights and Islamic Family Law: Perspectives on Reform. Zed Books. p. 265. ISBN 978-1842770955. 
  10. ^Shaikh, Masood Ali (2003). "Is domestic violence endemic in Pakistan: perspective from Pakistani Wives"(PDF). Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences. 19 (1): 23–28.  Cited in: Hanser, Robert D. (2007). "Cross-cultural examination of domestic violence in China and Pakistan". In Nicky Ali Jackson. Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 211. ISBN 978-0415969680. 
  11. ^ abcdefghNasrullah, Muazzam; Haqqi, Sobia; Cummings, Kristin (2009). "The epidemiological patterns of honour killing of women in Pakistan". European Journal of Public Health. 19: 193–197. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckp021. 
  12. ^ abZakar, Rubeena; Zakar, Muhammad; Abbas, Safdar (2015). "Domestic Violence Against Rural Women in Pakistan: An Issue of Health and Human Rights". Springer Science. 31: 15–25. doi:10.1007/s10896-015-9742-6. 
  13. ^ abc"Violence Against Women: Mission to Pakistan and Afghanistan"(PDF). United Nations Economic and Social Council. 2000. 
  14. ^ abVan Wormer, Katherine; Fred H. Besthorn (2010). Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Macro Level: Groups, Communities (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0199740574. 
  15. ^Pickup, Francine; Suzanne Williams; Caroline Sweetman (2000). Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work. Oxfam. p. 91. ISBN 978-0855984380. 
  16. ^ abcTerzieff, Juliette (October 27, 2002). "Pakistan's Fiery Shame: Women Die in Stove Deaths". Women's eNews. 
  17. ^Rappaport, Helen (2001). Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 115. ISBN 978-1576071014. 
  18. ^Jilani, Hina; Eman M. Ahmed (2004). "Violence against Women: The Legal System and Institutional Responses in Pakistan". In Savitri Goonesekere. Violence, Law and Women's Rights in South Asia. Sage. p. 161. ISBN 978-0761997962. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  19. ^ abKapoor, Sushma (June 2000). "Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls"(PDF). Innocenti Digest. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (6): 7. ISSN 1028-3528. 
  20. ^ abRodriguez, Alex (May 29, 2012). "Pakistan offers little justice for victims of acid attacks". Los Angeles Times. 
  21. ^Ali, Sahar (July 28, 2003). "Acid attack victim demands justice". BBC. 
  22. ^Weightman, Barbara A. (2012). Dragons and Tigers: A Geography of South, East, and Southeast Asia (3rd ed.). Wiley. p. 77. ISBN 978-0470876282. 
  23. ^ abcdefDobson, Roger (2009). ""Honour killings" are a public health problem for Pakistan". British Medical Journal. 338: 739. 
  24. ^"Poverty, illiteracy termed causes of domestic violence". Dawn. 3 March 2006. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  25. ^ abcBibi, Seema; Ashfaq, Sanober; Shaikh, Farhana; Qureshi, Mohammad (2014). "Prevalence, instigating factors and help seeking behavior of physical domestic violence among married women of Hyderabad, Sindh". Pakistani Journal of Medicine Science. 30. 
  26. ^ abcNardos, Rahel; Michael L. Penn; Mary K. Radpour; William S. Hatcher (2003). "Cultural, Traditional Practices and Gender-Based Violence". Overcoming Violence Against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a World-wide Problem. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 87–88. ISBN 978-0742525009. 
  27. ^ abRoomani, Fahad; Tayyab, Faiza; Kamal, Nudrat; Siddique, Kashif (2016). "Role of Women in Perpetuating Violence against Women: Case Studies of Domestic Violence Victims". Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences. 36: 1185–1195. 
  28. ^ abAslam, Syeda; Zaheer, Sidra; Shafique, Kashif (2015). "Is Spousal Violence Being "Vertically Transmitted" through Victims? Findings from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13". PLoS ONE. 
  29. ^Ali, Tazeen; Mogren, Ingrid; Krantz, Gunilla (2013). "Intimate Partner Violence and Mental Health Effects: A Population-Based Study among Married Women in Karachi, Pakistan". International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 20: 131–139. 
  30. ^ abcdNasrullah, Muazzam; Zakar, Rubeena; Zakar, Muhammad (2014). "Child Marriage and Its Associations With Controlling Behaviors and Spousal Violence Against Adolescent and Young Women in Pakistan". Journal of Adolescent Health. 55: 804–809. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.06.013. 
  31. ^ abcdefghShaikh, Masood (2016). "Domestic violence in consanguineous marriages - findings from Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13". Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. 66. 
  32. ^Weiss, Anita M. (1998). "Pakistan: Some progress, sobering challenges". In Selig S. Harrison; Paul H. Kreisberg; Dennis Kux. India and Pakistan: The First Fifty Years. Cambridge University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0521645850. 
  33. ^ abKarmaliani, Rozina; Irfan, Farhana; Bann, Carla; Mcclure, Elizabeth; Moss, Nancy (2008). "Domestic violence prior to and during pregnancy among Pakistani women". Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica. 87: 1194 1201. doi:10.1080/00016340802460263. 
  34. ^Mufiza, Farid; Saleem, Sarah; Karim, Mehtab; Hatcher, Juanita (2008). "Clinical Article: Spousal abuse during pregnancy in Karachi, Pakistan". International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 101: 141–145. 
  35. ^ abcdefghJacoby, Hanan; Mansuri, Ghazala (2010). ""Watta Satta": Bride Exchange and Women's Welfare in Rural Pakistan". American Economic Association. 100: 1804–1825. doi:10.1257/aer.100.4.1804. 
  36. ^Ghauri, Irfan (August 5, 2009). "NA passes law against domestic violence". Daily Times. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. 
  37. ^Zahid Gishkori (6 April 2012). "Opposition forces government to defer women domestic violence bill". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
A young girl in a rural area of the Sindh province of Pakistan is selling these baskets her family has made for a living.
Women and girls in Qamber, Shadadkot, north-west Sindh, Pakistan (8406155976)

This article is about domestic violence specifically in the United States. For the main article, see domestic violence.

Domestic violence in United States is a form of violence that occurs within a domestic relationship. Although domestic violence often occurs between one partner or partners against another partner or partners in the context of an intimate relationship, it may also describe other household violence, such as violence by child directed toward a parent or violence between siblings who are members of the same household. It is recognized as an important social problem by governmental and non-governmental agencies, and various Violence Against Women Acts have been passed by the US Congress in an attempt to stem this tide.

Victimization from domestic violence transcends the boundaries of gender and sexual orientation, with significant percentages of LGBT couples facing these issues.[1]Men are subject to domestic violence in large numbers, such as in situational couple violence as mentioned above, but they are less likely to be physically hurt than female victims.[2][3] Social and economically disadvantaged groups in the U.S. regularly face worse rates of domestic violence than other groups. For example, about 60% of Native American women are physically assaulted in their lifetime by a partner or spouse.[4]

Many scholarly studies of the problem have stated that is often part of a dynamic of control and oppression in relationships, regularly involving multiple forms of physical and non-physical abuse taking place concurrently. Intimate terrorism, an ongoing, complicated use of control, power and abuse in which one person tries to assert systematic control over another psychologically. shelters exist in many states as well as special hotlines for people to call for immediate assistance, with non-profit agencies trying to fight the stigma that people both face in reporting these issues.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: "the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior."[5]

Governmental definitions[edit]

The following definition applies for the purposes of subchapter III of chapter 136 of title 42 of the US Code:

The term 'domestic violence' includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.[6]

It was inserted into the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 by section 3(a) of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.[7]

It also applies for the purposes of section 7275 of subpart 17 of Part D of subchapter V of chapter 70 of title 20,[8] section 1437F of subchapter I of chapter 8 of title 42,[9] and subchapter XII-H of chapter 46 of title 42 of the US Code.[10]

The US Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner". The definition adds that domestic violence "can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender", and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.[11]

A global problem[edit]

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in a 2006 report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) website that:

Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her.[12]

  • A world map showing countries by women's physical security, 2011.


Main article: Domestic violence

Domestic violence may include verbal, emotional, economic, physical and sexual abuse. All forms of domestic abuse have one purpose: to gain and maintain control over the victim. Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their spouse or partner: dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.[13]

The dynamics between the couple may include

  • Situational couple violence, which arises out of conflicts that escalate to arguments and then to violence, is not connected to a general pattern of control, generally infrequent, and likely the most common type of intimate partner violence. Women are as likely as men to be abusers, however, women are somewhat more likely to be physically injured, but are also more likely to successfully find police intervention.[14]:3
  • Intimate terrorism (IT), involves a pattern of ongoing control using emotional, physical and other forms of domestic violence and is what generally leads victims. It is what was traditionally the definition of domestic violence and is generally illustrated with the "Power and Control Wheel"[15] to illustrate the different and inter-related forms of abuse.[14]:2–4
  • Violent resistance (VR), or "self-defense", is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners.[16]
  • Common couple violence, where both partners are engaged in domestic violence actions.[17]
  • Mutual violent control (MVC) is a rare type of intimate partner violence that occurs when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.[18]


The ten states with the highest rate of females murdered by males were, as of 2010, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona, Georgia.[19] In 2009, for homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93% of female victims were murdered by a male they knew, 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.[20]

Several studies in the U.S. have found that domestic violence is significantly more common in the families of police officers than in other families, which is very problematic, since police officers must play a key role in responding to incidents of DV.[21][22][23]

Gender aspects of abuse[edit]

In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1995 women reported a six times greater rate of intimate partner violence than men, suggesting either higher levels of violence by men, higher levels of reporting by women, or disproportionate response by law enforcement.[24][25] The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicates that in 1998 about 876,340 violent crimes were committed in the U.S. against women by their current or former spouses, or boyfriends.[26] According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States 4.8 million women suffer intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes and 2.9 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners.[27]

A large study, compiled by Martin S. Fiebert, shows that women are as likely to be violent to men, but that men are less likely to be hurt. However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38 percent of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.[24][28][nb 1] Women are far more likely to use objects, such as sharp or blunt objects other than a knife or firearm.[29]

Research reviews have concluded that the majority of women's physical violence against men is in response to being abused by those men.[30]

Studies have found that men are much less likely to report victimization in these situations.[31] According to some studies, less than 1% of domestic violence cases are reported to the police.[32][33] In the United States 10–35% of the population will be physically aggressive towards a partner at some point in their lives.[24][34][35] As abuse becomes more severe women become increasingly overrepresented as victims.[34]

The National Violence Against Women Survey for 2000 reported that 25% of women and 7.6% of men reported being victims of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.[36] The rate of intimate partner violence in the U. S. has declined since 1993.[37]

As pointed out by a 2006 Amnesty International report, The Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women From Sexual Violence in the USA[38] the data for Native women reveals high levels of sexual violence. Statistics gathered by the U.S. government reveal that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be sexual assaulted than women in the United States in general;[39] more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime.[40]

Straus and Gelles found that in couples reporting spousal violence, 27 percent of the time the man struck the first blow; in 24 percent of cases, the woman initiated the violence. The rest of the time, the violence was mutual, with both partners brawling. The results were the same even when the most severe episodes of violence were analyzed. In order to counteract claims that the reporting data was skewed, female-only surveys were conducted, asking females to self-report, and the data was the same.[41] The simple tally of physical acts is typically found to be similar in those studies that examine both directions, but some studies show that male violence may be more serious. Male violence may do more damage than female violence;[42] women are more likely to be injured and/or hospitalized. Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate than the reverse (according to the Department of Justice, the rate is 63.7% to 36.3%),[43] and women in general are more likely to be killed by their spouses than by all other types of assailants combined.[44]

A research article published in the Journal of Family Psychology, "Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families", says that contrary to media and public opinion women commit more acts of violence than men in eleven categories: throw something, push, grab, shove, slap, kick, bite, hit or threaten a partner with a knife or gun. The study, which was based on interviews with 1,615 married or cohabiting couples and extrapolated nationally using census data, found that 21 percent of couples reported domestic violence.[45] However, one of the report's authors, Renee McDonald, who was interviewed by The Washington Times cautioned, "We don't want to minimize [female-to-male violence], but on the other hand we don't want to forget the fact that men can be much more harmful to women."[46]

The National Institute of Justice contends that national surveys supported by NIJ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics that examine more serious assaults do not support the conclusion of similar rates of male and female spousal assaults. These surveys are conducted within a safety or crime context and clearly find more partner abuse by men against women.[47][nb 2]


Over a year[edit]

  • 1% of all women (age > 18) who participated in a UN national study in 1995–96, who may or may not have been married or partnered, were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12-month period. Since this population included women who had never been partnered, the prevalence of domestic violence may have been greater.[48]
  • A report by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 found that 1.3% of women and 0.9% of men reported experiencing domestic violence in the past year.[2]
  • About 2.3 million people are raped or physically assaulted each year by a current or former intimate partner or spouse.[49]
  • Physically assaulted women receive an average of 6.9 physical assaults by the same partner per year.[49]

During pregnancy[edit]

Main article: Domestic violence and pregnancy

The United States was one of the countries identified by a United Nations study with a high rate of domestic violence resulting in death during pregnancy.[50][nb 3]

During one's lifetime[edit]

  • According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, nearly 25% of women experience at least one physical assault during adulthood by a partner.[49]
  • 22% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life, according to a United Nations study. Since this population included women who had never been married or partnered, the prevalence of domestic violence may have been greater.[48]
  • According to a report by the United States Department of Justice in 2000, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.[2]
  • 60% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be physically assaulted in their lifetime.[49]
  • A 2013 report by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 26% of male homosexuals and 44% of lesbians surveyed reported experiencing intimate partner violence. The study evaluated 2010 data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which involved over 16,000 U.S. adults.[1]


In 1992, domestic violence was the leading cause of injury for women between 15 and 44; more than rapes, muggings, and car accidents combined.[51] The levels of domestic injury against men have not been investigated to the same extent.


Main article: Rape

  • 1 in 37 men and 1 in 7 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape committed by a partner. More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes.[49][52]
  • A 2013 CDC study stated that 28% of straight women who had been raped experienced their first rape as a child, with the crime taking place between the ages of 11 and 17.[1]


Women are more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner. Of those killed by an intimate partner, about three quarters are female and about a quarter are male. In 1999 in the United States, 1,218 women and 424 men were killed by an intimate partner,[53] and 1,181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners in 2005.[54][55] In 2007, 2,340 deaths were caused by intimate partner violence—making up 14% of all homicides. 70% of these deaths were females and 30% were males.[56]

Dating violence[edit]

Main articles: Dating abuse and Teen dating violence

Dating violence is often a precursor to domestic violence. 22% of high school girls and 32% of college women experienced dating violence in a 2000 study. 20.6% of women experienced two or more types of dating violence and 8.3% of women experienced rape, stalking or physical aggression while dating.[57] The levels of dating violence against men has not been investigated to the same extent.


According to the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner Violence Survey results of 2010, 1 in 6 women (15.2%) have been stalked during their lifetime, compared to 1 in 19 men (5.7%).[58] Additionally, 1 in 3 bisexual women (37%) and 1 in 6 heterosexual women (16%) have experienced stalking victimization in their lifetime during which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.[59]

Socio-economic impacts[edit]

While domestic violence crosses all socio-economic classes, Intimate Terrorism (IT) is more prevalent among poor people. When evaluating situational couple violence, poor people, subject to greater strains, have the highest percentage of situational couple violence, which does not necessarily involve serious violence.[14]:4

Regarding ethnicity, socio-economic standing and other factors often have more to do with rates of domestic violence. When comparing the African American population to European Americans by socio-economic class, the rates of domestic violence are roughly the same. Since there are more poor African Americans, though, there is a higher incidence of domestic violence overall. It is not possible to evaluate the rate of domestic violence by ethnicity alone, because of the variability of cultural, economic and historical influences and the forms of domestic violence (situational couple violence, intimate terrorism) affecting each population of people.[14]:4

Effects on children[edit]

Up to 10 to 20% children in the United States witness abuse of a parent or caregiver annually. As a result, they are more likely to experience neglect or abuse, less likely to succeed at school, have poor problem-solving skills, subject to higher incidence of emotional and behavioral problems, and more likely to tolerate violence in their adult relationships.[60] Complicating this already bleak picture, parental psychopathology in the wake of domestic violence can further compromise the quality of parenting, and in turn increase the risk for the child's developing emotional and behavioral difficulties if mental health care is not sought.[61]


Main article: Homeless women in the United States

According to the authors of "Housing Problems and Domestic Violence," 38% of domestic violence victims will become homeless in their lifetime.[62][49] Domestic violence is the direct cause of homelessness for over half of all homeless women in the United States.[63] According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.[64]

Economic impacts[edit]

Economic abuse can occur across all socio-economic levels.[65]

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States reports that:

  • 25% - 50% of victims of abuse from a partner have lost their job due to domestic violence.
  • 35% - 56% of victims of domestic violence are harassed at work by their partners.
  • More than 1.75 million workdays are lost each year to domestic violence. Lost productivity due to missed workdays and decreased productivity, with increased health and safety costs, results in a loss of $3 to $5 billion each year.[66]

The Centers for Disease Control has released that the medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity cost of intimate partner violence was an estimated $8.3 billion in 2003 dollars for women alone.[67]


Main articles: Christianity and domestic violence and Islam and domestic violence

One 2004 study by William Bradford Wilcox examined the relationship between religious affiliation, church attendance, and domestic violence, using data on wives' reports of spousal violence from three national United States surveys conducted between 1992 and 1994.[68] The study found that the lowest reported rates of domestic violence occurred among active conservative Protestants (2.8% of husbands committed domestic violence), followed by those who were religiously unaffiliated (3.2%), nominal mainline Protestants (3.9%), active mainline Protestants (5.4%), and nominal conservative Protestants (7.2%).[68]

Overall (including both nominal and active members), the rates among conservative Protestants and mainline Protestants were 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively.[68] Examining Wilcox's study, Van Leewen finds that the parenting style of conservative Protestant fathers is characterized by features which have been linked to positive outcomes among children and adolescents,[nb 4][69] that there is no evidence that gender-traditionalist ideology of the "soft patriarchal" kind is a strong predictor of domestic physical abuse,[nb 5][69] and that "gender hierarchicalist males" who are frequent and active church members function positively in the domestic environment. [nb 6][69]

Another 2007 study by Christopher G. Ellison found that "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."[70]


Prior to the mid-1800s most legal systems implicitly accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife.[71][72] One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be "free from bodilie correction or stripes by her husband."[73]

Political agitation during the 19th century led to changes in both popular opinion and legislation regarding domestic violence within the United Kingdom and the United States.[74][75] In 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating.[76][77] Other states soon followed suit.[72][78]

In 1878, the Matrimonial Causes Act made it possible for women in the UK to seek separations from abusive husbands.[79] By the end of the 1870s, most courts in the United States were uniformly opposed to the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives.[80] By the early 20th century, it was common for the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence in the United States, but arrests remained rare.[81] Wife beating was made illegal in all states of the United States by 1920.[82][83]

Modern attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement of the 1970s, particularly within feminism and women's rights, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. The first known use of the expression "domestic violence" in a modern context, meaning "spouse abuse, violence in the home" was in 1973.[84][85] With the rise of the men's movement of the 1990s, the problem of domestic violence against men has also gained significant attention.

Attention to violence against men began in the late 1980s.


Victims of domestic violence are offered legal remedies that are both civil and criminal in nature.[86]

  • Criminal law remedies include the criminal prosecution of the offender, and possible restraints on the offender's behavior during periods of pretrial release or as part of a criminal sentence.
  • Civil law remedies include the possibility of obtaining a protection order.

These remedies are not exclusive, meaning that a victim may seek both the criminal prosecution of the offender and also petition for civil remedies.

People who perpetrate acts of domestic violence are subject to criminal prosecution. Prosecution most often occurs under assault and battery laws. Perpetrators of domestic violence can be charged under general statutes,[87][88][89] but most states have also enacted specific statutes that specifically criminalize acts of domestic violence. For example, under the South Carolina code, the crime of "Criminal domestic violence" states that "it is unlawful to: (1) cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member; or (2) offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril." If aggravated circumstances are present, people can be charged with the crime of "Criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature."

Other possible criminal charges may be brought based upon the facts of the offense, potentially including charges such as harassment, menacing or false imprisonment.

Acts of domestic violence can have a significant impact on Child custody laws in the United States litigation, most notably when an act of domestic violence is committed in the presence of the minor child. A parent with a history of domestic violence may be at a significant disadvantage in a custody case, even if the domestic violence was not directed at the other parent.

Certain laws indirectly impact domestic abuse survivors. A study commissioned by the ACLU of two cities in New York found that local nuisance ordinances, which penalize tenants and property owners based on criminal or police activity on a property, may have the unintended consequence of victims of domestic abuse being evicted and/or deterred from reporting abuse. [90]

Violence Against Women Acts[edit]

Main article: Violence Against Women Acts

Three Violence Against Women Acts (VAWA) (1994, 2000, 2005) United States federal laws have been signed into law by the President to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The law helped victim advocates and government agencies to work together, created prevention and victim support programs, and resulted in new punishments for certain violent crimes, which by 2005 resulted in:

  • 49.8% reduction of non-fatal, violent victimizations committed by intimate partners.
  • In the first six years, an estimated $14.8 billion in net averted social costs.
  • 51% increase in reporting of domestic violence and 18% increase in National Domestic Violence Hotline calls each year, evidence that as victims become aware of remedies, they break the code of silence.[49][91]

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act[edit]

Main article: Family Violence Prevention and Services Act

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) provides federal funding to help victims of domestic violence and their dependent children by providing shelter and related help, offering violence prevention programs, and improving how service agencies work together in communities.

  • Formula Grants. This money helps states, territories, and tribes create and support programs that work to help victims and prevent family violence. The amount of money is determined by a formula based partly on population. The states, territories, and tribes distribute the money to thousands of domestic violence shelters and programs.
  • The 24-hour, confidential, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline provides support, information, referrals, safety planning, and crisis intervention in more than 170 languages to hundreds of thousands of domestic violence victims each year.
  • The Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Program teaches people ways to prevent violence.[91]

Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA)[edit]

The DELTA program, funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), works towards preventing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in certain funded communities. The way that the DELTA program works towards prevention is by understanding factors that influence violence and then focusing on how to prevent these factors. This is done by using a social ecological model which illustrates the connection between Individual, Relationship, Community, and Societal factors that influence violence.[92]

Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban[edit]

Main article: Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban

The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, also known as the Lautenberg Amendment, is a United States federal law enacted in 1996 to ban firearms and ammunitions to individuals convicted of misdemeanordomestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states.[93][94]

United States federal probation and supervised release for domestic violence offenders[edit]

Main article: United States federal probation and supervised release

The United States federal probation and supervised release law:

  • Requires first-time domestic violence offenders convicted of domestic violence crimes to attend court-approved non-profit offender rehabilitation programs within a 50-mile radius of the individual's legal residence.
  • Makes probation mandatory for first-time domestic violence offenders not sentenced to a term of imprisonment.[95]

United States asylum for victims of domestic violence[edit]

In 2014 the Board of Immigration Appeals, America's highest immigration court, found for the first time that women who are victims of severe domestic violence in their home countries can be eligible for asylum in the United States.[96] However, this ruling was in the case of a woman from Guatemala and thus applies only to women from Guatemala.[96]

Law enforcement[edit]

In the 1970s, it was widely believed that domestic disturbance calls were the most dangerous type for responding officers, who arrive to a highly emotionally charged situation. This belief was based on FBI statistics which turned out to be flawed, in that they grouped all types of disturbances together with domestic disturbances, such as brawls at a bar. Subsequent statistics and analysis have shown this belief to be false.[97][98]

Statistics on incidents of domestic violence, published in the late 1970s, helped raise public awareness of the problem and increase activism.[99][100] A study published in 1976 by the Police Foundation found that the police had intervened at least once in the previous two years in 85% of spouse homicides.[101] In the late 1970s and early 1980s, feminists and battered women's advocacy groups were calling on police to take domestic violence more seriously and change intervention strategies.[102] In some instances, these groups took legal action against police departments, including Los Angeles's, Oakland, California's and New York City's, to get them to make arrests in domestic violence cases.[103] They claimed that police assigned low priority to domestic disturbance calls.[104]

The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment was a study done in 1981–1982, led by Lawrence W. Sherman, to evaluate the effectiveness of various police responses to domestic violence calls in Minneapolis, Minnesota, including sending the abuser away for eight hours, giving advice and mediation for disputes, and making an arrest. Arrest was found to be the most effective police response. The study found that arrest reduced the rate by half of re-offending against the same victim within the following six months.[105] The results of the study received a great deal of attention from the news media, including The New York Times and prime-time news coverage on television.[106]

Many U.S. police departments responded to the study, adopting a mandatory arrest policy for spousal violence cases with probable cause.[107] By 2005, 23 states and the District of Columbia had enacted mandatory arrest for domestic assault, without warrant, given that the officer has probable cause and regardless of whether or not the officer witnessed the crime.[108] The Minneapolis study also influenced policy in other countries, including New Zealand, which adopted a pro-arrest policy for domestic violence cases.[109]

However, the study was subject of much criticism, with concerns about its methodology, as well as its conclusions.[106] The Minneapolis study was replicated in several other cities, beginning in 1986, with some of these studies having different results; one of which being the fact that the deterrent effect observed in the Minneapolis experiment was largely localized.[110] In the replication studies which were far more broad and methodologically sound in both size and scope, arrest seemed to help in the short run in certain cases, but those arrested experienced double the rate of violence over the course of one year.[110]

Each agency and jurisdiction within the United States has its own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) when it comes to responding and handling domestic calls. Generally, it has been accepted that if the understood victim has visible (and recent) marks of abuse, the suspect is arrested and charged with the appropriate crime. However, that is a guideline and not a rule. Like any other call, domestic abuse lies in a gray area. Law enforcement officers have several things to consider when making a warrantless arrest:

  • Are there signs of physical abuse?
  • Were there witnesses?
  • Is it recent?
  • Was the victim assaulted by the alleged suspect?
  • Who is the primary aggressor?
  • Could the victim be lying?
  • Could the suspect be lying?

Along with protecting the victim, law enforcement officers have to ensure that the alleged abusers' rights are not violated. Many times in cases of mutual combatants, it is departmental policy that both parties be arrested and the court system can establish truth at a later date. In some areas of the nation, this mutual combatant philosophy is being replaced by the primary abuser philosophy in which case if both parties have physical injuries, the law enforcement officer determines who the primary aggressor is and only arrests that one. This philosophy started gaining momentum when different government/private agencies started researching the effects. It was found that when both parties are arrested, it had an adverse effect on the victim. The victims were less likely to call or trust law enforcement during the next incident of domestic abuse.[111][page needed]

State due diligence[edit]

International law requires that States exercise due diligence to reduce domestic violence and, when violations occur, to provide effective investigation and redress to victims.[112] In 2011, Rashida Manjoo, the United NationsSpecial Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, urged the United States to "[e]xplore more uniform remedies for victims of domestic violence," "[r]e-evaluate existing mechanisms at federal, state, local, and tribal levels for protecting victims and punishing offenders," "[e]stablish meaningful standards for enforcement of protection orders," and "[i]nitiate more public education campaigns."[113] After the Supreme Court of the United States held in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales that Jessica Lenahan, a victim of domestic violence, had no constitutional right to the enforcement of her restraining order, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that the United States "failed to act with due diligence" to protect Jessica Lenahan and her daughters Leslie, Katheryn, and Rebecca Gonzales from domestic violence, "which violated the state’s obligation not to discriminate and to provide for equal protection before the law."[114] The Commission further held that "the failure of the United States to adequately organize its state structure to protect [Leslie, Katheryn, and Rebecca] from domestic violence was discriminatory and constituted a violation of their right to life."[114]

Freedom from domestic violence resolution movement[edit]

Since 2011,[115] twenty-six local governments in the United States have passed resolutions declaring freedom from domestic violence to be a fundamental human right,[116] rooted in the recognition of governmental responsibility to ensure this right.[117] These resolutions were passed by Albany Common Council (NY), Albany County Legislature (NY), Austin City Council (TX), Boston City Council (MA), Cayuga Heights Town Board (NY), City Council of Baltimore (MD), City Council of Chicago (IL), City Council of Jacksonville (FL), City Council of the City of Miami Springs (FL), Council of the City of Cincinnati (OH), Council of Washington, D.C., Erie County Legislature (NY), Ithaca Common Council (NY), Ithaca Town Board (NY), Lansing Town Board (NY), Laredo with Webb County (TX), Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (FL), Montgomery City with Montgomery County (AL), Pratville (AL), Seattle Human Rights Commission (WA), State College (PA), Tompkins County Council of Governments (NY), Tompkins County Legislature (NY), Travis County Commissioners Court (TX) and Village of Cayuga Heights (NY).[118]

Although the resolutions are not identical, most declare that freedom from domestic violence is a fundamental human right, and further resolve that the state and local governments should secure this human right on behalf of their citizens and should incorporate the resolution's principles into their policies and practices.[116]

Support organizations[edit]


A contributing factor to the disparity of responses to abuse is lack of training. Many Christian seminaries had not educated future church leaders about how to manage violence against women. Once pastors began receiving training, and announced their participation in domestic violence educational programs, they immediately began receiving visits from women church members who had been subject to violence.[119]

The first Theological Education and Domestic Violence Conference, sponsored by the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, was held in 1985 to identify topics that should be covered in seminaries. When church leaders first encounter sexual and domestic violence, they need to know what community resources are available. They need to focus on ending the violence, rather than on keeping families together.[119]

One of the Salvation Army's missions is working with victims of domestic abuse. They offer safe housing, therapy, and support.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence[edit]

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the NCADV, is a non-profit organization centered on creating a culture where domestic violence is not tolerated. The NCADV works toward this vision by promoting a society that empowers the victims and survivors of domestic violence and holds their abusers accountable. They work toward their goal of changing society to have a zero tolerance for domestic violence by effecting public policy, increasing understanding of the impact of domestic violence, and providing education and programs for victims.[120]

The NCADV works with national organisations to push for policies and legislation that work to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence. They also offer programs for victims to assist them in rehabilitation such as The Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Program. This program is offered to survivors and consists of plastic surgeons volunteering their services to assist survivors of domestic violence, who cannot afford plastic surgery, in removing their scars left by an abusive partner.[120]

Domestic violence shelters[edit]

Domestic violence shelters are buildings, usually sets of apartments, that are set as a place where victims of domestic violence can seek refuge from their abusers. In order to keep the abuser from finding the victim, the location of these shelters are kept confidential. These shelters provide the victims with the basic living necessities including food. Some domestic violence shelters have room for victimized mothers to bring their children, therefore offering childcare as well. Although the length of time a person can stay in these shelters is limited, most shelters help victims in finding a permanent home, job, and other necessities one needs to start a new life. Domestic Violence shelters should also be able to refer its victims to other services such as legal help, counseling, support groups, employment programs, health services, and financial opportunities.[121]


  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a 24-hour, confidential, toll-free hotline created through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. Hotline staff immediately connect the caller to a service provider in his or her area. Highly trained advocates provide support, information, referrals, safety planning, and crisis intervention in 170 languages to hundreds of thousands of domestic violence victims.[122]
  • Loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, launched February 8, 2007 by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, is a 24-hour national Web-based and telephone resource, created to help teens (ages 13–18) experiencing dating abuse, and is the only helpline in the country serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.[123]

Reduction programs[edit]


Men's groups against domestic violence and forced rape, found around the world, take measures to reduce their use of violence. Typical activities include group discussions, education campaigns and rallies, work with violent men, and workshops in schools, prisons and workplaces. Actions are frequently conducted in collaboration with women's organizations that are involved in preventing violence against women and providing services to abused women. In the United States alone, there are over 100 such men's groups, many of which focus specifically on sexual violence.[124]

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model)[edit]

Main article: Duluth Model

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (Duluth Model), featured in the documentary Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America,[125][126] was the first multi-disciplinary program designed to coordinate the actions of a variety of agencies in Duluth, Minnesota dealing with domestic violence for a more effective outcome and has become a model for programs in other jurisdictions.[127] A nationwide study published in 2002 sponsored by the federal government found that batterers who complete programs based on the "Duluth Model," are less likely to repeat acts of domestic violence than those who do not complete any batterers' intervention program.[128]

See also[edit]

Legal remedies:




Joel Bergner, A Survivor's Journey, The Domestic Violence Awareness Mural, 2010. Brookland Neighborhood, 12th Street, NE, Washington DC.
October is observed as domestic abuse month in the United States. This poster was issued by various branches of the United States Military to educate and prevent domestic abuse.
  1. ^Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, has compiled an annotated bibliography of research relating to spousal abuse by women on men. This bibliography examines 275 scholarly investigations: 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses appear to demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000.[24] In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that "...consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men."[28]
  2. ^The National Institute of Justice states that studies finding equal or greater frequency of abuse by women against men are based on data compiled through the Conflict Tactics Scale. This survey tool was developed in the 1970s and may not be appropriate for intimate partner violence research because it does not measure control, coercion, or the motives for conflict tactics; it also leaves out sexual assault and violence by ex-spouses or partners and does not determine who initiated the violence.[47]
  3. ^India and Bangladesh were also noted as countries with a high prevalence of death during pregnancy due to domestic abuse.[50]
  4. ^"He concludes that conservative Protestant fathers’ neotraditional parenting style seems to be closer to the authoritative style—characterized by moderately high levels of parental control and high levels of parental supportiveness—that has been linked to positive outcomes among children and adolescents."
  5. ^‘The upshot is that we have no evidence so far that a gender-traditionalist ideology—at least of the soft patriarchal variety—is a strong predictor of domestic physical abuse.’
  6. ^"Gender hierarchicalist males—at least those who have frequent and active church involvement—turn out, on average, to be better men than their theories: more often than not, they are functional egalitarians, and the rhetoric of male headship may actually be functioning as a covert plea for greater male responsibility and nurturant involvement on the home front."


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