Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

  • “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another” [1].
  • Patterns of power and control involving physical, sexual, and emotional abuse (e.g., coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, control of economic resources, denying/minimizing abuse, using children to maintain control, asserting male dominance) are all a part of domestic violence [1].

Domestic violence statistics:

  • In over 90% of domestic violence cases, substance abuse is involved.
    • More information about domestic violence and its link to drugs and alcohol are available here.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women [2].
  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Only a fraction of assaults are reported to the police:
    • 25% of physical assaults
    • 20% of all rapes
    • 50% of all stalkings perpetuated against females [3]
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year [4].

The impact on children of being exposed to domestic violence:

  • Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence against their mothers or female caretakers by family members [5].
  • Child abuse occurs in 30 to 60% of family violence cases that involve families with children [6].
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are at risk for emotional, physical, behavioral, cognitive, and social consequences [7]:
    • Emotional problems: depression, self-blame, guilt, shame, grief, confusion, self-harm, anxiety, pro-violence attitudes
    • Physical problems: somatic complaints
    • Behavioral problems: attention seeking behavior, poor anger management
    • Cognitive/academic problems: more likely to experience difficulties in school and to score lower on assessments of verbal, motor, and cognitive skills, and problem solving [8]
    • Social problems: withdrawal, distrust in relationships, exploitative relationships as either perpetrator or victim
  • The impact of domestic abuse on children depends on multiple factors, including the nature of the violence, age of the child, time elapsed since exposure, gender, and the presence or absence of child physical or sexual abuse [9].
  • Long-term effects of being exposed to domestic violence: Adult men who were exposed to domestic violence as children are more likely to engage in domestic violence as adults; similarly, women were exposed to domestic violence as children are more likely to be victims of domestic violence in adulthood [7].

Domestic violence resources:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

[1] National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2015). National statistics. Retrieved from

[2] Rennison, C. M. (2003). Intimate partner violence, 1993-2001. Retrieved from

[3] Tjaden, P. G., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence (p. 62). Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.

[4] Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. (2003). Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. In Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. CDC.

[5] American Psychological Association. (1996). Violence and the family: Report of the American Psychological Association presidential task force on violence and the family. American Psychological Association.

[6] Edleson, J. L. (1999). The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering. Violence Against Women, 5(2), 134-154.

[7] Brown, B. V., & Bzostek, S. (2003). Violence in the lives of children. Cross Currents, 1, 1-13.

[8] Fantuzzo, J. W., & Mohr, W. K. (1999). Prevalence and effects of child exposure to domestic violence. The Future of Children, 21-32.

[9] Child Welfare and Information Gateway. (2015). Retrieved from