What Is Domestic Violence? And How Common Is It?

October 7, 2011

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Americans are very good at working at solving problems. I think about the Race for the Cure event this past weekend in Houston as a way Houstonians get together to raise money and awareness for an issue that has had devastating effects on many of our families. I have to believe, then, that perhaps those of us working on the issue of domestic violence have not been so good at getting the message out about intimate partner violence (formerly and currently known as "domestic violence"). Here are the numbers. In Texas (2010):

  • 38% of women are estimated to have been in an abusive relationship.
  • 27% of men are estimated to have been in an abusive relationship.
  • 146 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner in 2010, including:

    • 35 in Harris County
    • 53 mothers
    • 3 young women less than 18 years old
  • 39 children witnessed their mother's murder.

In the United States:

  • 1/4 of all women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
  • 1/3 of female murder victims were murdered by an intimate partner.
  • Over 530,000 incidents of intimate partner violence were reported to law enforcement in 2009.

At its base, intimate partner violence is an action by one partner to manipulate, control and compel the other partner to his/her desire by means of physical, sexual, emotional, financial, mental and verbal coercion. It can be subtle or not. It can be actions, lack of actions or the threat of action. Examples include:

  • Battering behaviors or threats of battering violence
  • Denial of access to financial resources
  • Name calling or insults aimed at intimidating or belittling
  • Controlling of movement
  • Threats against self, partner, family or friends
  • Made unwanted phone calls
  • Forced sex against partner's will
  • Appeared at home, work or other place in an effort to intimidate
  • Cyber-bullying

All of these things constitute intimate partner violence. Over the next month, it is my hope to get you to take action. I plan to discuss:

  • Ways to be safe if you are in a battering relationship
  • Ways to help if you know of someone in a battering relationship
  • How all of this effects children, and
  • Ways to get involved

In the meantime, I'd like to hear from you. Are you currently involved in activities aimed at reducing this problem in your community? If so, then please share. Also indicate if I can share those here or with others striving to make every home safe. A note to persons living in violent or coercive homes, please be careful when reading this blog or any other website regarding domestic violence. Activity on the computer can be tracked and monitored. If you suspect this can be a problem, and need help, in Texas, from a safe phone call 2-1-1. Nationally, from a safe phone call 800.799.SAFE.

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