Government Reports Drop in Domestic Violence

Intimate partner violence in the U.S. declined from 1993 to 2004, following the trends for all violent crimes. Partner violence is largely a crime against women, often a serious crime, and its incidence varies significantly by age and ethnicity with young, American Indian and Alaskan Native women at greatest risk. Those are among the findings of a report issued in late December by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“The overall decline is positive, encouraging news, and it is especially welcome for those of us who work every day to stop domestic violence,” Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler said. “Still, it is clear that violence against women remains a costly and devastating problem in this country. In 2004, there were more than 625,000 intimate partner victimizations and, on average, more than three women a day were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. There is no question that we have a lot more work to do to keep families safe.”

Key findings include:

  • In 1993 there were 5.8 nonfatal intimate partner victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents age 12 and older. In 2004, there were 2.6.
  • In 2004, there were approximately 627,400 nonfatal intimate partner victimizations in the U.S. – 475,900 against females and 151,500 against males. Approximately one-third were serious violent crimes – rapes, sexual assaults, robberies and aggravated assaults that involved serious injuries, weapons or sexual offenses.
  • In 2004, 1,159 females and 385 males were murdered by intimate partners. In 1993, 1,571 females and 698 males were murdered by intimate partners. Intimate partners commit 30 percent of homicides against females and five percent of homicides against males.
  • Females age 20 – 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.
  • Women who are separated report higher rates of intimate partner violence than women who are single, divorced or married.
  • Women living in households with lower annual incomes experience the highest rates of partner violence.
  • Children are residents of the households experiencing intimate partner violence in 43 percent of incidents involving female victims.
  • Reporting to police increased for both female and male victims from 1994 to 2004, with black females more likely to report intimate partner violence to police than white women.
  • One in five female victims of violence (21 percent) contact an outside agency for help, as do ten percent of male victims.
  • From 2003 to 2004, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the country was unchanged, but there was a significant increase for African American females.

“We are at a pivotal moment,” Soler added. “We have identified strategies that help stop violence and aid victims. Now we must further implement and refine those strategies – and fund the prevention programs that hold so much promise for keeping the next generation safe. We urge Congress to fully fund the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 next year, so that we can do even more to stop the violence that is still much too common in our families and communities.”

The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines an intimate partner as a current or former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or same-sex partner, and violence includes homicides, rapes, robberies and assaults. The new report is based on the National Crime Victimization Survey and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program as presented in Homicide Trends in the United States. It is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/intimate/ipv.htm.

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