Domestic violence is, in many ways, a quiet epidemic. Though in plain sight, victims are often invisible, fearfully denying their situation and hiding behind the facade of a happy home. But the statistics reveal a shocking reality. Every nine seconds, a woman in America is assaulted or beaten, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A mind-boggling one in three women (and one in four men) has been a victim of physical brutality by an intimate partner, the group also reports. That makes intimate partner violence “the single greatest cause of injury to women,” per the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.
Hard to imagine the scope we’re talking about? Consider this: The number of women killed by a current or former male partner added up to nearly double the soldier lives lost in war in Afghanistan and Iraq during the same 11-year time frame, The Huffington Post calculated last year.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic, no matter what statistic you look at, yet as a society we often close our eyes to it,” Amy Sanchez, director of Break The Cycle, an organization on the NO MORE steering committee, tells GoodHousekeeping.com.
And although the rate of family violence in the U.S. has slightly decreased during the last 10 years, there are “millions of women and children that we know are living in violent homes every day,” Sanchez notes. “If we had a health issue that we knew was affecting millions of people, we’d work together to figure it out, like with what’s been done to address smoking and heart disease. But because this is a ‘private’ issue, a ‘family matter,’ people don’t talk about it.”
In an effort to topple that taboo, GoodHouskeeping.com pulled together a slew of surprising statistics on the subject — and the data is eye-opening.
WHO EXPERIENCES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The uncomfortable truth? The majority of marriages will include some violence. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) reports that the FBI “estimates violence will occur during the course of two-thirds of all marriages.”
Occupation, income level, urban or suburban environment — studies show that none of these factors is an indicator of more or less incidents of domestic abuse. When it comes to racial divide, there is no difference either. “White, Black and Hispanic women all incur about the same rates of violence committed by an intimate partner,” according to the DVIP. As far as pinning down which U.S. states have the highest rates of domestic violence, one report identifies Alaska as the worst — and includes Maine, New Mexico, Texas, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont on the list — but notes that varying criteria by state makes a definitive ranking impossible.