How Much Domestic Violence Is There?

In today’s news, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that reports that domestic violence in the world is rampant.  In high income countries, WHO estimates that about 23% of women are victims.  The WHO report does not make clear that this is a lifetime expectancy, so that if a women has an intimate lifespan of 40 years, there is a .57% chance of her experiencing domestic violence in any given year of her life.  The report focuses on women as victims of domestic violence, and says that worldwide that about a third of women are victims of domestic violence.  As a consequence of being victimized, these women suffer a variety of harms.  They are twice as likely as the general population of being depressed and twice as likely to have an alcohol consumption disorder.

The WHO statistics for high income countries is consistent with the report put out a few months ago by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) entitled Intimate Partner Violence (1993-2010).  It found that on an annual basis 5.9 women out of a thousand (that is .59%) become victims of domestic violence.  Even if we were to accumulate that rate for twenty years, the total percentage of victims would be about 12%.  Another interesting part of the DOJ report is that it recognizes that men are also victims of domestic violence, although to a significantly lower degree than women.   Male victims have an annual incidence of 1.1 out of a thousand (that is .10%).  In other words, according to the DOJ four out of five victims of domestic violence are women.

Most notably, the DOJ report clearly shows a sharp generational decline in domestic violence.  From 1994 until 201, domestic violence rates declined 64% for both men and women.   Women are still far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.  The highest risk age bracket for women are those between the ages of 25 and 34; but even those women 18 to 49 have a significantly higher risk of being victimized.



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