THE UGLY FACTS
YES. WE KNOW ITS NOT PRETTY. BUT LET'S GET REAL FOR A MINUTE.
Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Abuse is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that a person uses against their current or former intimate partner. It happens in relationships where the abuser and the victim are (or were) dating, living together, married or divorced. It is a purposeful behavior - the pattern of which is directed at gaining and maintaining control over the victim.
1 in 4 women* report experiencing this in her lifetime. Note that this is only mentioning the reported cases.
*National statistics show that domestic violence primarily impacts women. Feminine pronouns are used here when referring to victims of domestic violence and masculine pronouns are used when referring to perpetrators. We are using gender-specific pronouns to keep the writing simple and clear, but we recognize that the issue is not a simple one. Sometimes the perpetrator will be female while the victim will be male. And of course, domestic violence can happen in same sex relationships as well.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that at least one of every three women globally will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In most cases, the abuser is a member of her own family. A 2005 World Health Organization study found that of 15 sites in ten countries – representing diverse cultural settings – the proportion of women who had experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetimes ranged from 15% in Japan to 71% in Ethiopia.
Domestic, dating and sexual violence are costly and pervasive problems causing victims, as well as witnesses and bystanders, in every community to suffer incalculable pain and loss. In addition to the lives taken and injuries suffered, partner violence shatters the sense of well-being that allows people to thrive. It also can cause health problems that last a lifetime, and diminish children’s prospects in school and in life.
Humanity must address this violence by implementing strategies that hold the most promise to reduce its prevalence. This should include teaching the next generation that violence is wrong, training more health care providers to assess patients for abuse, implementing workplace prevention and victim support programs, and making services available to all victims who experience violence as well as to assist children who witness violence.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Women are much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner. Women make up more than 80% of abuse victims. Women of all ages are at risk for abuse. In fact, those aged 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing nonfatal intimate partner violence. that age category also experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault and stalking. Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.
Women who have experienced domestic violence are 80% more likely to have a stroke, 70% more likely to have heart disease, 60% more likely to have asthma and 70% more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence.
The financial cost of intimate partner abuse for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores, strains on support infrastructures is massive, and our country cannoy afford it.
Sexual and domestic violence are linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including sexually transmitted disease and HIV transmission, miscarriages, risky sexual health behaviour and more.
EMERGING ISSUES THAT FACILITATE ABUSE
Technology has become a quick and easy way for stalkers to monitor and harass their
victims. More than one in four stalking victims reports that some form of cyberstalking was used against them, such as email (83% of all cyberstalking victims) or instant messaging (35%).
Young victims are becoming more and more likely to experience abuse because of technology. Bullying is a massive problem, as well as intimate relationship type of abuse. Electronic monitoring of some kind is used to stalk one in 13 teen victims. 1 in 5 teen girls and 1 in 10 younger teen girls (age 13 to 16) have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves. Even more teen girls, 37%, have sent or posted sexually suggestive text, email or IM (instant messages). More than half of teen girls (51%) say that pressure from a guy is a reason they send sexy messages or images, while only 18% of teen boys say pressure from a girl is a reason. 20% of teen girls who have sent sexually suggestive messages or images say they felt “pressured” to do so.
Men commit the majority of violent acts against women. While sincere efforts have been made to prevent men from perpetrating sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking, these efforts have yet to make a major impact on the rates of violence against women.
This is because such efforts often involve overturning long-held cultural and societal beliefs. Given this reality, violence against women will likely continue despite best efforts to minimise women’s vulnerability to such acts unless male risk behaviors are successfully addressed.
WHO ARE THE MOST LIKELY PERPETRATORS?
Boyfriends and intimate partners are the most common perpetrators of violence against women. Acquaintances, such as friends and co-workers of the victim, are the second most common perpetrator of violence against women.
TYPICAL AGE OF A PERPETRATOR
While there is no definitive age for perpetrators of violence against women to act, age is likely to play a role when one commits such crimes. Evidence suggests younger men are more likely to commit violence against women, which may be explained by their increased number of dating partners and frequency in which they start new relationships.
Approximately one-third of all convicted rapists are under the age of 25 and almost one-fifth of all sexual assault perpetrators are 18-21 years of age, while male stalkers are typically in their 30s. No average age is provided for domestic violence.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL TRAIT RISK FACTORS?
While general risk factors exist, such as age and familiarity with the person, the vast majority of perpetrators have adopted behaviors, be it learned behaviors or societal beliefs that increase their likelihood of committing sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence.
Previous acts of violence against women is often the biggest predictor of whether or not a man will perpetrate an act of violence, be it sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. For instance, men who commit rape are likely to have done so multiple times, with repeat rapists averaging 5.8 rapes throughout their lives. In regards to domestic violence, authors of a recent study found that individuals with a history of physical violence against their partners are 13 times more likely to commit future acts of physical aggression compared to persons who have never committed this form of physical abuse.
Men who hold traditional gender role beliefs (men as breadwinners, women should stay at home, etc.) and conform to masculinity norms (believe men need to be self-reliant, have power over women, etc.) are more likely to commit violence against women, particularly sexual assault. Alternatively, men who view women as their equals are less likely to commit an act of sexual assault.
A personal history of or exposure to abuse is a major risk factor. While the majority of individuals who experienced child abuse do not commit acts of violence against women, a large portion of men who commit violent acts against women were abused as a child. Authors argue that child abuse, sexual or physical, may result in future perpetuation of violence because individuals “learn” at a young age that such actions are acceptable and tolerable behaviors.20 Additionally, perpetrators of domestic violence are likely to have experienced acts of violence against them, resulting in many experts highlighting the bi-directionality of domestic violence.