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Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

Couple having an argumentA key strategy in preventing domestic violence is the promotion of respectful, nonviolent relationships through individual, relationship, community, and societal level change. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; enhance prevention efforts in your community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to ensuring that all Americans, especially those at risk for intimate partner violence, live to their fullest potential. Promoting respectful, nonviolent intimate partner relationships through individual, relationship, community, and societal level change is a key strategy.

What Is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, and emotional abuse by a current or former spouse or non-marital partner. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. It exists along a continuum from a single episode of violence to ongoing battering.

Woman consoling another woman

Twenty-nine percent of women and nearly 10% of men in the United States have experienced intimate partner violence

Mature couple

The key to violence prevention is keeping it from happening before it begins.

Why Is Intimate Partner Violence a Public Health Problem?

Data from CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) indicate the following:

  • An estimated 9% of women and 1% of men experienced attempted or completed rape by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • Severe physical violence was experienced by an estimated 22% of women and 14% of men. This includes being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned.
  • An estimated 9% of women and 2% of men were stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • Among victims of sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, an estimated 71% of women and 58% of men first experienced these types of violence before the age of 25.
  • Twenty-nine percent of women and nearly 10% of men in the United States have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and reported that the violence impacted them in some way (e.g., made them feel fearful or concerned for their safety, resulted in an injury or need for services, or they lost days from work or school). Contact sexual violence includes rape, being made to penetrate, sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual contact.1

What We Know and Don't Know

All forms of intimate partner violence are preventable. The key to violence prevention is keeping it from happening before it begins. We know that strategies that promote healthy behaviors in relationships are important. Programs that teach young people skills (e.g., communication and problem solving skills) can prevent violence. These programs can stop violence in dating relationships before it occurs.

However, more knowledge about strategies that prevent intimate partner violence is needed. CDC researchers are working to better understand the developmental pathways and social circumstances that lead to this type of

violence. In addition, CDC is helping organizations to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, programs, and policies to reduce intimate partner violence and teen dating violence.

The key to violence prevention is keeping it from happening before it begins.

Reference

  1. Breiding MJ, Smith SG, Basile KC, Walters ML, Chen J, Merrick MT. Prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization— National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2014; 63(SS08):1–18.
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