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Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

One woman consoling another womanOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There are numerous ways to enhance prevention efforts in your community. A key strategy in preventing domestic violence, often called intimate partner violence, is promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to ensuring that all Americans, especially those at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), live to their fullest potential. The goal is to stop IPV before it begins. Disrupting the developmental pathways toward partner violence and teaching skills that promote respectful, nonviolent relationships through individual, relationship, community, and societal level change are key strategies. Creating protective environments where people work, live, and play and strengthening economic supports for families to make violence less likely are also important.

What Is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, stalking, and emotional or psychological abuse by a current or former intimate 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 severe episodes over a period of years.

Twenty-seven percent of women and nearly 12% of men in the United States have experienced intimate partner violence in the form of physical violence, contact sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and that the violence in that relationship resulted in at least one negative impact.

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

	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:

  • Severe physical violence was experienced by 22% of women and 14% of men. This includes being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned.
  • Nine percent of women and 1% of men experienced attempted or completed rape by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • Nine percent of women and 3% of men were stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • Among victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, 71% of women and 58% of men first experienced these types of violence before the age of 25.
  • Twenty-seven percent of women and nearly 12% of men in the United States have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and reported that the violence in that relationship 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 IPV 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) can prevent violence. These programs can stop violence in dating relationships before it occurs.

However, more knowledge about strategies that prevent IPV 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.

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