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Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

Man and woman arguingA key strategy in preventing domestic violence is the promotion of respectful, nonviolent relationships through individual, 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 domestic violence or intimate partner violence, live to their fullest potential. Promoting respectful, nonviolent intimate partner relationships through individual, 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 seven percent of women in the U.S. have experienced intimate partner violence.

Why is Intimate Partner Violence a Public Health Problem?

  • 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 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
  • Intimate partner violence resulted in 1,336 deaths in 2010—accounting for 10% of all homicides. Eighty two percent of these deaths were females and 18% were males.2
  • The medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity costs (e.g., time away from work) of intimate partner violence were $5.8 billion in 1995. That is more than $8.3 billion when updated to 2003 dollars.3,4

What We Know and Don't Know about Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

All forms of intimate partner violence are preventable. The key to prevention is stopping violence before it starts. 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.

Mature couple

The key to prevention is stopping violence before it starts.

How are We Raising Awareness of Intimate Partner Violence?

CDC's Division of Violence Prevention and U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women have sponsored a social media project, 1 Photo, 6 Words #VetoViolence, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act [33 KB] (VAWA).

Through CDC's VetoViolence Facebook page, participants are asked to share their commitment to preventing violence against women, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence with the rest of the country through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #VetoViolence. They may compose six words and take a photo or create a unique image that:

  • Promotes healthy relationships,
  • Illustrates an America without violence, or
  • Celebrates VAWA.

Below are two selected images from numerous submissions. Check out our showcase and learn more about the project.

Palm of hand with writing - Real Love doesn't hurt. Speak up! #vetoviolence

Real love doesn’t hurt. Speak up!

People holding sign that reads Paremos juntos el ciclo de violencia

Paremos juntos el ciclo de violencia / Translation: Stop together the cycle of violence


  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.
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2010 [online]. [cited 2012 Sep 27].
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003. [cited 2006 May 22].
  4. Max W, Rice DP, Finkelstein E, Bardwell RA, Leadbetter S. The economic toll of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Violence and Victims 2004;19(3):259–72.