Home / Crime / Articles / Data says domestic violence incidents are down, but half of all victims don’t report to police

About half of all domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. While the number of reported domestic violence incidents based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data has not changed much from 2010 to 2019, the data from the crime victimization survey reveals the problem is still prevalent.

Domestic violence is a broad term that includes violent acts perpetrated by family members or intimate partners. Intimate partner violence is a subset of domestic violence. It’s defined as abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. Intimate partner violence includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, as well as economic coercion, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

The rate of domestic violence committed by an intimate partner or family member was 4.2 victimizations per 1,000 people in 2019, decreasing from 4.8 per 1,000 people in 2018. From 2010 to 2019, the average victimization rate was 4.4 per 1,000 people.

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Data on how often victims report domestic violence incidents comes from the National Crime Victimization Survey. The survey asks the general public if they were a victim of a crime and whether they reported this crime to the police. Fifty-two percent of people who experienced domestic violence reported the crime, according to the survey. Fewer people are reporting domestic violence incidents to authorities than in 2010. About two-thirds of victims of the crime reported to police that year compared to 52% in 2019.

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About a quarter of women experience intimate partner violence compared to about 10% of men

Women ages 18 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence, according to the Department of Justice. Seventy-five percent of 18- to 34-year-old women subjected to intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender.

About one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced sexual and physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime according to the 2015 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has not conducted the survey since 2015.

Over 43 million women and 38 million men in the US have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Psychological aggression is verbal and non-verbal communication intended to harm another person mentally or emotionally and to force control over another person, according to the CDC.

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Queer students and female students in general experienced heightened dating violence

About one in 12 students experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence, according to a 2019 survey from the CDC.

Female students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning their sexual identity experienced higher rates of both sexual and physical dating violence. More than 16% of female students experienced dating violence compared to 8% of male students.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students were twice as likely to experience dating violence at 22%, compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

More than half of female homicide victims are killed by current or former male partners

For survivors of intimate partner violence, about 35% of women and more than 11% of men experienced some form of physical injury. About one in five homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, according to the CDC survey. Over half of female homicide victims in the US are killed by a current or former male intimate partners.

About a quarter of intimate partner violence victims received assistance from a victim service agency in 2019, according to the Department of Justice. Victim service agencies are public or private organizations that provide help to victims of crime.

For more resources and information about domestic violence prevention, awareness, and victim support, visit the CDC.

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