Domestic Violence Awareness: What You Need to Know

Domestic violence between a couple

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), is an important physical and mental health concern for women in today’s world.

Instances of IPV have increased dramatically worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic. New estimates from the United Nations Population Fund suggest three months of quarantine will result in a 20% rise in IPV globally, with at least 15 million additional IPV cases occurring as a direct result of COVID-19 and subsequent regulatory lockdowns.

Your Capital Women’s Care team wants to educate you with important statistics and facts concerning effects of domestic violence and how these effects relate to women and children; telltale signs and behaviors indicative of IPV; and what you can do if you or someone you know is facing domestic violence/IPV.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship.

IPV can vary in episode amounts and severity, from one episode of violence that could leave a lasting impact to chronic and severe episodes occurring over multiple years.

IPV behaviors include:

  • Physical attacks –- hitting, kicking or using another form of physical force that is intended to hurt or injure.
  • Sexual attacks –- forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (i.e., sexting) when the partner doesn’t or can’t consent.
  • Stalking -- displaying repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
  • Psychological attacks/aggression -- using verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm mentally or emotionally and/or to exert control over a partner.

Those inflicting IPV employ many tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure and sometimes even kill their current or former intimate partner.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of employment or educational level, race or ethnicity, religion, marital status, physical ability, age, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. However, women and many racial/ethnic and sexual minority groups are disproportionately affected by the burden of domestic violence.

Is It Abuse?
The Warning Signs

Domestic violence/IPV doesn’t look the same in all relationships as each relationship is unique to those involved. There are, however, common elements within abusive relationships that develop and intensify over time, particularly behaviors and actions the aggressive partner initiates to exert more power and control over their partner.

You may be in an abusive relationship if your partner:

  • tells you can never do anything right.
  • shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away.
  • keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family.
  • insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs.
  • controls every penny spent within the household.
  • takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses.
  • looks at you or acts in ways that scare you.
  • controls who you see, where you go, or what you do.
  • prevents you from making your own decisions.
  • tells you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children.
  • prevents you from working or attending school.
  • destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets.
  • intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons.
  • pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you aren’t comfortable doing.
  • pressures you to use drugs or alcohol.

IPV Statistics Relating to Women

On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. IPV accounts for 15% of all violent crime.  Women 18 to 24 years of age are most abused by an intimate partner.

Other statistics:

  • According to the CDC in 2017, 1 in 4 U.S. women experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner within their lifetime and report negative impact such as injury, fear, concern for safety and needing services.
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be perceived as IPV behaviors.
  • 1 in 7 women have been injured by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. Almost half of female rape victims were raped by an acquaintance; of these, 45.4% female rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence (beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. 19.3 million U.S. women have been stalked in their lifetime, with 60.8% of female stalking victims identifying a current or former intimate partner as the stalker.
  • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases risk of homicide by 500%.
  • 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
  • Domestic victimization correlates with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
  • Only 34% of those injured by intimate partners receive medical care for sustained injuries.
  • A study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of victims were not the intimate partners, but were family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders or bystanders.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

Women who are subjected to IPV/domestic violence face profound negative impact to their overall physical and mental health plus damage to their well-being, including:

  • Increased vulnerability to contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases due to forced intercourse or prolonged exposure to stress.
  • Proven increased risk of depression and suicidal behaviors.
  • Escalated physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health effects including:  adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), plus non-communicable diseases like hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. They are also at higher risk for developing alcohol, tobacco, or drug addictions.

Additionally, IPV/domestic violence takes great economic toll from its victims:

  • IPV victims lose 8 million days of paid work annually.
  • Between 21% to 60% of IPV victims lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.
  • Between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace by their abuser, accounting for 78% of women killed in the workplace within this time span.

Domestic violence/IPV also greatly impacts the lives of others, especially those children who live in a home where it occurs.

Statistics: Domestic Violence and Children

Sadly, domestic violence situations not only affect women, but their children who live within the same household:

  • 1 in 15 children are exposed to IPV annually, with 90% of these children witnessing this violence first-hand. A child is witness to such violence in 22% of IPV cases within state courts, accounting for nearly 1 child out of 4.
  • 30% to 60% of IPV perpetrators also abuse children within the household. Among victims of child abuse, 40% report domestic violence in the home.
  • A study found children exposed to violence within their home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average.
  • The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect suggests domestic violence/IPV may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in the U.S.

IPV’s Effects on Children

There are also significant detrimental consequences affecting the physical and mental health of children who live in a home where IPV/domestic violence occurs:

Children in homes where domestic violence occurs may feel fearful and anxious. They may always be on guard, wondering when the next violent event will occur, which can cause them to react in different ways, depending upon their age:

  • Preschoolers.  Young children who witness IPV may start doing things they used to do when younger, like bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, increased crying and whining. They may also develop difficulty falling or staying asleep; show signs of terror, such as stuttering or hiding; and show signs of severe separation anxiety.
  • School-aged kids. These children may feel guilty about the abuse and blame themselves for it. Domestic violence and abuse hurts children’s self-esteem. They may not participate in school activities or get good grades, have fewer friends than others and get into trouble more often. They also may have many headaches and stomach aches.
  • Teens. Teens may act out in negative ways, like fighting with family members or skipping school. They may also engage in risky behaviors, like having unprotected sex and using alcohol and/or drugs. They may have low self-esteem and have trouble making friends, start fights or bully others and are more likely to get in trouble with the law. This type of behavior is more common in teen boys who are abused in childhood than in teen girls. Girls are more likely than boys to be withdrawn and to experience depression.

More than 15 million children in the U.S. live in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once.

These children are at greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by having abusive relationships or becoming abusers themselves. For instance, a boy seeing his mother being abused is 10 times more likely to abuse his female partner as an adult. A girl who grows up in a home where her father abuses her mother is more than 6 times as likely to be sexually abused as a girl who grows up in a non-abusive home.

Children who witness or are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These can include mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety. They may also face diabetes, obesity, heart disease, poor self-esteem, and other health problems.

How to Get Help

It’s critical to seek help, as domestic violence/IPV episodes can escalate, inflicting more mental and physical harm to you or your children. If you or your children are in immediate danger, consider calling 911.

If your intimate partner frightens you or your children through coercion, intimidation or physical violence, help is available:

Click here for further tips on relationships, safety and violence.

Your Capital Women’s Care team is here for you and your family should you have any questions or concerns about IPV/domestic abuse. Our compassionate professionals offer expert care and guidance you can trust.


Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


Go to top