The Health Care Response to Domestic Violence Fact Sheet (1994)
- Domestic Violence
- The actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse of an individual by someone with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship.
The following prevalence statistics have been culled from numerous individual studies; they provide an indication of the range of estimates of domestic violence or battering instances. However, it is generally believed that domestic violence is seriously under reported and undiagnosed. The paucity of accurate incident information underscores the problem.
- Within the last year, 7% of American women (3.9 million) who are
married or living with someone as a couple were physically abused,
and 37 % (20.7 million) were verbally or emotionally abused by their
spouse or partner.
- In the U.S., every 7.4 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband.
- **The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 95% of assaults on
spouses or ex-spouses are committed by men against women.
- Domestic violence is repetitive in nature: about 1 in 5 women
victimized by their spouse or ex-spouse reported that they had been
a victim of a series of at least 3 assaults in the last 6 months.
- A 1993 national poll found that more people (34% of men and
women) have directly witnessed an incidence of domestic violence,
than muggings and robberies combined (19%). And 14% of American
women acknowledge having been violently abused by a husband or
Injuries and Fatalities
- One study showed that 30% of women presenting with injuries in
an Emergency Department were identified as having injuries
caused by battering.
- Pregnancy is a risk factor for battering. Several studies indicate a
range of incidence from 8% to 15% of pregnant women in public and
private clinics to 17% to as much as 24% to 26%.
- The level of injury resulting from domestic violence is severe: of 218
women presenting at a metropolitan emergency department with
injuries due to domestic violence, 28% required admission to hospital
for injuries, and 13% required major medical treatment. 40% had
previously required medical care for abuse.
- 30% of women murdered in the U.S. in 1992 were murdered by a
husband or boyfriend.
- Cost -- A study conducted at Rush Medical Center in Chicago found that
the average charge for medical services provided to abused women,
children and old people was $1,633 per person per year. This would
amount to a national annual cost of $857.3 million.
- Identification -- Close to half of all incidents of domestic violence
against women discovered in the National Crime Survey (48%) were
not reported to police.
- 92% of women who were physically abused by their partners did not
discuss these incidents with their physicians; 57% did not discuss the
incidents with anyone.
- In 40% of cases in one study in which physicians treated battered
women in an emergency department setting, staff did not discuss the
abuse with the patients.
- In one study of 476 consecutive women seen by a family practice
clinic in the midwest, 394 (82.7%) agreed to be surveyed. Of these
patients, 22.7% had been physically assaulted by their partners
within the last year, and the lifetime rate of physical abuse was
38.8%. However, only six women said they had ever been asked
about domestic violence by their physician.
- In a study of a major metropolitan emergency department that had a
protocol for domestic violence, the emergency department physician
failed to obtain a psychosocial history, ask about abuse or address the
woman's safety in 92% of the domestic violence cases.
- A recent national study of the 143 accredited U.S. and Canadian
medical schools revealed that 53% of the schools do not require
medical students to receive instruction about domestic violence.
- Policy Recommendations: A national public health objective for the
year 2000 is for at least 90% of hospital emergency departments to
have protocols for routinely identifying, treating, and referring
victims of sexual assault and spouse abuse.
- The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals and
Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requires that accredited emergency
departments have policies and procedures, and a plan for educating
staff on the treatment of battered adults.