Facts about Sexual and Domestic Violence
Understanding the Facts
Misinformation about sexual and domestic violence and its causes creates barriers to appropriately addressing the issue. It is important to know the facts and to speak up when you hear misinformation in your community.
Perpetrators often perpetuate misinformation about sexual and domestic violence to avoid accountability.
The following information provides the facts about sexual and domestic violence to address some of the most common myths.
Misinformation keeps victims silent, keeps communities from identifying offenders, and creates barriers to effective intervention and prevention.
Facts about Domestic Violence
In 2008, the rate of intimate partner victimizations for females was 4.3 victimizations per 1,000 females age 12 or older. The equivalent rate of intimate partner violence against males was 0.8 victimizations per 1,000 males age 12 or older. Catalano, Smith, Snyder, & Rand (2009). Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Female Victims of Domestic Violence. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, NCJ 228356.
- Females were murdered by intimate partners at twice the rate of males. In 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicide for females was 1.07 per 100,000 female residents compared to 0.47 per 100,000 male residents. Id.
- Violence against women is primarily intimate partner violence: 64 percent of the women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. In comparison, 16.2 percent of the men who reported being raped and/or physically assaulted since age 18 were victimized by such a perpetrator. National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1998). Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey.
- While some people may believe that there is a higher reported incidence of women experiencing violence by their male partners due to men underreporting when they are victims, the reality is the opposite. In 2008, 72 percent of the intimate partner violence against males and 49 percent of the intimate partner violence against females was reported to police. Catalano, Smith, Snyder, & Rand (2009). Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Female Victims of Domestic Violence. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, NCJ 228356.
- An estimated 40 percent of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner in 1993; the percentage increased to 45 percent in 2007. An estimated six percent of male homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner in 1993; this figure was five percent in 2007. Id.
Fact: Domestic violence crosses all age, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, and educational boundaries.
- Sexual and domestic violence may impact victims within a certain age group, ethnic or cultural background, socioeconomic class, religious affiliation or educational background because of the additional barriers experienced by these victims when attempting to access services. However, this does not mean that men from these groups are more violent, or that women in these groups are more likely to be victims.
- For example, immigrant women may face unique difficulties because of lack of appropriate interpreters within agencies, severe economic barriers, and cultural isolation. These barriers may make it difficult for an immigrant victim to reach out for help.
- Culture is, at times, mistakenly used by service providers working within the sexual domestic violence field as a way to explain behaviors that may be different from their own. Warrier, S. (2006). Culture Handbook.
- Using age, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, religion, or educational background as a justification for domestic or sexual violence generalizes information and creates stereotypes that are not only misleading, but detrimental to victims and their children and the quality of safety services they receive.
Fact: Being abused or witnessing abuse as a child does not automatically mean that person will grow up to become a batterer or victim as an adult.
Research indicates that experiencing or witnessing domestic violence as a child does not automatically lead to being involved in intimate partner violence as an adult. Many people have grown up in homes where domestic violence was occurring; however, not all of those children become adults who use violence. While experiencing domestic violence can be a risk factor, many factors also contribute to children’s resiliencies and their ability to grow up to become productive, safe adults.
For victims of domestic violence, leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time. Domestic violence is about the batterer’s sense of entitlement to domination, power, and control over the victim and the relationship. If the batterer feels their control over the victim or the relationship is at risk, they may escalate their use of violence in an attempt to maintain power and control.
While many interventions focus on the victim leaving the relationship, often with the question of, “Why don’t they just leave?”, interventions that focus on batterer accountability and seek to answer, “Why do they batter?”, may be more effective. The batterer is solely responsible for their use of domestic violence and abuse.
Facts about Sexual Violence
While stranger assaults do happen, the majority of sexual assaults and rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. In Kansas, about 80% of reported rapes are committed by someone the victims knows, such as an acquaintance, family member, intimate partner, or co-worker, to name a few.
Rape is a crime regardless of the relationship between the victim and perpetrator. In Kansas, as in most other states, a prior consensual sexual relationship does not preclude a partner or spouse from committing or being charged with rape. However, victims of intimate partner assaults may be less likely to report the crime for fear that they will not be believed or because of their emotional investment in the relationship.
We live in a society where the victim is often blamed for where they were, who they were with, what they were doing, or what they were wearing. When we question victims’ responsibility for their own rape, we deflect blame from the offender. Rape is never the victim’s fault, and offenders must be held accountable.
Alcohol or drugs are a weapon used by perpetrators to facilitate sexual assault or rape. In some cases, victims voluntarily use alcohol or drugs, are encouraged to use alcohol or drugs, or unbeknownst to them, given alcohol or drugs. Whether a victim is voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated, perpetrators take advantage of this vulnerability to commit sexual assault or rape.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that only 2-5% of all sexual assault reports are false. This is the same rate of false reporting for all other major crimes.
Sexual assault and rape are some of the most underreported crimes, and there are a wide range of reasons why people do not report. Studies show that self-blame, self-doubt, shame, guilt, and embarrassment are not uncommon for victims of these crimes, and fear of not being believed is among the strongest deterrent to reporting.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetimes. Sexual violence is a widespread, public health problem in the United States.
There is no ‘right’ way to respond after experiencing sexual violence. Sexual assault advocates have found that many people experience sexual violence as a severe emotional and physical violation. The effects of that violation may be felt directly after or for many months or years later.
The trauma from sexual violence can cause feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, as well as physical symptoms such as breathing problems or nightmares.
Research has also found that this trauma can affect the way the brain recalls memories and details of the assault.
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