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What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?

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By Ron Wallace, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at American Military University

*This article is part of In Public Safety’s October focus on domestic violence awareness*

Domestic violence is also referred to as intimate partner violence. The U.S. Department of Justice classifies domestic violence as a crime, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it a public health problem.

Both of these agencies define domestic violence (intimate partner violence) as abusive behavior by one partner in a relationship upon the other partner. The fact that both these government entities recognize this issue demonstrates the importance of building awareness about domestic violence.

[Related Article: Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence: What’s The Difference?]

Victims of this crime can be of any gender, sexual orientation, age, or religion. Individuals in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships can be victims of domestic violence. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and/or economic in nature.

Prevalence of Domestic Violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that every minute 20 people in the United States are victim of some form of physical abuse by an intimate partner. The National Domestic Violence Hotline places this number as high as 24 people per minute. NCADV also states that 1 in 3 females and 1 in 4 males will experience some form of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner at some point.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the overall rate of intimate partner violence victimization decreased from 9.8 victimizations per 1,000 individuals in 1993 to 3.6 per 1,000 in 2010. However, the rate of decline over the period of 2001 through 2010 remained basically unchanged while the overall violent crime rate continued to decrease. This demonstrates a need for continued awareness about this issue.

Real-Life Example
Domestic violence is not limited to individuals residing together. This crime can also take the form of stalking that, if left unchecked, can escalate into more violent forms of abuse.

Consider the story of Mary Byron. A former boyfriend of Mary’s had been jailed on charges of kidnapping and raping her. Mary was not aware that he had been released from jail and that he was stalking her movements. On the evening of December 6, 1993, which was also Mary’s 21st birthday, the former boyfriend fatally shot Mary as she left work in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mary’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the importance of understanding domestic violence. As a living legacy to Mary’s memory, the Mary Bryon Project was established with the intent to foster strategies to end domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Activities
Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities will be held in communities nationwide during October. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides a list of activities that individuals might consider as personal recognitions of this important issue and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence offers a list of suggested activities for communities.

Ron Wallace_v3SMAbout the Author: Dr. Ron Wallace is a criminal justice professional with more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. He has worked with criminal justice agencies nationwide as a consultant on various projects and has several years of teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Wallace currently serves as an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at American Public University System. He has conducted research and published articles on the topic of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

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