THE HEALTH CARE RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACT SHEET
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 underreported 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 boyfriend.
Injuries & 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.
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.
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.
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.
**PRODUCED BY THE FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION FUND & THE TRAUMA
FOUNDATION, 1994, San Francisco, CA(415)821-8209