Special Feature: Family Violence
The negative effects associated with family violence are substantial. Domestic violence victims are faced with substantial costs and emotional distress while children who experience violence at a young age can carry with them long-lasting ramifications.
Family violence covers a broad range of acts that can include emotional, financial, physical, and sexual abuse. Not only does it harm the victim, but family violence presents dangers for immediate family members as well.
Domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans regardless of age. But women are much more likely to be a victim than men. Nearly 1 in 4 (22.3 percent) women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, whereas 1 in 7 men (14 percent) have experienced the same.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 56 percent of domestic violence incidents were reported to police during the 10-year aggregate period from 2006 to 2015. Reasons victims did not report a crime to police included personal privacy, protecting the offender, a belief that the crime was minor, and fear of retaliation. Female victimizations were four times as likely as male victimizations to go unreported due to fear of retaliation.
Research has shown that causes of domestic violence may include early parenthood, problem drinking, severe poverty, unemployment, and mental and emotional distress. Efforts to prevent domestic violence require a clear understanding of these factors that contribute to family violence, coordinating resources, and fostering and initiating change in individuals, families, and society.
Children, when experiencing domestic violence as witnesses, can suffer from devastating effects. Research has shown that children who witness domestic violence report symptoms of trauma at an elevated rate, signifying that child witnesses to family violence are a highly victimized group.
This exposure to violence at a young age can harm a child's emotional, psychological, and even physical development. Children exposed to violence are more likely to have difficulty in school, abuse drugs or alcohol, act aggressively, suffer from depression, and engage in criminal behavior as adults.
To help inform about what has been shown to be successful or promising in addressing family violence, the CrimeSolutions.gov website contains reviews and ratings of a variety of programs and practices that aim to prevent family violence, help victims, and reduce the impact to witnesses.
The pages of this Special Feature contain publications and resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources related to family violence, the prevention of such violence, and response: