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Domestic violence laws and facts

The Federal Government has recognized that domestic violence and violence against women in general is a serious problem. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in 1994. It contained a number of provisions designed to strengthen legal protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence, and provide expanded services to survivors of domestic violence and their children. It was reauthorized in 2000.

Some of the most significant provisions of VAWA are outlined below. For more information on your rights under the law and on services available to you and your children, contact Bridges.

VAWA makes it possible to have a restraining order enforced in other states. Under VAWA's Full Faith and Credit provision, all state and tribal courts should enforce orders of protection, no matter which court or which state issued the order. All orders of protection are valid anywhere in the country as long as them meet the following conditions:

Each state must enforce the out-of-state order in the same way in enforces its own orders, and apply the same penalties that is applies for violations of its own orders.

Since VAWA was signed into law, the following have become federal crimes:

Generally, violations of there federal laws are also violations of state law and are more easily prosecuted at the state level. However, if you or a law enforcement agency feel that the federal statutes are appropriate, contact the local United States Attorney or crisis center for more information.


Domestic violence facts and statistics

Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another, which may include physical violence, sexual assault, emotional and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, and economic control. (Family Violence Prevention Fund. "Model Policy on Domestic Violence in the Workplace.")

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, approximately one-third (32%) of all women murdered in 1999 in the United States were known to be killed by a current or former intimate partner. 3.6% of male homicide victims were known to be killed by a current or former intimate partner. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Homicide Trends in the United States," 1999)

In a nationally representative survey administered between November of 1995 and May of 1996, 24.8% of women and 7.6% of men reported that they had been raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner (current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date) in their lifetime. 7.7% of women had been raped by an intimate partner and 22.1% of women had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner. Those figures are 0.3% and 7.4% respectively, for men. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," 2000, pp. 9,10)

In a 1999 survey of 2,186 female high school students in Massachusetts, 18% reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a dating partner. (Silverman, Jay G., et. al. "Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicidality" in Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 286, No. 5, p. 572)

1.5% of surveyed women and 0.9% of surveyed men reported that they had been raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the twelve months prior to the survey. Based on these results, statisticians estimate that 1.5 million women and 834,700 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in the United States. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature, and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," 2000, p. iii)

Between 1993 and 1998, children under age 12 resided in 43% of households where intimate partner violence occurred. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," 2000, p. 11)

4.8% of surveyed women and 0.6% of surveyed men reported that they had been stalked by a current or former intimate partner. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," 2000, p. 11)

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (which collects data on nonfatal violent crimes against persons age 12 or older in the United States), intimate partner violence accounted for 22% of violent crime against women in the period of 1993 through 1998. During this time, intimate partner violence accounted for 3% of violence against men. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Intimate Partner Violence, " 2000, p. 1)

Four-fifths (4/5) of all rapes of women by intimate partners were not reported to the police. The report rate was one in four for intimate partners' physical assaults against women and one in two for intimate partners' stalking of women. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, " 2000, p. v)

11% of women who lived with a female intimate partner had been raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a female cohabitant, while 30.4% of women who had married or lived with a male intimate partner had experienced such violence from a husband or male cohabitant. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, " 2000, p. iv)

15.4% of men who had lived with a male intimate partner had been raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a male cohabitant, while 7.7% of men who had married or lived with a female intimate partner had experienced such violence from a wife or female cohabitant. (National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control, "Extent, Nature and Consequence of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," 2000, p. iv)