The Many Faces of Family Violence - Family Violence Statistics
Family violence is a major public health problem that affects a significant proportion of the US population.  It taxes our health and mental health care systems, results in enormous productivity losses, impacts school performance, and shatters lives.

Every year family violence affects:
   As many as 20 million women
   Two million elderly and
   Three million children

Among adult women each year: 6
   Over 20 million are estimated to be verbally abused
   Nearly five million are physically abused
   Two million are severely abused by their husbands7
   Over 2,000 are killed

Among American children each year:
   2.8 million are victims of child abuse or neglect8
   565,000 are seriously injured8
   18,000 suffer permanent disabilities9
   There are an estimated 2,000 deaths annually from child abuse and neglect.9

Sexual Assault:
   Almost five million American women over the age of eleven years were raped, robbed or assaulted or were the victim of an attempted violent crime in 1992-3.10
   Over 12 million American women (1 in 7) have been raped, 56% more than once
   In 50% of adult relationships where battering occurs, sexual assault is part of the pattern of violence.11

Domestic or Family Violence is Implicated in:
   Over 25% of female suicide attempts
   Nearly 50% of all child abuse
   More than 45% of cases of female alcoholism12
   Nearly 100% of illegal drug use among women who require treatment for addiction13
   Sixty percent of psychiatric hospitalizations among women14
   A substantial proportion of cases of drug abuse, depression, and panic disorder among women15
   Fifty percent of homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence16

While the previous statistics appear to be high, it is likely that they underestimate the true incidence of family violence for a variety of reasons.  For many reasons, individuals tend to under-report family violence.  They may have been raised in homes where abusive behaviors were the norm, and do not recognize these behaviors as reportable either to police or public health investigators.  Denial is a common coping mechanism and for many victims, fear is a constant companion.  Those who batter require only a minor pretext for another display of intimidation and control.  Complicity with the batterer to hide the signs of abuse is one way that victims extend the period between violent episodes.  In spite of legal safeguards, implementation of the law results in incomplete protection for the victim(s) of domestic violence, and there is danger of reprisal for disclosing violent behavior.   When families are involved, truthful reporting of violence may jeopardize a woman's custody of her children.  As a society, we find it hard to face the fact that family violence is prevalent and pervasive.  Many of the victims whose lives are touched by violence are embarrassed to admit its existence.  Those who broach the subject report feeling rejected, as though they have done something wrong.  It is a secret that is difficult to share and difficult to receive because the pain of the victim is hard to bear.  And so it is hidden.