Epidemiology

It is estimated that between 2 and 4 million women are battered each year in the United States. 34 and 5 Data from anonymous telephone surveys suggest that 20 to 25 percent of all adult women in the United States have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner at least once over their lifetime. 6 Furthermore, 32 percent of women who have been assaulted once will be battered again within 6 months of the initial incident,7 and 34 percent of adults in the United States reported having witnessed a man beating his wife or girlfriend.8

Approximately 2000 battered women die as a result of partner abuse (homicide and suicide) each year, and 31 percent of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate (spouse, ex-spouse, boy/girlfriend) compared with only 4 percent of male victims.9 Men and women seem to kill their partners for very different reasons. Men often kill in response to the woman's attempt to leave the abusive relationship, whereas women kill in self-defense or in retribution for prior acts of violence. 1 1 and 12

Statistics from the Bureau of Justice show that, in greater than 90 percent of reported intimate assaults, victims are women.4 Although some studies show that female-to-male aggression and male-to-female aggression occur at close to equal rates, the chance of the aggression ending in moderate to severe injury or injuries requiring medical treatment is much higher for female victims.13 Controlling-type behaviors that are a key component of male-on-female domestic violence are rarely described in the context of female-on-male aggression.

Domestic violence is common among women who present to emergency departments for treatment, including in community hospital as well as urban teaching hospitals. Of all women seen in emergency departments, 2 to 3 percent are there because of acute trauma from physical abuse.1415 and16 In one study, the incidence of acute domestic violence among women with a current male partner was 12 percent; however, only 23 percent of these women subjected to acute domestic violence presented for care because of trauma.14 Of women seeking care in EDs, 14 percent have a history of having been physically or sexually abused within the past year, and 30 to 54 percent have a history of intimate partner abuse at sometime in their life.1 l6 Of women with a history of suicide attempts, 81 percent had experienced domestic violence at some time in their lives, compared with 19 percent of those with no history of suicide attempts. 17

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