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Dating violence statistics shine a spotlight on the undercurrent of dangers faced by women and men seeking love. Every action in the dating scene — from giving out a phone number to accepting a date invitation at someone’s home or apartment — can bring up safety concerns, so it’s vital for daters to get the facts on the worst-case scenarios.
Our researchers have pulled some numbers to answer common questions about domestic violence in the U.S. We were surprised by some of the studies and statistics we uncovered and hope to raise awareness about some troubling issues and trends in the modern dating scene.
Whether you’re flirting on an app or getting into a committed relationship, you need to be aware of the potential risks so your romances stay within healthy bounds.
Dating violence and domestic violence are a sad reality that about one-quarter of American women face in her lifetime. Every year, about 1.3 million women fall victim to physical assault by an intimate partner.
If you are experiencing dating violence or domestic violence, you are not alone, and resources are available to help. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or live chat on the website to talk to trained crisis counselors about your situation.
The 2012 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey came to the shocking conclusion that most rape survivors were attacked by someone they knew. Just 10% of rape survivors said in the survey that their attacker was a stranger. An extraordinary 90% of rape survivors reported knowing their attacker.
According to the national survey data, almost 44% of female survivors and 35% of male survivors were attacked by an acquaintance. Nearly one-third of female survivors said their attacker was a current or former intimate partner.
Stalking is a serious issue that can escalate to death threats and violence. A stalking victim may receive a barrage of unsolicited texts, phone calls, or, most disturbingly, in-person visitors from a rejected partner. It may be necessary to get a restraining order to stop the unwanted contact.
American women are more likely than American men to experience stalking incidents. In a 2010 survey, 1 in 6 women said they have been stalked before, while only 1 in 19 men said the same.
The same national survey found that 68% of female stalking victims and 70% of male stalking victims reported experiencing threats of physical harm. About half of respondents also reported that the stalking resulted in damage to their personal property or belongings.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts an annual survey that collects data on past-year and lifetime experiences of violence, including the age at which women say they were raped for the first time.
According to national survey data, 78.7% of female rape survivors were raped before the age of 25, and 40.4% said they were minors (under 18) when attacked. Approximately 35% of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults.
Sadly, studies have also found that women who experienced dating violence in their adolescence go on to have less education and earn lower incomes than women who did not go through such abuse.
The American Psychological Association has found a link between poor mental health and a history of violence. Its fact sheet also warns that women with disabilities are among the most vulnerable to intimate partner abuse.
According to the APA, women with a physical disability or mental disability have a 40% greater risk of becoming sexual violence victims or domestic violence victims.
Sadly, a 2008 report found that 28% of American families were homeless because of a domestic violence situation. Around 63% of homeless women in the U.S. have experienced domestic violence as adults.
Women who experience sexual assault or physical violence in their families or relationships are less likely to have stable home lives. Sometimes leaving an abusive relationship means leaving a home, and women can feel as if they have no place to go. However, many domestic violence shelters offer a safe place for abuse survivors and their children to protect themselves and start fresh.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has compiled resources and factsheets to support victims, especially those with children to protect. The nonprofit estimates that over 5 million children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence every year.
According to the report, “Children exposed are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.”
Sometimes children and teens are not just witnesses to family violence, but also the victims. About 50% of batterers who commit physical or verbal abuse in their relationships will also abuse their children.
The tragedy is that domestic violence can beget more violence in the future as victims grow up to become abusers. It’s a painful cycle. Around the world, men who were exposed to domestic violence in their youth were as much as four times as likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence in their adult relationships.
Just one-third of abuse victims who are injured during a domestic violence incident will receive medical care for their injuries. Sometimes the abuser threatens a partner against going to the hospital because it will raise unwanted questions, and sometimes the victim is in denial about how serious the injuries are.
Do not wait for a partner’s abusive behavior to escalate to severe physical violence. Any type of physical assault crosses the line and is unacceptable. Professionals can help you leave a violent relationship and get out of a dangerous situation.
In the U.S., bisexual women are among the most vulnerable to sexual assault. An academic study of victimization by sexual orientation reported that 22% of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 61% of bisexual women have experienced sexual assault, physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner.
To put that in perspective, the same study found only 9% of straight women have been raped by a partner and 35% have experienced assault, violence, and/or stalking.
Overall about 46% of bisexual women, 17% of straight women, and 13% of lesbian women identified themselves as rape survivors in the national survey.
Teen dating abuse seems to be particularly prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community. In a survey by Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43% of LGBT teenagers said they experienced physical abuse in at least one intimate relationship. And more than 50% said they had experienced physical or verbal abuse as a young person.
Bisexual men are reportedly among the most likely to be male victims of intimate partner violence. Around 37% of bisexual men said they had experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking as adolescents or adults. In comparison, about 26% of gay men and 29% of straight men said they had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Physical dating violence and domestic violence can escalate quickly and have tragic conclusions. Unfortunately, 74% of murder-suicide cases in the U.S. involve an intimate partner. In 96% of these cases, women were killed by their spouse, boyfriend, or ex.
A violent relationship is a serious issue with potentially deadly consequences. You can report physical abuse to the proper authorities by calling 911 or going to your local police station.
In 2010, a study on violent behavior in the dating world revealed that people in ethnic minority groups are significantly more likely to have a history of domestic violence or abuse.
Nearly half of Black non-Hispanic women (44%) and Black non-Hispanic men (40%) said they had experienced sexual abuse, physical violence, or stalking from an intimate partner.
About 54% of multiracial women and 40% of multiracial men said they had experienced dating abuse from a partner or ex.
In comparison, only 35% of white non-Hispanic women and 28% of white non-Hispanic men reported experiencing any type of abuse in an intimate relationship.
Sexual violence is not talked about enough in society. Too often it’s swept under the rug or excused as a mistake or the result of poor judgment. Such responses only enable dating violence to continue.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that only one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalkings perpetrated against women are reported to the police. Even fewer men come forward to the police to report dating abuse or sexual assault.
Only 17% of women and 3.5% of men who were physically assaulted by a partner sought and obtained a restraining order.
Victims of intimate partner violence often fear the repercussions of coming forward. They may worry about their reputation, their family, or their mental health, and they may also feel a sense of guilt or shame over the attack.
The truth is it doesn’t matter how much you had to drink or how much your abuser had to drink. It doesn’t matter where you were, what you were wearing, or what you said or did beforehand. Rape is a crime, and the blame falls on the abuser, not the victim.
If your house was robbed, would you blame yourself for having breakable windows or too many valuable possessions? No. You’d take the burglar to court and get justice. Sexual assault is a violation that is so much more painful and personal than a home burglary, and that’s why it’s even more important to speak out about what happened and hold the attacker accountable.
Contrary to popular belief, women are not the only victims of intimate partner violence. Somewhere around 15% of domestic abuse victims are male. Of course, this is only an estimate because not every abuse victim comes forward. Men are particularly likely to feel shame or guilt over what happened to them, so they may not speak up about their experiences as often as women do.
People of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds can be victims of intimate partner violence. It doesn’t mean you are weak. You are not to blame. And your silence will only protect your abuser and keep you from fully healing.
Intimate partner violence comes in many forms. It could be an abusive spouse throwing punches, but it could also be a partner sending harassing messages, making demeaning comments, or pressuring someone into having sex or participating in sexual acts.
Let’s be clear: A partner doesn’t have to physically hit you to be abusive. Psychological abuse can be just as damaging to a person’s mental health and happiness — it just attacks from within.
An intimate partner is psychologically abusive when he or she uses manipulative means to threaten, undermine, or entrap you. An abusive person may gaslight you into believing you are annoying, oversensitive, stupid, or needy. He or she may want you to feel unworthy of love from anyone else because then you are under his or her control and cannot leave the abusive relationship — even if you’re unhappy.
If you are scared of your partner or feel powerless to leave a relationship, that is not normal, and it is 100% not OK. Do not hesitate to seek crisis support if a significant other is hurting you physically or emotionally. It is abuse, and you have to take action to put a stop to it.
Unfortunately, adolescent relationship abuse can occur when the teens involved do not have good role models for how to treat a romantic partner. A teenager will often repeat the abusive behavior he or she saw as a child, and it can take years to break those toxic habits and get into a healthy adult relationship.
Some teen dating interactions can escalate to verbal abuse, sexual assault, or violence. Roughly 1 in 11 female and 1 in 15 male high school students said they have gone through teen dating violence in the last year.
It’s important to note that youth is not an excuse for causing intentional harm to another person, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. Male high school students do not get a pass for being hormonal. Young women should not expect to be sexually accosted or pressured by a partner. Teenagers are old enough to know right from wrong and keep their worst impulses in check.
An abusive person looks the same as everyone else, so it can be difficult to tell at a glance if a date prospect has the potential to engage in abusive behavior. We’d like to think a person’s violent nature has telltale signs (perhaps a thin mustache or a dastardly laugh), but a charming sociopath can slip past a person’s creep radar in the early phase of a dating relationship.
The way you can tell if a person has abusive tendencies is by measuring their words against their actions, and assessing how your partner treats you on a daily basis. Is he constantly asking for your whereabouts and questioning your motives? Does she make hurtful comments and ignore your emotional needs? These are common signs of an abusive relationship.
An abusive partner may try to alienate you from your family members or isolate you from your social group so you have no other support system. An abusive partner may encourage you not to pursue a career so you are financially dependent on him or her. For the abuser, every relationship step is about gaining power and control rather than earning love and trust.
People in a healthy relationship report feeling safe, loved, and respected most of the time. People in an unhealthy relationship report feeling fearful, anxious, or insecure most of the time.
If you know the warning signs of an abusive partner, you can hopefully avoid some bad situations and make good decisions about who to give your heart to in the future.
The modern dater has to tread carefully to stay safe while building intimacy and trust with a new person. As these dating violence statistics show, physical assault and psychological abuse remain all-too-common hallmarks of the dating world, and forming a new romantic connection too quickly can be dangerous.
“Follow your heart” is a nice moral for a Disney film, but we’d like to add that it’s equally important to use your head and vet potential love interests. Look for red flags. Set up boundaries that make you feel comfortable. And, most importantly, contact a domestic abuse hotline or talk to a family member or a teacher if you have concerns about your dating life or your intimate partner.
We’re not here to scare you into never dating again — we just want you to be informed so you will be proactive about protecting yourself from potentially abusive and toxic relationships. Be safe out there!