Statistics about Domestic Violence – Are We There Yet?

That was the favorite question my kids always asked on a road trip that was filled with high anxiety of reaching the final destination. Are we there yet? That same question is the one we are asking today in reference to domestic violence. Are we making any progress? The big question worldwide is are we making any progress in reducing the number of women who fall victim to domestic violence?

Recently we did an article that had some astonishing statistics about domestic violence. Two of them, in particular, stand out. The first was that worldwide one out of every three women is a victim of domestic violence. And second was “one of the most astonishing (facts) is that the percentage of rape and sexual assault victims under the age of 18 who were raped by a family member is 34%.

In some countries, India comes to mind, domestic violence is so common that law enforcement authorities have recently publicly stated that women should carry weapons for self-defense, such as pepper spray and knives. Nonlethal self-defense products can disable any assailant in an emergency situation. Women do have a right to defend themselves. Certain countries and certain religious beliefs degrade women so badly that it seems like a hopeless cause.

Another statistic that just came out was revealed by a study in the United Kingdom that showed that “domestic violence is more common among adults with all kinds of mental health disorders than in the general population. That includes anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and post traumatic stress disorders.”

So you can add mental health disorders to the list of reasons for and causes of domestic violence. Mostly though, it is caused by economic issues-specifically poverty. But homelessness and low education levels are right up there near the top of the list too.

As a public policy issue, funding for shelters for victims and how laws are made and enforced are an important ingredient in this complicated formula.

It is clear that the thinking on this issue has changed over the years-fortunately for the better. But recently an Italian priest published an article that said “women were partly to blame for encouraging domestic violence by failing to clean their houses and cook properly and for wearing tight and provocative clothing.”

That is exactly the kind of thinking that will set back decades any progress in the way it has been treated.

Another issue that needs to be overcome is the reporting. Many women do not report the crime out of fear of reprisal from a spouse or spouse’s family member or just out of sheer shame.

We have come a long way in the last decade. Slowly, but surely, attitudes and laws are changing. We are making progress but at a pace that is so slow that millions of women become victims in the meantime.

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