What’s Really Happening with Domestic Violence Trends?

September 26, 2014
What’s Really Happening with Domestic Violence Trends?

Domestic violence has seemingly become the hot-button topic across the nation. Does the rise of domestic violence in the NFL reflect a worsening epidemic across the nation? Or has the U.S. made successful strides to put an end to domestic violence?

Decline and Rise

According to Justice Department figures, domestic violence committed by intimate partners declined by more than 60 percent in the period between 1995 and 2004. This decline came after the 1994 enactment of the federal Violence Against Women Act. This Act toughened the penalties for offenders, as well as expanded training of law enforcement, while also improving outreach services for victims. But that decrease has since stalled. The latest federal figures showed 360,820 incidences of sexual assault or aggravated physical assault in 2013 – that accounts to roughly 1,000 per day.

Prevention Organizations

Organizations that serve the victims are seeing a different trend. They are struggling to meet the rising demand and are being forced to turn away victims for lack of beds and staff.  “Statistically, are we improving?” asked the National Domestic Violence Hotline president, Katie Ray-Jones. “From a service standpoint, it doesn’t feel like it.” And according to advocates, there re not enough adequate resources to be able to meet the demands as the result of a tightening of funding from the government as well as other charitable donors.

No In-Depth Research

According to Janet Lauritsen, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, “there’s been no authoritative research to gauge the role of the federal act in curtailing domestic violence.”

According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, only roughly 55 percent of domestic violence incidents are actually reported to the police, which makes it hard to get a gauge of what the real numbers are. The latest survey in 2013 showed 748,000 instances of intimate partner violence. 360,000 of those incidents were classified as serious violence. When comparing that to the 1994 number of 1.7 million incidents, it seems there has been a decline.

Andra Tharp, health scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention at the CDC’s Injury Center, said “variations and inconsistencies in the available national data make it hard to predict future trends.” But while it might be difficult to predict trends, there is something she feels that can be done to reduce the numbers: early intervention with adolescents.  The key is cutting down high school dating violence that can often lead to domestic violence as adults.


Source: ABC News, Domestic Violence in US: Data Tells Complex Story, September 24, 2014

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