U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. IPV can take on many forms and vary in frequency and severity, ranging from threats of abuse to chronic, severe battering. IPV often is underreported, especially with regard to sexual and psychological violence.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which collects data on victimization based on household and individual surveys, 5.7 per 1,000 women aged 18 and older were victims of nonfatal IPV in 2006. Additionally, between 1976 and 2005, 30.0 percent of homicides against females were committed by intimate partners.1 Rates of IPV vary with a number of factors including age, race and ethnicity, income, and marital status.

Rates of women who report experiencing IPV decline with age. In 2006, women aged 18–34 years were most likely to have reported experiencing IPV (12.6 per 1,000 women), compared to 6.4 per 1,000 women aged 35–44 years, and 2.0 per 1,000 women aged 45–64 years.

Similarly, reports of IPV decline as annual household income increases. Women in households with incomes below $15,000 per year were most likely to have reported IPV (15.9 per 1,000 women), followed by women with incomes of $15,000-29,999 annually (8.6 per 1,000). Women with annual incomes of $50,000 or more were least likely to have reported IPV (2.8 per 1,000).

Non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women were less likely to have reported IPV (5.0 and 5.6 per 1,000, respectively) than non-Hispanic Black women (7.4 per 1,000; data not shown).

Human trafficking is another crime that disproportionately affects women and girls. In 2007–2008, 1,229 alleged human trafficking incidents were reported by task forces in the United States, involving 1,442 victims. In cases where victims’ characteristics were reported, women and girls accounted for 92.1 percent of victims. The proportion of sex trafficking victims who were female was even greater: 98.9 percent (data not shown).2

1 Fox JA, Zawitz MW. Homicide trends in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. July 11, 2007 [online] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/homtrnd.htm#contents, accessed 02/17/09.
2 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2007-2008. January 15, 2009 [online] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cshti08.htm, accessed 02/17/09.

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