Personal tools

Recent News Reports about Domestic Violence

MPLP Winter 2007 Family Law Section Newsletter Article

                Issue 32, Winter 2007

Recent News Reports about Domestic Violence


          There have been two recent news articles about the prevalence of domestic violence nationally and internationally.  The first discusses an international study of domestic violence among women finding it to be “a widespread phenomenon.”  The second examines a new poll that shows two in three Americans say it’s hard to recognize domestic violence.  The articles follow.



October 6, 2006

Women Face Greatest Threat of Violence at Home, Study Finds

By ELIZABETH ROSENTHAL, International Herald Tribune

Violence against women by their live-in spouses or partners is a widespread phenomenon, both in the developed and developing world, as well as in rural and urban areas, the most comprehensive and scientific international study on the topic has confirmed.

In interviews with nearly 25,000 women at 15 sites in 10 countries, researchers from the World Health Organization found that rates of partner violence ranged from a low of 15 percent in Yokohama, Japan, to a high of 71 percent in rural Ethiopia.

At six of the sites, at least 50 percent of women said that they had been subjected to moderate or severe violence in the home at some point. At 13 sites, more than a quarter of all women said they had suffered such violence in the past year.

"Violence by an intimate partner is a common experience worldwide," the authors wrote of the findings, which are being published today in The Lancet, a medical journal in London. "In all but one setting, women were at far greater risk of physical or sexual violence by a partner than from violence by other people."

The report says that rural areas tend to have higher rates of abuse than cities. But no area was immune.

While researchers and women's groups have long known that domestic violence was widespread — and other, smaller surveys have supported that notion — the W.H.O. study adds an important dimension to the topic because it provides an unusual amount of quantitative, scientific data on the subject.

Previous studies had focused mostly on developed countries, indeed mostly on the United States, said Claudia García-Moreno, a researcher with the W.H.O. in Geneva who coordinated the study.

Because of a lack of scientific data on the magnitude of such violence, particularly in poorer countries, “there had been a lot of skepticism about whether it was a serious problem” or just a pet peeve of the women’s groups, Dr. García-Moreno said.

Most partner abuse is hidden, and only a tiny fraction is reported to the authorities.

“We have always known that violence is part of women’s lives,” said Adrienne Germain, director of the International Women’s Health Coalition in New York, “but when we’ve talked about it before we were mostly dismissed. In the past we’ve often heard: ‘Prove it. Prove that it’s happening in our country.’ ”

The researchers used meticulously designed surveys and statistical techniques. Their work took root more than a decade ago, after organizers of the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing rued the lack of hard data on the issue and asked the W.H.O. for help.

For the study, 1,500 interviews were conducted in each country at sites in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, Thailand and Tanzania. In a few countries, researchers selected urban and rural sites for comparison.

The rate of abuse by partners is estimated to be around 20 percent to 25 percent in the European Union, smaller studies have found, although the problem is reported to the police in only a tiny fraction of cases.

In the United States, national surveys by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that about 25 percent of women said that they had been physically or sexually assaulted by a spouse, partner or date.

In the World Health Organization survey, one-fifth to two-thirds of women interviewed said that it was the first time they had ever spoken of the abuse to anyone, Dr. García-Moreno said.

The next step is to determine what puts women at risk for violence, the researchers said.


Despite its Prevalence, the Patterns of Domestic Violence are not Understood by Many Bystanders

Americans want to help but don't know what to do

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A surprising survey on domestic violence released today reveals an information gap that may very well prevent Americans from taking action when they witness domestic violence.  Approximately two-thirds of Americans say it is hard to determine whether someone has been a victim of domestic abuse (64%) and want more information about what to do when confronted with domestic violence (65%). Poll results clearly indicate that education about this topic is not only needed but can help save lives since 7 in 10 Americans (69%) will take some action when they are able to recognize domestic violence.

Many Americans do not know the patterns of domestic abuse.

When asked to define what actions comprise domestic violence and abuse, 2 in 5 Americans (40%) did not even mention hitting, slapping and punching. Over 90% of Americans failed to define repeated emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors as patterns of domestic violence and abuse.

Americans want more information.

A clear majority (65%) say they want more information about what to do when confronted by domestic violence. In fact, more than half of Americans (54%) say they may have been in situations where they believed domestic violence had occurred, but they didn't act because they were not sure what to do.

When they can identify domestic abuse, Americans will act.

Poll results demonstrate how important it is to inform Americans about what constitutes domestic violence and the need to provide them with tools to take action. Of the approximately half of Americans (52%) who did say they suspected that domestic violence was occurring among friends, family and co-workers, 69% say they took some kind of action.
46% talked to the abused individual.
43% talked to a family member or mutual friends.
38% talked to the person responsible.
35% contacted the police.
19% contacted domestic violence groups.

This survey, commissioned to better understand how to motivate bystanders to help stop domestic violence, was announced by Redbook magazine and Liz Claiborne Inc. during the third annual It's Time To Talk Day -- a national movement designed specifically to engage the public to talk about domestic violence and learn what to do to help victims.

"The results of this bystander survey vividly demonstrate the urgent need to educate the public that domestic violence is everybody's business and we all need to get involved," states Jane Randel, vice president, Corporate Communications for Liz Claiborne Inc. "We must get past the stigma that domestic violence is a private matter and align all sectors of society -- business, social service organizations and government -- to provide information to empower victims and bystanders to stop the abuse."

To raise awareness and educate Americans about domestic violence and all the resources available to help bystanders and victims, Redbook, Liz Claiborne Inc. and Talkers Magazine, the national magazine for Talk Radio are organizing more than 40 domestic violence service providers, public officials and advocates, celebrities, corporate sector leaders and congressional representatives to talk with radio hosts across the country about the importance of helping to stop domestic violence. Last year more than 12.5 million talk radio listeners were reached with this message.

Redbook's October issue also details the heroic efforts of everyday Americans who took extraordinary measures to help domestic violent victims and the magazine offers tips for how to intervene and assist possible victims in a sensitive and effective way.

"The survey confirms that Americans continue to fail to recognize both the blatant and subtle signs of domestic abuse. Domestic violence ranges from pushing and shoving to demeaning talk and isolation from friends and family," notes Stacy Morrison, editor in chief of Redbook magazine. "I feel it's so important to talk and write and share stories about domestic violence. I want people to know what it looks like and not be afraid to step in and help someone who needs it."

It's Time To Talk Day is supported by Redbook magazine, Liz Claiborne Inc. and major domestic violence organizations around the country including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Safe Horizon, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence and Break the Cycle.

The survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. was conducted in two phases: July 13-17 (2000) and August 3-7, 2006 (500) by Opinion Research Corporation and RF Insights using a computer interviewing system. More than 2000 adults, males and females, 18 years of age or older, in the continental United States were interviewed. The sample error is +/- 2.3%.

Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse Program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, children, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.


Family Law Section
Previous Next

Return to Front Page


Document Actions