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Who Are the Victims?

Domestic violence is a difficult subject, and remains a real threat in society today. Most people consider that there is a typical profile of domestic violence victims - often it is believed that women of low socio-economic standing comprise the bulk of victims. However, domestic violence is far more pervasive than we would like to believe. This abuse crosses ethnic, racial, age, national origin, religious and socioeconomic lines, and also occurs among homosexual couples at approximately the same rate as that of heterosexual couples. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, and many victims remain too afraid to report abuse.

Though the majority of perpetrators of domestic violence are male, there are many cases of domestic violence against males perpetrated by females. Approximately 4 percent of violent victimizations are committed against men, and this number is likely higher, as men are more reluctant to report spousal or intimate abuse. For women, the numbers are alarmingly high: nearly 1 in 3 women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during their adult lives. The women affected by domestic violence do not fit into any one category: they are black, white, Asian, upper class, middle-class, lower class, professionals and stay at home moms. Anyone can be a potential victim of domestic abuse. Perhaps one of the most startling facts about battered women is that many abusive partners continue domestic violence throughout their partnerís pregnancies, often resulting in miscarriage or permanent damage to the developing baby.

Homosexual couples also experience high rates of domestic abuse. The occurrence of domestic violence among homosexuals is as high as 25 to 33 percent. Between 50,000 and 100,000 lesbians are victims of domestic abuse each year, while as many as 500,000 gay men are battered. There is a common myth stating that same-sex abuse is consensual or mutual. This is not true, as homosexual victims often fight back against their abusers. Few laws exist to provide protection specifically for homosexual domestic abuse victims.

Race is not an indicative risk factor concerning domestic violence. In effect, domestic abuse is color-blind. The occurrence of domestic abuse is consistent across all races; no one race experiences domestic violence more or less often than another. Age is a somewhat contributing factor to a personís risk of domestic abuse, though one can experience domestic violence at any age. Women between the ages of 19 and 29 report more partner-inflicted violence than any other age group, while women over the age of 46 report the least number of battering occurrences. The abusers themselves generally range in age from 17 to 70, with the highest percentage of abusers being males between the ages of 24 and 40.

There is also no correlation between socioeconomic status and likelihood of experiencing domestic abuse. Spousal and partner battering can happen to anyone, in all walks of life. The occurrence of domestic violence is just as prevalent among spouses and partners of police offers and lawyers as it is among minimum-wage jobholders and public assistance recipients. However, it should be noted that victims of domestic violence are more likely to seek public assistance, as battering can often affect a womanís ability to support herself and her children financially.

Domestic violence is a real threat to society today. Anyone can be a victim. Perhaps the most startling fact about domestic violence is the high rate of recidivism - domestic abuse is rarely a one-time occurrence. Often abusers are pattern abusers, victimizing their partners on a regular basis. 32 percent of victimized women are battered again within six months following an episode of domestic abuse, and 47 percent of males who engage in domestic violence against their wives do so at least three times per year. Victims of domestic violence can be anyone, at any level, age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

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