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On average, more than 10 million adults in the United States experience domestic violence each year – this means that an adult in the U.S. experiences violence more frequently than every 3 seconds (“Domestic Violence”). Many of these adults are parents or caregivers who often go to great and courageous lengths to protect their children from abusive partners. In fact, some research has shown that the non-abusing parent is often the strongest protective factor in the lives of children who are exposed to domestic violence. However, growing up in a violent home may be a terrifying and traumatic experience that can affect every aspect of a child’s life, growth and development. In spite of this, we know that when properly identified and addressed, the effects of domestic violence on children can be mitigated.
Up to 10 million American children and adolescents are exposed to domestic violence or intimate partner violence each year (“DV & Children,” 2019).
More than 60% of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly (i.e., as a witness to a violent act; by learning of a violent act against a family member, neighbor, or close friend, or from a threat against their home or school (“31 Facts for DVAM,” 2016).
Children exposed to violence are at a greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by entering an abusive relationship or becoming abusers themselves (“Effects of DV on Children,” 2021).
Long-term effects of structural violence associated with racism and discrimination can cause seriously health issues such as cardio vascular disease, diabetes, depression, and chronic fatigue (“The Facts on Children’s Exposure to Violence”).
Incest accounts for half of all sexual abuse cases. Over 1 in 4 gay men, 1 in 3 lesbian women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. 1 in 5 transgender individuals will experience domestic violence in their lifetime due to their gender identity or non-conformity. When transgender individuals experience domestic violence, their risk negative outcomes increase with 4 times the rate of homelessness and rate of sexual victimization by prostitution, and double the rate of suicidality and HIV (“31 Facts for DVAM,” 2016).
Children exposed to violence are at a greater risk of experiencing mental health problems, behavioral problems, substance abuse, and delinquency. They are also at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems, including substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression, and higher unintended pregnancy rates (“31 Facts for DVAM,” 2016).
More than 1 in every 2 American Indigenous and Alaska Native women and more than 1 in every 3 American Indigenous and Alaska Native men experience physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (“Violence Against American Indian & Alaska Native Women & Men,” 2016).
As many as 2.8 million youth run away each year in the US. Runaway and homeless youth are at a greater risk for substance use, delinquent behavior, becoming teenage parents, dropping out of school, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health issues, and being sexually exploited and trafficked (“The Invisible Faces of Runaway and Homeless Youth,” 2019).
1 in 5 women in the U.S. experience completed or attempted rape in their lifetime – about half (51.1%)of these survivors are raped by an intimate partner. About a quarter (24.8%) of men in the U.S. experience a form of sexual violence in their lifetime (“The National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 data brief,” 2015).
10% of women and 2% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner (“Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence”).
Individuals with disabilities are more likely to be abused by an intimate partner and have higher severity levels of sexual violence and coercion than those without disabilities (“31 Facts for DVAM,” 2016).
1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime (“Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence”).
Domestic violence cases increased by 25% to 33% globally since the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S. there has been an increase of over 8 percent following lockdown orders due to COVID-19 in 2020 (“Shadow Pandemic of Domestic Violence,” 2022).
More than 1 in 9 (11%) of children surveyed were exposed to some form of family violence in the past year, including 1 in 15 (6.6%) exposed to intimate partner violence between parents (or between a parent and the parent’s partner) (“Children’s Exposure to IPV and other Family Violence,” 2011).
One in four children (26%) was exposed to at least one form of family violence during their lifetimes. Most youth exposed to family violence, including 90% of those exposed to domestic violence, saw the violence, as opposed to hearing or experiencing it through other indirect forms of exposure (“Children’s Exposure to IPV and other Family Violence,” 2011).
For more statistics, information and data on incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and child well-being click on the Fact sheets below:
Fact Sheet: Children Exposed to Violence, Futures Without Violence, 2015
Fact Sheet: Children and Domestic Violence, Futures Without Violence, 2013
Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, OJJDP, October 2011
Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, OJJDP, October 2009
America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
Children’s Direct Exposure to Types of Domestic Violence Crime: A Population-Based Investigation, Fantuzzo, et al., Journal of Family Violence, 22 (7), 2007
Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Perpetrator Risk Factors for Violence Against Women, Futures Without Violence
Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families, McDonald, et al., Journal of Family Psychology, 20 (1), 2006
Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, National Institute of Justice, 2000
Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, Shannan Catalano, 2006
Prevalence of Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Intervention, Joy Osofsky, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6 (3), 2003
Statistics: Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2002