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9 facts about violence against women everyone should know

In the wake of leaked video showing football player Ray Rice punching his wife, women on Twitter started sharing their own stories of domestic violence.

The tweet was one of thousands #whyistayed and #whyileft hashtags to comment on the impossible situations that victims of domestic violence face, where finding a way out of an abusive relation can be a difficult and tumultuous experience.

There's no universal experience in violence against women; each case is different and unacceptable on its own. There are, however, statistics and trends that show us the state of violence against women in the United States right now.

1. Most women experience physical abuse in their lifetime

The most recent, national survey of American women found that a slight majority (51.9 percent) reported experiencing physical violence at some point in their life. These figures, it's worth pointing out, are from 2000 because that's the last time the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on the prevalence of violence against women.

This is higher than other developed countries. One-quarter of Swedish women, for example, reported experiencing physical violence during their lifetime. In Italy, the number stands at 18 percent.


2. Nearly one-quarter of women experience a physical or sexual assault by an intimate partner

About 1.3 million women are victimized annually by an intimate partner, a term which refers to spouses, ex-spouses or significant others.

The rate of violence by an intimate partner is much higher for women than men. One out of five American women report being victimized by an intimate partner compared to one out of 14 American men.

The Justice Department report also looks at rape cases by the relationship to the rapist. The statistics show that the vast majority of rapes (72 percent) are perpetrated by an intimate partner


3. Seven in ten assaults against women are perpetrated by an intimate partner


4. One in five women are raped in their lifetime

That's what data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.


Twice as many women report experiencing some other form of sexual violence, including sexual coercion and other unwanted sexual contact.

The CDC defines sexual coercion as "nonphysically pressured unwanted penetration," sexual contact as behavior including "kissing or fondling" and non-contact unwanted sexual experience as "being flashed or forced to view sexually explicit media."

5. One in thirteen murder victims are killed by their husband or boyfriend

There were 12,765 murders in the 2012, according the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Of those, 992 were murders of a wife or girlfriend. That works out to about one in thirteen murder victims in the United States being intimate partners of the killer.Wifes_girlfriends

6. One in ten female assault victims has a head or spinal cord injury as a result of the attack

There are other injuries that women report from assault that happen less frequently including chipped or broken teeth, bullet wounds and, in 0.8 percent of physical assaults, women report being knocked unconscious. The variable most likely to predict injury in an assault, the Department of Justice found, was whether the perpetrator threatened to kill or hurt the victim or someone close to them at the time of assault.


7. But most assault victims don't receive medical care

This is true for both female and male assault victims, although male victims are slightly more likely to receive medical care than females. It's not clear what accounts for the difference, whether male victims are more likely to seek out care, have better access to health services or some other factor is at play.


8. Eighteen percent of mass shooters have a domestic violence charge

Mayors Against Illegal Guns analyzed the 93 shootings that happened between 2009 and 2013, and found that 18 percent of the shooters had previous domestic violence charges. In 57 percent of the mass shootings that Mayors Against Illegal Guns examined, there was a family member (either a spouse, ex-spouse or other relative) who was among the victims in the shooting.

9. Rates of sexual assault are declining

The last comprehensive survey on violence against women in America happened in 2000, and it's difficult to know everything that has changed between now and then. But there is at least some evidence that certain types of assaults are becoming less frequent. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported last year that rates of sexual assault have fallen significantly since 1995.


Correction: An initial version of this story misstated the number of women who have head or spinal cord injuries as a result of their attack. It is one in 10 female assault victims.

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