Domestic violence against women - wife abuse- affects millions of women of every race, class, age, and religion. Battered women are mothers, teachers, doctors, secretaries, and factory workers.

They live in the city and in the country. They are rich and poor, as young as 14 and as old as 85.

Women who are victims of domestic violence are often blamed for the abuser's actions. Because assaults by husbands or boyfriends are seldom discussed, many myths and stereotypes have developed.

There are very few battered women in this country.  

A woman is beaten every 9 seconds   

    There are 2 times as many cases of reported domestic violence as reported rapes, but only about 1 out of 10 are even reported. Violence occurs at least once in the course of the marriage in over half of all marriages. In half of these, violence occurred regularly.  1 out of 6 couples in the U.S. experiences domestic violence every year. There are at least 40,000 abused women in Philadelphia

When a man hits his wife or girlfriend, it's usually nothing serious - a slap or a punch.    

Spouse murders account for 1/8 of all homicides in the U.S.

    Studies of violent families show that the violence escalates over time, becoming more intense and more frequent. 
    In 8.5% of murders of spouses, the police had been called 5 or more times.  The abuse was becoming more serious, and these wives were reaching out for help.  Almost half of all women treated in hospital emergency rooms had injuries probably from being battered by their husband or boyfriend; at lease 17% were definitely battered. 

There are just as many women who batter their husbands as men who batter their wives.   

Nearly all of the victims of domestic violence are women.

    Estimates range from 95.3% to 99%. Most men grow up believing that violence is an appropriate outlet for their anger, women usually use other means.  Women are not usually taught to fight, even in self-defense. 

     Women who attempt to fight back very often place their lives in jeopardy and may end up seriously injured or dead.  Frequently women who are victims of escalating battering are forced, in an effort to defend themselves, to use a weapon.

Wife abuse occurs primarily in poor and/or minority families.

Battered women come from all race, class, age,educational, and religious backgrounds.  


They are wives of doctors, lawyers, government officials, policemen and judges, and men who are unemployed. In a study of 60 couples seeking divorces in Cleveland,Ohio, 40% of the middle class women and 23% of the lower class women reported physical abuse by husbands.  1/5 of all Americans approve of slapping one's spouse on"appropriate occasions . . . Surprisingly, approval of this practice increases with income and education . . ."  Domestic violence may appear to be a problem primarily of poor women because middle- and upper-class women often have the resources to hide the violence.  They tend to avoid calling the police since they can go to a hotel and a private doctor or counselor. Abused women with fewer economic resources are more visible since they must turn to public institutions such as the police, public hospital,and community mental health center for help.    


The police can't do anything because abused women don't want to prosecute and they usually drop the case.   

Police usually say they can't get involved in a domestic squabble, even when the woman is visibly injured. 

    Sometimes the officer trivializes the crime by telling the man to "walk around the block." 
    This reinforces social approval of male violence and the idea that a man owns his wife. 

    "Arrest may be the most effective approach in deterring a man from repeated violence." 





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