The recent controversy over NFL star Ray Rice and the instance of domestic violence he perpetrated, which was caught on video camera, has stirred wide discussion about sports culture, domestic violence and even the psychology of victims and their complex responses to abuse.
The research on domestic violence, referred to more precisely in academic literature as “intimate partner violence” (IPV), has grown substantially over the past few decades. Although knowledge of the problem and its scope have deepened, the issue remains a major health and social problem afflicting women. In 2013 the World Health Organization estimated that almost a third of all women “have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.” This figure is supported by the findings of a 2013 peer-reviewed metastudy — the most rigorous form of research analysis — published in the leading academic journal Science. That metastudy found that “in 2010, 30.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 27.8 to 32.2%] of women aged 15 and over have experienced, during their lifetime, physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.” The prevalence found among high-income regions in North America was 21.3%. Of course, under-reporting remains a substantial problem in this research area.
In 2010, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that “more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) … in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” That survey was subsequently updated in September 2014. The findings, based on telephone surveys with more than 12,000 people in 2011, include:
The lifetime prevalence of physical violence by an intimate partner was an estimated 31.5% among women and in the 12 months before taking the survey, an estimated 4.0% of women experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. An estimated 22.3% of women experienced at least one act of severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. With respect to individual severe physical violence behaviors, being slammed against something was experienced by an estimated 15.4% of women, and being hit with a fist or something hard was experienced by 13.2% of women. In the 12 months before taking the survey, an estimated 2.3% of women experienced at least one form of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.