Family Violence

Health Promotion Disease Prevention

Instructor: Gregory M. Chase, MS Emergency Medicine, MSHED, PA-C, RN

What is Family Violence, Community Health Introductory Program: Principles of Instructional Design

Author: Gregory M. Chase, MS, MSHED, PA-C, RN.
Dr. David Sellen, PhD precepting

Prevent Family Violence through education and prevention




Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is abused by an intimate partner- spouse, boyfriend, friend. On the average, more than five women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

For support and more information please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or at TTY 1-800-787-3224.


Abuse in America

In the year 2001, more than half a million American women (588,490 women) were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner.

Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Outreach.

National Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Statistics

In 2005, there was IPV in about 1 in every 320 U.S. households.3 For 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that:

  • IPV constituted 5% of all violence against males and 22% of all violence against females in the U.S.4
  • The rate of IPV for females age 12 or older was 4.3 per 1,000, a 53% decrease since 1993. Against males, the rate was 0.8 victimizations per 1,000, a 54% decrease since 1993.5
  • 72% of IPV against males and 49% of IPV against females was reported to police.
  • About 99% of IPV against females was committed by male offenders, and about 83% of IPV against males was committed by female offenders.
  •  References

    1 Compiled December, 2011.
    3 Klaus, P. (2007). Crime and the Nation’s Households, 2005. Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 217198,
    4 Truman, J.L. (2011). Criminal Victimization, 2010. (National Crime Victimization Survey). BJS.
    5 Catalano, S., Rand, M., Smith, E., & Snyder, H. (2009). Female Victims of Violence. BJS.
    6 Ibid.



What is family violence?

"Family violence" is a term that includes the many different forms of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that adults or children may experience in their intimate, kinship or dependent relationships. As our understanding of the nature and extent of violence within intimate relationships and families improves, and our insight deepens, the definition of family violence continues to evolve.

Some common types of family violence include spousal abuse, child abuse (including physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect, and emotional abuse), dating violence and abuse of older adults. All types of family violence have serious - and sometimes fatal - consequences for victims.

Family violence is against the law in the United States and Canada. Although the Criminal Code does not have a specific "family violence offence", an abuser can be charged with an applicable offence. Criminal charges could include:

  • assault
  • assault causing bodily harm
  • sexual assault
  • sexual assault causing bodily harm
  • sexual assault with a weapon
  • criminal harassment (sometimes called "stalking")
  • uttering threats
  • mischief
  • intimidation
  • attempted murder, and
  • murder.

Violation of a protective court order, such as a peace bond or a prohibition order, could also result in charges.

How is your relationship?

Does your partner:

  • Embarrass you with put-downs?

  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?

  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?

  • Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?

  • Make all of the decisions?

  • Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?

  • Prevent you from working or attending school?

  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?

  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?

  • Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?

  • Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?

  • Force you to try and drop charges?

  • Threaten to commit suicide?

  • Threaten to kill you?

If you answered 'yes' to even one of these questions,
you may be in an abusive relationship.

For support and more information please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or at TTY 1-800-787-3224.

How widespread is family violence in Canada and the United States?

It is difficult to know the full extent of family violence in Canada, as it often remains hidden. The federal government has been working to increase our knowledge about family violence in Canada. National level data sources including the 1999 General Social Survey,1 the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS), police-reported data (such as the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey and the Homicide Survey), and recent Juristat articles on spousal and family violence indicate that family violence is a pervasive and widespread problem in Canada.

In the United States the pervasiveness of family violence is a growing concern as more than one million families in America face acts of violence everyday. The "National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women," clearly identifies a need to focus on the foundation of family violence as a preventative measure to stop abuse before violence transcends generations from the adult abuser to their children.
Review the Violence Against Women Act-2005 for more information; see also the "National Data on Intimate Partner Violence 1987-2008" here>>
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Survey show the following family violence rates:

  • based on responses from approximately 26,000 people, an estimated 7% of adults (equivalent to about 690,000 women and 549,000 men in Canada) experienced some form of violence in their marriage or common-law relationship in the five years prior to the 2008 General Social Survey.
  • the unintended victims of family violence include the children living in close to half a million households in Canada who saw or heard one parent being assaulted by the other in the five-year period covered by the General Social Survey.2
  • there were an estimated 135,573 child maltreatment investigations in Canada in 1998 (a rate of almost 22 investigations per 1000 children aged 0 to 15).  Almost half (45%) of the investigations were substantiated. Ten percent (10%) of investigations involved alleged sexual abuse (38% of these were substantiated). (Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect)
  • police-reported data for 1999 (from the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey) indicates that 60% of all sexual assault victims are children and youth (under age 18). Parents are responsible for 42% of these assaults.
  • one percent (1%) of seniors were physically assaulted by a spouse, adult child or caregiver, and 7%  experienced some form of emotional or financial abuse, usually by a spouse, in the five years prior to the 1999 General Social Survey.
  • two percent (2%) of all victims of violent crime in 1999 were older adults (aged 65 and older) (Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey)
  • in the past two decades, data from the Homicide Survey indicates that, of all individuals who were murdered, approximately one-third were killed by a relative.

Many experts suggest that the prevalence of family violence may, in fact, be much higher than these figures, given that neither surveys, studies nor police reports capture all incidents of violence and abuse. For example, research has shown that many abuse victims do not - or cannot - report their experiences to the police, although there are some signs that reporting is increasing.

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