As part of my continuing education, I’m involved in a 15-hour class addressing domestic violence. While it would be nice to say that issues like domestic violence are unheard of in the Christian community, it would also be false. Sadly, domestic violence – in all its various forms – is no less common within the church than anywhere else.
To keep people informed and, hopefully, to begin reducing the number of adults and children exposed to it, I thought I’d pass along some of the information I’ve gleaned.
Since seminaries or bible colleges rarely prepare pastors for such eventualities, this and following posts will provide helpful information for those in ministry who deal with domestic violence. These posts are not designed to prepare readers to deal with it but rather to help those in positions of trust and authority to identify it and have some idea of what to do when it is discovered. All of the material below can be found in The Domestic Violence Sourcebook, by Dawn Bradley Berry, J.D.
Prevalence of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence involves at least one or more of the following: physical violence, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. For Christians, we need to also include spiritual abuse, a form with consequences that could last for eternity.
“Each year,” Berry writes, “literally millions of women are wounded, crippled, disfigured, traumatized, and maimed by male partners – or they die . . . Domestic violence is also a major cause of disability, homelessness, addiction, and attempted suicide.”
The author recognizes that men – at an increasing rate – are also victims of domestic violence. Because the number of men who suffer is comparatively small in comparison does not minimize the violence done against them. But the book is primarily addressing the more prevalent problem of violence against women.
Statistics (as of 2000):
- “Each year, 1,500 women are killed by a current/ former husband or boyfriend . . .
- “Studies of women killed by a husband or boyfriend show that 90 percent of the victim had reported at least one prior incident of abuse. The average number of calls to a scene before a domestic homicide is eight . . .
- “Up to six million women are believed to be beaten in their homes each year . . .
- “Women who have divorced or separated from their abusers report being battered fourteen times as often as those still living with their partners . . .
- “According to the American Medical Association, family violence kills as many women every five years as the total number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women fifteen to twenty-four.
- “Battering contributes to one-quarter of all suicide attempts by women generally, and half of all suicide attempts by black women.
- “The AMA reports that one out of every three women treated in emergency rooms is a victim of violence . . .
- “One million women a year visit physicians and hospital emergency rooms for treatment of injuries caused by beating . . .
- “In 1992, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that abuse by a husband or partner is the leading cause of injury to American women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four.
- “Medical expenses for treating victims of domestic violence total at least $3-5 billion annually . . .
- “Rape is a regular form of abuse in approximately 50% of violent relationships.
- “Weapons are used in 30% o domestic violence incidents.
- “Up to 75% of battering victims have left or are trying to leave men who will not let them go . . .
- “Between 25% and 50% of all women in America will be physically abused by a partner at least once in their lives.
- “Business lose about $100 million annually in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism, and nonproductivity as a direct result of domestic violence.
- “74% of abused women who work outside the home are harassed by their abusers at work, either in person or by telephone . . .
- “In a 1987 study, 20-30% of college women reported being the victim of physical abuse by a dating partner . . .
- “28% of high school students have experienced violence in a dating relationship. The FBI reports that 21% of the women murdered in America are 15-24 years of age.
- “Pregnant women are especially at risk: 25% of all women battered in America are abused while pregnant . . .
- “50-70% of men who abuse their female partners also abuse children in the home. In homes with four or more children, the figure leaps to over 90%.
- “In one study of violent homes, all sons over fourteen attempted to protect their mothers. 62% were injured in the process.
- “More than 3 million children directly witness acts of domestic abuse each year . . .
- “Studies estimate that 25-33% of men who batter their wives also sexually abuse their children . . .
- “About 50% of all homeless women and children in America are fleeing domestic violence.”