Each year, more than 10 million men and women experience domestic violence, estimates the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
While we might think this type of violence is rare, 33 percent of women and 25 percent of men have experienced some form of physical abuse by their partners during their lifetime, NCADV reports.
In fact, the coalition notes 15 percent of violent crimes are the result of intimate partner violence. However, only 34 percent of domestic violence victims receive medical care for their injuries. This suggests men and women often suffer in silence.
Domestic violence isn’t always physical. It also includes:
- sexual assault by an intimate partner
- emotional and psychological abuse (humiliating, shaming, name-calling, and controlling the victim)
Emotional abuse is more common than physical violence. NCADV estimates 48 percent of men and women have experienced at least one emotionally abusive act by an intimate partner.
Being the victim of domestic violence isn’t your fault, but reaching out for help can be scary. Becoming familiar with community and online resources can help you take that first step to get support. We’ve put together a list of resources to provide guidance.
Each day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 20,000 calls. Survivors of abuse and concerned loved ones may contact the crisis hotline at any time.
Trained advocates at The National Domestic Violence Hotline are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer support. While calling a hotline can be scary sometimes, remember that advocates are highly trained. They provide empathy and information for each person’s unique situation.
Here’s what you can expect
The advocate will ask about your situation and help brainstorm next steps as well as a self-care plan. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
Victims of domestic violence should consider contacting a hotline when their partner isn’t home to avoid aggressive or controlling behaviors. It can also allow peace of mind to talk freely with the advocate.
Keep yourself safe after the call. Delete the phone number in your call history. If you’re searching for resources online, clear the browsing history on your computer. You can also use your browser’s incognito (private) mode. It won’t track your online activity.
In some situations, it may be safer to look up information at a shelter, work, or the public library.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- 800-799-7233 (SAFE)
National Sexual Assault Hotline
- 800-656-4673 (HOPE)
National Dating Abuse Helpline
Pathways to Safety International
- 833-723-3833 (833-SAFE-833) (international and toll-free)
National Center for Victims of Crime
- 855-484-2846 (4-VICTIM)
Casa de Esperanza
- linea de crisis 24-horas (24-hour crisis line)
- 800-799-7233 (national)
- 651-772-1611 (Minnesota)
Victims of domestic violence should contact a hotline when their partner isn’t home.
Demographics and statistics
The World Health Organization reports that domestic violence is a public health problem. It can harm the victim’s physical, mental, and sexual health.
Young adult females between the ages of 18 to 24 are more likely to experience physical and psychological forms of domestic violence. An exposure to childhood trauma and abuse can also increase a woman’s risk of experiencing relationship violence.
While women in heterosexual partnerships often experience domestic violence, it also occurs in same-sex relationships.
In 2010, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 43.8 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women had experienced domestic violence. The same survey also found that 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men were victims of domestic violence.
Men and women in vulnerable positions, like immigrants, refugees, and those with disabilities, are at a higher risk of being abused by their partners. NCADV reports that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience a higher rate of domestic violence and sexual assault than any other racial or ethnic group.
In fact, NCADV estimates 84 percent of Native women are victims of domestic violence during their lifetime.
Here are hotlines for specific groups and situations:
Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN)
- email: email@example.com
- 202-559-5366 (video relay services)
National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
- a project of Casa de Esperanza
- 800-799-7233 (national)
- 651-646-5553 (Minnesota)
The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
- 855-649-7299 (toll-free)
Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)
- 212- 473-6485
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
- Note: IDVAAC closed in Sept. 2016, but the information on this website will be available for review for the next 10 years.
The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
National LGBTQ Task Force
The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse
Legal support and shelters
Domestic violence is a crime. That being said, victims may feel uncomfortable calling 911 or taking legal action because they’re worried it may make the violence worse.
You may need to find a shelter and get a protective order to stay safe. When looking at shelters, familiarize yourself with those in your local area or ones close to trusted family and friends. Here’s a list of helpful questions to consider.
- photos of injuries
- text messages and voicemails showing proof of emotional and physical threats or violence
- medical reports of any injuries
Make a new email address and email copies to yourself. Back them up in the cloud or on a flash drive if you can, too.
In certain circumstances, you may also file a protective order. It’s meant to keep you safe by requiring the abuser to maintain a physical distance from you.
Children witnessing domestic violence are at a greater risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have children and you’re worried about their safety, contact a hotline or a family lawyer for resources and guidance.
Trusted child advocates, like teachers and pediatricians, can also help you find mental health resources and community support.
American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence
Battered Women’s Justice Project
National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
- 800-903-0111 x 3
Legal Network for Gender Equity
Finding trusted emotional and psychological support is an integral part of healing from domestic violence and abuse. Online forums, such as private Facebook groups, can help you connect with other survivors.
Mental health professionals specializing in domestic violence say that having your feelings of shame, sadness, and anger validated by others who empathize with your pain can be incredibly healing.
Survivors of abuse, as well as friends and family members, often benefit from getting involved with advocacy and awareness groups. Volunteering with these communities and organizations can feel very empowering.
Group support can also help victims and their families realize they’re not alone and not to blame for the violence they’ve survived.
Online forums and support
Yes I Can
Love Is Respect
DomesticShelters.org Facebook group
Advocacy and awareness groups
Futures Without Violence
Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
Break the Cycle
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Juli Fraga is a licensed psychologist based in San Francisco, California. She graduated with a PsyD from University of Northern Colorado and attended a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley. Passionate about women’s health, she approaches all her sessions with warmth, honesty, and compassion. See what she’s up to on Twitter.