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Mental Health Center

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Domestic Violence - Who Is at Risk

Domestic violence affects all types of people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual identity, social status, and religion.

Many people have been hurt by domestic violence. About 25% of women (25 out of 100) and 8% of men (8 out of 100) in the United States have been physically and/or sexually abused by an intimate partner at some point in their adult lives.1 But just because it happens a lot doesn't make it okay.

Here are some things you should know:

  • While domestic violence can affect men, most victims are women.1
  • Domestic violence can happen to anyone, but being poor increases the chances that it will occur.4 The stress of poverty can increase conflict in a relationship. That conflict sometimes leads to violence.
  • Alcohol abuse also increases the risk. In about 45% of domestic violence cases, men had been drinking. In 20% of cases, women had been drinking.4
  • The risks can increase when a partner is thinking about leaving the relationship. This might cause the other person to feel as if he or she is losing control. A person is at increased risk of being a victim of stalking, attempted murder, or murder after leaving an abusive relationship.4 But it's important to remember that most women who are able to leave won't have another abusive relationship.

Other things that can put you at risk include having a partner who has lost a job or who has medical or mental health problems.

Domestic abuse is also a big problem among the elderly. For more information, see Elder Abuse.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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