Younger Women at Great Risk of Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence

Women age 16 to 24 are most vulnerable to intimate partner violence, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99 provides statistical information on the prevalence of domestic violence and the characteristics of victims of abuse. The report examines victims’ age and gender, finding that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence than men, and women in their late teens and early twenties are more likely to experience abuse than women of other ages.

“The report confirms that domestic violence and domestic homicide are primarily crimes against women, and that young women are at great risk for domestic violence,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund Executive Director Esta Soler. “As a nation, we need to allocate resources to stop teen dating violence and ensure that comprehensive services are available to every woman – regardless of age – who is abused. We need a commitment to educate girls about how to protect themselves from relationship violence and to teach boys that violence against girls and women is always wrong.”

Intimate Partner Violence, written by Callie Marie Rennison, PhD, is based on the findings of the National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS) data collected by the BJS and homicide data collected by the FBI. The NCVS collects information about crimes that are both reported to the police and not reported, and provides information on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence is widespread, and women are the victims of abuse more often than men are. In 1999, 671,110 women were the victims of domestic violence, according to Intimate Partner Violence. Eight-five percent of all victims of intimate partner violence were women, while 15 percent (120,100) were men. Intimate partner violence against women most often took the form of simple assault (66 percent), rape or sexual assault (14 percent), or aggravated assault (10 percent).

Intimate Partner Violence notes that between 1993 and 1999, there was a nationwide decrease in crime. The rate of intimate violence against women also declined, but to a lesser extent, during the period. From 1993 to 1999, intimate partner violence against women decreased by 41 percent, from 1.1 million women in 1993 to 671,110 in 1999.

Intimate Partner Violence and Age

The rates of intimate partner violence “differ greatly” depending on the age of the victim, according to the report. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are nearly three times more vulnerable to intimate partner violence (excluding intimate partner homicide) than women in other age groups. In 1999, the overall rate of intimate partner violence against women was 5.8 victimizations per 1,000 women, but the rate was 15.6 per 1,000 women for those aged 16 to 24.

The higher rate of intimate partner violence exists regardless of young women’s marital status, notes Intimate Partner Violence. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 were victimized at a higher rate than older women, regardless of marital status. In general, the report adds, women who are separated experienced intimate partner violence at rates “significantly higher” than women in any other marital category. Separated women age 20 to 34 had the highest average rates of intimate partner violence of women in any age group.

The pattern of younger women being most vulnerable to victimization was consistent across racial lines as well, Intimate Partner Violence finds. The rate of intimate partner violence peaked for both white and African American women between the ages of 20 and 24. The rate of intimate partner violence for Hispanic women peaked between the ages of 16 and 34.

Intimate Partner Homicide

Male murder victims were “substantially less likely” than female victims to have been killed by an intimate partner, finds the report. Intimate partner homicide accounted for 32 percent of the murders of women in 1999 and approximately four percent of the murders of men. In 1999, 1,642 people were killed by intimates and three in four victims were women. Of the victims, 74 percent (1,218) were female and 26 percent (424) were male.

While women in their teens and early twenties have the highest rate of intimate partner violence, women between the ages of 35 and 49 are “the most vulnerable” to intimate partner homicide, according to the report. Between 1993 and 1999, intimate partner homicides made up 32 percent of the homicides of women between the ages of 20 and 24, compared with nearly 40 percent of the homicides of women between the ages of 35 and 49. In 1999, women in this age group were murdered by an intimate partner at rates greater than women in any other age group.

But the report notes that woman between the ages of 20 and 34 also had high rates of intimate partner homicide. Young women (age 12 to 15) and women over age 50 experienced the lowest homicide rates among females. However, in every age category, women are more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner.

Intimate Partner Violence is available on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ web site. Copies of the report also can be ordered through the BJS clearinghouse number, 800/732-3277.

Intimate Partner Violence