Basic Data

Family Violence

Family Violence Table of Contents
Violence Against Women Child Abuse Elder Abuse
    -Victim/offender relationship, males and females, U.S.     -Victims, U.S.     -Victims, U.S.
    -Victim/offender relationship by type of crime     -Victims, California     -Victims, California
    -Victim/offender relationship by type of assault and sex of victim     -Deaths, U.S.     -Perpetrators, U.S.
    -Victim/offender relationship, males and females, U.S.     -Deaths, California
    - Forcible Rape     -Perpetrators, California
    -Homicide victim/offender relationship by sex     -Risk factors
    -Homicide victim/offender relationship
    -Homicides by sex of victim and offender
    -Victims by age
    -Victims, marital status and income
    -Victims, urban vs. suburban
    -Victims by race and location


Although women are significantly less likely to suffer violent crime, they are more likely to be victims of certain types of perpetrators. Women are more likely to be victims of violence by men with whom they have intimate relationships (husbands, boyfriends, ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends) or acquaintances. Twenty-five percent of women experience partner violence compared to 8% of men. Men, however, are more likely to be victims of violence by acquaintances or strangers.

Victim/offender relationship, males and females, U.S.

In the United States, females age 18 or older were the victims of rape or physical assault of which:

In contrast, among males who were raped or physically assaulted:

Victim/offender relationship by type of crime

Nationally in 1994, offenders committed more than 1 million violent crimes against victims to whom they were related; in well over half of these violent crimes, the offender was the victim's spouse or ex-spouse. Of these, 8 percent were rapes or sexual assaults, 6.5 percent were robberies, 18 percent were aggravated assaults and 68 percent were simple assaults (assault without a weapon resulting in minor injury or injury requiring fewer than two days hospitalization).

Victim/offender relationship by type of assault and sex of victim

Percentage of Persons Physically Assaulted by an Intimate Partner in Lifetime by Type of Assault and Sex of Victim

Type of Assault Women Men
(n=8000) (n=8000)
Total physical assault by intimate partner 22.1 7.4
Threw something 8.1 4.4
Pushed, grabbed, shoved 18.1 5.4
Pulled hair 9.1 2.3
Slapped, hit 16.0 5.5
Kicked, bit 5.5 2.6
Choked, tried to drown 6.1 .5
Hit with object 5.0 3.2
Beat up 8.5 .6
Threatened with gun 3.5 .4
Threatened with knife 2.8 1.6
Used gun .7 .1
Used knife .9 .8

Forcible Rape

In 1997, there were 96,122 forcible rapes. Friends or acquaintances of the victims committed the majority of these rapes. Strangers were responsible for about 1 in 5. (Forcible rape is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Assaults or attempts to commit rape by force or threat of force are also included.)

Homicide victim/offender relationship by sex

In 1997, nine out of every 10 female murder victims were killed by males. Among all female murder victims in 1997, 29 percent were slain by husbands or boyfriends. In contrast, 3 percent of male victims were killed by wives or girlfriends.

Homicide victim/offender relationship

In 1992, about 32 percent of female victims of homicide were known to have been killed by a non-intimate relative or acquaintance, while 40 percent of male homicide victims were killed by a non-intimate relative or acquaintance. Also, in 1992, strangers killed 8.6 percent of female homicide victims and 15 percent of male homicide victims.

In 1% of the cases with male victims, the sex of the offender is unknown.
In 1% of the cases with female victims, the sex of the offender is unknown.

Victims by age

More than half (54%) of the female rape victims identified were under 18 years of age when they experienced their first rape. Of the women disclosing rape, 22% were under 12 years old when they experienced their first rape, while 32% were 12 to 17 years old.

Victims, marital status and income

In 1992 and 1993, women 19 to 29 years old, women who were separated from their husbands and women in families with incomes below $10,000 were more likely than other women to be victims of violence by an intimate.

Victims, urban vs. suburban

In 1992 and 1993, urban women were more likely than either suburban or rural women to experience violence by strangers.

Victims by race and location

Family violence is independent of race and location. In 1992 and 1993, black and white women and Hispanic and non-Hispanic women sustained about the same amount of violence by intimate partners, as did women who lived in urban, suburban and rural locations.


Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse and incest, organized sadistic abuse and psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse and neglect) of a child. ["Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report," National Center for Juvenile Justice, June 1996.]
The limitations of child maltreatment data are severe. Definitions and guidelines for determining abuse/neglect are imprecise. Crimes are underreported because victims either cannot or are reluctant to report the abuse/neglect. Government agencies have difficulty substantiating reports of maltreatment.

Victims, U.S.

In 1997, 3,195,000 children were reported as victims of child abuse/neglect to child protective services agencies, a 1.7 percent increase over the number reported in 1996. The rate has increased from 40 per 1,000 children in 1990 to 46 per 1,000 in 1995. Currently, about 47 out of every 1,000 children are reported as victims of child maltreatment. Of the confirmed cases (1,054,000 children), 22 percent were abused physically, 8 percent were abused sexually, 54 percent suffered neglect, 4 per cent suffered emotional maltreatment, while 12 percent were subjected to other forms of abuse. These percentages have remained fairly stable since 1986.

Victims, California

In 1994, 664,000 instances of child abuse/neglect were reported, a 124 percent increase from 296,000 in 1985. About half the reports were physical abuse (32 percent) or sexual abuse (17 percent), while about one-third were general neglect, such as regularly leaving a young child at home without supervision.

According to 1993 data, the average age of a victim of child abuse is 7 years. About 41 percent of child abuse victims are 5 years old or younger; 58 percent are female and 42 percent are male; 44 percent are white, 35 percent are Hispanic, 18 percent are black, and 3 percent are other ethnicities; 26 percent have mental, physical and/or behavioral disabilities.

Deaths, U.S.

In 1996, an estimated 1,185 children died from abuse or neglect. (This estimate is based on data from 34 states comprising 67 percent of the U.S. population under 18 years old.) Eighty-two percent of the children were younger than 5 years old, while 41 percent were under the age of one. Forty-one percent of these deaths occurred to children known to child protective service agencies as current or prior clients. Forty percent of the deaths resulted from neglect, 49 percent from physical abuse and 11 percent from a combination of both.

Deaths, California

In 1994, 66 child fatalities related to child abuse/neglect were reported, up from 18 in 1985.

Perpetrators, California

In 1995, 11,343 people were arrested for child abuse/neglect in California.

The average age of those who commit child abuse/neglect in California is 31 years. Of the perpetrators, 63 percent are female and 37 percent are male; 40 percent are white, 33 percent Hispanic, 19 percent black and 3 percent are other ethnicities. The relationship of abusers to victims is 80 percent natural parents, 7 percent other relatives, 5 percent stepparents and 8 percent nonrelatives.

Risk factors

Research suggests risk factors for child abuse/neglect include poverty, unemployment, alcohol/drug abuse, history of child abuse/neglect or violence in the family, limited support systems of family or friends, low self-esteem and poor health of parent.


National Definition:
Elder abuse/neglect has been defined by the American Medical Association as actions or omissions of actions that result in harm or threatened harm to the health or welfare of the elderly.
California Definition:
Abuse of any person 65 years of age or older, including physical abuse, neglect, intimidation, cruel punishment, sexual assault, abandonment, fiduciary abuse or other treatment that results in physical harm or pain or mental suffering or deprivation of goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering. [California Department of Social Services]
The limitations of data on elder abuse are very severe. There is no agreement on the precise meaning of elder abuse. No federal legislation exists for elder abuse. State legislation varies. Much goes unreported because the victims are unable or unwilling to report abuse or neglect. There is no defined reporting system in place. The few surveys that have been completed are poorly designed or limited by small sample sizes.

Elder Victims, U.S.

In 1996, an estimated 820,000 to 1,860,000 elderly people were abused. According to 1996 data, the median age of abuse victims is 77.9 years. Of those abused, 66.4 percent are white, 18.7 percent are black, 10.4 percent are Hispanic and other races comprise the remainder. The majority - 67.3 percent - are female.

Elder Victims, California

In 1995, there were 15,318 confirmed cases of elder abuse in California. Of these crimes, 55.8 percent were perpetrated by other persons, and 44.2 percent were self-inflicted. Of the abuses perpetrated by others, 27.4 percent were neglect, 25.7 percent were fiduciary, 20.7 percent were mental suffering, 23.3 percent were physical abuse and 2.9 percent were other types of abuse.

Perpetrators, U.S.

In 1996, 47.4 percent of perpetrators of elder abuse were male and 48.9 percent were female. The largest group of abusers - 36.7 percent - were adult children; other family members were responsible for 10.8 percent of the abuses; spouses for 12.6 percent; service providers and unrelated caregivers for 6.3 percent; others for 15.5 percent; and 7.4 percent of the relationships are unknown. fix date