Domestic violence affects millions of women – and men!

According to The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) 2010 Summary Report released on December 14, 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. That amounts to about 12 million women and men a year!

The NISVS, a CDC public health surveillance system designed to describe and monitor the magnitude of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization in the US, reports that one in four women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Likewise, and very interestingly, one in seven men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in his lifetime.

Violent acts have an overwhelming impact on the lives of victims, in particular women, who are more likely to report immediate impacts and long-term health problems caused by their victimization. Victims are more likely than non-victims to face physical and mental health problems. In addition, sexual violence and intimate partner violence can result in homelessness. Victims may flee their home, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs. In fact, escaping domestic violence is among the main contributors to homelessness.

Last fiscal year, nearly 1,000 victims of crime received shelter, counseling and support through Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition’s Women’s Residential and Counseling Center (WRCC) has evolved over the years to become an important resource for homeless single women and women with children, many of whom are victims of crime. Last year, in fact, over 84 percent of the women who came to WRCC were victims of crime, predominantly domestic violence. Clients who live at WRCC are case-managed and have access to a wide variety of resources and services, including a victim services program located on-site. WRCC also operates a 24-hour Crisis Hotline, which addressed over 4,500 calls last year.

As highlighted in the CDC’s release, but often unrecognized by the public, men, too, are often victims of domestic violence. This has resulted in significantly more physical and mental health problems than in non-victims, and also causes us to wonder what role such violence might have played in the lives of some of the men who seek shelter nightly at the Coalition’s Men’s Pavilion. Perhaps, the answer will become more apparent when we are finally able to provide case management and supportive services to these men through our upcoming Men’s Service Center.

“The information collected in this ongoing survey will serve as a vital tool in the Administration’s efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Have you ever linked domestic violence with homeless men?