Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming up in a few days, and the focus this year is on male victims of domestic violence.

In preparation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our  website is being updated with the following fact sheet: “Seven Key Facts About Domestic Violence.”

Seven Key Facts About
Domestic Violence

Fact #1: Each year, men are more likely than women to be victims of domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

  • Domestic violence:1
    • Men: 4.2 million victims
    • Women: 3.5 million victims
  • African-Americans -- domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking:2
    • Black men: 1.47 million victims
    • Black women: 1.38 million victims
  • Coercive control:3
    • Men: 17.3 million victims
    • Women: 12.7 million victims

Fact #2: Domestic violence rates are higher in certain groups:

  • Same-sex lesbian couples have higher lifetime rates than same-sex gay couples for domestic violence, rape, and/or stalking:4
    • Lesbian: 44%
    • Gay: 26%
  • Domestic violence is more common between partners who are lower income5 or who are not in intact, married relationships.6

 Fact #3: Partner aggression is often two-way.

  • A comprehensive review of the research found 58% of all intimate partner violence is bi-directional.7
  • A survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control found that injury was more than twice as likely when the violence was reciprocal (28.4%), compared to unidirectional violence (11.6%).8

Fact #4: Many factors, in addition to power and control, contribute to domestic violence:

  • Substance abuse, marital instability, psychological disorders, and other factors are known to contribute to domestic violence incidents.9
  • The Centers for Disease Control has identified over 25 different risk factors for domestic violence. These include individual, relationship, and community factors.10

Fact #5: Domestic violence rates have fallen dramatically since the 1970s:

  • Since the mid-1970s, domestic violence among intimate partners has fallen dramatically, whether violence is assessed by community surveys,11 crime surveys of non-fatal violence,12 or FBI homicide statistics.13
  • These declines have continued during recent years. These are the annual victimization rates, according to the CDC:
    • 2011:14
      • Males: 6.5%
      • Females: 6.3%
    • 2018:15
      • Males: 3.8%
      • Females: 2.9%

 Fact #6: Many victims of domestic violence face barriers to getting help:

  • One survey highlighted the discriminatory practices of many domestic violence shelters, concluding that lesbian and gay victims “still did not have consistent access to culturally competent services to prevent and address the violence against them.”16
  • The most recent Biennial Report to Congress documents large disparities in the provision of services to male victims:17
    • Legal Assistance: 6% male, 94% female (Page 162)
    • Rural Assistance: 10% male, 90% female (Page 174)
    • Sexual Assault Services: 4% male, 96% female (Page 184)
    • Transitional Housing: 1% male, 99% female (Page 204)
    • Indian Tribal Governments: 5% male, 95% female (Page 222)
    • Tribal Sexual Assault: 14% male, 86% female (Page 237)
    • Services to Underserved Populations: 14% male, 86% female (Page 248)

Fact #7: Similar patterns are seen in domestic violence rates around the world:

  • The International Dating Violence Study of 13,601 university students in 32 countries found that the most common pattern of dating violence was bi-directional, followed by female-perpetrated violence.18
  • Studies conducted in 85 countries around the world19 provide 198 direct comparisons of male vs. female-perpetrated abuse, concluding that, “rates were higher for female perpetration/male victimization, or the same, in 118 comparisons, or 60%.”20


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 Data Brief – Updated Release, Atlanta, Georgia. 2018. Tables 9 and 11.

2 Centers for Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010-2012 State Report. Tables 5.3 and 5.6. 

3 Centers for Disease Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:2010 Summary Report. Tables 4.9 and 4.10.

4 Centers for Disease Control: An Overview of 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation.

5 Department of Justice. Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2007. February 2010. NCJ 227669. Table 35.

6 Catalano S. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993–2010. U.S. Department of Justice, 2012. Table 1.

7 Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling. Rates of bi-directional vs. uni-directional intimate partner violence: A comprehensive review. Partner Abuse Vol. 3, No. 2, 2012.

8 Whitaker DJ et al. Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 97, No. 5, 2007.

9 Stith, S. M., et al. Intimate partner physical abuse perpetration and victimization risk factors: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10(1), 65–98. 2004.

10 Centers for Disease Control: Intimate Partner Violence: Risk and Protective Factors.

11 From 1975 to 1992. Male victims: From 11.6% to 9.5% of couples. Female victims: From 12.1% to 9.1% of couples. Source of 1975 data: National Surveys of Family Violence. Source of 1992 data: National Alcohol and Family Violence Survey.

12 From 1993 to 2001. Male victims: From 1.6 to 0.9/1,000 persons. Female victims: From 9.8 to 5.0/1,000 persons. Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. Table 2.

13 From 1976 to 2000. Male victims: From 1,357 to 440 murders. Female victims: From 1,600 to 1,247 murders. Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001.

15 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 Data Brief – Updated Release, Atlanta, Georgia. 2018. Tables 9 and 11.

16 National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Why it Matters. 2010.

18 Straus, Murray A. Dominance and symmetry in partner violence by male and female university students in 32 nations, Children and Youth Services Review. 2008.

19 Listing of Countries:

  • Africa – 20 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Asia – 15 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, East Timor, India, Japan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Europe – 23 countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – 19 countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela
  • Middle East – 8 countries: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey

20 Esquivel-Santoveña EE, Lambert T, Hamel J. Partner Abuse Worldwide. Partner Abuse Vol. 4, No. 1, 2013.

Last Updated: 9/11/2021