Health Care Response to Domestic Violence
A pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.

Domestic violence is virtually impossible to measure with absolute precision due to numerous complications including the societal stigma that inhibits victims from disclosing their abuse and the varying definitions of abuse used from study to study. Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year1 to 3.9 million women who are physically abused per year.2
On July 22, 1997, UNICEF released The Progress of Nations, 1997, which found that a quarter to half of women around the world have suffered violence from an intimate partner.3
Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey.4
Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.5
While women are less likely than men to be victims of violence crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.6
Injuries and Other Health Consequences of Domestic Violence:
The U.S. Department of Justice reported that 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.7
Domestic violence is repetitive in nature: about 1 in 5 women victimized by their spouse or ex-spouse reported that they had been a victim of a series of at least 3 assaults in the last 6 months.8
The level of injury resulting from domestic violence is severe: of 218 women presenting at a metropolitan emergency department with injuries due to domestic violence, 28% required hospital admission, and 13% required major medical treatment. 40% had previously required medical care for abuse.9
In 1996, approximately, 1,800 murders were attributed to intimates; nearly three out of four of these had a female victim.10
From 1987 to 1990, crime costs Americans $450 billion a year. Adult victims of domestic violence incurred 15% of the total cost of crime on victims ($67 billion).11
A study conducted at Rush Medical Center in Chicago found that the average charge for medical services provided to abused women, children and older people was $1,633 per person per year. This would amount to a national annual cost of $857.3 million.12
A study conducted at a large health plan in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1994, found that an annual difference of $1775.00 more was spent on abused women who utilized hospital services than on a random sample of general enrollees. The study concluded that early identification and treatment of victims and potential victims will most likely benefit health care systems in the long run.13
Identification of Domestic Violence:
92% of women who were physically abused by their partners did not discuss these incidents with their physicians; 57% did not discuss the incidents with anyone.14
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