Domestic Violence Drops; Extent Of Decline Is Debatable


Domestic violence, one of the most common offenses against women, has fallen by more than half since 1993, says a U.S. Justice Department study reported by the Los Angeles Times. Assaults, rapes, homicides, and robberies against a current or former partner dropped from about 10 per 1,000 women in 1993 to four per 1,000 in 2004. “It’s a substantial decline in the amount of violence between intimates – that’s the good news,” said Michael Rand of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). “The bad news, of course, is there still is a significant amount of violence that occurs.” The report can be seen at

The downward trend in violence by “intimate partners” – current and former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends – mirrors an overall national decrease in violent crime. Some experts have credited more vigorous law enforcement, increased education, and an expanded network of services for battered partners, said Shannan Catalano of BJS. The report may not reflect the actual level of violence behind closed doors. The decline could mean that women are choosing to suffer in silence rather than seek help. If the rate of domestic violence has fallen, many experts are not seeing it, said Gail Wyatt, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute. She said shelters are still filled and hotlines still get many pleas for help.


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