How Women of Color Are Impacted by Domestic Violence (2022)

Not surprisingly, statistics concerning intimate partner violence vary widely from study to study and even from year to year. After all, interpersonal violence is not a topic that either victims or perpetrators are eager to reveal or talk about.

The subject of abuse can be both difficult and embarrassing for them to discuss outside of the household. Therefore, many speculate that intimate partner violence is probably vastly under-reported, especially among certain ethnic groups in the United States, since it's more likely to be kept secret.

Research suggests that while around 25% of the population experiences domestic violence, only about 2.5% to 15% report this abuse.

Do You Know the Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse?


Even with low reporting, though, the number of women of color who are impacted by domestic violence is shockingly high. In fact, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, approximately four out of 10 non-Hispanic Black women, American Indian, or Alaskan Native women, and one in two multi-racial non-Hispanic women have been a victim of physical violence, rape, and/or stalking by a partner in their lifetime.

This rate is 30 to 50% higher than what is experienced by White non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Asian women.

(Video) Impact of domestic violence on women of color 10pm 11-23-2015

Likewise, 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These numbers are significantly higher than the rate of violence that heterosexual women experience, which is 35%. Meanwhile, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most likely to experience domestic violence, followed by teens between the ages of 11 and 17.

This age pattern was also observed among Black women. In fact, they were more than three times likely to experience domestic violence under the age of 30 than Black women under the age of 40. Additionally, the same study noted that Black women who live in impoverished areas have a three-fold chance of experiencing domestic violence as those who live in other areas.

Understanding Domestic Violence

Regardless of race and ethnicity, domestic violence occurs when there is an imbalance of power in the relationship—when one partner uses physical violence as well as tactics like emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and financial abuse to maintain control. And abuse is never justified, regardless of the person's race or culture.

It's also important to remember that the person being victimized did not cause the abuse. Abuse is always a choice made by the abuser. The reasons behind the choice to abuse another person are often complicated. Some people abuse others due to jealousy, low self-esteem, or poor impulse control.

Other people have a personality disorder or a mental health issue that causes them to be violent and controlling. And still others use abusive and controlling tactics because they witnessed these types of behaviors growing up.

But, there are some life events and activities that seem to increase the risk factor for violent behaviors. These risk factors include experiences with discrimination, economic insecurity, and pregnancy.

(Video) Domestic violence against women of color

Additionally, cohabitation may increase the likelihood that a woman will be victimized by her partner. In fact, one study found that Black women who were living with their partner were six times more likely to experience severe domestic violence when compared to their dating and married counterparts.

The researchers also noted that Black women experienced more severe forms of domestic violence once they were separated or divorced. What's more, severely battered Black women were more likely to have lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Violence Among Non-White Groups

Although completely accurate numbers are probably not available, researchers generally agree that among ethnic minority groups in the United States, Blacks are the most likely to experience domestic violence—either male-to-female or female-to-male—followed by Hispanics and then Whites. Meanwhile, Asians are the least likely to experience intimate partner violence.

What's more, the Women of Color Network reports that economic insecurity, combined with isolation, racism, and discrimination, shape how women of color experience and respond to domestic violence. For instance, non-White women are often more afraid of what will happen if they report abuse than they are of the violence they are enduring.

(Video) 54% of women of color are survivors of intimate partner violence. This is Alarming... S3EP26

Consequently, these challenges make it extremely difficult for them to get the help they need, which may partially explain some of the under-reporting.

Likewise, there are some unique challenges facing women of color when it comes to reporting domestic violence that White women don't always struggle with. Here are some of the reasons why women of color may not seek help when victimized by an intimate partner:

  • Have cultural or religious views that keep them in the relationship
  • Possess strong ties and loyalty to their race, culture, and family
  • Distrust law enforcement, the justice system, and social services
  • Want service providers who look like them, can speak their language, and share their experiences, yet there are very few available
  • Experience racism and classism that keeps them from speaking out
  • Receive pressure from their communities to keep family matters private
  • Worry about their legal status or being deported if they seek help

Challenges for Black Women

Despite the fact that Black women experience domestic violence at exceedingly high rates, they also are disproportionately more likely to be criminalized by the system when seeking help. Not only must they deal with racism and stereotypes when contacting police, but they also are routinely arrested when trying to defend themselves against an abusive partner.

Black women are more likely to die at the hands of an abuser.

In fact, according to the Violence Policy Center, Black women are disproportionately impacted by lethal domestic violence. For instance, in 2018, Black women were murdered by men at nearly three times the rate as White women. That represents a rate of 2.85 per 100,000 compared to 1.03 per 100,000.

Unique Issues Facing Black Women Dealing With Abuse

(Video) Intro to Women’s/Gender Studies Final: How Intimate Partner Violence Affects Women of Color

Arrests and Convictions

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports on intimate partner violence cases in which someone is arrested and convicted. Their report expresses the number of victims per 1,000 people.

In 1994, the bureau reported that 15.6 Whites, 20.3 Blacks and 18.8 Hispanics per 1,000 people were victims of domestic violence. But by the year 2010, those numbers had fallen to 6.2 Whites, 7.8 Blacks, and 4.1 Hispanics.

There was an overall decline of 64% of intimate partner violence victimizations per 1,000 from 1994 to 2010. Again, the BJS figures reflect only cases in which someone has been arrested and convicted.

Less Violence or Fewer Reports?

When many jurisdictions began passing laws that required police to take one of the parties to jail any time they received a domestic violence call, the number of calls for help declined. There is also evidence that some Hispanic victims do not call the police for help because they are told by their abusers that they will be deported if they call. Both these situations could skew the statistics for domestic violence among ethnic groups.

A Word From Verywell

Domestic violence is a significant public health issue that causes a number of negative consequences, including everything from broken bones and post traumatic stress disorder to mental health issues and even death. What's more, as many as 42.4 million women in the United States experience domestic violence by a partner at some point in their lifetime. And, ethnic minority women are being disproportionately victimized.

For this reason, it's important that prevention, treatment, and intervention efforts be tailored for the special needs and circumstances of women of color. For instance, programs should empower women of color to seek help by providing services and advocates not only in their native language, but also with an understanding of their race and their culture.

(Video) Domestic Violence Calls Grew Drastically During COVID, Black Women Disproportionately Affected

Likewise, these programs need to address unique issues like historical racism, immigration concerns, socioeconomic issues, language barriers, and an overall fear of the legal system. When these hurdles are addressed and adequate services are provided, the number of women of color suffering from abuse may decrease.


Who is affected by domestic violence the most? ›

Domestic violence occurs in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples, and the rates are thought to be similar to a heterosexual woman, approximately 25%. There are more cases of domestic violence among males living with male partners than among males who live with female partners.

What race is known for domestic violence? ›

Race/Ethnicity: Blacks are disproportionately affected by domestic violence related felony assaults. Blacks account for 46.4% of domestic violence related felony assault victims, while accounting for 21.9% of NYC's population.

What culture has the most domestic violence? ›

Although completely accurate numbers are probably not available, researchers generally agree that among ethnic minority groups in the United States, Blacks are the most likely to experience domestic violence—either male-to-female or female-to-male—followed by Hispanics and then Whites.

What factors affect domestic violence? ›

Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Low education or income.
  • Young age.
  • Aggressive or delinquent behavior as a youth.
  • Heavy alcohol and drug use.
  • Depression and suicide attempts.
  • Anger and hostility.
  • Lack of nonviolent social problem-solving skills.

How does domestic violence affect society? ›

Studies show that living with domestic violence can cause physical and emotional harm to children and young people in the following ways: ongoing anxiety and depression. emotional distress. eating and sleeping disturbances.

What is the main cause of abuse? ›

Risk factors

Family crisis or stress, including domestic violence and other marital conflicts, or single parenting. A child in the family who is developmentally or physically disabled. Financial stress, unemployment or poverty. Social or extended family isolation.

Who are more likely to be abusers? ›

Fifty-four percent of respondents reported being psychologically abusive, and 52 percent said they were victims of this type of behavior. Women were more likely to be psychologically abusive, with 57 percent saying they were perpetrators versus 50 percent of males.

What relationships have the highest domestic violence rates? ›

Women ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence.

What is the relationship between IPV and race? ›

Specific help-seeking behaviors were significantly associated with race and ethnicity among IPV victims, with non-Hispanic white and black women more likely to use housing assistance and emergency department services and black women more likely to use police assistance compared to Hispanic women.

How does culture affect gender based violence? ›

The cultures of systems can erect barriers to services and resources, where race and gender bias compromise access to justice. Culture influences how gender violence is viewed: minimized by society as an accidental problem, used as a convenient explanation by communities, or linked to stereotyping by systems.

Which country has the highest rate of female violence? ›

3Equatorial Guinea43.60
4Solomon Islands41.80
99 more rows

What country has the least domestic violence? ›

Respondents in Norway, Israel, New Zealand, and Sweden reported the lowest frequencies of domestic violence (less than .

How does domestic violence affect women's health? ›

These forms of violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. The 2013 analysis found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and problem drinking.

Why Does domestic violence increase? ›

The chances of women and their children being exposed to violence is dramatically increased, as family members spend more time in close contact and household stress intensifies, and the risk grows even greater when families also have to cope with potential economic or job losses.

Why should we talk about violence? ›

Knowing how to talk with your child about violence will play an important role in easing fear and anxieties about their personal safety in these tenuous times as well as helping them to manage rising concerns.

What are the impacts of violence? ›

Consequences include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide; increased risk of cardiovascular disease; and premature mortality. The health consequences of violence vary with the age and sex of the victim as well as the form of violence.

What are the social effects of violence? ›

In addition, violence exposure has been shown to contribute to mental health problems during childhood and adolescence. Psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are found at higher rates among youth exposed to community violence.

How can we prevent abuse? ›

Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse
  1. Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. ...
  2. Discipline your children thoughtfully. ...
  3. Examine your behavior. ...
  4. Educate yourself and others. ...
  5. Teach children their rights. ...
  6. Support prevention programs. ...
  7. Know what child abuse is. ...
  8. Know the signs.

What are 5 effects of abuse? ›

mental health disorders such as anxiety, attachment, post-traumatic stress and depression disorders. self-harming or suicidal thoughts. learning disorders, including poor language and cognitive development. developmental delay, eating disorders and physical ailments.

Which type of abuse is most common? ›

By far the most visible form of abuse is physical abuse. This kind of abuse is condemned by almost everyone and it is estimated that one in four women are victims of this kind of abuse. The most common forms of abuse include hitting, throwing and scalding, even suffocation is on the list.

What does emotional abuse do to a woman? ›

Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression, or anxiety. Read more about the effects on your health. You may also: Question your memory of events: “Did that really happen?” (See Gaslighting.)

How can you tell if someone was abused in the past? ›

11 Signs You May Have Experienced Emotional Abuse in the Past
  1. You Aren't Good at Making Decisions for Yourself. ...
  2. You Are a People Pleaser. ...
  3. You Minimise Toxic Moments. ...
  4. You Get Angry or Frustrated Easily. ...
  5. You Often Feel Defensive. ...
  6. You Tend to View Yourself Negatively. ...
  7. You Find it Hard to Cope When People Are Upset.
May 23, 2019

What state has least domestic violence? ›

10 States with the Lowest Rate of Domestic Violence Victimization
  • New York – 31.7 percent.
  • Rhode Island – 32.6 percent.
  • Idaho – 33.0 percent.
  • Utah – 33.6 percent.
  • Virginia – 33.6 percent.
  • Nebraska – 33.7 percent.
  • Minnesota – 33.9 percent.
  • Wyoming – 33.9 percent.

What state has most domestic violence? ›


About 49.1% of Oklahoma women and 40.7% of Oklahoma men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, including intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, or intimate partner stalking. This is the highest in the United States.

What is IPV victimization? ›

by sex and type of victimization. Intimate partner violence (IPV), often called domestic violence, is generally described as abuse within the context of an intimate partner relationship, where one partner asserts power and control over the other.

What is the relationship between IPV and race quizlet? ›

What factors account for the relationship between IPV and race? Black females are at a greater risk of experiencing IPV than are White females. Factors such as low income, unemployment, and marital status account for the relationship between IPV and race.

What age group does domestic violence affect most? ›

Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

What are your views on domestic violence? ›

The NFHS-4 survey found that 54.8% agree that the violence is justified, with 47.7% of women in the age group of 15-19 saying that the husband had a right to beat his wife. Domestic violence in middle and upper class homes is often kept under wraps so that the family name is not undermined.

Why has domestic abuse increased during Covid? ›

As lockdown eased there was a rise in first-time domestic incidents being reported to the police. Across the literature, there are clear concerns that as restrictions further ease, there is the risk of abuse escalating as perpetrators attempt to counteract the loss of control.

How has Covid 19 increased domestic violence? ›

While a total of 116 complaints from women were received in the first week of March (March 2-8), the number increased to 257 in the last week of March post the declaration of the lockdown (March 23- April 1, 2020). Of the 257 complaints received by them, 69 were of domestic violence.

How has domestic violence changed over the years? ›

The rate of domestic violence declined 63%, from 13.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 1994 to 5.0 per 1,000 in 2012 (appendix table 3). The overall pattern and size of the decline were similar to the decline in the overall violent crime rate.

What does abuse do to a woman? ›

Physical abuse can cause many chronic (long-lasting) health problems, including heart problems, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Women who are abused are also more likely to develop depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. Women who are abused may also misuse alcohol or drugs as a way to cope.

What do you mean by domestic violence explain? ›

Domestic violence is violence committed by someone in the victim's domestic circle. This includes partners and ex-partners, immediate family members, other relatives and family friends. The term 'domestic violence' is used when there is a close relationship between the offender and the victim.

How domestic violence affects women's mental health? ›

These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. One study shows that the likelihood of abused women experiencing PTSD is seven times higher than for those who have not been abused. The risk of abused women developing depression and anxiety is also high.

What causes gender based violence during lockdown? ›

Circumstances under lockdown increase the risk factors for gender-based violence (GBV) at the individual and social level due to isolation and barriers to victims in seeking help and reporting their situation. This has the direct consequence of an increase in this violence.

How has gender based violence displayed itself in the community from 2019 to 2021? ›

Gender based violence has demonstrated itself in community around the world 35% of women are victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking as their partners. Men are more violent with women than women.

How many domestic abuse cases go unreported UK? ›

SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, believe that before seeking help women endure an average of 50 incidents, and wait, on average, up to three years, suggesting Scots victims are enduring around 600,000 incidents a year without reporting them.

How can we prevent gender based violence? ›

Tips for Youth to Prevent Gender-Based Violence and Inequality
  1. Educate yourself on the root causes of violence. ...
  2. Interrupt sexist and discriminatory language. ...
  3. Be critical and question. ...
  4. Interrupt abuse. ...
  5. Stop sexual harassment. ...
  6. Develop an action plan. ...
  7. Stop victim blaming. ...
  8. Stop rape culture.

What are the 3 contributing factors that led to gender based violence? ›

Three causes of gender-based violence
  • Harmful gender norms. Gender stereotypes are sometimes used to attempt to justify violence against women. ...
  • Hunger. Just as empowering women can help eliminate hunger, food scarcity also leads to increased gender-based violence. ...
  • War and conflict.

What are the causes of gender based violence? ›

What causes gender-based violence?
  • Cultural factors.
  • Legal factors.
  • Economic factors.
  • Political factors.

Why is learning about domestic violence important? ›

Why is the issue of domestic violence important? Domestic violence is a serious social problem and a national health concern with significant negative impacts on individuals and our communities. It is a primary cause of injury to women in the United States.

When did domestic violence become a thing? ›

Family violence became an issue with the influence of the Women's Liberation Movement in the 1960's and 1970's. As the years progressed, domestic violence in American society began to be seen as a violent criminal act. As the attitude toward family violence began changing so did the criminal justice system.

When did the term domestic violence start? ›

When was domestic violence first defined? The term “domestic violence” was defined for the first time in history in 1973. Prior to then, the law pretty much ignored any violence that a husband committed against his wife.


1. Webinar Recording: Working with Women & Girls of Color - Intimate Partner Abuse
(Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation)
2. WATCH: How are women of color disproportionately impacted by mental health stressors?
(PBS NewsHour)
3. Reflections in Color : Domestic Violence Awareness
(Minds Over Melanin)
4. “Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” Part 1
(Shanti Chu)
5. Communities of Color and The Violence Against Women Act
(New America)
(25 News KXXV)

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