Violence Against Women (A BJS Report)

Violence Against Women (A BJS Report)

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (Winter 1994). "Violence Against Women (A BJS Report)." Alaska Justice Forum 10(4): 2. More than 2.5 million women in the United States experience violence annually, according to this National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) report, which is based upon a nationally representative survey of 400,000 American women. Although women are significantly less likely to become victims of violent crime than men, they are more vulnerable to particular types of perpetrators, including intimates such as husbands or boyfriends.

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the single most comprehensive source for information on the experience and consequences of violent crimes against women. This report, based upon a nationally representative sample survey of women and entailing about 400,000 individual interviews, provides us with many important insights about violence suffered by women:

• More than 2.5 million women in the country experience violence annually.

• Although women were significantly less likely to become victims of violent crime, they were more vulnerable to particular types of perpetrators. Whereas men were more likely to be victimized by acquaintances or strangers than intimates, women were just as likely to be victimized by intimates, such as husbands or boyfriends, as they were to be victimized by acquaintances or strangers. The rate of violence committed by intimates was nearly ten times greater for females than males.

• The violent crime rate for males has decreased since 1973; however, the rate of violent crime for females has not. Rates of violent victimization against females remained relatively consistent from 1973 to 1991. The 1991 female rate of 22.9 translates as approximately 2,500,000 women in the United States experiencing a violent crime in that year.

• Over two-thirds of violent victimizations against women were committed by someone known to them: 31 per cent of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger. Of those known to offenders, approximately 28 per cent were intimates such as husbands or boyfriends, 35 per cent were acquaintances, and the remaining five per cent were other relatives. In contrast, victimizations by intimates and other relatives accounted for only five per cent of all violent victimizations against men. Men were significantly more likely to have been victimized by acquaintances (50%) or strangers (44%) than by intimates or other relatives.

• Women who were black, Hispanic, in younger age groups, never married, with lower family and lower education levels, and in central cities were the most vulnerable to becoming the victims of violent crime.

• White and black women experienced equivalent rates of violence committed by intimates and other relatives. However, black women were significantly more likely than white women to experience incidents of violence by acquaintances or strangers.

• Among women who experienced a violent victimization, injuries occurred almost twice as frequently when the offender was an intimate (59%) than when a stranger (27%). Injured women were also more likely to require medical care if the attacker was an intimate (27%) rather than a stranger (14%).

For rape victims, however, the outcome was different: women who were raped by a stranger sustained more serious injuries than women raped by someone they knew.

• Almost six times as many women victimized by intimates (18%) as those victimized by strangers (3%) did not report their violent victimization to the police because they feared reprisal from the offender.

• Rape was more likely to be committed against women by someone known to them (55%) than by a stranger (44%).

• Rape victimizations involving known offenders were almost twice as likely to occur at or near the victim's home (52%) compared to rape by strangers, which were more likely to occur in an open area or public place (43%). Almost a quarter of rapes by strangers did occur at or near the victim's home.

Table 1. Personal Crime Victimizations, by Sex of Victim, 1987-1991

This article is based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report "Violence Against Women," NCJ-145325. Copies of the entire report are available through the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Unit, Justice Center.