Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community



October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Numerous ways exist to enhance prevention efforts in your community. A key strategy in preventing domestic violence, often called intimate partner violence, is promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to ensuring that all Americans, especially those at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), live to their fullest potential. The goal is to stop IPV before it begins. Disrupting the developmental pathways toward partner violence and teaching skills that promote respectful, nonviolent relationships through individual, relationship, community, and societal level change are key strategies. Creating protective environments where people work, live, and play, and strengthening economic supports for families to make violence less likely are also important.

What Is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, stalking, and emotional or psychological abuse by a current or former intimate partner. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. It exists along a continuum from a single episode of violence to severe episodes over a period of years.

More than 37 percent of US women and almost 31 percent of US men experienced intimate partner contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking during their lifetime.

The key to violence prevention is keeping it from happening before it begins.

Why Is Intimate Partner Violence a Public Health Problem?

Data from CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) indicate:

  • One in four women and one in nine men in the United States have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, and reported that the violence in that relationship impacted them in some way (e.g., made them feel fearful or concerned for their safety, resulted in an injury or need for services, or they lost days from work or school). Contact sexual violence includes rape, being made to penetrate, sexual coercion, and unwanted sexual contact.
  • Almost a third of women and more than a quarter of men experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This includes being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned.
  • One in six women (16.4%) and one in 14 men (7.0%) experienced contact sexual violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime, Nine percent of women and two percent of men were stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • Among victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, 71 percent of women and 58 percent of men first experienced these types of violence before the age of 25.

Join CDC in Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

All forms of IPV are preventable. The key to violence prevention is keeping it from happening before it begins. We know that strategies that promote healthy behaviors in relationships are important. Programs that teach young people skills (e.g., communication and problem solving) can prevent violence. These programs can stop violence in dating relationships before it occurs.

CDC has developed a technical package, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policy, and Practices[4.52 MB] to help states and communities prioritize efforts to prevent intimate partner violence. A technical package is a collection of strategies that represent the best available evidence to prevent or reduce public health problems such as violence. The package highlights six strategies to prevent IPV:

  • Teach safe and healthy relationship skills
  • Engage influential adults and peers
  • Disrupt developmental pathways toward partner violence
  • Create protective environments
  • Strengthen economic supports for families
  • Support survivors to increase safety and lessen harms

The technical package is a resource to guide decision-making to help communities and states stop IPV before it starts, support survivors, and lessen the short and long-term harms of IPV.

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