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Facts and Statistics About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of escalating abusive, controlling and violent behavior toward a partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence can occur in intimate relationships between people of any age, ethnic group, profession, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation, whether or not they are married or living together. Abuse is NOT more or less common in same sex, queer or transgender relationships.

Abuse can happen on a regular basis or only sporadically. Abusers will sometimes even threaten to harm themselves as a way of making victims feel guilty.


  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), domestic violence will affect 1 in 3 women at some point in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 experience severe physical violence. 44% of lesbian women experience violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. And 1 in 4 gay men and 1 in 3 bisexual men experience intimate partner violence. Our SafeLink statewide hotline currently answers nearly 100 calls a day from survivors, their family and friends, co-workers and professionals.
  • In Massachusetts, a one-day survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence on September 16, 2016 found that 742 adults and children found refuge in domestic violence emergency or transitional shelter programs. In addition, 1,228 adults and children received some form of non-residential supportive services to address the domestic violence in their lives. There were 322 unmet requests for services reported, of which 63% were for housing.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of domestic violence in the US, excluding any court-related expenses, exceeds $8 billion annually for direct medical and mental health care and indirect costs due to lost productivity. Every year, victims lose almost 8 million days of paid work, the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs.

Facts and Statistics About Dating Violence

Dating violence involves a pattern of control and power exerted over a dating partner.

Teen dating violence is not “domestic violence lite” and can be just as serious and violent as abuse within an adult relationship. Abusive relationships can begin at your very first dating experience and can affect how you interact in relationships for the rest of your life.

There are many similarities between domestic violence and teen dating violence. Both situations are based on power and control: abusive behaviors can become a pattern, which becomes a cycle that is harder and harder to break no matter your age. Abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial and affects people regardless of their race, ethnicity, class, education, religion, or sexual orientation.

But there are unique differences between teen relationships and adult relationships, including:

  1. “Teen relationships” are often hard to define. A wide range of terms applies to different dating situations, from hook-ups to “friends with benefits” to casual group hang-outs. Abuse can occur in any of these situations. However, teens may not identify abuse in these relationships because they are more casual.
  2. Teenagers often feel disconnected from supportive adult relationships, and may be reluctant to seek any help from adults where trust is not established. Teens may not feel comfortable speaking to an adult about their relationship or even disclosing it. Research shows they are more likely to speak to a friend first. That’s why it’s so important for teens to learn about the warning signs of abuse and the resources available to them.
  3. Teens who are new to dating may enter into relationships with preconceived ideas they have picked up from popular culture and the media (including TV, movies, and the Internet) that can cause them to romanticize abusive behavior.
  4. It can be harder for teenagers to get away from an abuser because of limited mobility, such as the lack of a car, a driver’s license, or income. Overlapping circles of friends can also be an issue. If a teen is at the same school and shares the same friends as their abuser, it makes it difficult to avoid the abusive behavior. Breaking up and staying away from the abuser can feel very difficult or impossible.


  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72% of 8th and 9th graders reportedly “date” and 1 in 4 adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.
  • A Liz Claiborne Inc. sponsored survey conducted by the Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) in 2006 reported that 1 in 3 teens who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner. 80% of teens reported knowing someone who has been controlled by a partner.

Are You At Risk?

Although every situation is different, the following types of behavior by an intimate partner are signs of an abusive relationship:

Want to learn more?

Go to Break the Cycle or take a quiz at Love Is Respect.

Are You Concerned About Someone?

If you and/or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or you are concerned about your or another’s safety, call our SafeLink statewide hotline for help at 877-785-2020.

We believe that every relationship should be safe and healthy. What do you believe?