The institutionalization of domestic violence against women in the United States
Domestic violence against women, also often referred to as intimate partner violence, is an act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm and suffering to women, including associated threats, coercion, and/or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in private or public life (UN 1993; Krug et al. 2002). The term covers violence by current and former spouses and partners. It is not only an epidemic in the United States (U.S.), crossing all demographic categories, but also in countries throughout the world (UN 2006; Garcia-Moreno et al. 2005; AMA 1992). Even with reports documenting its prevalence as epidemic in proportion, known rates of intimate partner violence are likely low as many victims choose not to report their abuse. Though women can be violent toward men in relationships and violence exists in same-sex partnerships, the largest proportion of domestic violence is perpetrated by males against their female partners (Krug et al. 2002; NCVS 2006). Indeed, 85 to 95 percent of victims of such violence are women (AIDV 2001; Rennison and Welchans 2000).