Intimate partner violence falls

New data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows continuing decline in the rates at which both men and women report being the victim of intimate partner violence. Victimization rates for both groups are down by more than half in the last 15 years.

Source: My chart from BJS data.

The report is based on the National Crime Victimization Survey, and therefore is not subject to the same kind of under-reporting bias you get from reports to police.

That doesn’t mean it’s error free, of course. Another measure that tends to be accurate is homicides, since just about every death is counted, and these show declines too. Both trends show the greatest declines in the 1990s, when there were overall declines in crime and violence.

Women remain much more likely to report intimate partner violence, while men are more likely to suffer violence at the hands of friends, acquaintances and strangers.

If you are skeptical that things are getting better, I can think of two possible complications. First is changing age structure, so the aging baby boomers may be getting less violent (though by now their kids are old enough to start making things worse). The other thing is more young people being single, so there are fewer “intimates” to get hurt or killed. Maybe someone has already figured this out, but the BJS numbers don’t seem to account for it.

4 thoughts on “Intimate partner violence falls

  1. The percentage decrease is about the same for men and women (55%). So it might be part of the general fall-off in violence in the US. But if you look at homicide statistics for roughly the same period, the decrease in women killing male partners is far larger than the decrease in men killing their wives and girlfriends.

    I blogged this last April and said that I knew of no research explaining the difference. Since then, I discovered that there has been some research, but not much — a few articles by Rick Rosenfeld and colleagues.


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