National Violent Offender


The following data come from a National Crime Survey special report. The information should not be used as an indication of the total level of family violence in the United States. It is an estimate of the amount of family violence that people consider to be criminal and that victims choose to and are able to relate to interviewers. Despite its limitations, the information is useful in describing statistically the general characteristics of family violence.

Crimes by spouses or ex-spouses make up the majority (57%) of all crimes committed by relatives, as measured by the National Crime Survey.

About one-fourth of the victims attacked by their spouses or ex-spouses reported that they had been a victim of a series of similar events (at least three) within the previous six months.

The most common reason (59%) for not reporting the crime to the police was a belief that the crime was a private or personal matter. The next most common reason, fear of reprisal, was indicated by 13% of those not reporting to the police.

Of all spousal violent crimes reported to the National Crime Survey, 91% were victimization of women by their husbands or ex-husbands.

Judging from incidents reported to interviewers, lower-income persons and those in the 20 to 34 age group were more likely than other age or income groups to be victims of family violence.

Although divorced or separated people make up only 7% of the population age 12 and over, about 75% of the spousal violence reported in the survey involved persons who were divorced or separated.

Reports to survey interviewers indicate that weapons (guns, knives, bottle, etc.) were used in about 30% of all violent crimes committed by relatives.

About half of the victims of family violence (49%) reported being injured in the attack, although 80% of those injured said that they suffered no worse than cuts and bruises.

In the nine-year period of this study, 4.1 million family victimizations were reported. A substantial number of these occurred at least three times within a six-month period.

Calling the police following an act of domestic violence seems to reduce the risk of a husband attacking his wife again within six months by as much as 62%.


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