Family violence covers a broad range of abusive acts, including emotional, financial, physical, and sexual abuse. Family violence not only harms the victim but also presents dangers for immediate family members.
In 2021, more than 910,000 Americans were victims of domestic violence, up from over 856,000 in 2020, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report.
Unlike most other crimes, intimate partner violence—also known as domestic violence, family violence, and dating violence—is usually not a sudden, isolated, or unexpected incident. For victims, it may involve years of emotional and psychological trauma and physical injuries that become more severe or occur more frequently over time.
Unfortunately, many victims of domestic violence do not view themselves as a victim. Law enforcement personnel, child and family services professionals, community leaders, educators, coaches, and family members play a critical role in identifying, intervening, and providing treatment in domestic violence cases.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233), a program supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for victims experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources and information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
Domestic violence is linked to immediate and long-term health, social, and economic consequences, not only for the victims but for anyone who witnesses it. A child’s exposure to violence can cause significant emotional, mental, and physical harm that can last into adulthood. For example, witnessing violence as a child can increase the likelihood that a child may engage in criminal activity; develop a substance use disorder; and suffer from depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevent (OJJDP), through the Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence initiative, helps communities develop and provide support services to children exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities.
In Fiscal Year 2020, approximately 618,000 children in the United States experienced abuse and neglect, and 1,750 died as a result. OJJDP supports the work and expansion of children’s advocacy centers, which coordinate the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases. Between FY 2019 and FY 2021, OJJDP awarded $71.5 million to help children’s advocacy centers provide victims with care, treatment, and justice.
To help identify successful or promising practices in addressing family violence, the CrimeSolutions website from the National Institute of Justice contains reviews and ratings of programs that aim to prevent family violence, help victims, and reduce the impact on those who witness violence.
Visit the following pages for information and resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources related to understanding, preventing, and responding to family violence: