BJS Press Release: Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey.



ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 5 P.M. EDT ************************** BJS

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 1995 ************************** 202/307-0784

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Women were attacked about six times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than were male violence victims during 1992 and 1993, the Department of Justice announced today.

During each year women were the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders the perpetrators were intimates--husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.

The victims' friends or acquaintances committed more than half of the rapes and sexual assaults, intimates committed 26 percent, and strangers were responsible for about one in five.

Forty-five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple offenders also involved offenders they knew.

During 1992 approximately 28 percent of female homicide victims (1,414 women) were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends. In contrast, just over 3 percent of male homicide victims (637) were known to have been killed by their wives, former wives or girlfriends.

Men, however, were more likely than women to experience violent crimes committed by both acquaintances and strangers. In fact, men were about twice as likely as women to experience acts of violence by strangers.

About a fifth of the lone-offender attacks against women involved a weapon. Strangers used weapons 30 percent of the time, compared to 18 percent for intimates. However, women were injured by intimates in 52 percent of the attacks, compared to 20 percent of the attacks by strangers.

Women from 19 to 29 years old were more likely than women of other ages to be victimized by an intimate. Also, the rate of intimate-offender attacks on women separated from their husbands was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women. However, because the survey records a respondent's marital status only at the time of the interview, it is possible in some instances that separation or divorce followed the violence.

Women of all races, as well as Hispanic and non-Hispanic women, were about equally vulnerable to attacks by intimates. However, women in families with incomes below $10,000 per year were more likely than other women to be violently attacked by an intimate.

The data are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey, which was redesigned two years ago to improve estimates of difficult to measure crimes, such as rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. The success of the redesign means that the numbers in this report are not directly comparable to earlier estimates.

Annually approximately 50,000 U.S. households and more than 100,000 individuals participate in the survey. The redesigned format gives additional information on rapes and sexual assaults and on domestic violence that was not previously available. Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports, which are based solely on crimes reported to the police, the BJS survey measures crime from the victim's perspective.

Estimating rates of violence against women, especially sexual assault and other incidents committed by intimate offenders, continues to be a difficult task, the report noted. Many factors inhibit women from reporting these crimes either to police or to government interviewers. The private nature of the event, the perceived stigma and the belief that no purpose would be served in reporting the crime keeps an unknown portion of the victims from talking about the event.

Single copies of the special report, "Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey" (NCJ-154348), written by Ronet Bachman, Ph.D., a BJS statistician, and Linda E. Saltzman, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may be obtained from the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-1079. The telephone number is 1-800/732-3277. Fax orders to 410/792-4358.

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