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Family Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1984
Publication Series
Despite obstacles a victim faces in acknowledging family violence, a significant amount of domestic assault is reported to National Crime Survey (NCS) interviewers, even in response to questions not specifically designed to explore this subject.

Basic difficulties in developing accurate statistical information on family violence include defining what is to be measured, estimating methods, and great variations among jurisdictions in recordkeeping. There are two methods of measuring crime nationwide: the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) National Crime Survey, which periodically interviews persons in 60,000 households. UCR statistics based on police records cannot be used to develop complete family violence estimates; whereas, the NCS has more potential to provide such data. NCS findings indicate that family violence may be significantly underreported, both for methodological reasons and because of the subject's sensitive nature. Information on child abuse is particularly difficult to obtain. NCS data for 1973-81 reveal that 411 million victimizations committed by relatives have been reported to a governmental agency or the BJS, or both. A substantial number of these victimizations occurred at least three times during a 6-month period. Crimes by spouses or ex-spouses comprised 57 percent of all crimes committed by relatives. Of these family crimes, 88 percent were assaults, 10 percent robberies, and 2 percent rapes. Women were victims of family violence at a rate three times that of men, the majority being victimized by their husbands or ex-husbands. Lower income persons and those in the 20-34 age group were more likely than other age or income groups to be victims. About 75 percent of the spousal violence reported involved persons who were divorced or separated. The special report also discusses reporting patterns and characteristics of family violent crime. Tables are supplied.

Date Published: April 1, 1984