The first systematic study of available data on assaults of women by intimate partners around the world was released on Thursday.  The study reports that thirty percent of women aged fifteen years and older have suffered domestic violence at the hands of their partner.  In the study, the authors synthesized 141 previous studies from 81 countries, and published their findings in the Science Journal online.

The lead author of the study, Karen Devries from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, stated, “The prevalence is shockingly high … many forms of violence remain hidden from public view … as victims often do not disclose abuse to those people close to them.”

The rates of domestic abuse do vary widely by country, with the Sub-Saharan Central Africa region having the highest frequency of reported abuse, with nearly two-thirds of women victimized. 

One way to assist women who have been abused is to implement programs that allow survivors to become economically self-sufficient so they can live apart from their abusers. 

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) said the 1994 passing of the Violence Against Women Act ”helped shift the culture and the opportunities for women so they’re not dependent on an individual who may turn out to be violent.”  The act extended coverage to male victims, created tougher penalties for repeat sex offenders, and created a federal “rape shield law”, which protects a victim’s past sexual conduct from being used during a rape trial.

This cultural reform, however, has not reached to all corners of the globe.  Although 125 countries have now outlawed domestic violence, 70 countries have not made it illegal. 

Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, stated there is “a whole other layer of violence that happens that isn’t physical – emotional, verbal, economic, stalking, threats with weapons” – and are ways used to control another human being.

Domestic violence destroys families and threatens the well-being of spouses/partners and children.  If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, immediately seek the advice of a competent, experienced domestic violence attorney.