Help for Victims of Domestic Violence from Agencies Other Than Police

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The National Network to End Domestic Violence, a membership and advocacy organization representing domestic violence service coalitions, has since 2006 conducted a one-day “national census of domestic violence services.” The report on the 2006 census provided information on victims by sex. That information is included in the domestic-violence victim services dataset. The 2006 report include a pull quote from a domestic violence service respondent:

I don’t think many people who don’t speak English, are not citizens, or are male or are Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender are aware that services are available. I think considerable outreach needs to happen to these communities.”^

Subsequent censuses reported victims served only in the category “adults” and “children.” While the yearly census reports emphasizes unmet service needs for victims of domestic violence, the reports overall say little about unmet service needs of men who are victims of domestic violence.

The annual U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) includes two questions about help to victims from agencies other than police agencies. With respect to a person reporting a specific victimization incident, the NCVS asks:

Did you (or someone in your household) receive any help or advice from any office or agency – other than the police – that deals with victims of crime?

If the answer to that question is yes, NCVS asks a follow-up question:

Was that a government agency or a private agency?^

Based on analysis of NCVS data for 1992 to 1996, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported:

Between 1992 and 1996 an estimated 800,000 female victims of intimate violence received assistance from a victim service agency shortly after the crime.

An annual average of 160,800 women victimized by an intimate got help from victim service agencies — about half of which were governmental and half private. This average translates to about 1 in 6 of all female victims of intimate violence.

The estimate of the number of women receiving assistance from a victim service agency is probably too low. The NCVS obtains information only on a brief period following the incident.^

Subsequent BJS reports on crime victimization and domestic violence have nearly uniformly ignored the NCVS questions on help for victims from agencies other than the police. BJS reports on victim service agencies have addressed victims of serious violent crime. In that broad category of victimization, the share of men victims receiving assistance is less than half of the share of women victims receiving assistance.^

Some BJS information on intimate partner violence does consider NCVS data on non-police help. BJS web pages authored about 2007 include a table of NCVS non-police help data for 2001 to 2005. The table reports that, among men suffering from domestic violence, 9% received help from a non-police agency. The corresponding figure for women is 23%.^ These figures are close to independently constructed estimates from NCVS public-use data. Independent estimates indicate roughly that the share of women helped is higher, and the share of men helped, lower, from 2001 to 2005 relative to 1992 to 2000. The differing point estimates across periods are just within the 95% statistical confidence intervals for the point estimates. Because of large non-sampling weaknesses of these statistics, detailed evaluation of the error bounds isn’t meaningful.

Using NCVS public-use data for 1992 to 2005, the domestic-violence victim services dataset presents statistics on help for victims of domestic violence from agencies other than police. It also includes for comparison statistics for victims of other crimes. Among victims of domestic violence from 1992 to 2005, 21% of women and 10% of men report receiving help from a non-police agency. The NCVS data reject the hypothesis that, among victims of domestic violence, the within-sex shares receiving help are equal for women and men. Among domestic violence victims receiving help, about 52% report receiving help from a government agency, about 38% report receiving help from a private agency, and about 10% report not knowing whether the agency was government or private. Agencies providing help may not have been agencies specializing in helping victims of domestic violence. Other, more specific surveys indicate much greater disparities between services for women and men victims of domestic violence.^

While not widely recognized publicly, men suffer serious injuries from domestic violence. The shares of female and male victims of domestic violence has been a subject of horrible dispute among domestic violence scholars. Among injury-related hospital emergency department visits resulting from domestic violence, women account for about 60% of such visits, and men, 40%.

Additional data are available on the aggregate growth in domestic-violence shelters and shelter beds and domestic-violence hotlines per 100,000 women.

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