Violence between men and women in the home is often called spouse abuse or domestic violence. Spouse abllse refers to any intentional act or series of acts-whether physical. emotional, or sexual-that causes injury to a female or male spouse (Wallace, 2002). According to sociologists, the term spouse abuse refers not only to people who are married but also to those who are cohabiting or involved In a serious relationship, as well as those individuals who are separated or living apart from their former spouse (Wallace, 2002).
How much do we know about family violence? Women, as compared with men, are more likely to be the victim of violence perpetrated by intimate partners. Recent statistics indicate that women are five times more likely than men to experience such land that many of these women live in households with children younger than twelve. However, we cannot know the true extent of family violence because much of it is not reported to police. For example, it is estimated that only about one-half of the intimate-partner violence against women was reported to police in the 19905 (U.S. Department of justice, 2000). African American women were more likely than other women to report such violence, which may further skew data about who is most likely to be victimized by a domestic partner (U.S. Department of Justice, 2000).
Although everyone in a household where family violence occurs is harmed psychologically. whether or not they are the victims of violence, children are especially affected by household violence. It is estimated that between three million and ten million children witness some form of domestic violence in their homes each year, and there is evidence to suggest that domestic violence and child maltreatment often take place in the same household (Children's Defense Fund, 2002). According to some experts. domestic violence is an important indicator that child abuse and neglect are also taking place in the household. In some situations. family violence can be reduced or eliminated through counseling. the removal of one parent from the household, or other steps that are taken either by the family or by social service agencies or law enforcement officials. However, children who witness violence in the home may display certain emotional and behavioral. problems that adversely affect their school life ami' communication with other people. In some families, the problems of family violence are great enough that the children are removed from the household and placed in foster care.