Worldwide, one of the most common forms of violence against women is abuse by their husbands or other intimate male partners. Partner violence occurs in all countries and transcends social, economic, religious, and cultural groups. Domestic violence, often referred to as partner abuse, assault, or spouse abuse, is defined as violence between adults who are intimates, regardless of their marital status, living arrangements, or sexual orientations (ABA, 1996). .
Although women can also be violent and abuse exists in some same-sex relationships, the vast majority of partner abuse is perpetrated by men against their female partners. Domestic abuse does not discriminate against race, age and socioeconomic background. No specific type of woman is more prone to being battered by her partner, nor is one type of woman completely safe from abuse.
While research into intimate partner abuse is in its early stages, there is growing agreement about its nature and the various factors that cause it. Often referred to as "wife- beating,"" "battering,"" or "domestic violence,"" intimate partner abuse is generally part of a pattern of abusive behavior and control rather than an isolated act of physical aggression. Partner abuse can take a variety of forms including physical assault such as hits, slaps, kicks, and beatings; emotional abuse, threats, economic abuse, using children, psychological abuse, such as constant belittling, intimidation, and humiliation; and coercive sex. (Straus and Gelles, 1986) It frequently includes controlling behaviors such as isolating a woman from family and friends, monitoring her movements, and restricting her access to resources.
Magnitude of the Problem.
In nearly 50 population-based surveys from around the world, 10% to over 50% of women report being hit or otherwise physically harmed by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives. Research into partner violence is so new that comparable data on psychological and sexual abuse by intimate partners are few.