By the Numbers

The latest comprehensive statistics the Department of Justice has published on family violence (see note) was in 2005. As of this publication:

  • There were nearly 500,000 men and women in state prisons for domestic violence
  • Approximately half of those were convicted of a sex offense against a family member
  • Most (78%) were against a female
  • More than half were against a child
  • More than a third were against a child under the age of 13

About 90% of offenders in state prisons for family violence had injured their victims:

  • 50% of family violence victims were raped or sexually assaulted
  • 28% of victims of family violence were killed
  • 50% of offenders in state prisons for spousal abuse had killed their victims
  • 79% of inmates convicted of crimes against their sons or daughters had raped or sexually assaulted them; another 10% had killed the child
  • 93% of inmates convicted of family violence were males
  • 60% were white

There were an additional 86,500 violent offenders in local jails. Demographics for these inmates closely paralleled those in state prisons.

Of all inmates convicted of family violence, most (88%) did not use a weapon in the commission of their crimes.

45% had been subject to a restraining order at some point. Approximately 18% were under an active restraining order at the time they committed the crime.

Note: The above statistics do not include crimes committed against “domestic” partners who are non-family members. For instance, cohabiting partners who are unmarried, regardless of sexual orientation, are excluded from the above numbers. The Department of Justice, for whatever reason, chose only to count “family” violence in their survey of incarcerated offenders.


Females were 51.6% of the U.S. population age 12 and older but 73.4% of the nation’s victims of family violence (this number includes children); they were 84.3% of spouse abuse and 85.9% of the victims of violence between boyfriends and girlfriends.

Race demographics align almost proportionately: whites were 72.9% of the population and 74% of family violence victims; blacks were 12.1% of the population and 13.6% of family violence victims; Hispanics were 10.9% of the population and 10.1% of family violence victims. This leads to the conclusion that family/domestic violence knows no demographic bounds.

There are no significant demographic differences between family and non-family offenders.

These data are collected from police departments, prisons and FBI records in cases of fatalities. Ergo, for the many women who do not report their assailants for fear or other reasons, data is not included.

This report can be found at the U.S. Department of Justice, Family Violence Statistics.

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