Armed and dangerous. At BastardLife, we celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of sexual happiness, which is why I have a reoccuring fantasy. When I read the letters you've sent to me about your abusive partners or your violent encounters, I imagine jamming the barrel of the gun above into the mouth of your perpetrator—until he mumbles the words, "I will never do that again." Why such a harsh fantasy? The statistics on intimate violence are still way too high in America. So while you may not have a gun, I do recommend you get armed and dangerous—with the facts about the threats around all of us.—N.B.
Murder. In 2008, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That's an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.
Domestic Violence. Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury.
Sexual Violence. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2009. That's more than 600 women every day. Other estimates, such as those generated by the FBI, are much lower because they rely on data from law enforcement agencies. A significant number of crimes are never even reported for reasons that include the victim's feeling that nothing can or will be done and the personal nature of the incident.
The Targets. Young women, low-income women and some minorities are disproportionately victims of domestic violence and rape. Women ages 20-24 are at greatest risk of nonfatal domestic violence, and women age 24 and under suffer from the highest rates of rape. The Justice Department estimates that one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years, and that less than five percent of these rapes will be reported. Income is also a factor: the poorer the household, the higher the rate of domestic violence—with women in the lowest income category experiencing more than six times the rate of nonfatal intimate partner violence as compared to women in the highest income category. When we consider race, we see that African-American women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women, and American-Indian women are victimized at a rate more than double that of women of other races.
Same Sex Violence. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, "domestic violence affecting LGBT individuals continues to be grossly underreported . . . there is a lack of awareness and denial about the existence of this type of violence and its impact, both by LGBT people and non-LGBT people alike." Myths regarding gender roles perpetuate the silence surrounding these abusive relationships; for example, the belief that there aren't abusive lesbian relationships because women don't abuse each other. Shelters are often unequipped to handle the needs of lesbians (as a women-only shelter isn't much defense against a female abuser), and transgendered individuals. Shockingly, statistics regarding domestic violence against LGBT people are still unavailable at the national level, but as regional studies demonstrate, domestic violence is as much a problem within LGBT communities as it is among heterosexual ones.
Key Tip. If you sense danger, don't ignore it.