Yes. On all three recognized indicators – community surveys, crime surveys of non-fatal violence, and homicide statistics — intimate partner violence has fallen dramatically since the mid-1970s. This follows the same trend as other forms of violent crime:

Community surveys (1):

o       Male victims, 1975 to 1992: Decline from 11.6% to 9.5% of couples.

o       Female victims, 1975 to 1992: Decline from 12.1% to 9.1% of couples.

Crime surveys of non-fatal violence (2):

o       Male victims, 1993 to 2005: Decline from 1.6 to 0.9/1,000 persons.

o       Female victims, 1993 to 2005: Decline from 9.8 to 3.6/1,000 persons.

Nonfatal intimate partner victimization rate by gender and race, 1993 - 2005

Homicides (2):

o       Male victims, 1976 to 2005: From 1,357 to 329 murders.

o       Female victims, 1976 to 2005: From 1,600 to 1,181 murders.

Homicide of intmates by gender of victim,1976-2004

Note that crime surveys under-represent the overall prevalence of intimate partner violence because most actions that count as physical aggression (e.g., a slap on the face) are not considered to be “crimes” by either of the partners.

Also note that crime surveys substantially under-count aggressive actions by females against their male partners, because men are less likely to report such an incident to the police.


(1)   1975 data: National Surveys of Family Violence. Straus MA, Gelles RJ. Social change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys. Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 48, pp. 465-479, 1986. 1992 data: National Alcohol and Family Violence Survey. Straus MA and Gelles RJ. Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 1992.

(2)   U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate partner violence in the U.S. Accessed July 28, 2010.

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