Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been shown to have serious health consequences for both women and men, including poor general health, depressive symptoms, substance use, and elevated rates of chronic disease. Aside from crime surveys, there have been no large-scale IPV prevalence studies since the 1996 National Violence Against Women Survey. The lack of regular, ongoing surveillance, using uniform definitions and survey methods across states has hindered efforts to track IPV. In addition, the lack of state-specific data has hampered efforts at designing and evaluating localized IPV prevention programs.
Methods: In 2005, over 70,000 respondents were administered the first-ever IPV module within the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored annual random-digit-dialed telephone survey, providing surveillance of health behaviors and health risks among the non-institutionalized adult population of the United States and several U.S. territories.
Results: Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men reported some form of lifetime IPV victimization. Women evidenced significantly higher lifetime and 12-month IPV prevalence, and were more likely to report IPV-related injury than men. IPV prevalence also varied by state of residence, race/ethnicity, age, income, and education.
Conclusions: State-level data can assist state health officials and policy planners to better understand how many people have experienced IPV in their state. Such information provides a foundation on which to build prevention efforts directed toward this pervasive public health problem.