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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence: Some U.S. States' Residents at Higher Risk

Not all states have the resources to respond to more victims.

Key points

  • A rise in domestic violence (DV) occurred before and after the pandemic.
  • A 2023 study in World Population Review identifies U.S. states with the highest rates of DV.
  • States need to educate their residents about DV and provide life-saving resources to those in need.
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In the United States, domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner abuse has increased before and after the pandemic with some states showing greater percentages. Although statistics show that we can all be at risk for DV, the states that have higher DV incidence have a responsibility to their residents. They must decrease the rate of DV by educating the public and providing more resources.

Domestic violence happens at any age and in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. It’s driven by the behavior of one intimate partner to achieve control over their significant other. The abusive coercion used to overpower the other can take many forms including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. We now know that types of nonphysical abuse are harder to detect and are far more successful in entrapment.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):

  • Intimate partner violence in the United States currently comprises more than 20 percent of all violent crime.
  • 10 million people experience DV each year.
  • 20 people per minute are physically abused.
  • Regarding homicides, women are at greater risk with an intimate partner; men are at greater risk with a stranger.
  • One in four women and one in nine men experience severe physical violence, sexual violence, and/or partner stalking.

What U.S. states have the highest domestic violence?

A 2023 study by World Population Review identifies the top four:

  1. Oklahoma: Oklahoma has the highest rate of DV. According to the study, 49.1 percent of women—one out of two women—and 40.7 percent of men in the state have or are currently enduring domestic abuse. The study also recognizes Oklahoma as ranked third in the nation for the number of women killed by men (single victim/single offender homicide), an increase from previous years. (Texas ranks first and California follows.)
  2. Kentucky: Kentucky ranks second-highest in DV—45.3 percent of women and 35.5 percent of men have experienced DV. Kentucky’s DV programs are unable to serve all the requests for help because of a lack of resources. The state is ranked 11th in the United States for femicides—the intentional killing of women and girls due to their gender.
  3. Missouri: As the third-ranking state for DV, 41.8 percent of women and 35.2 percent of men experience physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking. The DV statistics in 2018 show a 10.3 percent increase since 2014.
  4. Nevada: In Nevada, around 43.8 percent of women and 32.8 percent of men experience DV during their lifetime. For many years, Nevada was ranked first for DV deaths and then third by 2014. Looking at the rate of rapes, Nevada has the fifth highest in the United States.

Looking at all the states, however, the lowest-ranked states still hold a high percentage of women and men experiencing DV. For example, North Dakota ranks lowest, yet it has 29.7 percent of women and 18.5 percent of men experiencing DV currently or in the past. Next up is New York, where 31.7 percent of women and 29.0 percent of men experience DV, then Rhode Island with 32.6 percent of women and 25.4 percent of men…and it goes on.

In addition to intimate partners, DV can occur against children and others such as parents, the elderly, and pets. The traumatic impact affects mental and physical health not only of those targeted but also of those witnessing acts of violence. Needless to say, every state needs to be responsible for providing DV education and resources to its residents.

What you can do

In the end, many lives are deeply touched and tragically affected. Wherever you live, taking it upon yourself to become knowledgeable about DV and the forms it can take is a place to start for protecting yourself, family members, friends, and possibly others.


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