Violence between intimate partners occurs among people at all socioeconomic and education levels and within all ethnic, racial, religious, age, and sexual identity groups. The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that in 1998 about one million violent crimes were committed against persons by their current or former intimate partners. The majority of these crimes (85%) were committed against women, with women aged sixteen to twenty-four experiencing the highest rate of violence. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation reported that 32 percent of female murder victims in 1999 were murdered by a husband or boyfriend, while 3 percent of male victims were murdered by a wife or girlfriend. In 2001 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that approximately one-fourth of all hospital emergency room visits by women resulted from domestic assault.
Although estimates are available as to the incidence of violent crimes occurring between intimate partners, many consider the figures to underrepre-sent the actual rates of occurrence. Victims of domestic violence may refrain from reporting abuse for a variety of reasons including a belief that it is a ''private matter,'' fear of retaliation by the abuser, a desire to avoid feelings of shame, or a belief that the police could not effectively intervene. It has been suggested that individuals at higher socioeconomic status levels may be especially underrepresented in rates of occurrence because they have access to additional resources and do not need to rely as heavily on assistance from the police.
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