NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
This project was supported under award # 95-IJ-CX-0006 from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Understanding violence against women / Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Women—Crimes against—United States. 2. Women—Crimes against—Research—United States. 3. Wife abuse—United States. 4. Rape—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on Research on Violence Against Women. II. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Law and Justice. III. National Research Council (U.S.). Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, June 1996 Second Printing, October 1997
Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Cover image by Photonica.
PANEL ON RESEARCH ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
ANN W. BURGESS (Chair),
School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania
EZRA C. DAVIDSON, JR. (Vice Chair),
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, King-Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles
Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University
Harborview Sexual Assault Center, Seattle
Columbia University Law School
JEFFREY L. EDLESON,
School of Social Work, University of Minnesota
DAVID A. FORD,
Department of Sociology, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
LUCY N. FRIEDMAN,
Victim Services, New York
RICHARD B. IGLEHART,
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County Courthouse, Oakland, California
MARY P. KOSS,
College of Medicine, University of Arizona
ILENA M. NORTON,
National Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, University of Colorado Health Services and Denver General Hospital
SUSAN B. SORENSON,
School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Community Nursing, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
ELIZABETH WATSON, Chief of Police,
Austin (to September 1995)
LINDA M. WILLIAMS,
Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire
NANCY A. CROWELL, Study Director
ROSEMARY CHALK, Senior Project Officer
KATHERINE DARKE, Research Assistant (from October 1995)
SEBLE MENKIR, Research Assistant (through July 1995)
NIANI SUTARDJO, Project Assistant
COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE
JEROME H. SKOLNICK (Chair),
School of Law, University of California, Berkeley
JOAN McCORD (Vice Chair),
Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University
Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
JOHN C. COFFEE, JR.,
Columbia University Law School
PHILIP J. COOK,
Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University
Center for Law and Society, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
MARK H. MOORE,
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine
Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University
College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Duke University Law School
CATHY SPATZ WIDOM,
Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, State University of New York, Albany
School of Social Science, Hampshire College
Violence against women has received increasing public attention over the past 20 years. The once taboo subjects of rape and wife battering are now discussed openly on talk shows and are topics for television dramas. Services for women who have been raped or battered and men who rape and batter have become more available, although many services are chronically short of funds. Since the mid 1970s the body of research on violence against women has grown, yet misinformation abounds, and we seem little closer to ending violence against women now than 20 years ago.
The importance of violence against women as a national problem was acknowledged by Congress in its 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and by President Clinton's establishment of an Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice. The Panel on Research on Violence Against Women was established by the National Research Council in 1995 to fulfill a congressional request to develop a research agenda to increase the understanding and control of violence against women.
This report is the panel's response to that request. We have attempted to highlight the major literature on the scope of violence against women in the United States, the causes and consequences of that violence, and the interventions for both women victims of
violence and male perpetrators. The panel confined its deliberations primarily to rape, sexual assault, and battering of intimate partners. Not only did the congressional request specifically mention rape and domestic violence as areas of interest, but also the research base is larger on these topics than on others of potential interest. For example, although panel members acknowledged concern over violence against women in the workplace, the research on that topic is limited.
The panel was composed of members from a variety of disciplines, including nursing, gynecology-obstetrics, social work, law, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, and psychiatry, as well as methodologists. Some of the panel members have studied aspects of sexual assault or domestic violence for most of their research careers, some have expertise in related research fields, and some have experience primarily in providing services. (See Appendix A for biographical sketches of panel members and staff.)
With such diversity, disagreements were not uncommon. On most issues, after discussion and literature reviews, consensus was reached. The panel held lengthy discussions on defining violence against women, focused on whether psychological abuse should be included. The panel concluded that it could not resolve a question that is still so open among researchers and that a global definition was not necessary for carrying out our study. In our report we discuss some of the controversies surrounding definitions, but do not recommend a specific definition.
In carrying out its task, the panel met three times over the course of 6 months to discuss research findings and gaps and needs concerning violence against women. As part of its fact finding, the panel also convened a workshop of researchers and practitioners. (See Appendix B for the workshop topics and speakers.) The panel thanks the workshop participants for sharing their expertise: our work was enhanced by their presentations and the workshop discussions. The panel also gained insights from background papers on violence against women in a lifespan perspective from Mary E. Gilfus and on partner violence in lesbian relationships from Mary Eaton.
The panel extends a special thanks to Mary Lieberman, head of victim services for the Austin Police Department. She provided great insights into the police perspective.
Each member of the panel contributed to the study by leading discussions, providing background readings, and reading and commenting on report drafts. Several members deserve special recognition for taking the lead in drafting report sections: Susan Sorenson—nature and scope; Mary Koss—causes and consequences; Jeffrey Edleson—interventions with batterers; David Ford—criminal justice system interventions; Lucy Berliner—treatment for sexual offenders; Ilena Norton—cultural sensitivity; Lucy Friedman—costs. The panel is indebted to study director Nancy Crowell for stitching these written contributions and the panel discussions into a report and to Eugenia Grohman, associate director for reports of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, whose editorial skill vastly improved the report's organization and readability.
The panel extends sincere thanks to senior staff officer Rosemary Chalk for sharing her broad expertise in National Research Council committee process with the panel. The panel also extends its gratitude to project assistant Niani Sutardjo for her hard work setting up meetings, arranging travel, and preparing agenda materials. Research assistants Seble Menkir and Katherine Darke provided valuable assistance in locating background materials and checking references.
The panel is grateful for the support and patience of its sponsors and the interest of program officers Bernard Auchter of the National Institute of Justice and Pam McMahon of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ann W. Burgess, Chair
Panel on Research on Violence
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.