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The extent and nature of power-based personal violence (including sexual violence, partner violence, stalking violence, elder abuse, abuse of those with disabilities, child abuse, and bullying) in the United States is widely documented.
Sexual violence is experienced by 7.7% of women who report being raped by a current or former partner at some point in their lifetime. In addition, 1 of 33 U.S. men report experiencing an “attempted or completed rape” (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The extent of victimization among college women is even greater than the overall population (Abbey, 1996; Brener, 1999; DeKeseredy, 1993; Fisher, 1997, 1998; Koss, 1987). For instance, the rate of completed and attempted rapes per 1,000 female college students is cited as 35.3 in a recent study employing a nationally representative sample of college women. Projected across a woman’s college career, the authors suggest the percent of completed or attempted rapes may be between one-fifth and one-quarter for female college students (Fisher et al., 2000).
Domestic violence is also a significant social and public health problem that disproportionately affects women and girls and often results in injury, chronic health problems, and death. Slightly over 22% of women experience a physical assault by a current or former partner throughout their lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Unfortunately, the rate of domestic violence in same-sex relationships is roughly the same as domestic violence against heterosexual women. As in heterosexual couples, same-sex couple violence is likely underreported. Studies also estimate that 10 to 20 percent of our sons and daughters are at risk for exposure to domestic violence (Carlson, 2000).
Stalking impacts 3.4 million people over the age of 18 each year in the United States. Thirty percent of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, while 10% are stalked by a stranger (Baum et al., 2009). Nearly 5% of women report being a victim of stalking by their current or former partner at one point in their life (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), and persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest overall rate of stalking (Baum et al., 2009). The impact of stalking on victims can include living in fear, losing time from work, feeling forced to move, (Baum et al., 2009) and an increase in anxiety, insomnia, depression, and social dysfunction when compared to the general population (Blauuw et al., 2002).
Two other forms of power-based personal violence that plague those most vulnerable within our population and occurs with alarming and disturbing frequency are elder abuse, and abuse of individuals with disabilities. According to a 2009 study, 11% of elders experienced at least one form of abuse in the previous year (Acierno, Hernandez-Tejada, Muzzy & Steve). This abuse can take on many forms including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment and financial exploitation. In addition, the age-adjusted rate of nonfatal violent crime against persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities according to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted in 2007. This includes rape, sexual assault, simple and aggravated assault.
Child abuse and bullying are taking an unacceptable toll on our sons and daughters. According to Child Maltreatment 2006, a report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect in calendar year 2006 (Administration for Children and Families, 2008). In 2006, the rate of victimization was 12.1 children per 1,000 children. This number is already far too high but it bears mentioning that in a previous Child Maltreatment Report from 2003 the rate of child abuse was estimated to be 3 times greater than reported. Male victims of sexual abuse constitute an extremely under-identified, under-served and frequently misunderstood population and as many as 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 16 (Dube, et al., 2005). As if these numbers alone are not a compelling enough reason to engage in effective prevention efforts, it is estimated that one-third of abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children continuing the cycle of abuse. Our youth are also experiencing violence within their schools in the form of bullying. Estimates indicate up to one third of teens are involved in bullying as either victim, bully or both. The impact of bullying on victims can range from depression and suicidal thoughts to health problems and bad grades.
Taken together these facts render prevention nothing short of a necessity.
At Green Dot, etcetera, our work goes beyond the Green Dot program itself. As leaders in violence prevention, we provide training, technical assistance, and program development for individuals, schools, and organizations both domestically and internationally as they work to foster safe communities. We are proud to be a technical assistance provider for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women Campus Program. To learn more about that initiative, please visit our OVW Technical Assistance section.
We are collaborating with Hollaback to support their amazing efforts to address street harassment. To learn more about Street Harassment and how you can do your part to reduce it, check out ihollaback.org.