35 Hard, Cold Facts About Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence in America

Causes that hit close to home are the hardest to advocate. That’s my experience, anyway.

Donating even $10 causes me to feel, ironically, less sensitive to a remote situation, because my donation functioned as an assertion of control. In my mind, the pennies tossed toward purchasing a comfortable park bench somehow eases the consequences of global warming, let alone the needs of children in Africa. It’s as if my conscience puts on sunglasses and props up her feet while a perfectly irrational degree of selfishness takes over. I’ve done my piece, world. So there.

But some causes hit so close to home that they are impossible to ignore. And no matter where you reside in the US, the issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse literally—yes, literally—do.

Do you have a teenaged daughter? Precious preteen niece, neighbor, or nephew? Some of the cruelest crimes never make the news. 1 in 7 girls are sexually abused by age 18, and 1 in 5 by the time they reach 25.

Here is a hard question: What are you personally doing to change that statistic?

Furthermore, if your answer is nothing: what makes you the least bit confident that your beautiful children will never be abused?

The Little Black Dress Society strives to help survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence in every way possible. But today’s post is not about the organization. It’s about the tragic pervasiveness of the cause.

If you’re hoping for an internet-induced dopamine rush, look elsewhere. This content is heavy. Read onward for 35 hard, cold, haunting facts about sexual abuse and domestic violence in America.


1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have already experienced sexual violence and/or stalking in their lifetime.


85% of domestic violence victims are women.


Nearly 1/3 of women who report domestic violence to the police are killed by their intimate partner.



An abusive individual with access to firearms is 5 times more likely to murder his partner than an abusive individual without access to such weapons.



Women constitute 94% of all murder-suicide victims.



72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner



Abusers were responsible 78% of women murdered at their workplace between 2003 and 2008.



40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse children.



44% of rapes with penetration occur to children under 18.



1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse by their 10th birthday.



1 in 7 girls are sexually abused before they turn 18.



Only 38% of child victims disclose sexual abuse.



3.3 million children every year witness their mother being abused.



Less than 20% of women who report an injury from domestic violence pursue medical treatment.



Only 6% of male victims of sexual abuse reported the event to a medical professional at any point in their lifetimes.



For women, psychological abuse is a stronger predecessor of PTSD than physical abuse.



Over 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines every day.



1 in 25 boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.



Unless society makes progress for the better, 400,000 babies born this year will be victims of sexual abuse.



60% of children who experience sexual abuse are abused by a family member or trusted family friend.



Women of multiracial descent are more likely to be raped, stalked, or domestically abused than white, African American, or Hispanic women.



Women between ages 18 and 14 are most likely to be sexually abused by an intimate partner than any other age bracket.



1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of intimate partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.



Domestic partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion in costs per year.



An employed woman with an unemployed partner is 2 times more likely to be psychologically abused by her partner.



70% of psychologically abused women show symptoms of PTSD and depression.



Women who earn 65% or more of the household income are more likely to be psychologically abused.


Due to health complications caused by domestic abuse, 20-60% of domestic abuse survivors lose their jobs.


76% of women murdered by intimate partners were first stalked.



80% of college campus stalking victims know their stalkers.



Heavy drinkers are 4.6 times more likely to engage in intimate partner violence.



In one survey, 60% Korean immigrants reported being physically abused by their husbands.



70% of domestic violence victims on public welfare do not disclose abuse to their caseworkers.



37% of all women who seek emergency room care for violence-related injuries were harmed by a current or former spouse or boyfriend.


The male partner holds a physically abusive relationship with his victim before committing murder in 70-80% of intimate partner homicides.

What To Do When Followed by an Unwelcomed Stranger?

The Little Black Dress Society - What to Do When Followed

Photo by Caleb George, CC via Unsplash


I lived in New York City for years without being attacked, but such a city requires women to sharpen their instincts—and to overcome any polite defaults when confronted by an act of injustice.

In my case, that meant developing a talent for firmly “talking down” aggressive strangers before their irrational tempers escalated to violence.

What a newbie New York resident quickly realizes is that someone who adheres to all the “right” safety precautions can still sometimes fall into intense situations. In my case, some of my most harrowing experiences—being robbed on a subway, for instance, or that time friends and I were cornered by an aggressive drunkard—occurred on the way to church.

At the same time, many scare-your-mother-but-not-necessarily-dangerous situations which cause any rational person to ask “Is it worth the risk?” actually are. When a friend going through hard times invites you to share a weekly meal at their apartment in upper Harlem, how can it be morally right to say, “No, I won’t join you because you live in a dangerous neighborhood”?

We, as women, are not called to live lives of fear. We are called to maintain the awareness of those fears which are integral to courageous living. I will never take back the memories of attending late-night potlucks at my friend’s house in upper Harlem. However, even though I encountered no threatening situations, I never should have adopted the habit of returning to the subway in the dark, alone. In such instances, the question transforms from “Is it worth the risk?” to “Will it always be worth the risk every time?”

For better or for worse, I have been followed by unwelcomed men on a number of occasions, but always somehow came out on top. Read onward to learn what to do when followed by a possible stalker.

Don’t wait for danger before brainstorming escape routes. Drill yourself when 100% safe.

You’ve probably completed regular fire drills, tornado drills, and burglary drills for as long as you can remember. But when was the last time you drilled yourself for a situation in which a stranger is threatening your personal safety?

I am not saying you should adopt a spirit of paranoia or fear. Instead, I’m advocating a spirit of preparation. While walking down a sidewalk, drill yourself. If someone started following you that moment, what would you do? How much evidence would you need in order to do it? Could that point of decision arrive too late? How would you stay calm should an uncomfortable situation later that same day?

Remember that your main objective is NOT to beat up a bad guy. It’s to escape.

This is, by far, the most significant key to averting a crisis. Whether you just notice the sound of footsteps behind you at a distance, someone is growing uncomfortably close, or you just feel a prickling on the back of your neck, you have at any given moment three weapons at your disposal—your feet, to create distance; your voice, to attract attention; and above all, your brain.

Don’t waste time trying to evaluate whether a follower is a threat. If you are being followed,  go on alert as if the follower was undeniably a threat.

It doesn’t matter whether a follower strikes you as a harmless heckler or an obvious menace. Good people don’t follow.

If you are in a secluded area, immediately make way for an area with more people.

If you are being tailed while driving, don’t park anywhere before you reach a police station, fire house, or other location where you can park directly beside a police car.

The second you feel nervous, sing at the top of your lungs.

Or start twitching.

Or both.

The singing trick aided me in countless situations. It was simple. At any hour, on any sidewalk, I would sing on the top of my lungs. Annoying or not, this practice 1) calmed me, 2) drew enough attention from other pedestrians that it seemed to make me a less appealing target than when I was quiet, and 3) my volcacords were primed to scream.

Alternatively, you could follow a trick advocated by several of savviest New York native friends. Ready? Here you go: start twitching.

You heard that right. The moment you sense trouble, start twitching as visibly and bizarrely as possible. It apparently creeps out would-be followers, causing one to seem intimidating without any actual fighting at all.

If you are in a public location, don’t underestimate the goodness of the people around you.

When I lived next door to a soup kitchen, a homeless man stood up for me, forcing an unsavory individual to back down.

When a menacing individual ordered my friend to give up one of her children, she claimed that her husband was up ahead, swiftly walked over to the first man she saw, summed up the situation, and asked if he would be willing to pass off as her husband until police could arrive. He agreed.

Don’t let the question “Am I overreacting?” keep you from reaching out to someone standing or walking near you. Knights in shining armor might belong in fairy tales, but when given the smallest opportunity, most men and women will try to help you, displaying acts of courage worthy of any knight.

Don’t be distracted by your phone.

A cell phone can feel like a lifeline, but that sense of safety is often an illusion. The fact that you are speaking with a loved one might make some pursuers hesitate, but many more will take their chances. If you are not too far from others, prioritize finding an ally in person.

If you are in an isolated location, do not under any condition stop for small talk. Keep walking, start twitching, (and in this case, DO find your phone).

But what if you are in a location that is truly isolated—a place where no one could possibly help?

Do not talk with your follower. That just provides an opportunity for him to invade your space.

Do not slow down. In this instance, you need space.

Twitch. Remember the technique mentioned earlier? Twitching can make you appear threatening and discourage your pursuer, but still focus on speed. You need to reach a public area ASAP.

Also, this is a scenario in which 9-1-1 is the best possible option. If you can access your phone without breaking stride, do so.

But what if . . . ?

There is no way to either mentally or physically prepare for every scenario. However, mentally rehearsing escape plans is a strong way to start.

The Little Black Dress Society

The Little Black Dress Society seeks to serve women and children who are victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Abusive relationships can be far, far more sinister than the sound of footsteps behind you on a deserted road, because many forms of abuse are not easy to recognize. Don’t hesitate to review these resources regarding sexual abuse and domestic violence, or contact the Little Black Dress Society with any questions you may have.

Today’s post focused on escaping a follower—essentially, utilizing your “flight” response. For situations in which you have no choice but to fight, take a look at the post here.

Together, may we remove the masks of abuse.

sexual assault on the college campus

Sexual Assault on the College Campus: A College Student’s Perspective

by Kori Echeveste

College campuses are meant to be a place where students can feel safe enough to live in dorms without worry. It’s a place where the staff and instructors are supposed to be one of their biggest support systems. But students are being assaulted on college campuses around the U.S. every day. And to add insult to injury, their experiences are rarely taken seriously.

Growing up, you’re taught to use the buddy system. You’re told that it’s not wise to go out by yourself at night. As a student at a university, I brought these ideals with me. I’ll admit that it was hard to stay consistent with these general rules. You can’t always find a buddy to walk you to your car (that is clear across campus) at 9 o’clock at night after class.

I was recently looking through articles and came across a review for a film called The Hunting GroundThe Hunting Ground is a film by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering that exposes sexual assault on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families.

After reading though the article I took some time to think about my campus. Well, there are several wooded areas that aren’t lit at night. I’m sure there are areas that may not have surveillance cameras. Having never lived on campus I wondered if there had been incidents on campus that haven’t been communicated to the student body.

I spoke with a few other students about how they felt about the issue of sexual assault (or any assault for that matter) on campus and learned the following:

What do you think about the issue of assault on campus (sexual, physical, etc.)?

“I think that rape/attacks on college campuses are becoming more and more of a problem.”

~Susan Hines, student

“This kind of thing has been going on forever, and it’s unfortunate that college males (especially at top-tier universities) that come from very financially sound means are protected by their institutions despite stripping young women (intelligent young women, I may add) of their dignity.”

~Wynton Thomason, student

What do you think college campuses and universities can do to help students and possibly prevent incidents like this from happening?

“Just keep talking about it honestly, don’t ignore it. Don’t act like it doesn’t happen. I think that could help diffuse the so-called culture, somewhat. If people know it’s a problem, they have to acknowledge it’s not right, and I think the main problem is college males knowing they can get away with it, and not having any regard that their actions were wrong.”

~Wynton Thomason, student

“I think that the schools need to educate the students on issues like this. What signs should they look for? How should you prepare yourself for incidents like this? Just things like that.”

~Brittany Ortiz, student

“We need to take a stand because the campuses are protecting themselves, they don’t give a crap if you were sexually assaulted, they don’t want to be in the news…which sucks. It’s hard for victims to express how they feel because even the school is against them.”

~Andres Luevano, student

Students aren’t blind to this issue. For more information on the film The Hunting Ground, visit this website http://www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com.