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April 9, 2021

Recognizing the Intersections between Sexual and Domestic Violence

Different members from Women’s Advocates’ staff periodically write posts on topics that are relevant to the work we do as an organization.  While Women’s Advocates is supported by Grant No. A-CVS-2018-WOMADV-00013, awarded by the Office on Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs – the opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice or Women’s Advocates as a whole.
Content Warning: The following blog consists of information regarding sexual violence. Please proceed reading with care. 

Women’s Advocates is committed to stopping the cycle of domestic violence through education, emergency shelter, and helping to ensure safety after shelter. We understand and acknowledge the connections between domestic and sexual violence, and honor April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Partners who are physically abusive to their significant other are often sexually abusive as well. 

Here are some staggering statistics and facts about the connections between domestic and sexual violence:

It is evident that domestic and sexual violence are incredibly intertwined, and in general, more violence perpetuates greater violence. Not only are they likely to experience more forms of violence and abuse in the future, but they are also more likely to engage in those behaviors. Age is also a key factor in how one engages with violence later in life. Youth who are abused suffer at greater rates as they get older. For example: 

  • Girls who are sexually abused are more likely to suffer from physical violence and sexual revictimization, self-harm, and be a victim of intimate partner violence later in life.
  • Young people who are physically abused by their partner are more likely to have suffered abuse as a child, been a victim of sexual assault, and witnessed violence in their family.
  • Youth who report attempting suicide are around five times as likely to have also been in a physical fight in the last year
  • Women and girls involved in gangs often experience physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by other gang members, and are more likely to have been physically or sexually abused as children.
  • Children who have been bullied are at greater odds of becoming involved in physical violence in the future.
  • Survivors of violence are at higher risk for behaving violently. 
    • Children who experience physical abuse or neglect early in their life, particularly boys, are at greater risk for committing violence against peers, bullying, and teen dating violence, and for committing child abuse, elder abuse, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence later in life. 
    • Youth who bully others are more likely to have witnessed parental violence (intimate partner violence) than those who do not bully others.

Learn more about the ways different forms of violence are connected here

It is evident that domestic violence and sexual violence are connected, as are other forms of violence. It is clear that more violence perpetuates greater violence, and bringing awareness to those connections allows us to educate and further prevent the cycles of both forms of assault. This is especially important this April as the 20th anniversary of #SAAM. 


This blog was written by Mary McDonnell, a Women’s Advocates’ volunteer and student at Macalester College. 
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