Bulletin Reports

Police Response to Domestic Violence, 2006-2015

Released in May 2017, this report indicates that police were notified in 56 percent of the approximately 1.3 million nonfatal domestic violence occurrences each year between 2006 and 2015. These offenses were committed by intimate partners, immediate family members, or other relatives and include both serious violence (rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) and simple assaults.

Victimization Reporting Rates

  • Police were notified by victims in 76 percent and by other persons in 24 percent of reported incidents.
  • Reporting rates were the same for serious violence and simple assaults.
  • Victimizations were reported at the same rates regardless of victim-offender relationship.
  • Women reported offenses involving serious injury (54 percent) or no injury (55 percent) at slightly lower rates than those resulting in minor injuries (62 percent).
  • Men contacted police 77 percent of the time when a serious injury was involved, 57 percent when there was a minor injury, and 49 percent when no injury occurred.

Police Response to Reported Victimizations

  • Sixty-four percent of the time, police responded to the scene within 10 minutes of being notified of a nonfatal domestic violence situation.
  • Officers took a report at the scene 78 percent of the time.
  • During some initial responses, officers questioned persons (36 percent), conducted searches (14 percent), or collected evidence (11 percent).
  • The victim or another household member signed a criminal complaint against the offender in about 48 percent of reported incidents.
  • Police followed up 52 percent of the time when a victim or another household member signed a criminal complaint, compared with 17 percent when there was no signed complaint.
  • The offender was arrested or charged in 39 percent of reported situations during either the initial response or follow-up.

Unreported Victimizations

  • Approximately 600,000 nonfatal domestic violence incidents went unreported each year between 2006 and 2015.
  • In 32 percent of unreported occasions, victims cited the personal nature of the incident as a reason for not reporting.
  • About one-fifth of victimizations were not reported because the victim wanted to protect the offender (21 percent), felt the crime was unimportant (20 percent), or feared reprisal from the offender or others (19 percent).

The full report, NCJ 250231, is available at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/prdv0615_sum.pdf.