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Contrary to popular belief, pregnant women are no more likely than non-pregnant women to be victims of domestic violence. In fact, some women get a reprieve from violence during pregnancy.The risk of abuse during pregnancy is greatest for women who experienced physical abuse before the pregnancy. Some additional factors increase the risk during pregnancy: being young and poor and if the pregnancy was unintended. Physical abuse during the pregnancy can result in pre-term delivery, low birth weight, birth defects, miscarriage, and fetal death. Being young, black, low-income, divorced or separated, a resident of rental housing, and a resident of an urban area have all been associated with higher rates of domestic violence victimization among women. For male victims, the patterns were nearly identical: being young, black, divorced or separated, or a resident of rental housing. In New Zealand, a highly respected study found that the strongest predictor for committing partner violence among the many risk factors in childhood and adolescence is a history of aggressive delinquency before age 15. The study also found that committing partner violence is strongly linked to cohabitation at a young age; a variety of mental illnesses; a background of family adversity; dropping out of school; juvenile aggression; conviction for other types of crime, especially violent crime; drug abuse; long-term unemployment; and parenthood at a young age. Several other risk factors emerge from research: Recently, there is much discussion among police about the link between pet abuse and domestic violence.In the context of youth involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system, risk factors can be considered to be those conditions or variables associated with a higher likelihood of delinquency and/or juvenile justice system contact; protective factors are those conditions which lessen this likelihood.While youth may face a number of risk factors it is important to remember that everyone has strengths and is capable of being resilient: “All children and families have individual strengths that can be identified, built on, and employed” to prevent future delinquency and justice system involvement.Also, although some risk factors are stronger than others, it is difficult to compare risk factor findings across studies because of methodological differences between studies.The female age group at highest risk for domestic violence victimization is 16 to 24. Among one segment of this high-risk age group—undergraduate college students—22 percent of female respondents in a Canadian study reported domestic violence victimization, and 14 percent of male respondents reported physically assaulting their dating partners in the year before the survey. And although the victimization of teen girls is estimated to be high, it is difficult to “…untangle defensive responses from acts of initial violence against a dating partner.” Although domestic violence occurs across income brackets, it is most frequently reported by the poor who more often rely on the police for dispute resolution.
Consequently, those in the field have to rely on an framework to examine the problem of teen dating violence.
In recent years, studies of juvenile delinquency and justice system involvement have increasingly examined the impact of these strengths (protective factors) on youth’s ability to overcome challenges and thrive.
A study group comprised of nearly 40 experts convened by the U. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) identified four domains for risk and protective factors.
Victimization surveys indicate that lower-income women are, in fact, more frequently victims of domestic violence than wealthier women.
Women with family incomes less than ,500 are five times more likely to be victims of violence by an intimate than women with family annual incomes between ,000 and ,000. Although the poorest women are the most victimized by domestic violence, one study also found that women receiving government income support payments through Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) were three times more likely to have experienced physical aggression by a current or former partner during the previous year than non-AFDC supported women. Overall, in the United States, blacks experience higher rates of victimization than other groups: black females experience intimate violence at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white females, and black males experience intimate violence at a rate about 62 percent higher than that of white males and about two and a half times the rate of men of other races. Other survey research, more inclusive of additional racial groups, finds that American Indian/Alaskan Native women experience significantly higher rates of physical abuse as well., † It is unclear how much of the differences in victimization rates by race is the result of willingness to reveal victimization to survey interviewers (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000).