Last week, musician FKA Twigs, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, sued actor Shia LaBeouf for “relentless abuse,” including sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress. The suit alleges he knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease while hiding visible symptoms with makeup and slammed Barnett against his car and strangled her. Last year, more than a million women were victims of some form of domestic violence, reports the New York Times. Violence by intimate partners accounts for a majority of domestic abuse; one in three U.S. women have experienced physical violence, sexual violence or stalking victimization by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, says a 2017 Centers for Disease Control report based on 2010-2012 data. The report found that Black, Hispanic and Native American women faced a higher rate of physical violence by an intimate partner than white women.
Abuse is exacerbated in times of extreme stress, including this year’s pandemic. From March to May, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received a nine percent increase in the volume of calls, texts and chat messages, compared with the same 2019 period. Since the 1994 federal anticrime law was enacted, intimate partner violence cases against women have dropped 63 percent, from nearly 1.7 million in 1993 to around 628,000 in 2019, says the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Leigh Goodmark of the Gender Violence Clinic at the University of Maryland’s law school noted that the drop in domestic violence corresponded with the overall reduction of violent crime, which fell 65 percent between 1993 and 2019. “We were putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the criminal legal response to intimate partner violence and, for that investment, it still got less of a drop than what was happening to other crime rates that weren’t receiving specific investments,” Goodmark said. Since 2012, the number of domestic violence cases has stagnated, hovering between one million and 1.2 million.