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Silence, inaction may compound problem of domestic violence

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© iStockphoto.com / Diane Diederich © iStockphoto.com / Diane Diederich

MONDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans know victims of domestic violence or sexual assault but too few talk about the issue or take action to help victims, according to a new survey released Monday.

The survey found that 60 percent of Americans know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, but only 42 percent of victims said they received help when they came forward.

The survey also revealed that 54 million Americans have been victims of domestic violence and 32 million have been a victim of sexual assault. Despite those large numbers, there is significant silence and inaction around the issue.

Eighty percent of respondents said they believe domestic violence is a problem, but only 15 percent think it is a problem among their friends, according to the NO MORE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survey commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women.

A huge disconnect exists in perceptions of domestic violence in the United States, according to a foundation news release.

One reason appears to be the lack of discussion about domestic violence and sexual assault, according to the news release. The survey found that 73 percent of parents with children younger than 18 said they had not talked to their children about domestic violence or sexual assault, 67 percent of respondents said they have not talked about domestic violence with their friends and 73 percent had not discussed sexual assault.

Although 75 percent of respondents said they would step in and help a stranger being abused, the fact is that most people do not help. For example, among the 70 percent of women who had experienced domestic violence and then told someone about it, 58 percent said that no one helped them.

The survey also found that 64 percent of people said that if there was more discussion about domestic violence and sexual assault, it would make it easier to help someone.

NO MORE is a national campaign to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. Upcoming initiatives include a public-service-announcement campaign featuring more than 40 public figures and celebrities, and the development of a new National Football League Player Engagement department program to develop a player and family education campaign on healthy relationships.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about domestic violence.

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