This is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so you may have seen a statistic like this: Nearly 25 percent of American women report being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime.
This sort of statistic makes my students worry that they have a high likelihood of being beaten themselves. What this kind of scary blanket statistic obscures, though, is that educated, middle class, married people -- what the great majority of my students are likely to become -- are at the lowest risk of violence. As Waite and Gallagher note in The Case for Marriage, "the safest place for a women to be is inside marriage.” Being poor is an even greater risk factor than being unmarried: the National Family Violence Survey suggested that rates of "abusive violence" to women with annual incomes below $10,000 are more than 3.5 times those found in households with incomes over $40,000.
Domestic violence is a genuine problem for women and men of all marital states and social classes. But it is important in giving people a real sense of their own risks, and in fighting the culture of fear in general, to see that married middle class people are at low risk of domestic violence.