Domestic violence in the US: Statistics still alarming despite big decline 20 years ago

09/24/2014 02:01 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST
For weeks, amid the allegations involving several NFL players, domestic violence has been the focus of intense national attention. Does the turmoil reflect a worsening epidemic of domestic violence, or has the U.S. in fact made great strides to curtail it? The answer is complicated.

On one hand, domestic violence committed by intimate partners — current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends — has declined by more than 60 per cent since the mid-1990s, according to Justice Department figures.

Yet that dramatic decrease has largely stalled, with the numbers stabilizing at a level that appalls people in the prevention field. The latest federal figures for "serious" intimate partner violence — sexual assault or aggravated physical assault — showed 360,820 such incidents in 2013, or roughly 1,000 per day.