The following research provides some insight into the reality of domestic violence, as it exists among Muslim women and general populations in the United States and abroad. 

American Muslims

Prevalence: A survey of 801 American Muslims found that 31% reported experiencing abuse within an intimate partner relationship and 53% reported experiencing some form of domestic violence during their lifetime. (Peaceful Families & Project Sakinah 2011 DV Survey)

Peaceful Families & Project Sakinah 2011 DV Statistics.

Therapy Patients: In a study of 190 Muslims seeking mental health counseling in Northern Virginia, 41% experienced domestic violence in the form of verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.  Victims were 71% adult females, 12% adult males, and 16% children. 60% of all clients experienced verbal or psychological abuse in their lifetime, 50% physical abuse, 14% sexual abuse, and 3% reported having a relative killed. (Abugideiri 2007)

Prevalence: A survey of 63 Muslim leaders showed that 10% of Muslims experienced physical abuse in their homes. (Alkhateeb 1999)

Prevalence:  A study of 23 Muslim married female immigrants from Bangladesh residing in Houston, Texas revealed a 10% prevalence rate of spousal abuse. (Rianon and Shelton 2003)

Attitudes: A study of 162 women and 40 men was conducted in 202 Arab-American homes (98% of whom were Muslim).  Interviewees approved of a man slapping his wife under the following conditions: 34% of women and 33% of men if she insults him when they are at home alone, 17% of women and 43% of men if she insults him in public, and 59% of both women and men if she hits him first in an argument. (Kulwicki and Miller 1999)

Types of Abuse: In a survey of 9 DV organizations around the U.S. serving nearly 2000 Muslim women survivors, executive directors reported that survivors experienced various forms of abuse including 82% emotional or verbal abuse, 65% financial abuse, 49% spiritual abuse, 74% physical abuse, and 30% sexual abuse. (Alkhateeb 2010)

Women’s Shelter Residents: A study of 57 closed-case files from an American Muslim women’s shelter revealed that 37% had experienced multiple types of abuse, 23% experienced physical abuse, and 12% experienced emotional abuse.  (Abdullah 2007)

Role of Imams: A study of 22 mosques in New York found that 96% of the participants perceived the imam as a counselor, and 74% had sought counseling from imams for safety issues. (Abu-Ras and Gheith 2006)

U.S. Population

Gender: In the United States, 85% of domestic violence victims are known to be women. (U.S. DOJ 1998)

Relationships: Domestic violence against women occurs in 31% of intimate partner relationships. (The Commonwealth Fund 1999)

Injuries: Approximately half of all female victims of domestic violence report some type of injury, but only about 29% of them actually seek medical assistance. (Collins et al. 1999)

Children: In families where one parent is abusing another, 50% of their children are also physically abused. (Strauss et al. 1990)

International Population

International Women: 1 in 3 women have experienced domestic violence during their lifetime (Heise et al. 1999)

Country Studies: A survey of 15 sites in 10 countries found that 15-71% of women (with most sites falling between 29-62%) had experienced physical violence, sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner during their lifetime (Garcia-Moreno et al. 2005)

Muslims Globally

Afghan Attitudes: In a study of 121 Afghan women and men, over 30% felt increasingly concerned about family violence. (Abirafeh 2007)

Bengali Women: A study of 2677 Bengali women aged 13-40 revealed that three out of four (75.6%) experienced violence from their husbands. (Silverman et al. 2007)

Egyptian Women: In study of 631 Egyptian women, 22% experienced intimate partner violence violence. (Vizcarra et al. 2004)

Iranian Women: A study of 1800 pregnant Iranian women found that 60.6% of the women experienced multiple forms of domestic violence, including psychological (60.5%), physical (14.6%), and sexual (23.5%) violence. (Jahanfar & Malekzadegan 2007)

Lebanese Women:  A study of 1418 Lebanese women attending primary health centers found that 35% experienced domestic violence, including verbal abuse (88%) and physical violence (66%). (Usta et al 2007)

Pakistani Women: A study of 1324 pregnant Pakistani women found that 51% had experienced verbal, physical or sexual abuse in the six months prior to and/or during their pregnancies. (Karmaliani et al. 2008)

Palestinian Women: In a study of 395 married women and men living in refugee camps, the majority of men (60.1%) and women (61.8%) believed that wife beating is justified in most situations. (Khawaja et al 2008)

Sudanese Patients: A study of 146 Sudanese women at an outpatient clinic found that 45.8% had been victims of domestic violence. (Ahmed 2007)

Turkish Women: In a study of 506 Turkish women attending health centers, 58% experienced domestic violence (primarily psychological and physical) frequently and continuously (Alper et al. 2005)



Abdullah, Keilani. (2007). A peaceful ideal, violent realities: A study on Muslim female domestic violence survivors. In Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities, eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, 69-89. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project.

Abirafeh, Lina. (2007). Freedom is only won from the inside: Domestic violence in post-conflict Afghanistan. In Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities, eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, 117-31. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project.

Abu-Ras, Wahiba, Gheith, Ali and F. Cournos. (2008). Religion and imams role in mental health promotion: A study at 22 mosques in New York City Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health.  Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 3(2): 157-78

Abugideiri, Salma Elkadi. (2007). Domestic violence among Muslims seeking mental health counseling. In Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities, eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, 91-115. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project.

Ahmed, Awad Mohamed. (2007). Domestic violence in the Sudan: Opening Pandora’s box. In Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities, eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, 133-53. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project.

Alkhateeb, Maha. (2010). [Types of DV among Muslim survivors]. Unpublished raw data.

Alkhateeb, Sharifa. (1999). Ending domestic violence in Muslim families. Journal of Religion and Abuse,1(44): 49-59.

Alper, Z., N. Ergin, K. Selimoglu and N. Bilgel. (2005). Domestic violence: a study among a group of Turkish women. European Journal of General Practice, 11(2): 48-54.

Collins, Karen, Schoen, Cathy, Joseph, Susan, et al. (1999). Health concerns across a woman’s lifespan: The Commonwealth Fund 1998 survey of women’s health. New York, NY: The Commonwealth Fund.

The Commonwealth Fund. (1999). Health concerns across a woman’s lifespan: The Commonwealth Fund 1998 survey of women’s health.

Ergin, N., N. Bayram, Z. Alper, K. Selimoglu and N. Bilgel. (2005). Domestic violence: A tragedy behind the doors. Women’s Health, 42(2): 35-51.

Garcia-Moreno, C., Jansen, H., Ellsberg, M., Heise, L., and C. Watts. (2005). WHO Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women: Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Heise, Lori, Ellsberg, Mary, and Megan Gottemoeller. (1999). Ending violence against women. Population Reports, L(11). Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Population Information Program. Baltimore, Maryland.

Jahanfar, Shayesteh, and Zahra Malekzadegan. (2007). The prevalence of domestic violence among pregnant women who were attended in Iran University of Medical Science Hospitals. Journal of Family Violence, 22(8): 643-48.

Karmaliani, Rozina et al. (2008). Domestic violence prior to and during pregnancy among Pakistani women. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 87:11, 1194-1201.

Khawaja, Marwan, Linos, Natalia, and Zeina El-Roueiheb. (2008). Attitudes of men and women towards wife beating: Findings from Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Journal of Family Violence, 23(3): 211-18.

Kulwicki, Anahid D., and Miller, June. (1999). Domestic violence in the Arab American population: Transforming environmental conditions through community education. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 20: 199-215.

Peaceful Families Project. (2011). [Attitudes towards and experiences with domestic violence of American Muslims]. Unpublished raw data.

Rianon, Nahid J., and Shelton, A. J. (2003). Perception of spousal abuse expressed by married Bangladeshi immigrant women in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. Journal of Immigrant Health, 5(1): 37-44.

Silverman J, Gupta J, Decker M, Kapur N, Raj A. (2007). Intimate partner violence and unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, induced abortion, and stillbirth among a national sample of Bangladeshi women. BJOG, 114:1246-52.

Strauss, Murray, Gelles, Richard, and Christine Smith. (1990). Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations to violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

U.S. Department of Justice. (1998). Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Intimate partner violence in the United States.

Usta, J., Farver, J., and N. Pashayan. (2007). Domestic violence: the Lebanese experience. Public Health, 121(3): 208-19.

Vizcarra B., F. Hassan, W.M. Hunter, S.R. Munoz, L. Ramiro and C.S. De Paula. (2004). Partner violence as a risk factor for mental health among women from communities in the Philippines, Egypt, Chile, and India. Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 11(2): 125-9.