A study of violence in Atlanta found that one in four assaults takes place in a family or intimate relationship and that most perpetrators are men, while most victims are women.
The findings, reported recently by the Centers for Disease Control, were based on 1984 police reports, the latest available at the time the survey was conducted.
"Violence between persons who are related, share a household or are otherwise intimate with each other is a widespread public health problem," the CDC concluded. "In particular, intimate violence is a leading cause of injuries to women."
Police reported 27 cases in which such assaults led to death, and 3,295 nonfatal incidents, according to Linda Saltzman, a behavioral scientist with the CDC.
Incident reports were taken from a broad range of police categories, including assault, robbery, rape and disorderly conduct. Overall, 14 percent of reports in those categories occurred in families or intimate relationships, while 25 percent of assaults were in such situations, Saltzman said.
Analysis of 177 assaults found that 52 percent of those who died as a result of their injuries were women and that 74 percent of their assailants were men.
Twenty percent or more of the Atlanta incidents studied involved broken relationships, and as many as one third of the parties involved had been reported to the police for similar assaults previously, the CDC said.
A 1986 survey concluded that battering was responsible for more injuries to women than car crashes, rape and mugging combined.