In 2000, there were just over 54 million households in the United States that contained married couples, and there were about 5,500,000 households in where there were unmarried partners. The percentage of unmarried-partner households in 2000, then, was about 9 percent.
About 7 or 8 years ago, after a presentation on domestic violence, I asked the police officer who had given the presentation what percentage of domestic violence occurred in unmarried-partner households. He told me that they didn't keep those kind of statistics, but that if he had to estimate based on his experience, 70% of domestic violence occurs in unmarried-partner households. If that's true, it definitely pays to make a marriage commitment.
I suspect that the police officer is about right. But it's hard to know for sure. Is it because we're afraid of what we'll find if we start keeping those stats? So what? It's high time we start tracking. I may be wrong, but I would not be surprised at all if unmarried-partner households account for a far higher proportion of domestic violence than their proportion of the US population. Married-partner households are by no means immune from domestic violence, but I'll wager that the public commitment called marriage has a generally very positive effect on the domestic lives of those who choose that commitment.
I did some searching on the internet for comparative statistics on domestic violence. I found stuff like
Domestic violence is a learned pattern of behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other person. The partners may be married or not married, gay or lesbian, living together, separated or dating.That's true, but I think it's very misleading. By the way, I couldn't find actual married vs. unmarried statistics on domestic violence.
That's why I support Utah Senate Bill 242, Law Enforcement Tracking of Domestic Violence Statistics. This bill would require law enforcement to report, among other things, the "marital status of the parties involved". So far, this bill appears to be very uncontroversial, having passed the Senate by a vote of 27 - 0 - 2.
If we keep such statistics, I think we'll find that unmarried-partner households do commit a very disproportional amount of domestic violence. Domestic violence should never occur, but I suspect that one of the greatest curbs to domestic violence is marriage itself. I'd like to know if I'm right, and these statistics will help.
Either way, such statistics should be kept. If I'm wrong about my hunch, then it will be good to know. But if I'm right, it will be an indication of another very good reason for government to foster healthy families, especially including the encouragement of the most important individual commitment to society--marriage.