Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the urban
myth that a woman is battered in the U.S. every 15 seconds.
According to a United Nations Study on the Status of Women, a woman is battered somewhere in America every 15 seconds, usually by her intimate partner.
There is absolutely no basis in fact for this statement. While it has become an often-used factoid (sometimes the number is 9 seconds, or six) it is not accurate. It is also variously reported as coming from the FBI, Department of Justice data, the UN, the Commonwealth Fund, or simply, "studies." The organizations referenced have never compiled data in this fashion or issued such a statement.
The original factoid (then 17 seconds) was extrapolated from information in this report by Murray Straus, which was compiled nearly twenty years ago and cannot have any relevance in a discussion of today's incidence of domestic violence.
If you choose to do your own extrapolation of this data, you will discover an incidence of 13 seconds also applies to males, a point which is conveniently left out of the factoid circulating today. Again, this study is so old, and society itself has changed so much it cannot be considered relevant in 2004.
Here is a sampling of links from Google using these statements:
"woman is battered every 15 seconds" - 300 references
"woman is battered every 9 seconds" - 38 references
I followed their references (often drilling down through several layers of linkage) and found nothing related at any of the groups or studies cited. Note they never directly link to any study or statistical data. I was able to locate the Commonwealth Fund study, which does not come to any conclusions about number of occurrences related to time.
I located the United States Department of Justice: Special Reports 2002 and also found nothing related.
Furthermore, the FBI does not calculate, tabulate, or track data
on domestic violence.