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social and legal concept that, in the broadest sense, refers to any abuse that takes place among people living in the same household, although the term is often used specifically to refer to assaults upon women by their male partners. Estimated annual figures for the number of women in the United States who are subjected to psychological, verbal, emotional, or physical abuse by a male partner range from two to four million. Additional statistics indicate that domestic violence ranks as the leading cause of injury to women from age 15 to 44 and that one-third of the American women murdered in any given year are killed by current or former boyfriends or husbands.