The Impact of Natural Disasters on Domestic Violence: An Analysis of Reports of Simple Assault in Florida (1999-2007) Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity worldwide. Associations between individual-level vulnerability to natural disasters and social stratification have been widely demonstrated in the published literature, with excess negative impacts disproportionately affecting women, ethnic and racial minorities, and the elderly. Specifically, several studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between exposure to natural disasters or other extreme events and rates of interpersonal violence (IPV). People experiencing IPV in the postdisaster period may face unique barriers, including loss of access to safe housing and a need to remain with family to qualify for or obtain financial assistance and other types of disaster aid. To assess the potential association between exposure to natural disasters and reports of IPV, the authors used data compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Difference in Differences analysis included 819,684 reported assaults in 67 Florida counties over a 9-year period (1999-2007). Longer-lasting exposure to natural disaster (>199 days of major declared disaster) was associated with an increase in reports of simple assault in Florida counties. Longer-lasting exposure to disaster among Florida residents increased the expected number of assaults at the county level by approximately 78 per year. Domestic violence in the disaster recovery context carries potentially unique implications due to limited safe housing and loss of community networks. As the frequency and severity of disasters increase globally, disaster relief programs should provide support within this context of increased IPV.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 384.26

author list (cited authors)

  • Gearhart, S., Perez-Patron, M., Hammond, T. A., Goldberg, D. W., Klein, A., & Horney, J. A.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Gearhart, Sera||Perez-Patron, Maria||Hammond, Tracy Anne||Goldberg, Daniel W||Klein, Andrew||Horney, Jennifer A

publication date

  • January 2018