How common is domestic abuse?
We know from our work, and the work of the Women’s Aid federation of services, that domestic abuse is very common, however this is often difficult to accurately quantify. Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime, occurring primarily at home. Women often don’t report or disclose domestic abuse to the police (HMIC, 2014) and may underreport domestic abuse in surveys, particularly during face-to-face interviews (ONS, 2015). In addition, prevalence estimates do not take into account important context and impact information, for example whether the violence caused fear, who experienced multiple incidents and who experienced coercive controlling behaviour. When these factors are taken into account the gendered nature of domestic abuse becomes clearer.
- There are no reliable prevalence data on domestic abuse but the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) offers the best data available. According to these data, an estimated 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017 (ONS, 2017), and an estimated 4.3 million women aged 16-59 have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 (ONS, 2018). When these figures are presented along the current prevalence estimates for male victims, however, the gendered nature of domestic abuse is obscured. This is because these data do not take into account important context and impact information, such as whether the violence caused fear, who the repeat victims were and who experienced violence in a context of power and control. When these factors are taken into account the gendered nature of domestic abuse becomes much more apparent. See ‘Domestic abuse is a gendered crime’.
- On average two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner every week in England and Wales.* (ONS, 2018)
- On average the police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour. (HMIC, 2015)
- The domestic abuse had been reported to the police for just over one quarter of the women using community-based services in the Week to Count 2017 and just over two fifths of women resident in refuge services on the Day to Count 2017. One eighth of the community-based service users and one sixth of the women resident in refuge services saw criminal sanctions or a criminal case against the perpetrator(s) of the abuse. (Women’s Aid, 2018)
* Between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2017, a total of 241 women were killed by their partner/ex-partner In England and Wales (ONS, 2018). This gives us an average of 1.54 women per week (241/[52 weeks*3]) – rounded up to two women per week.
Further information and support
If would like more information about domestic abuse go to: The Survivor’s Handbook
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). (2014) Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse. Published online: HMIC, p. 31
Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2015). Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2013/14. Chapter 4: Intimate personal violence and partner abuse. Published online: ONS, p. 3
Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2017) Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2017. Published online: ONS
Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2018) Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2017. Published online: ONS
Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2018) Homicide in England and Wales: year ending March 2017. Published online: ONS
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). (2015) Increasingly everyone’s business: A progress report on the police response to domestic abuse. Published online: HMIC, p. 28
Women’s Aid. (2018) Survival and Beyond: The Domestic Abuse Report 2017. Bristol: Women’s Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk