How widespread is domestic abuse and what is the impact?
High numbers of women – and many men – will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. The impact of domestic abuse on the victim and on children – even once they have achieved safety – is severe and long-lasting.
How widespread is domestic abuse?
- Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse - 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population) 10
- An estimated 4.6m women (28% of the adult population) have experienced domestic abuse at some point since the age of 16 10
- A quarter of 13-18 year old girls report experiencing physical abuse in their own intimate partner relationships, and one-third sexual abuse 11
- In 2013-14 the police recorded 887,000 domestic abuse incidents in England and Wales 10
How many people die as a result of domestic abuse?
- In 2013-14, 85 women were murdered by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. This accounted for just under half (46%) of all murders of women aged 16 or over. In comparison, 7% of men murdered were killed by their partner or ex-partner 10
- This means 1.6 women a week – or 7 a month – are killed by a current or ex-partner in England and Wales 10
- It is estimated many more take their own lives as a result of domestic abuse: every day almost 30 women attempt suicide as a result of experiencing domestic abuse and every week three women take their own lives 12
What forms does domestic abuse take?
- 88% of high-risk victims experience multiple forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, harassment and stalking and coercive control (jealous and controlling behaviours)14
- In 8 in 10 (79%) high-risk cases, the abuse is escalating in either frequency or severity, or both 13
- Approximately 42% of domestic violence victims have been victimised more than once. Victims experience an average of 20 incidents of domestic violence in a year, which can often increase in severity each time 12
- Over 80% of high-risk victims report experiencing physical abuse14
- Nearly 90% of high-risk victims report experiencing emotional abuse and/or coercive control (jealous and controlling behaviours) 14
- 79% of teenage victims of domestic abuse experienced physical abuse, and 19% sexual abuse 2
What are the physical health impacts of domestic abuse?
- 1 in 5 high-risk victims reported attending A&E as a result of their injuries in the year before getting effective help 13
- As well as short term injuries, victims of abuse suffer long-term physical health consequences. Health conditions associated with abuse include: asthma, bladder and kidney infections, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, migraines/headaches 1, 4, 8
- Domestic abuse often leaves victims with reproductive consequences too, including gynaecological disorders, sexually transmitted infections, pre-term difficulties and pregnancy difficulties 5
- At least a fifth (18%) of children in domestic abuse households are injured as a result of the abuse 3
What are the mental health impacts of domestic abuse?
- 40% of high-risk victims report having mental health issues 13
- 16% of victims report that they have considered or attempted suicide as a result of the abuse, and 13% report self-harming 14
- Domestic abuse has significant psychological consequences for victims, including anxiety, depression, suicidal behaviour, low self-esteem, inability to trust others, flashbacks, sleep disturbances and emotional detachment 5
- Domestic abuse victims are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – as many as two-thirds of victims of abuse (64%) developed PTSD in one study 6
- Between 30 and 60% of psychiatric in-patients had experienced severe domestic abuse 7
Find out more
1 Black, M.C. et al. (2011), The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA.
2 Caada (2012), A Place of Greater Safety. Bristol: Caada.
3 Caada (2014), In Plain Sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse: 2nd national policy report. Bristol: Caada.
4 Crofford, L.J. (2001), Violence, stress, and somatic syndromes in ‘Trauma Violence Abuse’ 8: 299–313.
5 CTC (2014), Website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention.
http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequenc... Accessed 4 February 2015.
6 Golding, J. (1999), Intimate partner violence as a risk factor for mental disorders: a meta-analysis in ‘Journal of Family Violence’, 14 (2), 99-132.
7 Howard, L.M., Trevillion, K., Khalifeh, H., Woodall, A., Agnew-Davies, R. and Feder, G. (2010), Domestic violence and severe psychiatric disorders: prevalence and interventions in ‘Psychological Medicine’ (2010), 40 ,881-893. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
8 Leserman, J. and Drossman, D.A. (2007), Relationship of abuse history to functional gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms in ‘Trauma Violence Abuse’ 8:331–343.
9 Caada (2012), A Place of Greater Safety. Bristol: Caada.
10 ONS (2014), Crime Survey England and Wales 2013 - 14. London: Office for National Statistics.
11 NSPCC (2011), Partner Exploitation and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships. London: NSPCC.
12 Walby, S. (2004), The cost of domestic violence. Women and Equality Unit
13 SafeLives (2015), Getting it right first time: policy report. Bristol: SafeLives.
14 SafeLives (2015), Insights Idva National Dataset 2013-14. Bristol: SafeLives.