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Who are the victims of domestic violence? 01.08.06


woman-anxiousThe vast majority of the victims of domestic violence are women and children, and women are also considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence, and sexual abuse. Women may experience domestic violence regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle. Domestic abuse can also occur in a range of relationships including heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships, and extended families.   

View statistics on how common domestic violence is.


 What about male victims of domestic violence?

While both men and women may experience incidents of inter-personal violence, women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence. 32% of women who had ever experienced domestic violence did so four or five (or more) times, compared with 11% of the (smaller number) of men who had ever experienced domestic violence; and women constituted 89% of all those who had experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic violence.  (Walby and Allen, 2004)  These points are not always evident in statistical summaries (for example those produced by the Home Office) as they focus on single incidents, rather than on the complex pattern of overlapping and repeated abuse perpetrated within a context of power and control.

Women's Aid information and support services exist to respond to the needs of women and children. However, we recognise that controlling and abusive behaviour can also occur in male gay relationships and by women against men.

Every person has the right to live a life free from violence. View information about who to contact if you or a man you know is experiencing domestic violence.


 Key statistics: who are the victims?          

  • Disabled women: 3% of women living in refuges were disabled during the year 1997/98, according to a research report detailing a Women's Aid survey of that period (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2002).


  • Domestic violence & ethnicity: Findings from the British Crime Survey (Walby & Allen, 2004) show that there was little variation in the experience of inter-personal violence by ethnicity. 

  • Gender: Gender is a "significant risk factor" as women are more likely than men to experience interpersonal violence, especially sexual violence, and to experience severe and/or repeated incidentes of violence and abuse. "Women are the overwhelming majority of the most heavily abused group. Among people subject to four or more incident of domestic violence from the perpetrator of the worst incident (since age 16) 89 per cent were women". (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)  


  • Men & women statistics:  "…of those women who have been subject to domestic force half (48%) have also been subject to frightening threats and nearly half (41%) to emotional or financial abuse. However, men's experiences are much less nested, that is, of those subject to domestic force, only 9 per cent had also experienced frightening threats and 28 per cent emotional or financial abuse".  (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)


  • Men & women statistics: 11% of women compared to 1% of men reported frightening threats (since 16 years of age). The researchers commented that "the context of fear is an important element in the understanding of domestic violence as a pattern of coercive control".  (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)
  • Men & women statistics: 32% of women who had ever experienced domestic violence did so four or five (or more) times, compared with 11% of the (smaller number) of men who had ever experienced domestic violence; and women constituted 89% of all those who had experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic violence.  (Walby and Allen, 2004) 


  • Intimate violence: Intimate violence is one of the principle factors resulting in health inequalities across gender specifically, and forms a significant barrier to women receiving effective and equal health care, as acknowledged in national and international documents throughout the world (World Health Organisation, 2000). 

  • Men as victims: Research conducted with male respondents to the Scottish Crime Survey 2000 found that men were less likely to have been repeat victims of domestic assault, less likely to be seriously injured and less likely to report feeling fearful in their own homes. The survey retraced men who were counted as victims in the Scottish Crime Survey and found that a majority of the men who said that they were victims of domestic violence, were also perpetrators of violence (13 of 22). A significant number of the men re-interviewed (13 out of 46) later said they had actually never experienced any form of domestic abuse (Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2002).  
  • Men as victims: Research in Scotland, re-tracing men who were counted as victims in the Scottish Crime Survey, found that a majority of the men who said that they were victims of domestic violence, were also perpetrators of violence (13 of 22).  A significant number of the men re-interviewed (13 out of 46) later said they had actually never experienced any form of domestic abuse (Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2002).  Other evidence also confirms that men who report that they are victims of domestic violence have mostly had different experiences from women victims/survivors and require a different response.  (Coulter 2007; Robinson and Rowland, 2007).
  • Number in refuges: The total number of women supported by domestic violence services in England (both residential and non-residential) on a typical day - 2nd November 2006 - was 11,310. This has increased by 50% since 2003. On a typical day, 3,615 women and 3,580 children are resident in refuge acommodation in England. This is an increase of 12% over the past four years. 50% of these children are aged under five.
  • Age: Factors associated with increased risk of domestic violence include poverty  (though not social class) and youth: women under the age of 30 are at considerably greater risk than those over the age of 40 years. (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)

  • Statistics: The prevalence of domestic violence, found by using self-completion methodology is five times higher than the figure usually produced by interviews or other methods. (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)

 



View the Domestic Violence FAQs (pdf) for full information on domestic violence. 
View the Domestic Violence Bibliography (pdf) for references.