Domestic abuse is a gendered crime

Every case of domestic abuse should be taken seriously and each individual given access to the support they need. Any form of violence is unacceptable.

Both women and men can experience domestic abuse. However, there are typically significant differences (in terms of the frequency and the nature of the abuse) between domestic abuse experienced by women and domestic abuse experienced by men. Domestic abuse perpetrated by men against women is a quantitatively and qualitatively distinct phenomenon rooted in women’s unequal status in society and oppressive social constructions of gender and family.

The United Nations defines gender based violence in the following way:

“The definition of discrimination includes gender based violence, that is, violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.” (CEDAW 1992: para. 6).

Women are far more likely than men to be killed by partners/ex-partners. In 2015/16, this was 44% of female homicide victims killed by a partner or ex-partner, compared with 7% of male victims.[1]

One study of 96 cases of domestic abuse recorded by the police found that men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment. In a six year tracking period the majority of recorded male perpetrators (83%) had at least two incidents of recorded abuse, with many having a lot more than two and one man having 52 repeat incidents. Whereas in cases where women were recorded as the perpetrator the majority (62%) had only one incident of abuse recorded and the highest number of repeat incidents for any female perpetrator was eight. The study also found that men’s violence tended to create a context of fear and control; which was not the case when women were perpetrators. [2]

Further information and support

If would like more information about domestic abuse go to:  The Survivor’s Handbook

If you or a friend need help call the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Refuge) 0808 2000 247


[1] Office for National Statistics, Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, Year ending March 2016, Chapter 2: Homicide (Published online: Office for National Statistics, 2017 – See Tab 2.05 in the Excel file linked to from section 6 of this web page)

[2] Hester, M, Who Does What to Whom? Gender and Domestic Violence Perpetrators in English Police Records (European Journal of Criminology, 2013 10: 623- 637), pp. 627 – 628.

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