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. All victims should be able to access appropriate support. Whilst both men and women may experience incidents of inter-personal violence and abuse, women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of abuse, including sexual violence. They are also more likely to have experienced sustained physical, psychological or emotional abuse, or violence which results in injury or death.
There are important differences between male violence against women and female violence against men, namely the amount, severity and impact. Women experience higher rates of repeated victimisation and are much more likely to be seriously hurt (Walby & Towers, 2017; Walby & Allen, 2004) or killed than male victims of domestic abuse (ONS, 2017). Further to that, women are more likely to experience higher levels of fear and are more likely to be subjected to coercive and controlling behaviours (Dobash & Dobash, 2004; Hester, 2013; Myhill, 2015; Myhill, 2017).
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).
Some key statistics:
- The majority of victims of domestic homicides (homicides by an ex/partner or family member) from April 2013 to March 2016 were female (70%, or 319), with 30% of victims being male (135). This contrasts with victims of non-domestic homicides, where the majority of victims were male (88%, or 704) and 12% of victims were female. (ONS, 2017)
- Government statistics show that 246 women were killed by their partner or ex-partner from April 2013 to March 2016 in England and Wales. 242 of these 246 women were killed by men, one by a woman, and for three female victims there were no suspect details available. Seventy-two men were killed by partners/ex-partners in the same time period; 32 of these 72 men were killed by men and 40 were killed by women. (ONS, 2017)
- 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. (Hester, 2013)
- Over 80% (83%) of high frequency victims (more than 10 crimes) are women. (From a study of data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, a nationally representative household survey.) (Walby & Towers, 2018)
- In the year ending March 2017, the large majority of defendants in domestic abuse-related prosecutions were men (92%), and the majority (65%) of victims were recorded as female (13% of victims were male and in 21% of prosecutions the sex of the victim was not recorded) (ONS, 2017)
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
Dobash, R.P. and Dobash, R.E. (2004) ‘Women’s violence to men in intimate relationships. Working on a Puzzle’, British Journal of Criminology, 44(3), pp. 324–349
Hester, M. (2013) ‘Who Does What to Whom? Gender and Domestic Violence Perpetrators in English Police Records’, European Journal of Criminology, 10: 623- 637
Myhill, A. (2015) ‘Measuring coercive control: what can we learn from national population surveys?’ Violence Against Women. 21(3), pp. 355-375
Myhill, A. (2017) ‘Measuring domestic violence: context is everything.’ Journal of Gender-Based Violence, vol 1, no 1, 33–44
Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2017) Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2017. Published online: ONS
Walby, S. and Allen, J. (2004) Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey. Home Office Research Study 276. London: Home Office
Walby, S. and Towers, J. (May 2017) ‘Measuring violence to end violence: mainstreaming gender’, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, vol. 1, no.
Walby, S. and Towers, J. (2018) ‘Untangling the concept of coercive control: Theorizing domestic violent crime’, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Vol 18, Issue 1, pp 7-28