The nature and impact of domestic abuse

The nature and impact of domestic abuse

When thinking about the consequences of domestic abuse, it is important to consider the impact (mental, emotional, physical, social and financial) on the individual survivor and her family and children.


We must also consider the wider societal costs including the costs of police, health and other service responses, and time off having to be taken by survivors from paid employment and caring responsibilities.

It is also important to bear in mind the additional barriers particular social groups might face in escaping domestic abuse or in accessing support or justice.

In findings from our Annual Survey:

  • 46.2% of women in refuges had spent between two and 10 years in the abusive relationship, with 17% of women enduring a violent relationship for more than 10 years. 40.9% of women using community-based domestic abuse services had spent between two and 10 years in the abusive relationship, with 24.1% enduring a violent relationship for more than 10 years.[1]

  • A survey of women using specialist BMER (Black, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) domestic abuse services found that 96% reported experiencing psychological, emotional and verbal abuse, 72% had experienced physical violence and 30% had experienced attempted and/or threats of murder from the perpetrator(s).[2]

  • 40%-60% of women experiencing domestic violence are abused while pregnant.[3]

  • Women with a long-term illness or disability were more likely to be victims of any domestic abuse in the last year (16%), compared with those without a long-term illness or disability (6.8%).[4]

  • 36% of women with experience of extensive abuse have attempted suicide. In the same group, women are about twice as likely to have an alcohol problem, three times more likely to smoke, and eight times more likely to be drug dependent than women with little experience of violence and abuse.[5]

  • Financial abuse can be a significant barrier to leaving an abuser. 52% of women respondents to a Women’s Aid/TUC study who were still living with their abuser said they could not afford to leave because they had no money of their own.[6]

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] Women’s Aid Annual Survey, 2013; responses were given for 755 women using community-based domestic abuse services during a census week.

[2] Thiara, R and Roy, S Vital Statistics2 Key Findings Report on Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & Refugee women & children facing violence & abuse (London: Imkaan, 2012), p. 10

[3] Department of Health, Responding to Domestic Abuse: A handbook for healthcare professionals (London: Department of Health, 2005) p. 15, citing British Medical Association Domestic violence: a health care issue? (London: BMA, 1998)

[4] Office for National Statistics Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2013/14. Chapter 4: Intimate personal violence and partner abuse (Published online: Office for National Statistics, 2016)

[5] Kelly, L; Sharp, N and Klein, R, Finding the Costs of Freedom How women and children rebuild their lives after domestic violence (London: Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University and Solace Women’s Aid, 2014), p. 19

[6] Howard, M and Skipp, A, Unequal, trapped and controlled. Women’s experience of financial abuse and Universal Credit (London: Women’s Aid and TUC, 2015), p. 40. [52% of 124 women responding to this survey question.]


© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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