“The tip of the iceberg”: Women’s Aid statement on latest ONS domestic abuse statistics

Thursday 11th February 2016

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“ONS statistics released today show the number of women reporting having experienced domestic abuse in the last year is very slightly lower than the previous year’s statistics. The data also shows that an estimated 4.5 million female victims have experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16. We know that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.  There is continued systemic failure in addressing the root causes of domestic abuse, and the issue is not getting any better. We know that it is far worse than the current statistics show.

“We welcome the recognition by the ONS that there are issues in recording domestic abuse in the Crime Survey of England and Wales. Data on domestic abuse remains fundamentally misleading. The cap means that the number of incidents recorded stops counting after five repeat incidents against one victim. Professor Sylvia Walby, Professor of Sociology and Unesco Chair of Gender Research at Lancaster University, has found that due to this cap, the incidence of violent crime against women, and domestic violence in particular, is deeply underestimated in official statistics. When this cap is removed, violence against women by intimate partners rises by 70 per cent, and violence against women by acquaintances by 100 per cent.

“These misleading statistics are very dangerous for the domestic abuse sector. The misrepresentation helps support local government’s decisions to cut domestic abuse services for women, as well as commissioners’ decisions to fund gender-neutral services. This is putting women’s lives in danger and obstructing their recovery from domestic abuse. The ONS must rectify this – before domestic abuse services are decimated even more.”

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