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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

6.7 million have suffered domestic violence

Latest ONS official statistics based on the Crime Survey for England and Wales reveal trends in domestic abuse and that nearly 2 million people were victims last year.

Two million victims in the last year

Last week (8 February 2018), the Office for National Statistics published  a new article: 

Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2017

These are the headline findings:

  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 26% of women and 15% of men aged 16 to 59 had experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 4.3 million female and 2.4 million male victims.
  • An estimated 7.5% of women (1.2 million) and 4.3% of men (713,000) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.
  • Women were more likely than men to have experienced all types of domestic abuse in the last 12 months, with the exception of non-sexual family abuse, where the difference was non-significant.
  • Sexual assault (including attempts) by a partner is where the largest difference between men and women was observed, with women being five times as likely as men to have experienced this type of abuse in the last year.
  • For both men and women, those in the younger age groups were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse in the last year than those in the older age groups.

Definitions of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse in the CSEW combines the following different types of abuse:

  • Non-sexual abuse by a partner: physical force, emotional or financial abuse, or threats to hurt the respondent or someone close to them, carried out by a current or former partner;
  • Non-sexual abuse by a family member: physical force, emotional or financial abuse, or threats to hurt the respondent or someone close to them, carried out by a family member other than a partner (father or mother, step-father or mother or other relative)
  • Sexual assault carried out by a partner or other family member: rape or assault by penetration (including attempts), or indecent exposure or unwanted touching carried out by a current or former partner or other family member
  • Stalking carried out by a partner or other family member: two or more incidents (causing distress, fear or alarm) of receiving obscene or threatening unwanted letters, e-mails, text messages or phone calls, having had obscene or threatening information about them placed on the internet, waiting or loitering around home or workplace, or following or watching by a current or former partner or family member

Prevalence

The year ending March 2017 CSEW estimated that 5.9% of adults aged 16 to 59 had experienced domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to 1.9 million victims. Every type of abuse was more likely to be perpetrated by a partner than another family member :

  • Non-sexual domestic abuse was the most common type of abuse (5.5%), with 4.0% of adults aged 16 to 59 experiencing this type of abuse by a partner and 1.6% by a family member with non-physical abuse (3.9%) being more commonly suffered than threats or force (2.8%)
  • In the last year, 1.2% of adults experienced domestic stalking; 0.9% of adults had experienced stalking by a partner and 0.3% of adults had experienced stalking by a family member.
  • Domestic sexual assault was experienced by 0.3% of adults in the last year; 0.2% of adults had experienced sexual assault by a partner and less than 0.1% had experienced sexual assault by a family member.
  • Domestic sexual assault experienced in the last year showed a different pattern to domestic sexual assault experienced since age 16, with there being no difference between the prevalence of sexual assault by rape or penetration (0.2%) and indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching (0.2%).

Gender differences

As in previous years, women were more likely to experience domestic abuse than men, both since age 16 (26.2% compared with 14.7%) and in the last year (7.5% compared with 4.3%). This was true for all types of domestic abuse, other than non-sexual family abuse in the last year. 

The year ending March 2017 CSEW showed that:

  • An estimated 4.3 million women and 2.4 million men aged 16 to 59 had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 
  • An estimated 1.2 million women and 713,000 men aged 16 to 59 had experienced domestic abuse in the last year 
  • Non-sexual partner abuse was the most common type of domestic abuse experienced in the last year for both women (5.2%) and men (2.7%)
  • Domestic stalking was experienced by 1.7% of women and 0.7% of men in the last year
  • Domestic sexual assault is where the largest difference between men and women was observed, with women being around five times as likely as men to have experienced this type of abuse in the last year (0.5% compared with 0.1%) and eight times as likely to have experienced it since the age of 16 (6.4% compared with 0.8%)

Marital status

  • Separated women (22.6%) and divorced women (19.2%) were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse in the last year than those with other marital statuses.
  • Separated men (11.6%), divorced men (8.8%) and single men (6.6%) were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse in the last year than men who were married or civil partnered or cohabiting.

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