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Women in poorer households more likely to experience domestic abuse

Women living in low income households are more likely to experience domestic abuse, statistics have revealed.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal that women living in households with an income of less than £10,000 were more than four times as likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than women living in households with an income of £50,000 or more.

Furthermore, women living in social housing were nearly three times as likely to have experienced abuse from their partner in the last 12 months than women who owned their own homes. Unemployed women were nearly twice as likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than those in employment.

“Today’s analysis gives insight into the characteristics of women and girls who are more likely to experience partner abuse. It also tells us about the types of households they live in. This can help to inform policies and services aimed at ending violence against women and girls – one of the key targets in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Glenn Everett, Deputy Director, Well-being, Inequalities, Sustainability and Environment Division at the ONS.

There is a commitment under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls across the globe. One of the targets of this goal is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates for the year ending March  2017showed that 1.2 million women (7.5%) aged 16 to 59 years were victims of “Any domestic abuse” in the last 12 months. Of these women, 985,000 (5.9% of women aged 16 to 59 years) experienced partner abuse in the last year. Non-sexual partner abuse was one of the most common forms of abuse against women.

The ONS analysis revealed that young women aged between 16 and 19 years (7.6%) and 20 and 24 years (7.4%) were significantly more likely to have experienced partner abuse in the 12 months before interview than women aged between 45 and 54 years (5.6%) and 55 and 59 years (4.4%).

Women living in single-adult households with children were the most likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months and were four times as likely to have experienced partner abuse than those living in a household with other adults and children. Women who lived in single-adult households with children were seven times as likely to have experienced stalking by a partner or ex-partner and were also three times as likely to have been a victim of sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner than women living in households made up of more than one adult and children.

Women who had a long-term illness or disability were just over twice as likely to have experienced some form of partner abuse in the last 12 months than women who did not. Bisexual women were nearly twice as likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than heterosexual women. Bisexual women were again twice as likely as heterosexual women to have experienced non-physical abuse but were nearly five times as likely to have experienced sexual assault by a partner or ex-partner. The analysis outlined that the abuse of bisexual women could have been from a man or woman.

Women who identified as Mixed/Multiple ethnic group were also more likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than any other ethnic group. Asian/Asian British women were the least likely to have been victims of partner abuse.

Experience of partner abuse in the last 12 months was least common among women who were married in terms of marital status. Women who were separated were significantly more likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than those with other marital statuses, except for those who were divorced from their partner or had legally dissolved their partnership.

There were regional differences in the prevalence of partner abuse, with women living in London being the least likely to have been a victim of partner abuse in the last 12 months.

Sian Hawkins, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs, said: “From our work with survivors, we know that women of all ages are living with domestic abuse – regardless of whether they have just embarked on their first relationship or have been married for decades. We also know that younger women experience abuse at shockingly high rates but are less likely to access vital support services. We want to change this.

“Today’s ONS statistics show that a higher proportion of younger women between the ages of 16-24 experienced domestic abuse in the last year than women aged 45-59. Our culture often portrays controlling behaviour as a sign of being desired or loved when in fact coercive and controlling behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse. This can make it more difficult for younger women, who may be entering into their first relationship, to identify abusive behaviours or question them, and as a result they may not speak out about the abuse or know that domestic abuse services can help them.

“Our research in partnership with Cosmopolitan.com/UK revealed that a shocking one third of young women had been in an abusive relationship, while over two thirds of young women who said they hadn’t experienced domestic abuse had experienced one of more ‘red flag’ behaviours of abuse. Yet our 2017 Annual Survey reveals that this age group is less likely to access support services; only 3.7% of women resident in refuge and 6.4% of women accessing community-based support services were in the 16-20 age bracket. Only by breaking down the myths about who abuse happens to can we ensure that every survivor gets the support she needs to rebuild a life free from abuse.

“That’s why we are calling on the government to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to break down the barriers facing young women in disclosing abuse and accessing help to ensure that every survivor gets the support she needs, when she needs it. The government’s commitment to introduce compulsory relationships and sex education in schools from 2019 is a welcome first step. It must be delivered as part of a ‘whole school’ approach to tacking sexism and sexual harassment within the school setting, with a clear focus on domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls to teach all young people what a healthy relationship looks like. Until then, Women’s Aid has teamed up with Cosmopolitan.com/UK to help raise awareness of what domestic abuse is. We want to let younger women know that they are not alone, Women’s Aid is here to support you. Visit www.womensaid.org.uk or access our guide to healthy relationships for young people www.lovedontfeelbad.co.uk.”

Women most at risk of experiencing partner abuse in England and Wales: years ending March 2015 to 2017

 

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