Bexley Women's Aid P.O. Box 25 Bexleyheath Kent DA7 4BS 0208 301 1536

How Common is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is very common; however, it is often difficult to accurately quantify because domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime- occurring primarily at home. According to the 2014 HMIC report into domestic abuse response, domestic abuse often goes on unreported, as women frequently don’t report or disclose the abuse to the police[1].

Key statistics

Although domestic abuse is chronically under reported and there is no real reliable prevalence data on domestic abuse, research by the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW)[2] offers the best data available. The CSEW found that:

  • On estimate, 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse in the last year
  •  4.3 million women have experienced domestic abuse at some point since the age of 16.
  • On average two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner every week in England and Wales.
  • Domestic abuse related crime is 10% of total crime, an increase of 2% since 2016.
  • On average the police receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour.
  • Only around one in five of women resident in refuge (20.9%) on a census day and one in six of those using community-based services (16.8%) during a census week had seen a criminal case or ongoing criminal proceedings against the perpetrator.
  • The volume of domestic abuse prosecutions completed rose in the year 2015/2016 to 100,930 from 92,779 in 2014/2015 – this is the highest level ever recorded. Where gender was recorded, 92.1% (92,851) of defendants were male and 7.9% (7,992) were female (in 87 cases gender was not recorded). 83.3% (71,706) of victims were female and 16.7% (14,406) were male.
  • Domestic abuse has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002).



  • 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (NSPCC, 2011).
  • 90% of domestic abuse incidents in family households, children were in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992).
  • 62% of children in households where domestic abuse is happening are also directly harmed (SafeLives, 2015).



  • 30% of domestic abuse either starts or will intensify during pregnancy (Department of Health report, October 2004).
  • Foetal morbidity from violence is more prevalent than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia (Friend, 1998).




[1] HMIC, Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse (Published online: HMIC, 2014), p. 31.

[2] Office for National Statistics Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2013/14. (Published online: Office for National Statistics, 2015).