The charity Women’s Aid notes that police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour – itself an underestimate of the levels of violence as data shows that only 18% of women who had experienced partner abuse in 2018 reported it to the police.
And – as the latest research shows – domestic abuse is a global concern. A new study, published in The Lancet, identifies that more than one in four women experience some form of domestic violence before the age of 50.
The study examined 366 existing eligible studies, capturing the responses of 2 million women across 161 countries and areas, covering “90% of the global population of women and girls (15 years or older).”
In addition to finding that one in four women experience domestic abuse before the age of 50, the study also found that one in six women (16%) aged 15–24 years were estimated to have been subjected to intimate partner violence within the year preceding the survey.
Although these statistics are already shocking, the study notes that the “true prevalence of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence is likely to be higher,” given that the data was of a sensitive nature and self-reported.
Notably, the study only includes data from 2000-18 and notes that the Covid-19 pandemic and its “associated control measures (ie, lockdowns, mobility restrictions, and curfews)” are “exacerbating the already heavy burden of intimate partner violence.”
Indeed, an ONS report published in November 2020 determined that there was an “increase in demand for domestic abuse victim services during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly affecting helplines as lockdown measures eased.” (This doesn’t necessarily mean there was an increase in cases of domestic abuse – it also points to the fact that coping methods for those experiencing domestic abuse, such as leaving the house, were limited.)
Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, the senior author of the latest study, described the progress made over the last two decades as “grossly insufficient” in terms of meeting the UN Women’s international target of eliminating violence against women by 2030.
She said, “Although this study took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers are alarming and research has shown the pandemic exacerbated issues leading to intimate partner violence such as isolation, depression and anxiety, and alcohol use, as well as reducing access to support services.
“Preventing intimate partner violence from happening in the first place is vital and urgent. Governments, societies and communities need to take heed, invest more, and act with urgency to reduce violence against women, including by addressing it in post-Covid reconstruction effort.”
For more information about emotional abuse and domestic violence, you can call The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge on 0808 2000 247.