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  • 29% of murders in Northern Ireland involved domestic situations (RUC Statistics).

  • A national survey in the Republic of Ireland found that 59% of women surveyed know a woman whose partner used violence against her.

  • From 1991-1994, twenty four women were victims in domestic violence related homicide.  Other serious violence cases which came to court totaled 1031, these included grevious bodily harm, Actual bodily Harm, threats to kill etc.

                    979 victims were women

                    52 victims were men. (RUC Statistics).

  • One women is seriously assaulted (ABH, GBH, attempted murder) by her male partner every day in Northern Ireland (RUC Statistics).

  • Since 1978 over 30,000 women and children have been accommodated in Women's Aid refuges in Northern Ireland (Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland Statistics).

  • Women's Aid have provided information, support and advice to over 90,000 people since  1978 (Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland Statistics).



  • Almost half (44%) of all incidents reported by women to the British Crime Survey were domestic violence incidents. (British Crime Survey 1996, Home Office).

  • Since 1981, the largest increase in violent crimes has been in incidents of domestic violence (British Crime Survey 1996, Home Office).

  • A number of local surveys in the UK show between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 women report having suffered domestic violence at some time in their adult lives.

  • A household survey of 430 women in a London borough found that 1 in 3 women had experienced domestic violence at some time in their lives, 12% had been victims of domestic violence in the past year (Jayne Mooney (1993) The Hidden Figure: Domestic Violence in North London, Middlesex University Centre for Criminology).

  • A survey of 484 women in Surrey's shopping centres found that 1 in 4 defined themselves as having suffered domestic violence from a male partner or ex-partner since the age of 18 years (Nicola Dominy & Lorraine Radford (1996) Domestic Violence in Surrey: Towards an Effective Inter-Agency Response, Surrey Social Services / Roehampton Institute).

  • A survey of 281 women attending GP surgeries in West London found that 1 in 3 (33%) reported suffering abuse from a male partner (Alison McGibbon, Libby Cooper & Liz Kelly (1988) What Support?, Child and Woman Abuse Study Unit, University of North London).

  • A recent survey of 129 women attending GPs surgeries in North London found 1 in 9 reported experiences of domestic violence serious enough to require medical attention in the past 12 months (Elizabeth Stanko, Debbie Crisp, Chris Hale and Hebe Lucraft (1997) Counting The Costs: Estimating The Impact of Domestic Violence in the London Borough of Hackney, Swindon: Crime Concern).

  • Similar findings are reported from research overseas. For example the largest recent survey of violence against women involved a telephone survey of over 11,000 women in Canada. One in three reported violence from their partners (Statistics Canada (1996) Survey on Violence Against Women in Canada).

  • A survey of 1000 women in city centres in North England found that 1 in 8 women reported having been raped by their husbands or partners (Painter, K. (1991) Wife Rape and The Law Survey Report: Key Findings And Recommendations, Department of Social Policy & Social Work, University of Manchester).

  • As many as 1 in 3 marriages that end in divorce involve domestic violence (Borkowski, Murch & Walker (1983) Marital Violence, Tavistock).

  • Each year, 45% of female homicide victims are killed by present or former male partners compared to 8% of male victims. On average, 2 women per week are killed in England and Wales by their partners/ex-partners (Criminal Statistics (1992) Home Office).

  • Repeat victimisation is common. Half of all victims of domestic violence are involved in incidents more than once (British Crime Survey 1996 Home Office).

  • Weapons are less likely to be used in assaults but victims of domestic violence are more likely to be injured (British Crime Survey 1996 Home Office).

  • 1 in 4 incidents result in substantial physical injuries. 10% of 129 women surveyed in North London GP surgeries reported being knocked unconscious by their partners. 5% had sustained broken bones as a result of domestic violence. (Elizabeth Stanko, Debbie Crisp, Chris Hale and Hebe Lucraft (1997) Counting The Costs: Estimating The Impact of Domestic Violence in the London Borough of Hackney, Swindon: Crime Concern).

  • Women who are physically abused report physical injuries on average four occasions during a twelve month period (Jayne Mooney (1993) The Hidden Figure: Domestic Violence in North London, Middx University Centre for Criminology).

  • 60% of 127 women resident in refuges in Northern Ireland experienced violence during pregnancy. 13% lost their babies as a result (Monica McWilliams & Joan McKiernan (1993) Bringing it out into the open, Belfast HMSO).

  • Domestic violence often continues and may escalate in severity after separation. As many as one-third of women who leave refuges experience continued abuse and harassment from their ex-partners (Binney, Harkell & Nixon, (1988) Leaving Violent Men, Bristol: WAFE).

  • Women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner (Daly & Wilson (1988) Homicide, Aldane Gruyter).

  • Domestic violence is the least likely violent crime to be reported to the police. Only one out of three crimes resulting in injury are reported (British Crime Survey, 1996).

  • Women who suffer domestic violence are likely to under report incidents of abuse. In a study of 484 women's experiences of violence in Surrey, 2 out of 3 women who defined themselves as victims of domestic violence said they had not told family, friends or agencies about the abuse. (Dominy & Radford (1996) Domestic Violence in Surrey, Surrey Social Services/ Roehampton Institute).Domestic violence has a major impact upon the health and welfare of women and children world-wide. The 1995 World Development Report by the United Nations shows, that on a world scale, it is a significant cause of disability and death (Social Services Inspectorate (1996) Domestic Violence and Social Care).

  • 5% of health years of life are lost world-wide by women because of domestic violence (Social Services Inspectorate, 1996).

  • Psychologists in the USA have found parallels between the effects of domestic violence on women and the impact of torture and imprisonment on hostages (Graham, P. Rawlings E. & Rimini, W. (1988) 'Survivors of Terror: Battered Women, Hostages and the Stockholm Syndrome' in K. Yllo & M. Bograd (eds) Feminist Perspectives On Wife Abuse, London, Sage).

  • Research has shown that these effects include low self esteem, dependence upon the perpetrator, feelings of hopelessness about ending the violence, a tendency to minimise or deny the violence (Kirkwood, C. (1993) Leaving Abusive Partners, London: Sage).

  • Victims of marital rape suffer many of the same reactions as other victims of rape, including very severe depression and suicidal tendencies. Feelings of shame and degradation prevent women from talking about this form of abuse (Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association (1992) Physicians and Domestic Violence: Ethical Considerations' in Journal of American Medical Assoc., 267: 3190-3).

  • Domestic violence is a factor in 1 in 4 suicide attempts by women (Stark, E. Flitcraft, A. & Frazier, W. (1979) Medicine And Patriarchal Violence: The Social Construction of A 'Private' Event, International Journal of Health Services, 9 (3) pp. 461-93).


Children & domestic violence

  • A survey of child abuse hospital records in the USA found that 45% of the mothers of abused children were also victims of domestic violence (Stark & Flitcraft, 1988).

  • Bowker's study of over 1,000 women living in refuges found that 70% of the women with children said their partners had also been physically violent to the children (Bowker, 1988).

  • Other studies reviewed by Hughes et al (1989) have found child abuse and woman abuse occurring together in 40-60% of cases.

  • 1 in 3 child protection cases show a history of domestic violence to the mother (Hester & Pearson, 1998).

  • Research sponsored by the National Children's Home in the UK found that in 25% of cases the male partner had also been violent to the children (NCH, 1994).

  • In 90% of incidents involving domestic violence, the children are in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992).

  • The NCH study found 75% of mothers said their children had witnessed domestic violence, 33% had seen their mothers beaten up, 10% had witnessed sexual violence (NCH, 1994).

  • Children's responses to witnessing domestic violence vary according to a multitude of factors, including age, race, class, sex, stage of development, role in the family, relationship with parent(s), and the availability of sources of support outside the immediate family situation (Saunders, 1995).

  • Children of all ages most often take some form of passive or active support to protect their mothers when witnessing domestic violence (Hester & Radford, 1996).

  • Children of all ages phone the police for assistance and a number of research studies suggest that women often attribute their eventual escape to the emotional and practical support provided by their children (Hoff, 1990).

  • Girls, in particular seek to protect younger siblings during violent episodes and offer support or reassurance in the aftermath of violent behaviour (Jaffe et al 1990).

  • When they have contact with fathers after separation, children may take on even greater responsibility to protect their mothers or siblings from violence or neglect (Hester & Radford, 1996).

  • Children sometimes feel guilty if they do not come to the aid of their mother. This 'guilt' is often accompanied by self blame and feelings that they have in some way 'caused' their father to be violent (Saunders, 1995).

  • Children may also feel angry towards their mother for not protecting herself or the children, as well as blaming her for causing the violence. Others may be so concerned about their mother's distress that they keep private their own grief (Saunders, 1995).

  • Common 'adjustment difficulties' among children who witness domestic violence include: increased levels of anxiety, psychosomatic illnesses, including: headaches, abdominal complaints, asthma, peptic ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, stuttering, enuresis; sadness, withdrawal and fear; lower rating in social competence, particularly for boys; a reduction in understanding social situations including thoughts and feelings of people involved (Jaffe et al, 1990).

  • More observable behavioural effects include: disobedience, destructiveness in younger boys (Wolfe et al., 1985); nervous, withdrawn and anxious demeanour in younger girls (Hughes, 1986); more difficult temperaments and more aggressive behaviour in both sexes (Holden and Ritchie, 1991); children running away from home (Jaffe et al 1990).

  • Children of battered women will not necessarily grow up to be batterers or victims of domestic violence themselves. No conclusive evidence exists to support the 'intergenerational transmission of violence' thesis or to show that there is a 'cycle of violence' (Mullender & Morley, 1994



Bowker, L. Arbitell, M. & McFerron, J. (1988) 'On The Relationship Between Wife Beating And Child Abuse' in K. Yllo & M. Bograd (eds) Feminist Perspectives On Wife Abuse, London Sage.

Burge, S. (1989) 'Violence Against Women As a Health Care Issue', Family Medicine, 21 : 368-373.

Hanmer, J. (1989) 'Women and Policing in Britain' in Hanmer, J. Radford, J. & Stanko, E. (eds) Women, Policing and Male Violence, London : Routledge.

Hester, M. & Radford, L. (1996) Domestic Violence and Child Contact Arrangements in England and Denmark, Bristol : The Policy Press.

Hester, Marianne & Pearson, Chris (1998 June) Preventing Child Abuse: Monitoring Domestic Violence, Bristol : The Policy Press.

Hoff, L. (1990) Battered Women As Survivors, London: Routledge.

Holden, G. & Ritchie, K. (1991) 'Linking extreme marital discord, child rearing and child behaviour problems: Evidence from battered women, Child Development, 62 (2) April, 311-327.

Hughes, H. (1986) 'Research with children in shelters: Implications for clinical services', Children Today, 21-25.

Hughes, H. (1992) 'Impact Of Spouse Abuse On Children Of Battered Women' Violence Update, August 1, pp. 9-11.

Hughes, H. Parkinson, D. & Vargo, M. (1989) 'Witnessing Spouse Abuse And Experiencing Physical Abuse : A "Double Whammy"?', Journal Of Family Violence, 4 (2) , pp. 197-209.

Jaffe, P. Wolfe, D. & Wilson, S., (1990) Children of Battered Women, London: Sage.

Langley, P. (1991) 'Family Violence : Towards A Family Oriented Public Policy', Families In Society, 73, 574-6.

McGibbon, A. Cooper, L. & Kelly, L. (1988) What Support?, London : Hammersmith & Fulham Council/Polytechnic of North London.

Mullender, A. & Morley, R. (1994) (eds) Children Living Through Domestic Violence : Putting Men's Abuse of Women on the Child Care Agenda, London : Whiting & Birch.

NCH Action For Children (1994) The Hidden Victims : Children And Domestic Violence, London : NCH Action For Children.

Saunders, A. (1995) It Hurts Me Too, London: Childline/Women's Aid Federation of England/National Institute For Social Work.

Stark, E. Flitcraft, A. & Frazier, W. (1979) 'Medicine And Patriarchal Violence : The Social Construction of A 'Private Event' , International Journal of Health Services, 9 (3) pp.461-93).

Walker, L. (1985) The Battered Woman Syndrome, New York : Springer Press.

Wolfe,D. Jaffe, P. Wilson, S. & Zak, L. (1985) 'Children of battered women : The relation of child behaviour to family violence and maternal stress' Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 657-665.



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Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland