About domestic abuse

Anyone can experience domestic abuse. If you’re worried about your own relationship or frightened of someone close to you, there is help available. 

What is the definition of domestic abuse?

Facts and stats about domestic abuse

Key statistics about domestic abuse in England and Wales

More facts about domestic abuse


What is the definition of domestic abuse?

The UK government’s definition of domestic abuse is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.”

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Facts and stats about domestic abuse

Official statistics show the number of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the authorities every year. But the problem is much bigger than shown in official statistics, as many victims and children don’t tell anyone about the abuse, and they are not recorded as crimes. That’s why SafeLives also uses data from our Insights database – the largest national database of domestic abuse cases in the UK, with more than 35,000 records from 2009 to date.

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Key statistics about domestic abuse in England and Wales  

  • Each year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse - 1.3 million female victims (8.2% of the population) and 600,000 male victims (4%)  2 
  • Each year more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result of domestic abuse 3
  • Women are much more likely than men to be the victims of high risk or severe domestic abuse: 95% of those going to Marac or accessing an Idva service are women 4,
  • In 2013-14 the police recorded 887,000 domestic abuse incidents in England and Wales  2
  • Seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales 2
  • 130,000 children live in homes where there is high-risk domestic abuse 3
  • 62% of children living with domestic abuse are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others 1
  • On average victims at high risk of serious harm or murder live with domestic abuse for 2-3 years before getting help4
  • 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse4

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More facts about domestic abuse

How widespread is domestic violence and what is the impact? 

Who are the victims of domestic abuse?

How long do people live with domestic abuse, and when do they get help to stop it? 



Caada (2014), In Plain Sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse. Bristol: Caada.

2 ONS (2016), March 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

3 SafeLives (2015), Getting it right first time: policy report. Bristol: SafeLives.

4 SafeLives (2015), Insights Idva National Dataset 2013-14. Bristol: SafeLives.

5 SafeLives (2014), Marac national dataset 2014. Bristol: SafeLives.