How widespread is domestic abuse and what is the impact?

High numbers of women – and many men – will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. The impact of domestic abuse on the victim and on children – even once they have achieved safety – is severe and long-lasting.

How widespread is domestic violence?

How many people die as a result of domestic abuse?

What forms does domestic abuse take?

What are the physical health impacts of domestic abuse?

What are the mental health impacts of domestic violence?


How widespread is domestic abuse?

  • In the year ending March 2023, an estimated 2.1 million people (4.4% of the population) aged 16 and over in England and Wales suffer some form of domestic abuse - 1.4 million female (5.7% of women) victims and 751,000 male victims (3.2% of men).1
  • In England and Wales, an estimated 10.4m adults aged 16 years and over had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. This equates to a prevalence rate of approximately 22 in 100 adults.1
  • A quarter of 13–18-year-old girls report experiencing physical abuse in their own intimate partner relationships, and one-third sexual abuse.2
  • In the year ending March 2023, the police recorded nearly 1.5 million domestic abuse related incidents and crimes in England and Wales.1

How many people die as a result of domestic abuse?

  • Between 2020 and 2022, 186 women were murdered by their male partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. In comparison, 30 men were murdered by their female partner or ex-partner.3
  • This means 1.8 women a week – or 8 a month – are killed by a current or ex-partner in England and Wales. 3
  • According to the Femicide Census from 2009 to 2018, 62% of women were killed by their current or ex-partner from 2009 to 2018. The risk of serious assault and death is highest for a woman after she leaves an abusive relationship. Of the women killed by partners or former partners, 43% were known to have separated or to be attempting to separate, which is likely to be an undercount.4
  • It is estimated that 1 in 8 women take their own lives as a result of domestic abuse: every day almost 30 women attempt suicide as a result of experiencing domestic abuse and every week three women take their own lives.5
  • In 2020-21, there were over 30 domestic abuse related suicides reported by the police, a likely underestimate as only those with a history of abuse were included.6
  • In a study of 32 Domestic Homicide Reviews a quarter were family-related homicide, with most of those cases involving a parent killed by their adult child.7

What forms does domestic abuse take?

  • 82% of high-risk victims experience multiple forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, harassment and stalking and jealous and controlling behaviours.8

  • In 8 in 10 (79%) high-risk cases, the abuse is escalating in either frequency or severity, or both.9

  • Approximately 42% of domestic violence victims have been victimised more than once. Victims experience an average of 20 incidents of domestic violence in a year, which can often increase in severity each time. 5

  • Over 70% of high-risk victims report experiencing physical abuse.8

  • Over 80% of high-risk victims report experiencing jealous and controlling behaviours8.

  • 78% of teenage victims of domestic abuse (aged 16-19 years) experienced physical abuse, and 34% sexual abuse. 8


What are the physical health impacts of domestic abuse?

  • 1 in 5 high-risk victims reported attending A&E as a result of their injuries in the year before getting effective help8

  • As well as short term injuries, victims of abuse suffer long-term physical health consequences. Health conditions associated with abuse including asthma, bladder and kidney infections, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, migraines/headaches 10 11 12.

  •  Domestic abuse often leaves victims with reproductive consequences too, including gynaecological disorders, sexually transmitted infections, pre-term difficulties and pregnancy difficulties 13.

  • At least a fifth (18%) of children in domestic abuse households are injured as a result of the abuse.14

What are the mental health impacts of domestic abuse?

  • Over 50% of high-risk victims report having mental health issues8

  • 7% of victims report that they have considered or attempted suicide as a result of the abuse, and 17% report self-harming8

  • Domestic abuse has significant psychological consequences for victims, including anxiety, depression, suicidal behaviour, low self-esteem, inability to trust others, flashbacks, sleep disturbances and emotional detachment.13

  • Domestic abuse victims are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – as many as two-thirds of victims of abuse (64%) developed PTSD in one study 15

  • Between 30 and 60% of psychiatric in-patients had experienced severe domestic abuse16


Find out more

Who are the victims of domestic abuse?



1 Crime Survey England and Wales.  (2022).  Domestic abuse prevalence and trends, England and Wales.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/domesticabuseprevalenceandtrendsenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2022 [Accessed 4th January 2024]

2 NSPCC (2011), Partner Exploitation and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships. London: NSPCC.

3 Home Office. (2022). Homicide Index data: March 2020- March 2022, England and Wales.

4 Femicide Census. (n.d.). Femicide Census 10-year report 2009-2018, UK. https://www.femicidecensus.org/reports/ [Accessed 6th February 2024]

5 Walby, S. (2004), The cost of domestic violence. Women and Equality Unit. London: Home Office.

6 Home Office. (2022). Domestic Homicides and Suspected Victim Suicides During the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020-2021, England and Wales.

7 Home Office. (2023). Key findings from analysis of domestic homicide reviews: October 2019 to September 2020, England and Wales.

8 SafeLives. (2023). Insights Idva Dataset 2021-2022, SafeLives: Bristol

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

10 Black, M.C. et al. (2011), The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA.

11 Crofford, L.J. (2001), Violence, stress, and somatic syndromes in ‘Trauma Violence Abuse’ 8: 299–313.

12 Leserman, J. and Drossman, D.A. (2007), Relationship of abuse history to functional gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms in ‘Trauma Violence Abuse’ 8:331–343.

13 CTC (2014), Website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequenc... Accessed 4 February 2015.

14 Caada (2014), In Plain Sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse: 2nd national policy report. Bristol: Caada.

15 Golding, J. (1999), Intimate partner violence as a risk factor for mental disorders: a meta-analysis in ‘Journal of Family Violence’, 14 (2), 99-132

16 Howard, L.M., Trevillion, K., Khalifeh, H., Woodall, A., Agnew-Davies, R. and Feder, G. (2010), Domestic violence and severe psychiatric disorders: prevalence and interventions in ‘Psychological Medicine’ (2010), 40 ,881-893. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.