Who are the victims of domestic abuse?

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but some people – particularly women – are more likely to be victims.


Who are the victims of domestic abuse?

  • Each year more than 75,000 people in the UK are at imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result of domestic abuse. 1
  • Each year the situation of over 70,000 high-risk victims and 96,000 children are discussed at Marac meetings across England and Wales.  93% of these victims are female, and 7% are male. 17% are from Black, Asian or racially minoritised communities. 10% are disabled. 1.6% are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT).1


What are the characteristics of victims that mean they are more likely to be abused?

  • Gender: Women are much more likely than men to be the victims of high risk or severe domestic abuse: 93% of those going to Marac1 in Great Britain and 95% accessing an Idva service are women2
  • Low income: women in households with an income of less than £10,000 were 3.5 times more at risk than those in households with an income of over £20,000.3
  • Age: Younger people are more likely to be subject to interpersonal violence. The majority of high-risk victims accessing an Idva service are in their 20s or 30s2. Those under 25 are the most likely to suffer interpersonal violence 3
  • Pregnancy: Nearly one in three women who suffer from domestic abuse during their lifetime report that the first incidence of violence happened while they were pregnant 4
  • Separation: Domestic violence is higher amongst those who have separated, followed by those who are divorced or single 3
  • Previous criminality of the perpetrator: domestic abuse is more likely where the perpetrator has a previous conviction (whether or not it is related to domestic abuse) 3
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: 10% of high-risk victims of abuse report using alcohol and 6% drugs2
  • Mental health issues: Over 50% of high-risk victims of abuse report mental health difficulties2


Children and domestic abuse

  • In the UK, over 105,000 children live in households where there is high-risk domestic abuse1
  • 62% of high-risk victims2, and 65% of medium risk victims have children5, on average 2 each. 
  • Over a quarter (27%) of children in high-risk domestic abuse households are under 3 years old. On average, high-risk abuse has been going on for 2.6 years, meaning these children are living with abuse for most of their life. 2
  • 78% of children living in domestic abuse households are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others. 6


Find out more

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



1 SafeLives. (2023). Marac national dataset, SafeLives: Bristol.

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

3 Walby, S. & Allen, J. (2004). Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: findings from the British Crime Survey. London: Home Office.

4 Lewis, G, Drife, J, et al. (2001) Why mothers die: Report from the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in the UK 1997-9; commissioned by Department of Health from RCOG and NICE (London: RCOG Press)

5 SafeLives. (2022). Insights Outreach dataset 2021-2022.  SafeLives: Bristol.

6 SafeLives. (2022). Children’s Insights dataset 2021-2022.  SafeLives: Bristol.