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Domestic violence figures are sobering

“Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

After I read the other day that the fathers’ rights charity Families Need Fathers has launched an online survey aimed at assessing the experiences of male victims of domestic violence I toyed with the idea of writing a post here about domestic violence against men. In particular, I was wondering just how prevalent it is – whilst I have often myself made the point that men can be victims of domestic violence as well as women (and not just men in same-sex relationships), I don’t recall actually dealing with a case of serious domestic violence against a man in the twenty-five-odd years that I was practising as a family lawyer.

In the end I decided not to write that post, but not before looking for some basic domestic violence statistics. These statistics are nothing new, and are very easy to find with a quick internet search. However, they provide very sobering reading, and are therefore I think worth repeating.

For example, in its 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) found that 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men reported having experienced domestic abuse in the last year (that is, partner / ex-partner abuse (non-sexual), family abuse (non-sexual) and sexual assault or stalking carried out by a current or former partner or other family member). That is equivalent to an estimated 1.4 million female victims and 700,000 male victims.

Let’s just stop and think about that. More than 2 million people a year suffer domestic abuse. This is not a minor infection, it’s an epidemic.

The same survey tells us that overall 28.3% of women and 14.7% of men have experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16. That is equivalent to an estimated 4.6 million female victims and 2.4 million male victims. On the basis that the current population of England and Wales is about 57 million, that means that about 12% or about one in eight of the population will suffer domestic abuse during their lifetimes. Yes, I realise that there are flaws with my (very rough) calculations, but I think the point is still made: the chances of you suffering domestic abuse are worryingly high.

Moving on, the domestic violence charity Women’s Aid tell us that one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute and that on average 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner (another figure that comes from the ONS). Two women killed every week. It hardly bears thinking about.

But there are other victims as well. As Women’s Aid also points out, one in seven children and young people under the age of 18 will have experienced living with domestic violence. That trauma must live with them for the rest of their lives, clouding their views on relationships, and tragically even making some young people believe that such behaviour is the norm, leading to a new generation of abusers.

And then there is the economic cost of domestic violence. Domestic violence costs the state in many ways, including costs of criminal justice, healthcare, social services, housing costs and legal aid. The total cost of all of this has been estimated at £16 billion per annum. Yes, that’s billion (and that is believed to be an under-estimate).

I could, of course, go on, but the evidence is already very clear: domestic violence is not just a minor issue that sometimes occurs behind closed doors. It is a major problem that blights a huge proportion of the population, and that has effects that are felt by all of us. We must therefore continue to strive to reduce it by all possible means, including bringing it out into the open, providing information and educating potential perpetrators.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. paul apreda says:

    Thank you John for drawing attention to the issues and the shocking statistics. I think you may be a little confused by the Government definition of ‘Domestic Violence’ which specifically includes emotional, psychological and financial abuse within the ‘Violence’ definition. Further confusion may be caused by the CPS defining ‘Violence against Women and Girls’ to include male victims 13.5% of the total criminal prosecutions – with a further 16.5% of victims being of ‘unknown’ gender! However your Mai point that DV is serious and problematic is well made. Our survey currently has more responses than the Rights of Women one which influenced changes to Legal Aid criteria and resulted in a (unsuccessful) judicial review. We intend to keep our survey open for 3 months and present the evidence to Government and others in the hope that the impact of DV on men will be dealt with appropriately without a gender discrimination that seeks to identify what a victim looks like before the facts have been considered. Nothing in what we’re saying should be misconstrued as in any way diminishing the impact DV has on women or children. We’re simply suggesting that men too should be treated appropriately and on equal terms in relation to their experience of DV.

  2. The Devil's Advocate says:

    Good point John. and yes obvious and substantive evidence does exist; the rwo female and probable one male deaths per week from physical violence is totally unacceptable in a civilised society and has to be sanctioned criminally.

    However there is great concern which l experienced today on the polarised opposite position from a client who has been criminally maligned by their partner for sexual abuse which was a fantasy by the the dysfunctional behaviours of one of the parents who was in the main exhibiting DSM 5, PD or NPD in many of its types. The parent who was falsely maligned was repudiated by the Police Service and Social Services at that initial time. But then this falsely allegating person then went on again with further hostility of malice to allege the same on a further non molestation allegation, knowing that it was false.

    As a Samaritan l could not make judgement nor advice as l am committed to client confidentiality. However my conscience is compromised. As the Police did not at that time interview the false allegations of the other parent l am myself concerned. I.have spoken to other professional colleagues who state that as the Police initially did not act why would they want to act now? l retorted that there are children who might be being psychologically abused and it is all mature adults, Duty of Care to protect the two minor children.The Local Authority have wiped their hands of this accordingly as l was informed and have ring fenced the original perpetrator with such protection, owing it seems to their collusion. Further investigations by the defamed is required or is justice in family courts so perverted that minor children are being psychologically abused against the other parent that their family heritage is denied them at this same time and for them to be coerced into acting as children resisting contact for no other reason than to protect themselves but in doing so allowing the real perpetrator to escape justice due to their malevolent psychosis.

    I wonder what others would advise to remedy such a situation to protect the children. Your advice would be welcome.

  3. Andy. says:

    Having read the artical is this just for physical violence or mental violence where one partner over time may be years even mental abuse leads the other partner to cimmit physical violence.
    I can only assume as newtons law, For every action there is a equal reaction..
    Basic I know but as said mental violence ie letters received and demands with pressuer to make one decide to snap, then this works for the case of the instigator then becomes the victim

    • Paul Apreda says:

      Hi Andy – you ask a very important question. ‘Domestic violence’ is defined by the UK Government as :
      ‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:


      It then goes on to define coercive and controlling behaviour. You can read the definition here:

      We no longer use the term ‘domestic abuse’ – it’s all violence OR Violence Against Women (even when it includes male victims as in the recent Violence against Women & Girls statistics from the CPS where only 70% of victims are female and in the Domestic Violence Policy page from the Home Office that is now titled ‘Violence Against Women & Girls’

      If you now identify yourself as a male victim of Domestic Violence please take part in our survey here So far we’ve reached 156 responses – nearly 40% more than the Rights of Women survey that succeeded in changing the LASPO criteria for Legal Aid.

  4. stitchedup says:

    Well my ex has kicked off again, on bail at the mo as she’s received a text which she thinks could be from me. It’s not from my number so the police are waiting to hear from the service provider to see if the sim is registered. Can’t get a commitment from the police to position where the text was sent from in the event of the sim being unregistered…. Looking like a complete fit-up….. The police haven’t spoke to my witnesses despite the incident happening six weeks ago… Deliberate delaying tactics and an abuse of process in my opinion. Guilty until proven innocent, the police won’t speak to my witnesses, will not commit to positioning where the text was sent from yet they’re meant to be impartial and conduct a full and thorough investigation that includes gathering evidence that eliminates me from their enquiries….. Yeah like hell… I’m just a too juicy domestic target for them to miss…. The cps are no better.

  5. Luke says:

    “I don’t recall actually dealing with a case of serious domestic violence against a man in the twenty-five-odd years that I was practising as a family lawyer.”
    That’s hardly surprising John, frankly if I was a male domestic violence victim and was prepared to brave the stigma of such a label I wouldn’t be coming to you.

    Here are some more accurate statistics:

    • Paul Apreda says:

      Well said Luke – and thanks for the references. I fear it will make no difference to any lobbying we undertake in Wales because there is a gender prejudice against recognition of male victims. However its helpful to have these references so thanks.
      John has of course fallen into the trap of thinking in typical male fashion (well he is a bloke after all) that Violence equates to physical acts. You need to check the definitions John!

      • Luke says:

        Actually I think the evidence shows that women are just as likely or even more likely to commit physical attacks on men – it’s just that on average they are much less effective at doing so and on average men are more able to take physical abuse without sustaining serious injury.
        I also think that when men do sustain physical injury they are on average more likely to cover it up or make some other excuse for it.

        • Paul Apreda says:

          Thanks Luke. You may be right. The real issue however is that ‘anecdotal’ evidence is worse than useless. It gives people the hope that the issues facing men will be recognised when the reality is that they wont. This is why we’ve started our survey using exactly the same methodology that Rights of Women used. Their survey changed the LASPO criteria for Legal Aid and had widespread coverage of the issues facing women. To her credit Marilyn has given us a platform to promote our survey and drive up the numbers. Sadly however we’re finding it difficult to get other coverage. Paul

  6. stitchedup says:

    What John hasn’t factored in of course are the miscarriages of justice that have occurred as a result of the feminist bias in the civil and criminal courts. I live in Wales Paul and will no doubt find myself in the Cardiff kangaroo courts in the not too distant future. I will send you an invite so that you can witnesses the circus for yourself. The problem isn’t just about the refusal to recognize that men can be victims of domestic abuse and violence, it’s also about the biased way in which allegations of domestic abuse or violence against men ate treated. Does your organization recognise this issue? I ask this because in my experience and in the experience of other men I know of it’s a major issue.

    • Paul Apreda says:

      Interesting comments Stitchedup!
      Thanks for the invitation to ‘witness the circus’ for myself. I regularly attend Cardiff Family Court and will be there next week at a meeting to plan the establishment of a Family Law clinic supporting LIPs. We’ve proposed that our charity will run this clinic but it will be an uphill struggle to achieve this. We lack committed volunteers who are prepared to commit time and effort and actually deliver.
      You also ask whether our organisation recognises the issues. We are the ones behind the survey referred to in the original article. We’ve also been recognised by the Welsh Government as the first organisation as representative of men – as a group with protected characteristics under the Equalities Act 2010. We ran focus groups across Wales to listen to men’s experience of equalities issues and report those back to Government. This week I’ve also started work to establish a new initiative so that we will be a specialist domestic violence support organisation, one aspect of which will be to enable us to provide the proof for men (and women!) to access Legal Aid.
      Perhaps you should have a look at our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed and see whether you’d like to get involved in the practical actions we’re taking to make a difference. Paul

      • stitchedup says:

        Paul, just to clarify I’m the accused. My earlier post was ambiguous, I tried to clarify my point in the post below.

  7. stitchedup says:

    I should have worded that differently, i should have said *the biased way in which allegations against men of domestic abuse or violence are investigated, considered for prosecution and indeed judged.”

  8. The Devil's Advocate says:

    Interesting, Karen Woodall of the Parental separation clinic in both her own reaearch from Government statistics claims that out of every 7 adults affected by all forms of dv. 4 are against women and 3 against men.

    Be careful John where you obtain your statistics.!

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