Welcome to our Domestic Violence Research and Impact Page. We aim to be a source of up-to-date information on domestic violence research presented for practitioners and community stakeholders. If you need to leave the site at any time, you can click the highlighted “Quick Exit” button in the bottom right corner, which will take you to youtube.com. If you are worried about someone finding out about your search history of domestic violence topics, please visit Women’s Aid’s comprehensive guide on covering your tracks online.
If you are reading this, you probably have lived experience with domestic violence and want to learn about how researchers are trying to tackle the issue. You might even want to get involved and learn what you can do to address the problem of domestic violence in Scotland. You are in the right place. Feel free to start with our brief tour of intimate partner violence below. If you are interested, you can visit our learning corner to get information on related topics like child maltreatment and the types and dimensions of domestic abuse. You can also look at our infographics page for downloadable PDFs. Feel free to share these if you’d like! On all of our pages, you can click on the graphics to get further information from our sources.
Intimate Partner Violence in the UK
Did you know that about 2,400,000 adults survivors of domestic violence report to the police every year in the UK? 2.4 million only scratches the surface of the true rates. Most domestic violence survivors experience multiple instances of violence, and most instances go unreported. Our definition of domestic violence is also evolving. Some behaviours that were socially acceptable in a romantic relationship 20 years ago are no longer tolerated. But these less physical forms of abuse (i.e., name-calling, gaslighting, etc.) are even more likely not to be reported to the police.
Rates of domestic violence are steady. About 4% of men and 8% of women (a total of 12% of the adult population) reported that they experienced domestic violence each year. But these rates are deceptive. Not only do the rates only represent those instances where someone self-identifies their experience as abuse, but the idea of “rates” can also be misleading. The term “rate” means ‘the percentage of the population”. Our population is growing, so 12% five years ago (2018) means roughly 8,000,000, but 12% today (2023) means roughly 8,300,000. That is an extra 300 thousand people affected. If the rate of the problem is not shrinking, that means the problem is growing.
Despite what many people believe, recent research suggests that men and women perpetrate aggression within intimate relationships. Some research even suggests that women engage in aggression more often than men within their intimate partnerships. However, it is important to recognize that these estimates come from “count data”. Count data reflects only the number of instances of intimate partner violence, it does not take the type of violence or the severity of violence into account. However, it is still true to say that most instances of intimate partner violence are “bidirectional”, meaning that both partners engage in aggression (see here).
The estimates to the left come from self-reports of participants’ own aggressive behaviour. Self-reports are vulnerable to participant dishonesty and misestimation. Previous research on domestic violence has shown that participants tend to report more aggression from their partners than the partners self-report.
While men and women aggress against their intimate partners at roughly equal rates, women self-report significantly more fear of their opposite-sex partner than do men. Women’s greater fear of their partner can be partially explained by the homicide rates above. The data tells a clear story: the impact of domestic violence differs by the sex of the perpetrator.
The Problem is Bigger than You Think
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