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Domestic violence and abuse

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence 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.’

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • coercive control / emotional abuse
  • digital / online abuse
  • honour-based violence
  • forced marriage
  • female genital mutilation (FGM).[1]

Women are more likely than men to experience multiple incidents of abuse, different types of domestic abuse (intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking) and in particular sexual violence. Any woman can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, class, or disability.[2]

Evidence from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that nationally, around four in five victims (79 per cent) of partner abuse did not report the abuse to the police.[3]

The latest figures from the CSEW show little change in the prevalence of domestic abuse in recent years. In the year ending March 2018, an estimated 2.0 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.3 million women, 695,000 men).[4]

A recent report by the National Rural Crime Network has highlighted the "hidden" problem of domestic abuse in rural areas, concluding that: 

"for rural areas, the scale of the barriers faced is significantly greater than for urban victims. In rural areas a range of additional impacts stemming from geographic, cultural and social differences and isolation have an impact which makes reporting abuse a much harder thing to do for rural victims...to the extent they may delay or inhibit reporting altogether."[5]

In 2018, 173 people in the UK were killed in domestic violence-related homicides; a five-year high.[6]

Domestic violence and abuse in Herefordshire

  • It is estimated that 7.6% (3,800) of females aged 16-59 and 4.1% (2,100) of males aged 16-59 were victims of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in the county during the year ending March 2017.[3]
  • The cost to public services in tackling violence against women and girls in Herefordshire has been estimated to be £10.8 million during the year ending March 2017.[3]
  • It is estimated that 6.5% (2,100) of children aged 0 to 15 lived in a household affected by DVA in Herefordshire during the last year and around a quarter (26%) of children lived in a household where an adult had at some time experienced DVA.[3]
  • West Mercia Police recorded 3,071 victims (16.2 per thousand population) of domestic violence and abuse (all ages) in the year ending March 2017 (2,024 females and 1,047 males). Note that some offences and incidents have more than one victim.[7]
  • Herefordshire’s prevalence rate of reported DVA related crimes (13.5 per thousand population), was relatively low compared with England & Wales as a whole (18.3), the West Mercia area (19.2) and is lower than five out of the seven “Most Similar Forces” (MSFs) to West Mercia during the year ending March 2017.[7]

If you are experiencing, or have been affected by, domestic violence or abuse, both the Domestic Abuse page of the main Herefordshire Council website and the Wellbeing Information and Signposting for Herefordshire (WISH) website provide information about organisations that can provide help or advice.

[1] What is domestic abuse?  Victim Support.

[2] What is domestic abuse?  Women's Aid.

[3]  Crime Survey for England and Wales 2017, Office for National Statistics (ONS)

[4] Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018, ONS.

[5] Captive & Controlled: Domestic Abuse in Rural Areas, National Rural Crime Network, 2019.

[6]Domestic violence murders surge to five-year high, T.Mackintosh and S. Swann, BBC news, 13 September 2019.

[7] Domestic Abuse Marker Applied- Crimes & Crimed Incidents, West Mercia Police, 2016-17.