Domestic Violence Affects Over a Fifth of EU Women

March 31, 2014  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

domestic violence against women

The world’s largest-ever survey on violence against women has been published in a report by  the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), revealing the prevalence of abuse experienced by women: one third of women in the EU have suffered a form of violence, and more than a fifth reported experiencing violence at the hands of a partner.

The FRA report outlines incidents of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and violence suffered by women in the home, at work, in public and online. The agency hopes that the survey will demonstrate to policy makers that the true extent of violence against women must be recognised and acted upon in order to safeguard victims.

The survey interviewed over 42,000 women between the ages of 18 and 74 across the EU. As well as reporting instances of domestic and public violence, the survey also provides statistics on childhood sexual abuse, stalking, sexual harassment, and the effects of modern technology on abuse.

Morten Kjaerum, Director of the FRA Director, explained the importance of using the results of the report to improve prevention and support measures for women:

“These survey figures simply cannot and should not be ignored. FRA’s survey shows that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU Member States. The enormity of the problem is proof that violence against women does not just impact a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Therefore, policy makers, civil society and frontline workers need to review measures to tackle all forms of violence against women no matter where it takes place. Measures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now.”

According to the survey, 62 million women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. This number made up 33% of all the women who participated in the survey. Around 1 in 5 (22%) of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a partner, while almost half (43%) of women have experienced some kind of psychological abuse from a partner. What makes these statistics more frightening is that fact that 67% of the women who said they had experienced a serious incident of domestic violence did not report it to the police or any other organisation.

Outside of domestic abuse, the survey showed that women also regularly experience incidents of sexual, physical and psychological abuse at work, in the street, and online. The overwhelming prevalence of stalking, cyber-harassment and work-based sexual harassment is well-documented in the Everyday Sexism Project, and the FRA study confirms just how often women are exposed to violent or intimidating behaviour.

The FRA has made a number of proposals to EU and national policy makers with the hope of improving preventative and response measures for violence against women, including guidance for employers, the police, internet service providers and health professionals. The report demonstrated a clear need for the review of current legislative and policy responses to sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and cyber-stalking. The survey results also emphasised the requirement of positively engaging men as well as women in campaigns to raise awareness of violence against women.

While this particular study focused on violence against women, the statistics on male victims of domestic violence is equally concerning though unfortunately far less widely discussed. Of every five victims of partner abuse, two will be male, and three will be female, with one in six men in the UK having experienced domestic violence since the age of 16. Male victims are almost twice as likely not to seek help for domestic violence – just 10% of men who have experienced domestic violence will report it to the police.

In a positive move in combatting domestic violence against both men and women, the Government has made the decision to widen the official definition of domestic violence to include psychological abuse for the first time. The law has also changed to recognise that domestic violence can apply to 16 and 17-year-olds as well as adults.

You can read the main results report and the full findings of the FRA survey here, as well as a summary of key findings.

At Frances Lindsay & Co we always have families in mind, offering traditional and alternative methods of separation and dispute resolution which focus on the well being of our clients. We have an extensive experience of family law, including children’s issues, and we are able to offer practical advice and support to keep women and families safe in the case of domestic violence or abuse. Please get in touch if you are in need of help, and one of our friendly and down-to-earth family lawyers will do their best to provide you with the assistance you need. 

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