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News Briefing - February 2021

Annual Briefing with nineteen topics covering wide range of issues./p>


Parity action group

Partner Abuse in England and Wales
1995 - 2007

Estimated numbers of incidents and of victims


In 1995, the Home Office introduced a computerised detailed self-completion questionnaire specifically on domestic violence as a supplement to the routine BCS. This asked people whether they had been abused or assaulted by a partner or family member either in the previous 12 months or since the age of 16. This resulted in the publication in January 1999 under Home Office Research Study 191 of the first detailed Government study of the prevalence and outcomes of domestic violence in England and Wales. The results showed much higher proportions of male victims of non-sexual partner abuse than implied by the routine BCSs.


A second detailed study was carried out in 2001 as a supplement to the BCS that year, with results published in March 2004 under Home Office Research Study 276. A third similar study of interpersonal violence was carried out in 2004/05, and detailed studies have since been carried out on annual basis as supplements to the routine BCSs.


The higher proportions of male victims of non-sexual partner abuse estimated by the detailed surveys, are consistent with the results of academic studies of aggression between dating and live-in couples, with now over 200 such studies published world-wide. These all show a substantial level of female aggression in such relationships, with women admitting initiating aggression in about one quarter of cases, men similarly in a quarter, and with mutual aggression admitted in the rest. Although women tend to be more harmed or frightened by domestic violence and more tend to be injured, men can also suffer similarly physically and emotionally, and about one third of those injured are men.

Government policy


Since domestic violence became a political issue in the late 60s and early 70s, Government policy and funding has tended to focus mainly on women as the victims. This is still largely the case, despite the Government�s own detailed studies published since 1999 showing a substantial level of male victimisation, and despite the wealth of academic research now available on the issue also showing almost equal culpability between the sexes. Even now, a consultation document recently sent out by the Crown Prosecution Authority, on the prosecution of domestic violence cases, contains the assertion that "the overwhelming majority of victims are female".


This polarisation of the issue into female victims and male perpetrators has resulted in the plight and needs of male victims being largely ignored in public policy, although there are some signs that this neglect is starting to be addressed. However, there is still a widespread lack of meaningful support services for male victims, and a lack of information about those services that do exist. DV forums tend to publicise information mainly directed at women victims. Police initiatives on the issue, with some exceptions, are usually targeted only at male perpetrators.


Particular plight of male victims

Although the experiences of male and female victims have much in common, and both sexes can suffer physical and emotional harm, the plight of male victims of partner abuse is compounded by:


  • A greater reluctance to report, even when injured or suffering chronic abuse
  • More likelihood of them being disbelieved or even ridiculed if they do
  • A greater likelihood of being themselves arrested
  • A dearth of effective support services for them including emergency accommodation � they being often directed to bed and breakfasts or hostels unsuitable for fathers with children
  • A greater likelihood of being themselves removed from the family home with a high risk of subsequent loss of meaningful, or any, contact with their children, and risk of an adverse effect on their career prospects
  • A greater difficulty in obtaining court orders against violent partners
  • The institutionalised effects of official policies and practice still negatively influenced against them by entrenched and hostile perspectives based on women as victims and men as perpetrators, so that a holistic and more equitable approach is ignored, and no government funding made available for male victims.


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