1 in 4 Women Experience Domestic Abuse

More than one in four women worldwide experience domestic abuse before the age of 50, according to the largest review of its kind.

Analysis of 366 studies involving more than 2 million women across 161 countries estimate that 27% of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse by a male partner in their lifetime.

One in seven women (13%) – almost 500 million globally – had experienced domestic violence within the last year of the research being conducted. The studies, conducted between 2000 and 2018, were based on self-reported experiences, and given the sensitive and stigmatised nature of the issue, the true scale of abuse is feared to be even higher.

Intimate partner abuse affects the lives of millions of women, children, families and societies worldwide” said the study’s senior author, Claudia García-Moreno, of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although this study took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers are alarming and research has shown the pandemic exacerbated issues leading to intimate partner abuse such as isolation, depression and anxiety, and alcohol use, as well as reducing access to support services. García-Moreno said progress made over the last 20 years was “grossly insufficient” to meet global targets for eliminating abuse against women by 2030.

The study also found high levels of abuse against adolescent girls and young women. In the youngest age cohort, 15 to 19, 24% are estimated to have experienced intimate partner abuse in their lifetime.

The prevalence of recent intimate partner abuse was highest among ever-partnered adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 19 and 20 to 24, with 16% or one in six having experienced domestic abuse within the last 12 months of the research.

“The high number of young women experiencing intimate partner violence is alarming, as adolescence and early adulthood are important life stages when the foundations for healthy relationships are built,” said the lead author of the study, LynnMarie Sardinha, also of the WHO.

The abuse young women experience has long-lasting impacts on their health and wellbeing. Intimate partner abuse is preventable and more needs to be done to develop and invest in effective community- and school-based interventions that promote gender equality and reduce young women’s risk of being subjected to abuse from a partner.

If you need domestic abuse support or advice please contact us.