Domestic violence and abuse happens between two people in a family or between two people who are in an intimate relationship with each other, it happens to all people in society regardless of ethnicity, socio economic status or age. Domestic violence happens within young people’s relationships, within gay and lesbian relationships, to disabled people or between family members. More often than not men are the abusers and women are the victims, but domestic violence can also happen to men.
When you look at the roles of men and women in history it can help you to understand why it happens more to women. 150 years ago in the UK it was still legal for a man to beat his wife, as long as the stick was no thicker than his thumb. Historically, women had very few legal rights: they couldn’t own property or divorce their husbands; they could only work certain in jobs and were paid much less than men. In many societies, it’s been the role of women to mind the home, cook, clean and care for the children and for their husband. Traditionally, it’s been the man’s role to work and earn the money for the family. Men made the rules and women and children had to follow them. A man had the right to beat his wife and children if he felt they deserved it.
In the UK, a lot has changed since then – things are much better now! In the last century women have fought hard to win more rights, such as the right to vote, the right to study and to work.Women now have careers and men and women share the responsibilities of taking care of the home and children.
Men and women should be treated as equals, but this is still not always the case. Many societies and cultures still believe that men are stronger and more powerful than women and this makes some people think that violence between men and women is okay – but it’s not! Men and women are still working hard today to change this way of thinking and to stop domestic violence from happening.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone – it doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity or religion they are, or how much money they have. It happens to people all over the world.
I’ve heard it happens more to women – is that true?
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
• Domestic abuse currently claims the lives of around 2 women per week.
• It accounts for 15% of all violent incidents.
• 89% of those suffering four or more incidents are women.
• There is an incident of domestic abuse reported to the police every minute.
• In the year 2006/07 it is estimated that 17,545 women and 25,451 children were accommodated in Women’s Aid refuges throughout England.