Young women at greater risk of partner abuse

Young women are far more likely to suffer abuse at their partner’s hands than older women, new analysis has shown.

May 31, 2018
By Kevin Hearty

Around 985,000 women aged 16 to 59 have been abused in the last 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, those between 16 and 19 were 76 per cent more likely to become victims than women aged 55 to 59.

The figures, published on Thursday (May 31), also show bisexual women are almost twice as likely to be abused by their partners than heterosexual women.

Sian Hawkins, head of campaigns and public affairs at Women’s Aid, said: “Our culture often portrays controlling behaviour as a sign of being desired or loved when in fact coercive and controlling behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse.

“This can make it more difficult for younger women, who may be entering into their first relationship, to identify abusive behaviours or question them, and as a result they may not speak out about the abuse or know that domestic abuse services can help them.”

For the purposes of its analysis, the ONS defines partner abuse as physical, sexual or psychological violence by current or former intimate partners.

The research found 7.6 per cent of women and girls aged 16 to 19 have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months, as have 7.4 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds.

These figures compare with a national average of 6.2 per cent, and 4.4 per cent of women aged between 55 and 59.

Almost 11 per cent of bisexual women experienced partner abuse over the same period, compared with six per cent of heterosexual women.

Those living in social housing were nearly three times more likely to have been abused than owner occupiers, and women with annual incomes below £10,000 were more than four times as likely to suffer abuse than others with an income of £50,000 or more.

Around ten per cent of women who identified as having mixed or multiple ethnicities also had the highest likelihood of suffering partner abuse than any other ethnic group.

This compared with 2.8 per cent of Asian or Asian British women and 6.5 per cent of white women.

Glen Everett, of the ONS, said: “Today’s analysis gives insight into the characteristics of women and girls who are more likely to experience partner abuse. It also tells us about the types of households they live in.

“This can help to inform policies and services aimed at ending violence against women and girls – one of the key targets in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

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