Incidence by Injury

The folklore is that men suffering violence at the hands of their female partners are rarely badly hurt.

In truth, the spectrum of damage inflicted on men by abusive female partners is very similar to that in the reverse direction, especially in the severe category short of death.

The percentages below are the percentage of those of the same sex reporting abuse (not the percentage of total survey respondents). The proportion of men reporting abuse is smaller than the proportion of women and this should be borne in mind when interpreting the data. The data given here reflect the pattern of abuse severity rather than absolute numbers.

From Table 3.13 of Supplementary Volume 2 to the 2008/09 CSEW. [Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09, Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2008/09, edited by Kevin Smith, John Flatley, Kathryn Coleman, Sarah Osborne, Peter Kaiza and Stephen Roe, January 2010]

Injury Last Year
Women Victims Men     Victims
No physical or mental/emotional injury 34% 46%
Mental/emotional abuse 33% 15%
Minor bruising, black eye 21% 17%
(Minor) Scratches 13% 16%
Moderate (severe bruising, bleeding from cuts) 6% 4%
Severe (internal injuries, broken bones/teeth, stabbing) and other physical injuries 4% 4%

Ratios of percentages of female:male physical violence victims 

The derivation of the data in the Table below is described here (see Tables 5 to 9 and the accompanying text).

Injury 2004 2007 2008/9 2012/13
Minor (minor bruising, black eye, scratches) 1.12 1.00 1.0 1.3
Moderate (severe bruising, bleeding from cuts) 1.43 1.20 1.5
Severe (internal injuries, broken bones/teeth, stabbing) and other physical injuries 6.00 2.5 1.0 0.8

2015 CSEW – Percentages by Nature of Injury

Injury Men Women
Any physical injury 29% 23%
Minor bruising or black eye 18% 17%
Scratches 19% 8%
Severe bruising or bleeding from cuts 6% 4%
Internal injuries or broken bones/teeth 2% 1%
Any other physical injury 2% 5%
Other effects 37% 51%
Mental or emotional problems 30% 47%
Stopped trusting people/difficulty in other relationships 19% 22%
Tried to kill self 3% 4%
Other effect (including becoming pregnant or contracting a disease) 1%

Just as the incidence of the most severe category of physical abuse has been converging to equality between the sexes (see Yearly Incidence Data) so also has the incidence of the severity of the injury caused. In fact the 2015 data appear to show a larger proportion of male victims suffering the more severe injuries.

As regards severity versus frequency, an analysis of over 36,000 police records of domestic abuse between 2009 and 2014 recorded by Suffolk Constabulary has been reported by Matthew Bland of Cambridge University (Targeting Escalation in Common Domestic Abuse, December 2014). He observes (noting that a ‘dyad’ is a victim-plus-offender pair),

The study found that while 75% of dyads reported to police just once, less than 2% of all dyads accounted for 80% of all domestic abuse harm. In over half of these high harm dyads, there had been no prior contact with police regarding domestic abuse and in these cases, victims were more often non-White British, male, without children and from less areas than was typical of all dyads.

Police in Suffolk had no prior record of domestic abuse in over half of the most harmful cases in a five year period. 80 per cent of harm emanating from domestic abuse in Suffolk resided with just 406 victims from a total of over 20, 000.

These results strongly support the conclusion that a very small number of dyads account for a majority of harm. Conversely, this also suggests that a very high number of dyads report a very low amount of harm.”

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