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Who are the victims of domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic abuse is widespread and can affect anyone. However, some groups are more likely to be victims.  Women are most likely to be victims of abuse and perpetrators are most likely to be men.  

Children are often the hidden victims of domestic violence and abuse.  Estimates suggest one million children and young people in the United Kingdom are affected by domestic abuse. Domestic abuse has an impact on the mental, emotional and psychological health of children and their social and educational development. It also affects their likelihood of experiencing or becoming a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence and abuse as an adult.  

Men can also be subjected to violence and abuse both in heterosexual or same sex relationships, or may be abused by family members.  Men are less likely to suffer injury or fatality however are known to suffer emotional and psychological abuse leading to distress and mental health issues, they may also be less likely to report abuse.

Domestic abuse in the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community can also be a hidden issue. People experiencing same-gender abuse are often afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship which deters people from seeking help and support.

Disabled people experience disproportionately higher rates of domestic abuse. They also experience domestic abuse for longer periods of time, and can suffer more severe and frequent abuse than non-disabled people.

Some individuals and families experience multiple issues such as substance misuse, unmet mental health issues and underlying problems often triggered by adverse childhood experiences.  Domestic abuse and particularly bi-directional abuse is common in these circumstances.  Identifying who is the ‘victim’ or perpetrator is often difficult and creates barriers to providing support for these individuals.

There is a high correlation between alcohol and domestic abuse. Alcohol should not be used as an excuse for those who perpetrate violence and abuse, however its influence should not be ignored. 

There is no evidence to suggest that some ethnic or cultural communities experience more domestic abuse than others, however forms of abuse can differ. Some minority groups may suffer domestic abuse from extended family or community members, and the abuse may include forced marriage, ‘honour-based’ violence or female genital mutilation. 

Whatever the experience, it is likely that victims from BME communities will face additional barriers to accessing help and support and may face racism or fear isolation from their families and communities if they leave an abusive relationship.

Inter-familial abuse can affect many types of families. Reports of elder/carer abuse, and the abuse of parents by their children (as young people or as grown-ups) are increasing in Liverpool.