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6.3 Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse covers physical and mental abuse between people who have, or have had, a relationship. It also includes honour based violence, forced marriage, sexual abuse and female genital mutilation.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 7.1% of women and 4.4% of men experienced some form of domestic abuse in 2012/13.[2] This suggests that about 5,500 women and 3,800 men aged 16–59 years in South Gloucestershire are likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year. Groups at higher risk of domestic abuse include young people, pregnant women, disabled people, and those living in more deprived areas. The reported rate of domestic abuse[3] in South Gloucestershire (12 per 1000) is below the national rate (18.8 per 1000).

Relatively little is known about the incidence of domestic abuse amongst older people. There are a number of factors which may contribute to this lack of knowledge, such as greater social and cultural barriers and poorer recognition of domestic abuse of this age group by professionals. The boundary can be blurred between elder abuse and domestic abuse of older people and this could affect the level of attributed cases.

The effects of domestic abuse on those experiencing it are significant including injury, depression, anxiety and even death. Children affected by domestic abuse are more likely to experience poor outcomes in terms of their physical, emotional and social development, educational attainment and health. They are more likely to become perpetrators or victims of domestic abuse as adults. Domestic abuse also presents financial costs to individuals and society linked to the cost of providing services, absences from work/school and lost productivity.

The director of public health chairs the Partnership Against Domestic Abuse (PADA) which ensures organisations work together effectively on domestic abuse. Services currently being provided include the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy service in North Bristol Trust Emergency Department and the IRIS project (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) which is a GP-based domestic abuse training support and referral programme.

Going forward there will be a continued focus on children and those at high risk through prevention programmes, provision of high quality services and staff training.

For more information please contact Mark Pietroni, Director of Public Health


[1]Reported to the police.


[3] Reported to the police.