Domestic violence and gender

Refuge recognises that both women and men can be victims of domestic violence – both in heterosexual and gay relationships.  We believe that everyone has the right to live in safety – regardless of their gender.


Help for women

Help for men


Woman in a refugeDoes domestic violence affect women and men equally?


Research shows that domestic violence is a deeply gendered issue that disproportionately affects women.  For example:

  • Metropolitan Police statistics show that male violence against women made up 85% of reported domestic violence incidents
  • A 2009 study based on police reports, which accounted for the dynamics of domestic violence, found that only 5% of domestic violence incidents were perpetrated by women in heterosexual relationships
  • Domestic violence is patterned, repeated behaviour intended to assert power and control over the victim. Of those who experience 4 or more incidents of domestic violence, 89% are women
  • Four times as many women as men are killed by a current or former partner. Two women a week are killed as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales


Do women and men experience domestic violence differently?


Research shows that the violence experienced by women is different in nature, severity and consequence from the violence experience by men.

The intensity and severity of violence used by men is more extreme and more likely to include physical violence, threats and harassment. Female victims of domestic violence experience more serious psychological consequences than male victims and are much more likely to feel afraid of their partners. Women are 4 times as likely to experience potentially lethal violence and five times as likely to report that they feared for their lives.


For more information, download this fact sheet on the gendered nature of domestic violence: Statistics – domestic violence and gender