The Office for National Statistics (ONS) crime survey says that one in 20 adults experienced domestic abuse in the latest year.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 5.0% of adults (6.9% women and 3.0% men) aged 16 years and over experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022; this equates to an estimated 2.4 million adults (1.7 million women and 699,000 men). 

Approximately 1 in 5 adults aged 16 years and over (10.4 million) had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 years.

However, the number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales increased by 7.7% compared with the previous year, to 910,980 in the year ending March 2022; this follows increases seen in previous years and may reflect increased reporting by victims.  

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) domestic abuse-related charging rate in England and Wales increased for the first time in four years to 72.7% in the year ending March 2022 but remains below the year ending March 2018 (75.9%). 

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline delivered 50,791 support sessions through phone call or live chat in the year ending March 2022, a similar number to the previous year. 

Newly included figures show that an estimated 2.1% of adults aged 75 and over experienced domestic abuse in the last year. 

Helen Ross of the ONS said:  “This gives the first insights of domestic abuse among those aged 75 and over, although it’s difficult to draw conclusions as it’s only based on 6 months of data. In 12 months’ time we’ll have a full year’s worth of data to be able to give more detailed information on domestic abuse experienced by this age group.” 

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The 24-hour freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline (run by Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In the weeks ahead, the World Cup may contribute to the problem.

Given that domestic abuse rates increase by around 26% when England win or draw and a staggering 38% when they lose, football during the festive period could have very serious consequences for those in abusive relationships. 

According to a study by the Centre for Economic Performance, domestic abuse increases and peaks about ten hours after the game, with incidents driven by perpetrators that have consumed alcohol during games.

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Dal Heran, Head of the Family Law team at Wright Hassall, commented: “Whilst Christmas should be a time of celebration, research shows that around 15,000 children will be exposed to domestic abuse over the two-week festive season, highlighting the magnitude of the problem.

“Whilst there is no excusing this type of behaviour, there is a tendency amongst many to over-indulge as the Christmas celebrations begin, and this will only be intensified by the arrival of the world’s largest football tournament.

“It is well known that consuming large quantities of alcohol can lead to a range of serious issues, especially in an abusive household, where drinking will impair people’s judgment and exacerbate any existing problems.

“For this reason, it is important that victims of domestic abuse take steps to protect themselves and other family members, even if this is done through the adoption of a pre-arranged escape route, allowing them to safely leave the house and stay elsewhere should they need to.

“There are also charities dedicated to supporting victims of domestic abuse, with 24-hour helplines and online live chats making it easy for individuals to find help throughout the festive period.

“However, if the situation has already reached a point where intervention is futile, then it may be time to seek legal support in order to separate permanently from an abusive partner, ensuring the protection of any children that also live there.”