Domestic violence

Forms of domestic violence

In most cases, violence is used at several levels: physically, psychologically and in a sexualised form.

Violence in partner relationships or in a close social circle is often a complex of physical, sexualised and psychological violence. Next to being battered, kicked at and/or burnt, women affected by domestic violence are often forced to and coerced into sexual activities or raped. Psychological violence is manifold. It includes verbal abuse, humiliation, social isolation, being banned from work, going out or expressing one’s own opinion. Many victims experience this form of violence as very serious.

The various forms of violence are not separated from one another but are interconnected. In most cases, several forms of violence occur simultaneously. Domestic violence is a complex, threatening and humiliating overall situation for the women concerned.

In a German prevalence study (in English) (Schröttle/Müller), 31% of women affected by domestic violence said that they had so far experienced only one violent situation at the hands of their partners; 36% mentioned 2-10 situations; 33% had experienced between 11 and 40 situations. 64% of these women said that the violent assaults by (ex)-partners resulted in light to serious bodily injuries. 9% stated that the physical assaults related exclusively to forced sexual activities; in 70% of cases, they related to physical altercations; and 20% of women reported both sexualised as well as physical assaults.

The same study found that violence against women is predominantly committed at home. In case of physical and sexualised violence, intimate partners were by far the most frequently mentioned group of perpetrators. The gravity of violence was consistently higher if sexualised or physical violence was used by intimate partners rather than other perpetrators. Half of those women who have suffered physical or sexualised violence since their 16th birthday experienced it from their (ex)-partners.

A more recent re-evaluation of the aforementioned study revealed that the majority of women affected by domestic violence have intermediate or higher educational levels. The highest rate of domestic violence was found in couples where women have a higher income than their partners.