The terms 'domestic abuse' and 'domestic violence' are used to describe any violence or aggressive behaviour inflicted by an adult upon any person associated with them. The law defines associated persons as people who are married to each other, or who are (or have at one time been) cohabiting, or who are (or have at one time been) living together, or who are relatives, or who are parents of the same child or who have agreed to marry. Therefore domestic violence cannot only be committed by a man against his wife, but also by a woman against her cohabiting boyfriend or girlfriend, by an uncle against a nephew or niece, by an adult brother against his sister or a by daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Domestic abuse is usually inflicted by men upon their wives or girlfriends and ranges from aggressive behaviour or pushing and shoving to brutal attacks with blades or other weapons. According to the Home Office 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and incidents of domestic violence make up for a quarter of all recorded violent crime with between 11% and 35% of incidents of domestic violence even being recorded. Domestic violence seriously affects children who witness it or who are subjected to it and it is in their interests especially that it is brought to an end.
Domestic Abuse is a Crime
Domestic abuse is a crime and is not justified under any circumstances. It is no less a crime than an assault carried out against a stranger in the street and can equally well be prosecuted in the usual way with police involvement. It is a widely held misconception that, for example, a wife can do nothing about the fact that her husband beats her at home because it is a private matter. On the contrary, there are a range of remedies available through the civil courts as well as the criminal courts and the police these days treat domestic violence far more seriously than they used to. Many police stations now have specialist domestic abuse units with well trained domestic abuse officers.
The problem with pursuing criminal prosecutions against those who commit domestic abuse is that most people do not wish to go through the trauma of a criminal prosecution. According to Metropolitan Police Research, in a 3 month period, 128 of 180 victims of domestic abuse were unwilling to pursue their allegation.