After a decade-long downward trend, domestic abuse figures could spike next year following the introduction in 2015 of a new offence, ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’. Professor Nicole Westmarland, director of the Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse, said that a large proportion of domestic abuse is being hidden, and she expects to see an increase, particularly in terms of the abuse of women.
This redefinition of domestic abuse to include non-violent behaviour is likely to deflect attention from domestic abuse suffered by males, who accounted for 713,000 out of 1.9 million victims in the year ending March 2017. However, according to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of violence involving lesbian couples in the US exceeded almost all other categories, with an incidence of 43.8 per cent – second highest after bisexual women (61.1 per cent), but way ahead of heterosexual women (35 per cent). Lesbian partnerships contribute disproportionately to the tally of domestic violence since they constitute only a tiny fraction of all relationships; but while the victims are women, so are the perpetrators.
Overall there’s no doubt that the problem of domestic abuse is enormous, but instead of addressing it in all its dimensions, it is likely to be ‘weaponised’ in the diversity wars to demonstrate that all perpetrators are men, and all victims women. If this is indeed the case, the problem can only get bigger.