No society can claim to be free of domestic violence; the only variation is in the patterns and trends that exist in countries and regions.

Specific groups of women are more vulnerable than others. I'm going to focus specifically on domestic violence - the most prevalent yet relatively hidden and ignored form of violence against women and children. While reliable statistics are hard to come by, studies estimate that, 20 - 50 per cent of women have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family member.

The government (England and Wales) definition of domestic violence is:-

"any incident of threatening behavior, violence or abuse - physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality".

The definition acknowledges that domestic violence can go beyond actual physical violence. It can also involved emotional abuse, the destruction of a spouse's or partner's property, their isolation from friends, family or other potential sources of support, control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation, the telephone and stalking. Domestic violence is often witnessed by children and there is an overlap between the abuse of women and abuse (physical or sexual) of children. The wide adverse effects of living with domestic violence for children must be recognized as a child protection issue. Poverty, poor educational achievement, social exclusion, substance misuse, mental health problems and homelessness can be contributors to the violent behavior of the perpetrator. It is also acknowledged that domestic violence and abuse can also manifest itself through the actions of immediate and extended family members through the perpetration of illegal activities, such as forced marriage, so called 'honor crimes'. Whilst we all like to believe domestic violence happens only among the less privileged - research has found that there is a lot of domestic violence going on within the dwellings of the so called professionals. 

Violence against women and children is a manifestation of historical unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women. Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic that kills tortures and maims - physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is one of the most perverse of human rights violations, denying women and girls equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms.

Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. Even though most societies proscribe violence against women, the reality is that violations against women's human rights are often sanctioned under the garb of cultural practices and norms, or through misinterpretation of religious tenets. Moreover, when the violation takes place within the home, as it is very often the case, the abuse is effectively condoned by the tacit silence and the passivity displayed by the immediate family, the state and the law enforcing machinery. 

Although England and Wales are working immensely hard to bring the perpetrator/s to book. The statistics speak volumes - we need more to be done to help the victim of domestic violence.