Overview and key messages

  • Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) is a fundamental violation of human rights, a cause and consequence of inequality and has far reaching consequences for families, children and society as a whole (Welsh Government, 2016)
  • Domestic Abuse costs Wales £303.5m annually. This includes £202.6m in service costs and £100.9m to lost economic output. If the emotional and human cost is factored in there are added costs of £522.9m (Walby, 2009 cited in Welsh Women’s Aid, n.d)
  • The cost, in both human and economic terms, is so significant that marginally effective interventions are cost effective (Welsh Government, 2016)
  • New requirements under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the SSWB Act, and Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act, 2015 impact this area and are likely to increase the number of cases of domestic abuse identified
  • Improving partnership responses to survivors could reduce the levels of need for specialist services

Demographics and trends

VAWDASV includes domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), ‘honour-based violence’, sexual exploitation, trafficking and child sexual abuse. This can happen in any relationship regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, income, geography or lifestyle (Welsh Government, 2016).
  • 1.4 million women and 700,000 men aged 16-59 report experiencing incidents of domestic abuse in England and Wales. Younger women aged 16-24 are most at risk and a woman is killed every 2.4 days in the UK, with 148 UK women killed by men in 2014
  • Extrapolating this data to Wales shows that 11% women and 5% men a year experience ‘any domestic abuse’, while rates of ‘any sexual assault’ in the last year were also higher for women (3.2%) than men (0.7%)
  • Approximately 124,000 women, men, boys and girls over the age of 16 in Wales, have been the victim of a sexual offence
  • There has been a 26% increase in the number of recorded sexual offences involving children under 16 in Wales in the past year. Figures have more than doubled in the last decade (Bentley et al, 2016). Last year the rate of recorded sexual offences against children under 16 in Wales was 3.3 per 1000 children
  • In 2011 an estimated 137,000 girls and women were living with consequences of FGM in the UK and in 2011 an estimated 60,000 girls under the age of 15 were living in the UK who were born to mothers from FGM practising countries and therefore could be at risk of FGM. It is estimated there are 140 victims of FGM a year in Wales
  • 80% of cases dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit involved female victims; 20% involved male victims. It is estimated there are up to 100 victims of forced marriage a year in Wales
  • 750,000 children and young people, across the UK witness or experience domestic abuse every year and a significant proportion experience abuse in their own relationships
  • In a study of young people in intimate relationships by the NSPCC (Barter et al, 2009), 25 % of the girls and 18% of the boys experienced physical abuse; 75% of girls and 14% of boys experienced emotional abuse, and 33% of the girls and 16% of the boys experienced sexual abuse. It found that not only do girls experience more abuse, but they also experience more severe abuse more frequently, and suffer more negative impacts on their welfare, compared with boys
  • People with additional vulnerabilities including mental health needs, substance misuse issues, disabilities and older people with support needs are more likely to be affected by Domestic Abuse (Local Government Association, 2015)

Current and future care and support needs

The Violence Against Women, Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Act, 2015 makes it clear that partners including Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, NHS Trusts, Fire and Rescue Authorities, Police, Police and Crime Commissioners, education services, housing organisations, the third sector, specialist services, survivors, crime and justice agencies, and probation services need to work together to:

  • Prevent violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Protect victims of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Support people affected by violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence

“targeted action and support to overcome barriers to accessing safety and support. Women who are known to be especially vulnerable to violence and/or who are marginalised, such as women in prostitution, women from BME communities, disabled women, women with mental health or substance abuse problems, young women in care, will require specialised approaches”

The National Strategy (Welsh Government, 2016)

Current Care and Support Provision

Welsh Government contracted with Hafan Cymru in 2015 to provide awareness-raising in primary and secondary schools across all schools in Wales through the SPECTRUM Project. This aims to assist with children having access to dedicated sessions around healthy relationships. Discussions are ongoing regarding how this contract can be enhanced to further support the guidance. In addition to this each county’s specialist support providers provide awareness raising sessions in schools and youth settings.

Community campaigns are coordinated during the year to improve the community’s understanding of abuse and the support that is available. Domestic Abuse Coordinators, specialist services and partners also utilise opportunities to raise awareness in community settings.

A mandatory National Training Framework is in place with training modules currently under development to ensure that staff are training appropriately for their level of involvement and are able to target enquiry and act appropriately where abuse or violence is disclosed. Training has also been arranged for Health Board staff in Domestic Abuse, Risk Assessment and MARAC training and Domestic Abuse and the Older Person. Carmarthenshire has a dedicated Domestic Abuse social worker in its children’s team and Ceredigion has a part-time mediator funded through Flying Start and Families First

Gaps and Areas for Improvement

  • Raising the profile and public understanding of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, including among vulnerable groups such as Black and Ethnic Minorities, disabled people, the LGBT community, older people, refugees and migrants
  • Embedding good practices around identification, information, consultation and integration of other related services
  • Earlier identification of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Enhancing education about healthy relationships and gender equality
  • Ensuring professionals are trained to provide consistent effective, timely and appropriate responses to victims and survivors
  • Provide victims with equal access to appropriately resourced, consistent high quality, needs led, strength based, gender responsive services
  • Developing community-based, user-led, co-produced services that prevent isolation and promote well-being and resilience
  • Increasing survivor engagement in the planning, delivery and monitoring of services
  • Developing and implementing an integrated pathway for all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Increased focus on perpetrators, holding them to account for their actions and providing opportunities, through intervention and support, to change their behaviour