Domestic abuse victims 'suffer for years before getting help'

The charity urged professionals, such as GPs and police, to ask about domestic abuse. Credit: PA

Victims of domestic violence suffer on average for nearly three years before getting the help they need, according to new charity research.

A study by domestic abuse charity SafeLives found that within a three-year period some women will suffer more than 50 incidents of violence.

More than 85 percent of victims are in contact with professionals - on average five times - in the year before they get help, the research found.

Almost a quarter of victims at high risk of harm go to an accident and emergency department because of their injuries - some as many as 15 times.

Diana Barran, SafeLives' chief executive, said:

This is yet more shocking evidence that we could stop domestic violence far earlier than we do. Every conversation with a professional represents a missed opportunity to get victims and their children the help they need.

Diana Barran

SafeLives has urged professionals such as GPs, midwives, social workers, police and A&E staff to ask about domestic abuse every time they are concerned in order to get families help sooner.

Also in the last year before they get effective help, three-quarters of victims reported the abuse to the police.

Time and time again no one spots domestic abuse, even when victims and their children come into contact with many different public agencies.

Diana Barran

SafeLives - formerly known as Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse - holds the UK's largest database of domestic abuse cases, with more than 35,000 entries since 2009.