Someone You Know Has Been Abused By Her Partner

More than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence and most at the hands of their intimate partners such as a husband, a friend or a family member, says a report released in June from the World Health Organization. No wonder that the WHO’s head, Margaret Chan, says that violence against women is “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.”

It’s an understatement to say that the report makes for very grim reading. 35 percent of women around the world have endured physical or sexual violence. A “startling” 38 percent of all women murdered were killed by their partners.

42 percent of women who have been abused have been injured with most sustaining multiple injuries, most commonly to the head, neck and face and also internally in the form of muscular, skeletal and genital injuries. Women who have been abused have depression rates that are double those of women who have not and are more likely to acquire HIV, to have problems with alcohol and to commit suicide.

Abuse does not only affect women’s physical, mental and sexual health. Women who have had a history of intimate partner violence are twice as likely to have an induced abortion and 16 times as likely to give birth a low-birthweight child.

What Can Be Done?

As high as these figures are, they could well be far higher. Many women do not report violence because of a “fear of stigma,” says Charlotte Watts, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who contributed to the WHO report.

The WHO calls for more and improved training for health practitioners to identify women who have suffered abuse. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, the WHO’s lead specialist in Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health and Adolescence, also emphasizes other areas of intervention. Child abuse and maltreatment must be addressed as “children who are abused or who are exposed to their parents abusing each other are more likely to end up in an abusive relationship either as perpetrator or as victim.” Education and access to economic opportunities are crucial to better empower women and give them financial independence.

A third area is what Garcia-Moreno refers to as social norms. In too many places around the world, violence against women is considered acceptable. Even talking about violence against women is thought to be “taboo in many countries.”

Public Assault of Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson By Her Husband

Those “many countries” do not only include developing nations, the report underscores. Rates of violence against women were the highest in southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and in Africa. But 32.7 percent of physical and sexual violence against women occurs in high-income countries.

Earlier this month, Charles Saatchi, a multimillionaire art collector, was given a police caution for an incident involving him and his wife, Nigella Lawson. A few days before, photographs of Saatchi placing his hand around Lawson’s throat as they sat outside a London restaurant had been published and widely circulated on the Internet. Saatchi also placed his other hand around his wife’s throat at one point. Lawson — the self-titled “domestic goddess” celebrity cook — reportedly “appeared upset and left the restaurant in tears.”

Saatchi has dismissed the incident as a “playful tiff” and said that the photographs “are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place.” Lawson has been silent since the pictures appeared. She has, according to a spokesperson, moved “out of the family home with her children.”

Some have said they were “shocked” that such could happen to a successful, rich woman. But saying that Lawson is “the sort of woman whom such things do not happen to” reveals some of the problems that make addressing domestic violence so difficult, writes Hadley Freeman in the Guardian. Heather Harvey of Eaves, a charity supporting those who have experienced domestic violence, points out that what was really shocking was that Saatchi assaulted Lawson in a public place and that no one intervened.

Lawson has insisted that, despite her wealth and fame, her life was “normal.” Indeed, while she was cooking up scrumptious dishes in a kitchen in a TV studio, “her real children [were] darting in and out of the room, scoffing down ricotta cakes with grilled radicchio baked by their picture-perfect mother,” writes Freeman. What the pictures of Lawson and Saatchi show is that Lawson’s “home life was ‘normal’ albeit probably not in the way she meant” — that she is one of the 35 percent of women abused by intimate partners described in the WHO report.

Domestic violence is a global disease that can happen to any woman anywhere. No matter where a woman lives, going public about abuse comes too often not with sympathy but with stigma, silence and even indifference. It is not just medical personnel who need more training about domestic abuse but all of us so that women do not fear to speak about what they have endured — and so that would-be abusers know that society does not condone their violence.

Photo from Thinkstock


KelDjabTeCrosse Dosse

Cops may be to blame, but I know of many cases where the cops are about to bring the abuser into custody and the abused jumps on the cop because he is bringing the abuser in. Many times, after a no contact order, the abused is in court asking for the no-contact order to be lifted. By the time the matter is set for trial, the complainant can either not be found or becomes an uncooperative witness for the prosecution. It is not an easy job to be a police officer in these situations, believe me! So what can the justice system do if the star witness turns hostile which happens in a lot of cases?

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

so sad. i have been in two abusive relationships. one was really bad, the other i got out of quickly

Stacey Toda
Stacey Toda3 years ago

So sad to hear about. It happens more than we know

David Sequeira
David Sequeira3 years ago

Abusers are emotional retards.
There is no way an abuser can understand why not abuse.

Emotional retardation comes from a boy child being passionately loved and french kissed and so conquered by a man.


Mark Botermuc
Mark muc3 years ago

ty ...

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

I know someone, but they are oh so protective of the sick bastard!

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck3 years ago

Tell me about it :/ It doesnt come as a shock though , faaaar from..

SADLY enough, I know several women who has been abused by their partners.( Some of them STILL IS, I am very sad to say) And even if I do whatever I can to help in anyway- It IS VERY difficult, VERY- in most cases that is :/. - Many women I know leaving their abusing partner, and putting in a "police-rapport", promising to NEVER EVER go back,etc.
Just for a few days (or sometimes we talking about only hours, or not even that) later returning to the one who been abusing them- AND taking back the police report they just done.. :/

I ABSOLUTELY dont judge ANYONE for that, NOT AT ALL!!! I have come to understand that it is very difficult to change "your life" or the life you having with your partner, and everyone is different, and its under different conditions aswell, etc etc etc! I know it must be EXTREMLY hard and difficult in so many ways!!!
- And my heart goes out to all of you who is, or have been through something like this!!!
And as many comment on before me- LOTS of credits to the women who has comming forward here,letting us know what you been trough. My heart & soul is with you!!

sylvie a.
.3 years ago

J'ai été témoin de scènes semblables tout au long de ma vie. Chaque fois, j'ai invité les gens à quitter ce conjoint abuseur, à demander de l'aide auprès d'organisme, à porter plainte auprès de la justice, etc. Le problème dans ce type de situations est que la victime a souvent très peur et est plus tentée à minimiser l'affaire qu'à fuir le danger. C'est toujours une triste histoire lorsque, dans un couple, s'installe une relation de dominant et de dominé.

Steffanie B.
Steffanie Byrnes3 years ago

My ex was abusive, and when I called the local law enforcement after I was left with bruises all over my body, they refused to press charges because I stole money from him! He owed 30,000 in back child support, but that was a state issue. I hate cops and they do not protect anyone! Most women who are abused rarely get justice. If you stay your children are taken away, and if you leave judges give abusers visitation or custody. Judges, in CA give dead beat parents chance after chance. To this day, I have forgiven my ex, but I will never forget how it felt to have no protection against my ex. He could have killed me, and maybe they would have actually done their job. Protect and serve, what a laugh! I learned through domestic violence classes half cops beat their wives! My oldest was scarred because of domestic violence, and maybe lazy ass cops should think when they choose to look the other way, that could be their wife, sister, mother or daughter!