‘Experience of Domestic Violence: Findings from the 2011/12 to 2015/16 Northern Ireland Crime Surveys’ published today.

Date published: 30 June 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 17/2017 ‘Experience of Domestic Violence: Findings from the 2011/12 to 2015/16 Northern Ireland Crime Surveys’ (NICS). It is an Official Statistics Publication.

Based on a self-completion module designed to examine the experiences of, and attitudes to, domestic violence and abuse among Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS) respondents aged 16-64 years, the main aims of the publication are to:

measure lifetime and recent prevalence of domestic violence and abuse in Northern Ireland, within both an intimate partner relationship and a wider family setting; and
understand the nature and extent of ‘worst’ incidents of domestic violence and abuse (as determined by the victim).



  • Within the context of the Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS), the concept of domestic violence (interchangeably referred to as domestic violence and / or abuse), which covers a range of emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse, is subdivided into three main offence groups:
  1. Non-Physical Abuse (denied access to a fair share of household money; stopped from seeing friends and relatives; having property deliberately damaged; or constantly belittled to the point of feeling worthless);
  2. Threats (frightened by threats to hurt the individual or someone close); and
  3. Force (pushed, held, pinned or slapped; kicked, bitten or hit; choked or strangled; threatened with a weapon; death threats; forced to have sex or take part in sexual activity; use of a weapon; or use of other force).

Key findings

  • Findings from NICS 2015/16 estimate that 12.1% of people aged 16-64 have experienced at least one form of domestic violence, by a partner, since age 16, with women (15.1%) displaying a higher prevalence rate than men (8.4%).
  • NICS 2015/16 results also estimate that around one-in-twenty five adults (4.3%) experienced at least one form of partner violence and abuse within the last three years, a similar proportion to that observed in both NICS 2013/14 (5.2%) and 2014/15 (5.0%).
  • At 5.9% in NICS 2015/16, women were over twice as likely as men (2.5%) to have been victims of domestic violence, by a partner, in the last three years, a gender difference that is reflected across each of the three separate offence groups examined: non-physical abuse (4.4% v 2.4%); threats (2.0% v 0.2%); and force (2.5% v 0.9%).
  • When identified victims were asked to consider their ’worst’ single incident of partner violence and abuse, NICS 2015/16 findings show that around three-quarters of all worst cases of partner abuse (75.8% in NICS 2015/16) were carried out within the setting of a current relationship at the time, with the perpetrator most likely to have been a current boyfriend / male partner (32.3%) or husband (24.2%).
  • The police in Northern Ireland were only made aware of just over a third of all ‘worst’ cases of domestic partner abuse (36.6% in NICS 2015/16), meaning that they were unaware of the experiences of six-in-ten victims (63.4%).
  • Most victims considered their worst incident of partner abuse to be a criminal offence (61.1% in NICS 2015/16), around a fifth (21.0%) believed it was ‘wrong, but not a crime’ and a further one-in-eight accepted it as ‘just something that happens’ (12.3%).
  • Findings from NICS 2015/16 also estimate that 6.4% of people aged 16-64 have experienced at least one form of domestic violence and abuse, by a family member (other than a partner), since age 16.
  • NICS 2015/16 results also indicate that 2.4% of adults were victims of domestic violence and abuse by a family member within the last three years, with similar rates estimated for women (2.4%) and men (2.5%).
  • NICS 2015/16 results show that parents (50.5%) were most likely, with step-parents and children (both 1.0%) least likely, to be identified by victims as the perpetrator(s) of their ‘worst’ incident of family abuse.
  • When partner and family abuse are combined, NICS 2015/16 results estimate that, overall, around one-in-six adults (16.2%) had experienced some form of domestic violence and abuse since the age of 16, a proportion that drops to 6.5% within the last 3 years.
  • Findings indicate that around a fifth of respondents (21.0% in NICS 2015/16) believed that the government and other agencies are doing ‘enough’ about domestic violence compared with around a third who think ‘too little’ is being done (36.6%).



Notes to editors: 

This is the third publication to be drawn from NICS 2015/16, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland.  Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the NICS began operating on a continuous basis in January 2005.  It generally mirrors the format and core questions of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; formerly known as the British Crime Survey).

An alternative, but complementary, measure of crime to offences recorded by the police, the main aims of NICS are to:

  • measure crime victimisation rates experienced by people living in private households regardless of whether or not these crimes were reported to, or recorded by, the police;
  • monitor trends in the level of crime, independent of changes in reporting levels or police recording practices;
  • measure people’s perceptions of and reactions to crime (for example, the level and causes of crime, the extent to which they are concerned about crime and the effect of crime on their quality of life);
  • identify the characteristics and circumstances of people most at risk from and affected by different types of crime;
  • measure public confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system; and
  • collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues, such as domestic violence.

This official statistics publication draws, primarily, on a suite of questions included in a NICS self-completion module on domestic violence and abuse undertaken between April 2015 and March 2016.  A total of 1,209 respondents aged between 16 and 64 completed the module.

Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs.  They are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access. 

The bulletin will be available in PDF format only from either this website or alternatively contacting Analytical Services Group, Laganside House, 23-27 Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA (Telephone: 9072 4554; Email statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

Share this page

Back to top