Letter: Battered women, disputed figures

From Mr Oliver Kamm

Sir: Fran Abrams's disturbing claim ("Just imagine", 23 October) that one woman in four has suffered physical abuse from a male partner is unsupported by evidence.

The most thorough and statistically robust studies of the prevalence of domestic violence are the two representative-sample National Family Violence surveys conducted in the United States by the academics Richard Gelles and Murray Straus. They suggest that around 100,000 women a year suffer serious injury as a result of domestic disputes. That is a shocking statistic in itself, of course, but it does suggest that Ms Abrams should have been citing a battery rate of less than 1 per cent, not 25 per cent. Even on a broad definition, only 16 per cent of couples could be said to engage in violence; the great majority of such acts are minor incidents, such as pushing and jostling, that cause no physical injury, and around half of them are committed by women.

Yours faithfully,

Oliver Kamm

London, SW9

31 October