Letter: Misleading figures on domestic abuse

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From Ms Una Freeley

Sir: The "most thorough and statistically robust" National Family Violence US surveys which Oliver Kamm quotes (Letters, 3 November) are also the most notorious in the field of domestic violence, because of the misleading methods used.

Based on the use of the Conflict Tactics Scale, as was the similar MORI poll on "family violence" in this country, they produce the crudest of results which, in the words of Wardle, Gillespie and Leffler, "imply that a mother spanking her child is equivalent to a husband breaking his wife's ribs".

The aim seems to be to play down all physical violence in the home and to ignore sexual violence, threats, humiliation and the other degradations which drive so many women to seek help.

Even the highest (and still climbing) current estimates of how many women suffer abuse in the home sound puny to those of us daily overwhelmed with requests from women for advice, information and refuge.

What is clear is that women who once fight back never hear the last of it from their partners and men pursue women through the courts far more vigorously than women usually pursue men.

Yours faithfully,

Una Freeley

Domestic Violence drop-in

Women and Medical Practice

London, N8

6 November