Sylvia Walby’s research on violence against women in the UK is devastating for three reasons: violent crime against women is on the increase; the experiences of domestic violence survivors have been erased by the way official statistics are collected and the increase in violence parallels the removal of support services.
This research would not be as revelatory as it is, had the government actually been recording violence against women accurately. Currently, the number of crimes that one individual can report to the survey is capped at five. All Sylvia Walby did was remove that cap.
Even if a woman has been assaulted by her partner five times, fifty times or five hundred times, the survey will only record five of those crimes. On a personal level, this systematically invalidates women’s experiences. On a statistical level, the experiences of “high frequency victims” – many of which are suffering domestic violence – are hugely under-reported.
The Office for National Statistics says it is necessary because otherwise the sheer number of crimes committed by perpetrators against the same individual would skew the rest of the statistics. That’s right: the harm done by perpetrators of domestic violence is so devastating that calculating it defies statistics.