GENDER ISSUES IN UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
 
Nicolson, P. and O'Keeffe, C., Sheffield University, United Kingdom
 
Domestic abuse involves the emotional, physical, sexual and/or economic abuse of one or more members of a family, by another, within the domestic sphere. It is typically associated with increasing entrapment, injury, medical complaints, psychosocial problems and (sometimes) unsuccessful help- seeking. Social and behavioural science evidence demonstrates that domestic abuse is prolific, prolonged, impacts physically, emotionally and economically upon women and children in particular, over the long-term including well after they are "safe" from the perpetrator. Furthermore, such abuse is widespread and happens all over the world. Despite growing interest and knowledge among social and behavioural scientists, there have been relatively few population surveys to assess either attitudes or explanations held by the general public about this social phenomenon. The findings reported here are from a population survey conducted in a British city (with a response rate of 40.8%). While there appears to be a broadly held and well-informed definition of what actions constitute domestic abuse and why domestic abuse occurs, there are striking differences in men and women's perspectives. Also public awareness of the frequency of domestic abuse and beliefs about its importance as a safety issue indicate that it is still not seen generally as a serious social problem although once again women and men do not hold the same views.