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33% of women 'suffer home abuse'

One in three women in Britain have suffered domestic violence according to a new poll, which found more than a third of the victims had kept it a secret from friends and family.

National women's charity Refuge said the survey suggests more women than ever are recognising themselves as victims of the "horrific crime".

However, the poll found 35% of women would keep the abuse to themselves if they were to become a victim.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the charity and ITV's Loose Women show, defined domestic violence as an incident of threatening behaviour, violence or emotional abuse.

Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley, CBE, said the real number of victims remains hard to determine.

She said: "We don't know the true extent of domestic violence because so many women don't disclose their experiences to anyone. It's a hidden problem.

"This survey shows that one woman in three have experienced domestic violence. This could indicate that more women are aware of the problem and are better able to recognise the signs of abuse.

"It is not surprising to me that this poll has shown that domestic violence affects huge numbers of women in this country.

"Refuge supports 3,000 women and children on any given day - demand on our services is relentless.

"Domestic violence is a huge social issue which affects everyone. We all have a role to play in ending this horrific crime."

The survey showed that of the victims who had revealed the abuse nearly half (43%) thought it was not serious enough to involve other people.

A third thought it was a private matter and 14% thought their partner's behaviour was a normal part of being in a relationship.

Of all the women that took part in the survey, nearly one in four (23%) said they would not know how to help a victim.

Ms Horley added: "Domestic violence is all about power and control. It is purposeful, systematic, patterned behaviour designed to exert control over a partner.

"The truth is that domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a huge social issue that affects the whole of our society. We all have a role to play in ending this horrific crime - and we must start by speaking out about it."

The poll of 2,244 women was carried out online between September 3 and 5. The data was weighted to represent all British women.

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