Domestic abuse, crime surveys and the fallacy of risk: Exploring partner and domestic abuse using the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

Published: April 2016

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) consistently suggests similar prevalence of domestic abuse among men and women, a finding used variously to indicate men and women’s equal risk of abuse and to dismiss the survey as a means to explore such experiences. However, assertions of equal risk are based on limited analyses of data reduced to ‘key’ figures for public dissemination, and subsequent criticisms fail to meaningfully engage with the broader data offered by the survey. Theoretically informed multivariate analyses demonstrate that risk of abuse is inadequately captured by such figures, supporting that women and men are not at equal risk, and that gender is but one of a number of influential risk factors. This article proposes the SCJS data could be put to greater use, offering rich information for developing theory and responses to violence, and that critical engagement with the survey is necessary to facilitate methodological improvement.

Authors / Editors

Research Themes

Evidence, Statistics and Trends

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice