Gender, women and health

Violence against women by intimate partners

How was physical and sexual violence measured?

Prevalence estimates of physical and sexual violence were obtained by asking direct, clearly worded questions about the respondent’s experience of specific acts. For physical violence, women were asked whether a current or former partner had ever:

  • slapped her, or thrown something at her that could hurt her;
  • pushed or shoved her;
  • hit her with a fist or something else that could hurt;
  • kicked, dragged or beaten her up;
  • choked or burnt her on purpose;
  • threatened her with, or actually used a gun, knife or other weapon against her.

Sexual violence was defined by the following three behaviours:

  • being physically forced to have sexual intercourse against her will;
  • having sexual intercourse because she was afraid of what her partner might do;
  • being forced to do something sexual she found degrading or humiliating.

Information was also collected about the frequency and the timing of the violence, allowing analysis of the extent to which different forms of violence occurred in the 12 months prior to the interview versus in the woman’s lifetime. In combination with information on the timing of the relationship, it is possible to assess the extent to which different forms of violence occurred prior to marriage or cohabitation, during marriage or cohabitation, or after separation. It can also shed light on how women’s risk of violence changed over the duration of their relationship.