Emotional Abuse by an Intimate Partner
English: % of women aged 15 - 49 who experienced emotional abuse from an intimate partner in the past 12 months
French: % de femmes âgées de 15 à 49 ans victimes d’harcèlement moral de la part d’un partenaire intime au cours des 12 derniers mois
Portuguese: % de mulheres com idades entre 15 e 49 anos que sofreram de abuso emocional por um parceiro íntimo nos últimos 12 meses
Czech: % žen ve věku 15 - 49 let, které během posledních 12 měsíců byly svým partnerem nuceny k sexu
What is its purpose?
Freedom from violence is a critical aspect of women’s empowerment and greater gender equality. This indicator therefore measures the proportion of women who in the past 12 months experienced emotional abuse from a current or previous intimate partner. Considering how sensitive the collection of the required data is, this indicator should be used only in interventions that are specifically addressing the prevention and response to emotional abuse.
How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data
Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of women aged 15 - 49 years:
RECOMMENDED SURVEY QUESTIONS (Q) AND POSSIBLE ANSWERS (A)
Q: Have you ever had an intimate partner? By intimate partner I mean someone whom you married or with whom you lived together at any point in your life.
A: yes / no / did not respond
(ask the following questions only if the previous answer is YES)
Introduction: I am now going to ask you about some situations that are true for many women. The questions will relate to any intimate partners you had in the course of your entire life. Please be so kind and give me honest answers – I assure you that I will not share them with anyone living in this area. If anyone comes near us I will change the topic of our interview. In the case you do wish to answer some of the questions, you do not have to. May I continue?
A0: the respondent provided consent / the respondent refused to continue
Q1: In the past 12 months, has your current or previous partner insulted you strongly or made you feel very bad about yourself?
A1: yes / no / did not respond
Q2: In the past 12 months, has your current or previous partner humiliated you in front of other people?
A2: yes / no / did not respond
Q3: In the past 12 months, has your current or previous partner done things to scare or intimidate you on purpose, for example by the way he looked at you, by yelling or smashing things?
A3: yes / no / did not respond
Q4: In the past 12 months, has your current or previous partner threatened to hurt you or someone you care about?
A4: yes / no / did not respond
In all instances where the answer is YES, it is recommended (though not required) that you ask also the following question:
Q: In the past 12 months, would you say that this has happened once, a few times or many times?
A: once / a few times / many times
To calculate the indicator’s value:
1) exclude those respondents who did not report any incidence of emotional abuse but refused or could not respond to one or more questions
2) divide the number of the remaining respondents who replied “yes” to one or more of the questions (Q1-4) by the total number of respondents (do not count those you excluded in step 1)
3) multiply the result by 100
Disaggregate the data by the respondent’s age group, marital status, ethnicity, and other factors depending on the local context.
1) Measuring the prevalence of emotional abuse is very sensitive and poses risks to the respondent as well as to the enumerator. Furthermore, women might find it difficult or not be willing to report on the incidence of emotional abuse. As a very minimum, adopt the following measures:
- read and apply the Ethical and Safety Guidelines for Implementing the DHS Domestic Violence Module (see below)
- ensure that all enumerators are women that were trained in the principles of gender-sensitive interviewing and are not from the same communities as the interviewees
- instruct the enumerators to ensure that the interviews are conducted in a place where no one else can hear or observe the respondent (even from a neighbouring room or from behind a wall); if the enumerators cannot ensure complete privacy, they should skip this part and move to less sensitive parts of the questionnaire
- instruct the enumerators to re-assure the respondent about the confidentiality of her answers
- train the enumerators to quickly switch the topic if during the interview someone comes near the respondent
- train the enumerators in how to close the topic and move to the next part of your survey in a sensitive manner
- provide the enumerators with the lists of service-providers (and their services) that can provide support to respondents experiencing domestic violence
- ensure that there is emotional support available for the enumerators
2) Ensure that the enumerators and respondents understand that the questions are trying to capture the proportion of women who have experienced abuse from an intimate partner in the past 12 months. However, that partner may not be 1) the current partner or 2) someone she has been with in the past 12 months. It can be any intimate partner the respondent had at any point in the course of her life. For example, the partner can be someone she no longer lives with but he still abuses her.
3) Consider including an additional question assessing whether the woman that suffered from emotional violence has told someone about it and if so, to whom (use general categories, such as “a friend” – do not ask about specific people or names).
4) The guidance for this indicator was developed based on WHO (2005) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women.
Access Additional Guidance
- WHO (2005) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (.pdf)
- The DHS Program (0) Ethical and Safety Guidelines for Implementing the DHS Domestic Violence Module (.pdf)
- MEASURE Evaluation (2008) Violence Against Women and Girls: A Compendium of M&E Indicators (.pdf)