23 Jun 2021

The hidden victims of domestic violence – the women who take their own lives

Social Affairs Editor and Presenter

Warning: you may find some of the themes in this report highly distressing.

They are the hidden victims of domestic violence, the women who take their own lives.

In a new police initiative, introduced during the pandemic, they are being  counted for the first time.

Early findings released by the police watchdog show 20 per cent of all deaths related to domestic abuse are suicides.

But many families believe the perpetrators should be held accountable and want the criminal justice system to do more to investigate when victims take their own lives.

In response to our report, Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: “Having met families who have lost loved ones that were victims of domestic abuse and have taken their own lives, I am acutely aware of these concerns.

“As part of the government’s investment to tackle perpetrators’ abuse, we funded Professor Monckton-Smith’s research into this difficult but important issue.”

She added the domestic abuse act will focus on strengthening the response across all agencies.

“All deaths relating to domestic abuse are a tragedy. Where a victim has taken their own life and the circumstances give rise to concern, a domestic homicide review must be considered,” she said.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this report, you can find organisations which offer help by going to channel4.com/support.