41% of women in Estonia experience intimate partner violence

Posted on 3 April 2024, 9:16

The large-scale relationship survey* conducted by Statistics Estonia reveals that 41% of women in Estonia have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime.

Statistics Estonia recently published the results of the largest and most comprehensive relationship survey in Estonia, which examined violence against both men and women in intimate relationships. News items concerning men and women are published separately, as the mechanisms of experiencing violence differ between the sexes, and the survey methodology does not allow for comparisons between men and women. The news release presenting the results of the survey on intimate partner violence against men is available on the website of statistics Estonia.

Jana Bruns, project manager at Population and Social Statistics Department of Statistics Estonia, said that, according to the survey, 39% of women have suffered psychological violence, 13% physical violence (including threats), and 9% sexual violence. Young women aged 18–29 are the most likely to have experienced violence, while older women (aged 65–74) are the least likely.

 Psychological violence is the biggest problem

“29% of women have felt degraded, humiliated, or insulted by their partner, either in private or in front of other people. 23% say that their interaction with another man or woman has led to the woman’s partner becoming angry or having unfounded suspicions of infidelity,” said Bruns, adding that 19% of women have experienced behaviour in a relationship that frightens or intimidates them, such as their partner yelling or breaking things.

A somewhat smaller share of women (16%) say that their partner has restricted their contact with friends or stopped them from pursuing hobbies or other activities. 13% of respondents say that their partner has monitored their movements, i.e. tracked them via GPS, phone, or social networks.

Although women are most likely to experience psychological intimate partner violence, there are also some who have suffered physical violence. 16% of women admit that they have been deliberately pushed or shoved or had their hair pulled in a way that hurt or frightened them. 13% of respondents report that their partner has deliberately thrown something at them or slapped them, so that the victim was hurt or scared, and 12% have felt frightened because they have been threatened with harm.

The project manager of the relationship survey explained that 58% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence have also been physically harmed by a former partner. “In the current relationship, 47% of women who have suffered violence have been injured,” she said, adding that 22% of women whose current partner has been violent have felt their life was at risk. In the case of an attack by a former partner, the percentage is 38.

“With regard to the frequency of violence, it is unfortunately the case that, if it is already present in any form, there are significantly more victims who experience it repeatedly. Thus, among those who have suffered physical violence in their current relationship, 29% have experienced it once and 41% have experienced it several times," she said. 15% of women have experienced physical violence in a previous relationship once and 60% on more than one occasion.

Alcohol is a major contributor

Of women who have experienced intimate partner violence, 80% say the attacker was a former partner. “This is a clear indication of a preference to leave an abusive relationship,” explained Bruns, pointing out that the vast majority of those who were abused by a previous partner have experienced violence from only one former partner (94%). 6% of the women surveyed had had more than one violent ex-partner.

It also turns out that women with lower levels of education are more vulnerable. “Of those with higher education, 38% have experienced intimate partner violence. Among women with basic education, as much as ten percent more – 48%,” Jana Bruns stated. Women who are unemployed are also somewhat more likely to experience violence (52%) than working women (42%).

Alcohol greatly influences the dynamics of relationships as well. “Nearly half of the violent episodes, 44%, occur when a woman's partner has consumed alcohol,” the project manager noted.

More than half of women (56%) who have experienced intimate partner violence in the past five years have reported it to someone. “When people talk about violence, it's usually to those close to them. Few (2%–6%) report violence to authorities, such as social workers, police, women's shelters, or religious institutions. The reason given for not alerting the police is usually that the incident was not serious enough, or that it was a family matter,” Bruns explained.


More detailed data have been published in the statistical database.
See also the news release outlining the initial findings of the survey.

When using Statistics Estonia’s data and graphs, please indicate the source.

*The relationship survey titled “Safe relationships within family, at work and outside work” reveals how Estonia's inhabitants rate the quality of their relationships at home, at work, and elsewhere. The knowledge generated by the survey allows an assessment of the quality and safety of human relationships, and the state can use this information to help people in the best possible way. The survey also shows how far the Estonian society is in the development of human rights and social policy and how we compare with other countries. The survey is conducted in all EU countries on the basis of a reliable and comparable methodology. The main representatives of public interest for the relationship survey are the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence and intimate partner violence are any form of psychological, physical, sexual, or economic violence that occurs between people who are or have been in a close relationship, including relatives. Anyone can suffer from domestic violence, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation.

Where to find help?

  • If you sense danger, or if your life or the lives of your children are endangered, immediately call the police on 112.
  • If you need advice and support, call the 24-hour Victim Support Helpline on 116 006.
  • If it is not possible to make a call or if you do not wish to discuss your concerns over the phone, please visit the victim support website at www.palunabi.ee/en.


For further information:

Silvia Uus
Communications Partner
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9367

press [at] stat.ee (press[at]stat[dot]ee)









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