South Korea: Government Survey Shows More than 90% of Domestic Violence Victims Never Seek Help

More than 90% of those who were assaulted by their spouses or lovers said they had never asked for outside help, and more than half said they did not fight back, a government survey showed on July 5.

The percentage of people who have experienced any kind of violence by a spouse or a co-habitant partner — including physical, sexual, economic, and emotional violence — was 7.6%, down 1.2 percentage points from the 2019 survey, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The triennial survey on domestic violence was conducted between August and November 2022 on 9,062 randomly selected men and women aged over 19. The percentage of female respondents was 65.9%.

By type of violence, 6.6% of female respondents suffered from emotional violence, 3.7% from sexual violence, 1.3% from physical violence and 0.7% from economic violence, which refers to a type of aggression inflicted through one’s use of economic power or control to exploit, manipulate or oppress others. As for male domestic violence victims, 4.7% of them suffered from emotional violence, 1% from physical violence, 0.8% from sexual violence and 0.2% from economic violence.

When asked how they responded to the violence, 53.3% said they had not made any responses, up from 45.6% three years ago. About the reason for not responding, 25.6% said “the degree of the violence was not serious” while 14.2% answered, “because it was my fault.”

When asked about their experience of asking for outside help, 93.2% of the respondents said they had never asked for any type of help. In the case of seeking help, not many sought help from official institutions or victim support organizations. Of those who asked for help, 3.9% turned to family or relatives, 3.3% to neighbors or friends, 1.2% to a national domestic violence hotline for women, 0.8% to police and 0.3% to other domestic violence counseling centers.

Of the respondents raising children under the age of 18, 11.7% said they had committed violence against their own children, down from the 2019 survey’s 27.6%. The survey showed that domestic violence between parents has a negative influence on raising children, as 25.7% of respondents with an abusive spouse or partner said they in turn committed violence against their children. The percentage of respondents who experienced no violence from their spouses and partners but said they had committed violence against their children stood at 10.5%.

Releasing the report, the Gender Ministry said it would raise the awareness of victims’ support organizations through a campaign, and expand housing support to victims of domestic violence, which was originally provided only to stalking victims. The ministry also plans to strengthen links with institutions specializing in child abuse to protect children exposed to domestic violence.