Edition 2021

Foto omschrijving: Dam Square in Amsterdam, 35 pairs of red high-heel shoes placed as a symbolic protest against domestic violence

How many people fall victim to domestic violence?

In March and April 2020, 1.2 million Dutch people aged 16 years or older (8 percent) reported having been victims of domestic violence in the previous 12 months. For 820 thousand of them, this domestic violence was structural in nature; they experienced it (almost) daily, weekly or monthly. Sexual violence – inside or outside the domestic circle – affected 1.6 million over-16s. This was of a structural nature for 185 thousand of them. This is shown in the Prevalence Monitor on Domestic and Sexual Violence, which CBS carried out at the request of the Research and Document Centre (WODC).

Coercive controlPhysical assault5.4%4.2%3.9%3.4%Stalking by ex-partner 1.6%1.0%Sexual abuse1.7%0.6%How many people fall victim to domestic violence?

Coercive control most common form of domestic violence

Domestic violencenoot1 includes physical violence, coercive control, stalking by an ex-partner or sexual violence committed by someone within the domestic circle, i.e. a family member, relative or (ex)partner. Coercive control, with 5 percent, was most common among over-16snoot2, followed by physical violence (4 percent) and stalking by an ex-partner (1 percent). One percent were victims of sexual violence in the home. Women aged 16 years or older were more often victims of domestic violence than their male peers. This applies to nearly all forms of domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence, April 2019-April 2020 (% of persons aged 16 and over)
Huiselijk geweld Total Women Men
Total domestic violence 8.3 9.2 7.3
Coercive control 4.8 5.4 4.2
Physical violence 3.7 3.9 3.4
Stalking by een ex-partner 1.3 1.6 1.0
Sexual violence 1.1 1.7 0.6

Domestic violence particularly affects young adults and decreases with age. For example, 24 percent of 16 and 17‑year-olds and 18 percent of 18 to 23‑year-olds said they had been victims of some form of domestic violence, compared with 3 percent of over-65s. Women are slightly more frequently victims than men: 9 percent compared to 7 percent, respectively. In all forms of domestic violence, the perpetrator is more often male than female.

Seventy percent of domestic violence is structural

For approximately 70 percent of the over-16s (820 thousand) who experienced domestic violence, this was structural, i.e. occurring (almost) daily, weekly or monthly.

Twice as many women as men victims of sexual violence

1.6 million people over the age of 16 (11 percent) reported that they had been victims of sexual violencenoot3, and for 185 thousand of them this was structural in nature. In the case of more than 1.5 million victims of domestic violence, the violence was perpetrated by someone outside the domestic circle.

Women (15 percent) are more often victims than men (7 percent). Five percent of women indicated they had been confronted with physical sexual violence, 11 percent with non-physical sexual harassment and 7 percent with online sexual harassment. Among men, the figures were 2, 3 and 4 percent, respectively. The perpetrator was more often male than female.

Victims of sexual violence, April 2019-April 2020 (% of persons aged 16 and over)
Seksueel geweld Total Women Men
Total sexual violence 10.9 15.1 6.7
Non-physical sexual harrassment 6.8 10.5 3.1
Online sexual harrassment 5.4 6.7 4.1
Physical sexual assault 3.3 5.0 1.5

Sexual violence is more common among young people than among older people: 26 percent of people aged 16 and 17 years old were affected by sexual violence compared to 30 percent of those aged between 18 and 23, and 3 percent of people aged 65 and over. Almost half (47 percent) of women aged 18 to 23 have experienced some form of sexual violence, compared to 13 percent of men of the same age.

The questions


Domestic violence

The term ‘domestic’ refers to the relationship to the perpetrator, not to the location where the incident took place. Incidents therefore do not necessarily have to have taken place at home.

Forms of domestic violence

Physical violence ranges from threats of physical pain or beating to attempted suffocation. Coercive control occurs when one person strongly dominates and controls the other. This ranges from belittling/humiliating or constantly checking someone’s movements, to forbidding contact with family and friends. Stalking by an ex-partner involves repeated and deliberate harassment by him or her. Verbal aggression within the domestic circle is not counted as domestic violence because it is doubtful whether this form of aggression, which occurs frequently, always involves violence.

Research among over-16s

These data come from a sample survey of more than 30 thousand people aged 16 or older who were asked by CBS via internet in the period March-April 2020 about their experiences of domestic and sexual violence in the previous 12 months.

In mid-March, the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown was announced. These data could not be used to investigate a possible increase or decrease in domestic and sexual violence in the months of March and April.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence includes non-physical sexual harassment, physical sexual violence and online sexual harassment. Physical sexual violence includes all forms of unwanted sexual physical contact, ranging from unwanted touching to rape. Non-physical and online sexual harassment range from receiving sexual comments (online or otherwise) or being stared at constantly in a sexual manner, to having to witness sexual acts or distribution of sexual images. Sexual violence includes both incidents inside and outside the domestic circle.


This web publication was developed by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in cooperation with Textcetera The Hague.
If you have a question or comment about this publication, please contact us.

Disclaimer and copyright


On this website, CBS uses functional cookies on this website to allow proper functioning of the site. These cookies do not contain personal user data and have minimal or no consequences for your privacy. In addition, CBS uses analytical cookies to track visitor statistics, including the number of page views, which topics users are searching, and how visitors reach our website. The purpose is to gain insight into the functioning of the website in order to improve your user experience. We minimise traceability of visitors to our website as much as possible by anonymising the final octet (group of eight bits) of each IP address. These data are not shared with other parties. CBS does not use tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are cookies that track visitors during their browsing of other websites.

The functional and analytical cookies have minimal or no consequences for your privacy. In accordance with current regulations, these cookies may be placed without prior consent.

More information (in Dutch only): https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/telecommunicatie/vraag-en-antwoord/mag-een-website-ongevraagd-cookies-plaatsen

Explanation of symbols

Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

CBS responds to developments in Dutch society by providing statistical information as facts that matter, and communicates on these facts with the outside world. In doing so, CBS offers insights into current developments in society and helps answer policy questions. Research at CBS is focused on broad trends in society and how these are interrelated.

CBS has offices in The Hague, Heerlen and Bonaire with altogether approximately 2,000 staff. A society-oriented working attitude is essential to CBS. CBS provides figures which are relevant to society. Every year, CBS publishes around 600 statistical studies. Virtually every day, CBS data and figures are communicated to the outside world via news releases, video messages and through social media. This results in some 50,000 articles per year in daily newspapers and on news sites.

For more information on CBS’s tasks, organisation and publications, go to cbs.nl/en-gb.


Should you have any questions or need more information, please contact us.


Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik


Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Frans Dinnissen

Gaby de Vet

Taalcentrum VU

Final editor

Elma Wobma

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.