It is incredibly hard to know for sure, or to accurately estimate, how many children live with, and are therefore affected by, parental domestic abuse.
The United Nations (2006) estimates that 275 million children worldwide experience violence in the home, with the table below summarising estimates (for ENCARE member countries only) that were calculated as part of the UN Study on Violence against Children (2006).
A Council of Europe prevalence study across 10 European countries (published in 2002) showed that around a quarter of women experience domestic violence.
However, it is believed that up to one third of young people who have experienced domestic violence have never told anyone, meaning that the actual numbers are likely to be far higher. The data that exist are therefore not an accurate reflection of the extent of the problem because many incidents of domestic abuse go unreported for a number of different reasons including; fear from the victim that they will not be believed, fear that it will make the violence worse, fear that it will damage the family, as well as associated emotions such as guilt, shame or a feeling that they are to blame. There are also methodological and statistical challenges in making such calculations.
Note: Table from the UN Secretary Generals Study on Violence against Children reported in UNICEF (2006) page 13. Not all ENCARE countries were included but data has been listed for all ENCARE countries who were surveyed. It is not clear what definition of domestic violence that was used in the study.