Wife beating is prevalent in all societies and crosscuts all racial, cultural and socio-economic lines. Despite its prevalence wife abuse is largely a secret crime: the legal system and the public see it as a private matter. Societies keep marital violence invisible because its existence contradicts the idealized image of the family as a haven for love, security and loyalty.
[Industrialized countries] In industrialized countries reports of wife beating are on the increase. The European Women's Lobby estimates that every three minutes, somewhere in Europe a woman is beaten. In the UK in 1989 a survey concluded that 28% of married women had been hit by their husbands and 33% had been either hit or threatened with physical violence. The proportion rises to 63% among women who were divorced or separated. In the USA it is said that one in three women are abused. 21% of the women who use hospital emergency services have been battered. More than 6 million women are beat each year, and 4,000 die as a result.
In some cultures the wife assumes that being beaten is an indication that the husband cares for her.