More than a third of all women worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence and many of them suffer this problem of "epidemic proportions" at the hands of an intimate partner, according to a UN report.
The study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, said physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one-third of all women around the world.
Some 35% of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence, according to the report.
The report titled, 'Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence', represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women, both by partners and non-partners.
The report finds that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30% of women worldwide, according to WHO.
"These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.
"We also see that the world's health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence," Chan said.
The report details the impact of violence on the physical and mental health of women and girls, ranging from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications, mental problems and impaired social functioning.
Among its key findings on partner violence was that globally, 38% of all women who were murdered were killed by their intimate partners.
Also, women who have experienced partner violence are almost twice as likely to experience depression or abuse alcohol.
"This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women's health problem," Professor Charlotte Watts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said.
Fear of stigma prevents many women from reporting non-partner sexual violence, the survey found.
Other barriers to data collection include the fact that fewer countries gather this data than information about intimate partner violence, and that many surveys of this type of violence employ less sophisticated measurement approaches than those used in monitoring intimate partner violence.
"The report findings show that violence greatly increases women's vulnerability to a range of short and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously," said Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO.
"In many cases this is because health workers simply do not know how to respond," she said.