Leading doctors in the UK have warned of an epidemic of domestic abuse across the country.

29% of gay men and 22% of lesbians have been victims. A report from the BMA revealed that a third of women first suffered abuse at home while pregnant.

The study found that three-quarters of a million children are repeatedly exposed to domestic abuse, but doctors claim that the figures are underestimated because of a lack of reporting.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, said: “The figures we provide are shocking, but perhaps more alarming is that they are likely to be grossly underestimated.

“Domestic abuse is an unspoken scar on our society and many individuals never report that they are victims.”

The BMA is calling for better training to help doctors spot abuse and more funding for refuge centres.

Professor Gene Feder, who contributed to the report, said: “If domestic abuse was an illness, we would call it an epidemic. It is having a real effect on public health.”