Henry Mayhew's The London Labour and the London Poor (1861-2) in Volume 1 describes violence among the London coster-mongers: "Another lad informed me, with a knowing look, "that the gals—it was a rum thing now he come to think on it—axully liked a feller for walloping them. As long as the bruises hurted, she was always thinking on the cove as gived 'em her." (p. 36. Source Tufts Digital Library. See particularly sections "Of the Education of the Coster-Lads" and "Of the Coster-Girls." Note that both Internet Archive and Google Books have volume 2 under the title of volume 1).
"If any one has any doubts as to the brutalities practised on women by men, let him visit the London Hospital on a Saturday night. Very terrible sights will meet his eye. Sometimes as many as twelve or fourteen women may be seen seated in the receiving-room, waiting for their bruised and bleeding faces and bodies to be attended to. In nine cases out of ten the injuries have been inflicted by brutal and perhaps drunken husbands. The nurses tell me, however, that any remarks they may make reflecting on the aggressors are received with great indignation by the wretched sufferers. They positively will not hear a single word against the cowardly ruffians.
One day a German woman, who could not have been more than twenty years of age, was introduced into the general ward to be treated for a broken jaw. On the following day several friends came to see her, and among them her reputed husband, who had inflicted the injury. As soon as she saw him she burst into tears, and begged the nurse to allow her to return home with him at once. Upon being told that her removal from the hospital would be attended with danger, she reluctantly consented to remain there for the time being; but she left two days afterwards. As she was taking her departure, the nurse warned her that the slightest additional violence on her husband’s part must be fatal, whereupon she exclaimed impatiently
“Ah, ma’am, you don’t know anything about it. You see, I love him with all my heart.”
And at this time the jaw had not even been set.”
Domestic violence is seldom a simple matter, but is entangled in all kinds of emotional and financial ties and social expectations. Dinah Roy's character is an example of this. In Victorian times (perhaps even more than today) abuse like the one experienced by Mrs Roy remained hidden inside the four walls of the home. According to Professor Clive Emsley: "Domestic violence rarely came before the courts. ... among some working-class communities it continued to have a degree of tolerance, while amongst other classes the publicising of such behaviour, even, perhaps especially, in the courts, would have been regarded as bringing a family's reputation into disrepute. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/crime_01.shtml)