Domestic Abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour by a partner or carer, male or female. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual and can include forced marriage and ‘honour based’ crimes. Domestic abuse occurs across society regardless of age, gender, religion, race, sexuality, disability or social class.

Research shows that domestic abuse is very common, in the UK affecting one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime with partners or ex-partners.

Within an abusive relationship you may experience:

  • Emotional abuse – constant criticism, name calling or being constantly undermined.
  • Physical abuse – being pushed, hit, punched, slapped or kicked.
  • Sexual abuse – sexual degradation or being made to have sex when you are unwilling.
  • Psychological abuse – being told what to do, what to wear or being isolated from family and friends.
  • Financial abuse – having your money taken from you, being made to take out loans in your name or not having access to finances to support yourself or your children.

If you are in a relationship where you are doing things because you think you should or you have to because you are worried about the consequences if you don’t, then this is coercive control.

Through the use of this behaviour the abuser seeks power and control over their victim. Abuse can begin at anytime within a relationship – it could happen in the first year or after many years together. Abuse is common during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby and can disrupt mother and baby bonding. Typically, over time the abuse gets worse and escalates further as victims leave or attempt to leave relationships.

Many people remain in abusive relationships for a long time.

What is Coercive Control?

’Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

This is a Criminal Offence.

How do you know if this is happening to you?

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

Isolating you from friends and family

  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless, stupid, good for nothing
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you

Power & Control Wheel

This tool illustrates the most common abusive behaviours or tactics used against victims of domestic abuse. An abuser systematically uses threats, intimidation, and coercion to instill fear in their partner. These behaviours are the spokes of the wheel. Physical and sexual violence holds it all together—this violence is the rim of the wheel. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in an abusive relationship. If you can relate to this, we are here to help.

Warning Signs

The beginning of a relationship is new and exciting, it is not always possible to see the early signs of abuse.

Here are a few warning signs that can help you to identify the start of an unhealthy relationship:

  • You may start to change your appearance or behaviour to fit in with your new partner
  • You start to see less of your family and friends
  • You feel pressured into doing things that don’t feel right for you – this may include sexual experiences
  • Your partner constantly contacts you on your mobile or through other social media
  • Your partner makes all the decisions
  • You give up doing activities or hobbies that you enjoy
  • You sometimes feel scared of your partner or about how they will react
  • Your partner doesn’t respect your opinions making you feel small or stupid
  • Your partner may not use you name choosing to call you by another name, babe etc
  • You have to justify yourself because of your partners jealousy
  • You feel criticised and start to feel bad about yourself
  • You are made to feel uncomfortable when you disagree with your partner

These are a few of many early signs. Domestic violence and abuse follows a pattern within a relationship and increases over time. There may be times when you feel that your relationship is healthy but these will be interrupted by periods of tension, abuse and possible violence.

If this has raised questions about your relationship, we are here to support you. It is important to speak to someone you trust or contact a helpline for further information and support.

Domestic Abuse & Young People

Domestic abuse affects young people in their own relationships or if they grown up with violence and abuse within their families.

Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship that is based on respect, love, trust, good communication, loyalty, fun and equality. When you are in a relationship like this you both feel loved, safe, happy, confident and special – it is important that you and your partner take an equal part in making the relationship a happy and healthy one.

If you are in a relationship that makes you feel scared or pressurised into doing things that don’t feel right for you, then your relationship may be abusive.

Abusive behaviour may include some or all of the following:

  • Emotional: Actions that effect the way you think or feel – laughs at you, humiliates you in front of others, puts you down, calls you names, frightens you and checks up on you.
  • Physical: Actions that hurt the outside of your body – slap, kick, punch, rough play fighting, pushing.
  • Sexual: Actions that effect you intimately – being forced or pressurised into sex or sexual behaviour that you feel uncomfortable with.
  • Financial: Actions that effect money or finances – taking your money, making you pay for everything, stealing from you, not letting have access to your own money.

Warning Signs

An abusive relationship may start off feeling as though it is healthy, but there are warning signs that things might change:

  • You sometimes feel scared about how your partner will react
  • You feel bad about yourself because of your partners put downs
  • You see less and less of your friends
  • You don’t express you opinions because you are made to feel small
  • You are constantly contacted by mobile, Facebook etc. checking on who you are with or what you are doing
  • You are made to feel bad because of your partners jealousy
  • You don’t have an equal say when a decision is made

If you feel worried about your relationship, we are here to support you (contact us). It is important talk to a trusted adult or contact a helpline such as Childline (0800 1111) or the National Domestic Violence Helpline (0808 2000 247)

See helplines for additional support services.

Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship.