Domestic abuse is when you are being controlled, threatened and/or hurt by a current or former partner or family member(s). The abuse can include (but isn’t limited to) psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking. It can happen just once or twice but usually happens regularly with episodes of abuse forming a pattern of behaviour by your abuser(s). Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation are also forms of domestic abuse.
Anyone can experience domestic violence and abuse regardless of their sex, race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, gender identity class, age, disability or lifestyle. Domestic violence and abuse are defined as happening between people aged 16+ but after a very recent change in the law (2021), children who have witnessed or been otherwise affected by domestic abuse are now legally recognised as victims-survivors in their own right. Below are some examples of abusive behaviours:
Psychological / emotional abuse
Scaring or intimidating you, shouting, name calling and making threats. Telling you that you are worthless, putting you down.
This can be any act that hurts you physically including punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, locking you in/out of a room, shoving, burning, strangling and anything that harms your body physically.
Any non-consenting sexual acts, such as: rape, forcing sex or specific sexual acts, unwanted use of pornography or criticising your performance, saying things that make you feel bad sexually.
Financial / economic abuse
Taking away your financial independence, such as not allowing you to work or monitoring/controlling how you spend your money, forcing or coercing you into debt
Cultural based abuse
Forced marriage or “‘honour-based violence”. This is when you punished for undermining a code of behaviour in your family and/or community. You may be forced or coerced into marrying someone against your will.
Coercive and controlling behaviour
A pattern of behaviours that make you feel intimidated or degraded. Isolating you from friends and family; controlling and monitoring what you do, who you see, what you wear and where you go. Hurting or threatening to hurt you physically or sexually as a way of controlling you.
Threats and intimidation
Threatening to harm you or your children, family or friends. Also, threatening to report you to agencies such as social services, benefits agencies or immigration services.
Destruction of property
Destroying sentimental objects, breaking furniture or windows, damaging clothes, breaking or smashing your phone
Harassment and stalking
Persistent and unwanted contact by text, phone, email, social media and sending gifts. Hanging about outside your house or school/college/workplace. Following you when you go out. Tracking you online. Monitoring your Internet usage and movements.
Online or digital abuse
Monitoring your social media profiles or emails. Abuse over social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. Sharing intimate photos or videos of you without your consent. Using GPS locators or spyware.