Recognising Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

We define domestic violence/abuse as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years or over who are or have been in intimate relationships, regardless of gender, sex or sexuality: Abuse is not limited to intimate partners and can extend to family members and carers.

Domestic abuse can happen at any point in a relationship, including after a couple has split up. Domestic abuse cuts across all barriers. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, sex, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. However, statistics show most domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women.

Types of abuse

Abuse can be:

  • Psychological – including manipulating or “gaslighting” you in an attempt to make you think the abuse is your fault, and “coercive control”
  • Financial – which involves controlling your access to money
  • Sexual – this can include coercion
  • Physical – not just hitting, but throwing things at you or doing other things that hurt you
  • Using technology – tech might be used to track you or spy on you, or to send you abusive messages
  • Spiritual and cultural – spiritual and cultural abuse is not limited to a certain religion, denomination or culture and involves using religion or cultural abuse to rationalise abusive behaviour.

Abuse can take many other forms including harassment and stalking.
Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it.

Domestic abuse is a crime.


Domestic Abuse Act 2021:

Overarching factsheet

Recognising abuse

Does your partner:

  • Get jealous and possessive if you go out alone or spend time with friends and family?
  • Put you down frequently?
  • Tell you what to wear, where to go and who to see?
  • Switch without reason from being charming one minute to abusive the next?
  • Control your access to money or stop you from working?
  • Hit, slap, pull your hair or push you?
  • Play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
  • Track your movements using technology or spy on your internet or phone history?
  • Stalk you or turn up expectedly at your work or home?
  • Pressure you or make you have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Make you walk on eggshells to avoid making them angry?
  • Use anger and aggression to intimidate and control you?
  • Cheat on you or accuse you of cheating?

Are you becoming:

  • Much more critical of yourself?
  • Scared to talk to your partner because you don’t know how they will react?
  • Isolated from friends and family?
  • Stressed and anxious?
  • Scared when your partner is angry because their behaviour is unpredictable?

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