What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is behaviour from a family member, partner or ex-partner that is: 
  • Controlling, coercive, threatening, violent or abusive.
  • Happens between people aged over 16.
Domestic abuse is extremely damaging and in extreme cases can be fatal.  Although it is very hard to talk about what is happening to you, it can be life-saving. Sometimes it is our families and the people we love who can hurt us the most. 
Recognising Domestic Abuse 
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to men or women and can include the following types of abuse: 
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. This form of abuse can include anything from yelling and name-calling, isolating you and ultimately can lead to threats to your life. However the abuser will often blame you for the abuse or denying it ever occurred. They use this behaviour to undermine, attack your self-esteem and destroy any self-confidence you may have.
  • Physically Aggressive Behaviour, can include hitting, punching, pinching, shaking, throwing objects etc. It can also include abusing or threatening to hurt others e.g. children, pets etc. 
  • Sexual abuse can include your abuser forcing, coercing or manipulating you into things you don’t want to do. They may make you have sex with others or exploit you when you are unable to make an informed decision about sex because of being asleep, intoxicated, and drugged or by being afraid to say no. Your abuser can also exhibit excessive jealousy which can result in false accusations of infidelity and/or controlling behaviours to limit your access to friends, family etc.
  • Financial abuse includes controlling access to your money, bank accounts, and credit cards and can often leave you with no money for basic essentials. Your abuser may even stop you working so you have no independent income or put you in debt without your knowledge.
  • On-line or digital abuse can include your abuse sending abusive messages, sharing unauthorised images of you on-line, track you with spyware or demand access to your devices.
  • Stalking can leaving you feeling afraid and unsafe. Your abuser can show up at your home, university or place of work unannounced and uninvited and/or wait at places you hang out. They can make unwanted phone calls, text messages, voicemails, emails etc. or use on-line social networking sites. They may even use other people to look into your life, e.g. looking at your Facebook page, Instagram account etc. through someone else’s account to get more information about you.

Domestic violence and abuse can also include forced marriage and honour-based abuse (see below). Coercive control is at the heart of all domestic abuse and is a range of behaviours designed to gain power and control over another person. 

Spot the Signs 
Domestic abuse can include one or more of the following behaviours:
  • Are they jealous and possessive?
  • Are they charming one minute and abusive the next?
  • Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?
  • Do they constantly put you down?
  • Do they play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
  • Do they control your money?
  • Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making them angry?
  • Do they monitor or track your movements or messages?
  • Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?
Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused. Domestic abuse usually starts once a relationship has been established, when you are emotionally invested in the relationship and have positive feelings towards your abuser. However domestic abuse can continue even when you split up. Often what starts out as caring behaviour can, over time, become controlling. It can be violent behaviour but you can also in an abusive relationship without your partner ever physically hurting you.  Domestic abuse is never your fault and is the deliberate choice of your partner.  They may make excuses for their behaviour such as the use of substances or their mental health but the violence is based in their desire to control.

Please be careful when researching domestic abuse on a device which could be accessed by your abuser.  You can delete your browsing history on your device. For further information on how to do this please click here 


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