What is domestic abuse
Domestic abuse is defined by the government as:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is behaviour designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, depriving them of independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour 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 definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group).
Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident and is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim. It occurs across the whole of society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, class, or lifestyle and income.
If this is happening to you, you are not alone. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic abuse and violence in their lifetime. You may feel ashamed, scared, isolated, confused, and afraid not to be believed or that the abuse will get worse if you report it.
The types of behaviour a perpetrator might demonstrate include:
- Isolating a person from their family of friends.
- Depriving them of their basic needs.
- Monitoring their time.
- Depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services.
- Repeatedly putting them down, such as telling them they are worthless.
- Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim.
- Financial abuse which includes the controlling of finances, such as only allowing a punitive allowance.
You are not to blame! Do not suffer in silence, as there are people who can help.
The most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is when they are considering leaving, or have just left. Anyone thinking about this is advised to call one of the support services listed below to talk to someone who can offer help.
A safety plan is vital whether you intend to stay or to leave:
- Arrange where you might go if you have to leave urgently.
- Find places where you can quickly and safely use the telephone.
- If you have children, teach them how to dial 999 and make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- Carry a discreet list of telephone numbers for support services and friends.
- Try to save money so that you have bus or taxi fares in an emergency.
- Get an extra set of keys for the house and car and keep these in a safe place, with money and anything else you may need should you have to leave quickly.
- Talk to your children and let them know it is not their fault.
- Talk to trusted friends, relatives, your doctor or nurse about how you feel.
- Consider opening a savings account in your name.
- Always try to take your children with you or make arrangements to leave them somewhere safe if this is not possible.
- Make plans for pets, if you are unable to take them with you.
- Consider visiting the Law Centre or a solicitor to discuss what options are available to you.
- Try to do things which would get you out of the house, such as walking your dog, putting out the rubbish or going to the shops to practice how you would leave.
- Consider leaving a bag with a trusted friend or relative containing the items you would need if you had to leave urgently. Also consider who may lend you money in an emergency.
- GOV.UK provides information on domestic abuse.
- For information on the Domestic Abuse Forum set up and it's priorities please click here