Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a personal or family relationship. The most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in personal relationships, but the definition of domestic abuse also covers abuse between family members, such as adolescent to parent violence and abuse.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. Both men and women can be abused or abusers.
It can involve someone using emotional, sexual, financial or psychological abuse to maintain power and control over another person.
Abusive behaviour can occur even after the relationship has ended.
Domestic abuse can seriously harm children and young people. Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships.
Domestic abuse can include:
Physical abuse – the most recognisable form of abuse. It can range from a slap or a shove to a black eye, cut lip, broken bone. In the most extreme cases it can result in death. Over time, the violence usually gets worse.
Sexual abuse – using force or threats to make someone have sex or perform sexual acts someone is uncomfortable with.
Emotional abuse – including mental torture, blackmail, threats to disown someone or kill their children, controlling someone or not letting them out of their home on their own, or make contact with their family or friends or to have access to money or obtain a job of their choice.
Financial abuse – including someone taking their money; stopping them from working; placing all bills and debts in their name; or monitoring how they spend money and other financial resources.
Psychological abuse – leaving a violent partner may not end the abuse and it may get worse. Most stalkers are ex-partners.
If someone is experiencing domestic abuse they may feel alone and believe they are to blame in some way. They may feel ashamed, scared, isolated, confused, afraid about not being believed or that the abuse will get worse if they report it.
Do not suffer in silence, there are people who can help. If you are in immediate danger call 999.