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Domestic Violence and Abuse


Domestic violence takes place between people who live together. Typically, this will be people in a relationship, such as husbands and wives, former partners and children. While there are many forms of Domestic violence and abuse, they fall into two categories: Physical and Non-physical / Coercive Abuse.


  • Hitting, pushing, burning, or any action that causes physical injury
  • Sexual violence – forcing a person into having sex, taking part in any unwanted sexual act, and rape. Unconsented sex, even in a marriage, can be defined as rape
  • Using any kind of force to stop a person from leaving the home, or restricting their movements

Non-Physical / Coercive

  • Threatening behaviour that intimidates, scares, or leaves a person fearful for their, or someone else’s, life
  • Swearing, shouting and the use of offensive language
  • Behaviour that humiliates or degrades a person, whether in private or public
  • Taking control of a person’s identity and / or finances (money)
  • Taking away a person’s freedom, including their right to speak, their hobbies and interests
  • Siezing a person’s belongings such as mobile phones
  • Constantly checking a person’s emails and messages which can lead to physical violence
  • Destroying personal items and memorabilia, such as jewellery and photographs
  • Using someone else, such as a child, as ‘bribary’
  • Deliberately undermining a person’s actions / confidence

Domestic violence and abuse is a crime.

Even if you rely on the person abusing you for practical or financial support, or you worry about losing your home and access to your children, you should seek immediate help.

Taking the first steps to exit a violent and abusive relationship takes courage. 

To speak to someone in confidence for support, information or an emergency referral to temporary accommodation, contact the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 or visit the National Domestic Violence Helpline website.

You can also contact  Victim Support, via its free Supportline to talk to someone in confidence, or contact your local Victim Support team.

Domestic violence and abuse can begin without warning. It can happen in any type of relationship regardless of social group, class, age, race, disability, sexuality or lifestyle.

Children are often silent victims. To witness, or be a victim of, domestic violence can seriously affect a child’s behaviour, health, performance at school and long-term future.

Some early warning signs that you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse include:

  • Becoming a lot more critical of yourself — thinking you are stupid or fat or made to feel very lucky to have a partner
  • You give up on your own opinions and think your partner is right about everything
  • You feel stressed or worried; you feel anxious, nauseous or have bad butterflies. Stress can also stop us eating and sleeping properly, as well as cause headaches and stomach upsets
  • You experience that ‘dreaded’ feeling more often
  • You’re scared of how your partner will react to a situation or something
  • You avoid saying something because you don’t want to upset your partner
  • You feel scared when your partner is angry because you can’t predict their behaviour
  • You feel a pressure to change who you are or move the relationship further than you want to
  • You have sex because it ‘keeps the peace’
  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells
  • You are made to feel responsible and guilty for the abuse. Remember: Domestic violence and abuse is NOT your fault
  • You’re staying in more and seeing less of family and friends to avoid arguments with your partner
  • You try to end your relationship, but you can’t for fear of a violent reaction or coercive emotional one