Domestic abuse includes a range of abusive behaviours which are used by an abusive partner, ex-partner, or family member to maintain to maintain power and control over another.
It's rarely a one-off incident but rather an ongoing pattern of behaviour, and takes place regardless of social background, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or ethnicity.
The perpetrator of the abuse creates an environment of fear and uses this fear to control their victim(s). Domestic abuse is often about power and domination, like someone you know trying to control your life.
It isn't just physical violence; some of the most damaging forms of domestic abuse include financial, psychological, or emotional control.
Domestic abuse can take different forms including but not limited to:
Physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking, and using weapons.
Sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping, or making someone watch pornography.
Financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work.
Emotional abuse or coercive control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015.
Digital or online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate, or control someone.
'Honour'-based violence: this is abuse seen as 'justified' in order to protect the honour or respect of a family or community, such as forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM).
Abuse can affect you in the long term by damaging your self-esteem and wellbeing, and that of your children. Victims of domestic abuse can attempt to flee many times before they're successful. Isolation can keep someone in an abusive relationship for a long time.
Having the right information to understand domestic abuse can help you make choices and know how to do it safely. Whether you've lived with abuse for weeks, months or years, support is available to you.