What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is an unacceptable crime. It affects people from all social and economic backgrounds, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. It includes any action or behaviour involving abuse between adult family members (including current and former partners).
Abuse occurs when a person causes, attempts to cause, or threatens to cause emotional, sexual or physical harm to an intimate partner or other family member.
A pattern of coercive behaviour can form by an individual to establish and maintain power and control over another in a relationship. This type of behaviour takes many forms, including:
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- economic abuse
- selective destruction of property and pets.
It is also rarely a one-off event and it can escalate in frequency and severity over time. The majority of victims are women but domestic abuse can happen to men as well.
Every situation is unique
Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship.
They include :
- Destructive criticism and verbal abuse >
- Pressure tactics >
- Disrespect >
- Breaking trust >
- Isolation >
- Harassment >
- Threats >
- Sexual violence >
- Physical violence >
- Denial >
If you think this is you or someone you know there is a range of services that can offer you help and support. Talk to someone >
In 2016 Women’s Aid and Avon ran a campaign “Love Don’t Feel Bad” to help raise awareness of coercive control. It explores what healthy relationships and love really look like. The campaign includes a series of short videos as a guide to healthy behaviour in intimate relationships.
Having a safety plan
The most important step you can take to protect yourself and your children from abuse is to build a safety plan. Because you know your abuser’s actions and behaviours, you can use this knowledge to build a plan. In an emergency, always call the police on 999.
Remember you are not responsible for your partner’s violence and abuse. Only they are and only they can stop it. But there are things you can do to increase your own safety and that of your children. For example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
For more information download our Safety Plan
Women’s Aid The Survivor’s Handbook > is available in print, audio and different languages.
Be sure to incorporate cyber safety into a safety plan. Download our handy guide for staying safe whilst online and using social media:
Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
The scheme, often referred to as ‘Clare’s Law’, was launched in Bexley and nationally in 2014. Clare’s Law gives any member of the public the right to ask police if their partner may pose a risk to them. This enables partners of previously violent individuals to make informed choices. Under Clare’s Law, a member of the public can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member.
You can make a request to police online >
Stalking Protection Order (SPO)
The Stalking Protection Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 15 March 2019. The Act introduces a new Stalking Protection Order (SPO) which can be applied for by police: