What is domestic abuse?

 “My physical injuries are gone, but the mental scars will take a long time to fade”.

Many people think that the definition of domestic abuse is limited to physical violence. This sometimes leads to victims not seeking help because “at least they don’t hit me”. But domestic abuse is about control – about how one person uses an intimate relationship to control another person, often their partner or former partner. The controlling behaviour forms a pattern, rather than being a one-off incident.

What is domestic abuse in the UK?

The Governments definition of domestic abuse is:

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”

This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so-called ‘honour killings’. Anyone can experience domestic abuse regardless of gender, race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.

One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

Types of Abuse

Domestic abuse includes a range of behaviours such as:

Typically, domestic abuse escalates over a period of time and victims of abuse may experience several different types of abuse from the same perpetrator.