Domestic violence and abuse

What it is

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.’ The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional
  • harrassment or stalking
  • online or digital abuse

Who it happens to and who are the perpetrators

Anyone can experience domestic abuse regardless of ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, religion or class. However, for people who are vulnerable due to a care or support need they may face additional barriers to seeking help.

Domestic violence can happen between:

  • Intimate partners – may be living together, dating, separated, married, same – sex partners
  • Young people – 16 and 17 year olds
  • Family members
  • Family carers

Domestic abuse happens mostly to women, but men can also be victims of domestic violence, in same sex and hetero-sexual relationships.

Possible signs of domestic abuse

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling that the abuse is their fault, when it is not
  • Physical evidence of violence such as bruising, cuts, broken bones
  • Verbal abuse and humiliation in front of others
  • Fear of outside intervention
  • Damage to home or property
  • Isolation – not seeing friends and family
  • Limited access to money

Coercive and controlling behaviour is a range of acts that humiliate, degrade, isolate and control an individual with the use of, or the threat of violence or sexual violence.

Coercive or controlling behaviour is a core part of domestic violence and became an offence in December 2015. Coercive behaviour can include:

  • Acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation
  • Harming, punishing, or frightening the person
  • Isolating the person from sources of support
  • Exploitation of resources or money
  • Preventing the person from escaping abuse
  • Regulating everyday behaviour

Domestic abuse also includes:

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (World Health Organisation).  FGM is illegal in the U.K.  It is also known as female circumcision or female cutting, as well as other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.

For further information please contact:

Foundation for Women’s Health and Research Development (FORWARD)

NSPCC FGM Helpline – +44 (0)800 028 3550

Daughters of Eve

Honour based violence

Honour based violence and abuse can take many forms, e.g. threatening behaviour, assault, rape, kidnap, abduction, forced abortion, threats to kill and false imprisonment committed due to so called ‘honour’. The honour code is decided upon by male relatives, and women are killed or abused if it is perceived that they have behaved in a way that is immoral and brings shame on the family or community.

For further information, contact:

Halo Project – 01642 683 045

Forced marriage

One or both people do not want to get married (consent), or in the case of people with a learning disability, they cannot consent to marriage. Pressure or abuse is used to make them go ahead with the marriage.

Further information please contact

Forced Marriage Unit  – +44 (0) 20 7008 0151

If you are worried that you or an adult you know is experiencing domestic violence or abuse report it now, call 01375 511000 

If the person is immediate danger, dial 999 and ask for the police 

Freephone 24hr National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247

Children witnessing Domestic Abuse is child abuse – if you are concerned about a child report it now, call 01375 652 802

Outside of office hours call: 01375 372 468

Worried about an adult? 01375 511000

Get in touch

Our Resources