Domestic violence is sometimes called domestic abuse and it can involve physical, psychological, financial or sexual abuse from a partner or a family member

Young woman looking sad

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence is sometimes called domestic abuse and it can involve physical, psychological, financial or sexual abuse from a partner or a family member.

This abuse will often involve controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources for personal gain, and depriving them of the means needed for independence.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Common signs of domestic abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Physical: When a loved one physically hurts you on your body.
  • Psychological: When a loved one emotionally abuses you, calls you names and isolates you, making you feel worthless and hopeless. This enables the other person to gain power and control over you.
  • Financial: When a loved one has control over your money and property and gains power over how you spend your money.
  • Sexual: When a loved one persuades you to take part in a sexual activity when you do not give consent.

The Government definition, also includes 'honour’ based violence, including FGM and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

What are the effects of domestic abuse?

Research shows that children experiencing domestic violence and abuse could see a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing, school attendance and achievement, emotional development and physical safety.

These effects may continue into adulthood. Children who live in families where there is violence between parents can suffer serious long-term emotional effects. Many may struggle to form peer friendships and healthy partner relationships of their own.

Ways to cope with domestic violence

  • Talk to someone: Try to talk to someone whom you trust and who will support you to get the right help at the right time.
  • Do not blame yourself: Often victims will feel they are to blame, as this is how the perpetrator will make them feel.
  • Contact a domestic abuse helpline: Call the 24-hour domestic abuse helpline for emotional and practical support.
  • Get professional help: Seek emotional support from a domestic violence service to gain a greater understanding of what is happening.
  • Write a journal: Listening to and ordering your thoughts helps you understand how you are feeling – only do this if you have a safe place to keep your diary.

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