Domestic abuse, also called "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence", can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorise, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith or class
Victims of domestic abuse may also include a child or other relative, or any other household member.
Domestic abuse is typically manifested as a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim.
Domestic abuse can be mental, physical, economic or sexual in nature. Incidents are rarely isolated, and usually escalate in frequency and severity. Domestic abuse may culminate in serious physical injury or death.
Are You Being Abused?
Look over the following questions to think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner.
Recognising the signs of domestic abuse
Does your partner…
If any of these things are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without help, the abuse will continue. Making that first call to seek help is a courageous step.
Power and Control Wheel
Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic abuse and violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviours by the abuser, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they install the fear of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the victim's life and circumstances.
The Power & Control wheel is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviours, which are used by an abuser to establish and maintain control over his/her partner or any other victim in the household. Very often, one or more violent incidents may be accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.
(Source: Developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN, https://www.theduluthmodel.org/)
includes undermining a person's sense of self-worth through constant criticism; belittling one's abilities; name-calling
or other verbal abuse; damaging a partner's relationship with the children; or not letting a partner see friends and family. You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
Psychological abuse: involves causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner or children; destruction of pets
and property; “mind games”; or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work.
Financial or economic abuse: involves making or attempting to make a person financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, and/or forbidding attendance at school or employment.
Physical abuse: involves hurting or trying to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, burning, grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hair-pulling, biting, denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use, or using other physical force. You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner:
Sexual abuse: involves forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent. You may be in a sexually abusive
relationship if your partner:
Stalking involves any pattern of behavior that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to harass, annoy, or terrorise the victim. Typical stalking activities include repeated telephone calls, unwelcome letters or gifts by mail, surveillance at work, home and other places that the victim is known to frequent. Stalking usually escalates.
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For Concerned Staff - How Can You Help?
How you can help victims of domestic abuse?
Note: Keep in mind that a survivor often makes several attempts to leave the abusive relationship before succeeding.
For Abusive Partner - Are You An Abuser?
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Creating an emergency bag: If it is safe to do so without your abuser noticing, keep a bag with some cash, important documents (including birth certificates, marriage certificates, tenancy/mortgage documents, ID documents, National Insurance Number, driving licence), a set of keys, some clothes, any medication, phone charger and emergency numbers. This could be kept safe at a neighbour or friend’s house, so you can leave in a hurry and still have your essentials.
Making a plan: Think about your partners’ routines and choose a safe time to leave your home. Consider where he will be, and plan a safe route – for example, you might want to avoid using a local taxi service in a small town, in case the driver tells your partner where you have gone.
Arranging a place to stay: This might be the home of a trusted friend or family member, but make sure your abuser doesn’t know the location. Or you might want to go into a refuge. As a woman fleeing domestic abuse, you can seek housing advice from any local authority even if you do not live in the local area. Find out more about your housing options contact us.
Considering ways he might track you: It is important to think about all the ways your partner might be able to find out where you are. For example, if you think your abuser might have access to your phone or messages, you could use a friend’s phone to make arrangements to leave, or buy a cheap ‘burner phone’. Similarly, you may need to delete any searches related to looking for support on your internet history. You should also turn off any geo-location settings on your phone.
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