Learn / Believe

Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse is a criminal offence and can happen to anyone, at any point in their life, regardless of their age, background, gender identity, sex, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Although anyone can be a victim/survivor of domestic abuse the statistics show that abuse is most likely to be carried out by men and experienced by women.

It can happen in any type of intimate partner relationship. Family members and extended family members can also perpetrate abuse. This includes so called ‘honour’ based abuse/violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Forced Marriage.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive and controlling behaviour: is a pattern of behaviour designed to make a person subordinate and / or dependent by humiliating, degrading and isolating them. This often starts very subtle and builds up over time and will often look different in every relationship. Gaslighting is a very effective tactic a perpetrator will use in order to make the victim/survivor question their perception of reality.

  • Psychological and emotional abuse: is when someone uses words and actions (short of physical violence) to frighten, hurt, or control somebody.

  • Financial and economic abuse: this can include exerting control over income, spending, bank accounts, bills and borrowing. It can also include controlling or restricting access to goods or services e.g. a mobile phone, transport to work and daily essentials

  • Digital or tech abuse: is when someone uses technology to monitor, control, threaten, or harass somebody

  • Physical abuse

  • Economic abuse is a legally recognised form of domestic abuse and it often occurs in the context of intimate partner violence. It involves the control of a partner or ex-partner’s money, finances and things that money can buy, such as clothing, transport, food and a place to live. Read more about economic abuse.

  • Gaslighting: a tactic in which a person, in order to gain more power, forces a victim* to question their own reality and blame themselves for what is happening. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realise how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind. Read more about Gaslighting.

  • Stalking: is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim. Stalking and domestic abuse are highly correlated with coercive control often both present simultaneously (Norris et al 2011). Read more about Stalking.

  • So called ‘honour’ based abuse/violence: is often carried out by immediate family, distant relatives and the wider community. The victim may be subjected to a variety of different abusive behaviours ranging in severity. So called ‘honour’ based violence is sometimes referred to as ‘Izzat’, ‘Ghairat’, ‘Namus’ or ‘Sharam’ and is often justified by the perpetrators as being perpetrated to protect the honour of the family. Read more about so called ‘honour’ based violence.

  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): FGM comprises all procedures that involve deliberate partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is important to remember that domestic abuse does not end at the point of separation and that the risk of significant harm, stalking and other forms of abuse may drastically increase and continue for years after separation.

*We’ve used the term victim, to describe those that endure domestic abuse but they are not weak, they are strong – fighting and succeeding every day to stay alive, to turn up to work and to parent their children.

**‘Duress’ includes psychological, sexual, financial or emotional pressure and physical violence.


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