Domestic abuse / violence
Domestic abuse refers to any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse perpetrated by a current or ex-partner or family member.
Domestic abuse can take different forms – see below. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity and unfortunately, is commonly experienced. It can also be well hidden from family or friends outside of the abusive relationship. Sometimes an individual themselves may not recognise they are in an abusive relationship.
Most people will experience some difficulties in their relationships, but to know whether a relationship is abusive you should look at how the behaviour of your partner or family member makes you feel. If you feel scared, intimidated, controlled or unable to talk to anyone about what you are experiencing, it is likely this is abuse.
For those who are experiencing abuse it is important to understand this abuse is not your fault, is not acceptable and you have a right to feel safe, and live independently without fear. There is help available below. You can also report the abuse to the police who are trained to respond effectively to survivors of domestic abuse. It is important to seek support/help, particularly if the abuse is getting worse, you feel unsafe or in danger and/or if you are pregnant or have young children.
Types of abuse
- Physical abuse – hurting people physically.
- Sexual abuse - when someone is forced or pressured to be involved in or perform sexual activity without their consent.
- Financial abuse - taking control of somebody's money and not allowing them choice. This makes it more difficult for the person to get away from their abuser and to get help.
- Emotional or psychological abuse - destroying a person's feeling of self-worth or independence. This can be by verbal abuse (blaming, shaming, shouting, using put-downs or insults), isolating them (keeping the person away from their friends or family), or using threatening or intimidating behaviour.
- Controlling and coercive behaviour - acts or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, intimidation or other abuse that are used to harm, punish, frighten an individual or control them.
- Stalking and harassment – where a victim is subjected to a pattern of unwanted fixated and obsessive behaviour from/by another person which is repetitive, persistent and intrusive. This behaviour makes the victim distressed or fears violence.
- Female genital mutilation.
- So called "honour-based" violence - when a woman is punished for bringing shame on the family by doing something which is not permitted in their culture eg, inappropriate dress, seeking divorce, having a boyfriend from another group of society, pregnancy outside of marriage.
- Forced marriage - marriage that is forced to take place without the consent or free will of the person getting married.
Covering your tracks online
You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help. When you browse the internet on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you leave a ‘history’ trail of pages and sites you’ve visited. If you’re worried about someone knowing which sites you’ve been looking at, there are some things you can do to help cover your tracks. Visit https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/covering-your-tracks-online/