Domestic abuse is the physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or financial abuse of one person by another with whom they have or have had an intimate or family-type relationship. It arises from the misuse of power and control by one person over another. It is rarely a one-off event, but tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time.

Coercive control

Domestic abuse doesn’t always involve physical violence. Sustained controlling behaviour and emotional pressure are also forms of abuse. Regularly intimidating, bullying, criticising or threatening a partner are all forms of what is called ‘coercive control’.

Physical abuse can include:

  • Slapping, punching, pinching, beating or kicking
  • Assault with a weapon
  • Strangulation
  • Suffocation
  • Destroying your possessions

Emotional abuse can include things such as:

  • Pressure tactics and sulking
  • Constant criticism and being told that you are useless, ugly or worthless
  • Threats to kill or harm you, your children or your pets or threats to take the children away or report you to Children’s Services
  • Threats to commit suicide
  • Intimidation, bullying or embarrassing you in public
  • Being locked in or kept in isolation away from family and friends
  • Not being allowed money, food, sleep or freedom
  • Being controlled
  • Stalking and harassing you especially after separation

Verbal abuse can include:

  • Being called names
  • Being constantly shouted at
  • Making threats

Sexual abuse can include being:

  • Forced to have sex against your will
  • Made to perform acts that you are not happy with
  • Forced to watch or make pornography or take pornographic pictures
  • Forced to have sex with or in front of other people
  • Degraded on the basis of your sexual orientation

Financial abuse can include:

  • Forcing you to take out loans or debts
  • Withholding money
  • Forcing you to beg for money
  • Not allowing you to earn your own money or have access to joint accounts
  • Making you account for any money spent – for example by producing receipts or bills
  • Constant monitoring or questioning of your finance

The lists above are not exhaustive but just a few of the ways in which some people are affected by domestic abuse.

Abuse in the home is more widespread than you think. It affects men and women of all ages, ethnicities, orientations and income levels, regardless of ability.  It is not easy to accept that a loved one can behave so aggressively and because you cannot explain the behaviour, you assume that it is your fault. You are not to blame for your partner’s behaviour.

Everyone has the right to live life free from threats, violence and abuse and help is available. You are not alone.

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