What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse is a pattern of behaviour designed to achieve power and control over a partner, ex-partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexuality.

This is achieved through the use of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse or through movement restriction and/or social isolation e.g. stopping you from seeing your family and or friends.

Signs of domestic abuse

The signs of domestic abuse may not be as clear as you’d think – abuse can be about controlling someone’s mind and emotions as much as hurting their body. Domestic abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse

If you’re afraid of your partner, that’s a big red flag. You might be scared to say what you think, to address certain topics, or to say no to sex. No matter the reason, fear has no place in a healthy relationship. The following signs could mean that your relationship is unhealthy, and you might want to consider getting help:

Your partner bullies, threatens, or controls you:

  • Accuses you of having an affair
  • Blames you for abuse
  • Criticises you
  • Tells you what to wear and how you should look
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you and makes you feel small

Your partner controls your money:

  • Keeps cash and credit cards from you
  • Puts you on an allowance and makes you explain every dollar you spend
  • Keeps you from working whatever job you want
  • Steals money from you or your friends
  • Won’t let you have money for basic needs like food and clothes

Your partner cuts you off from family and friends:

  • Keeps close tabs on where you go and whom you go with
  • Makes you ask for an OK to see friends and family
  • Embarrasses you in front of others, and it makes you want to avoid people

Your partner physically abuses you:

  • Abandons you in a place you don’t know
  • Attacks you with weapons
  • Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care
  • Locks you in or out of your house
  • Punches, pushes, kicks, bites, pulls hair

Your partner sexually abuses you:

  • Forces you to have sex
  • Makes you dress in a sexual way
  • Makes you feel like you owe them sex
  • Tries to give you a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Won’t use condoms or birth control

Are the signs different for men?

Signs of domestic abuse against men are often the same, and that’s true whether the abusive partner is a woman or man. It may be emotional or verbal – like taking away keys, medicines or other essentials, or constantly putting you down in public or on social media. It can also be physical. To make up for differences in strength, abusive partners may attack you in your sleep, by surprise or with weapons and other objects. They may also abuse your children or pets.

Are the signs different for the LGBTQ+ community?

Many of the signs of domestic abuse are often the same, but the abuse may also target sexual orientation or gender identity. Your abuser may:

  • Make excuses for abuse, like it’s just how men are or that you wanted it to happen
  • Tell you that police or others won’t help because of your gender or orientation
  • Tell you that you’re not really how you identify
  • Threaten to out you to family, friends, and others

Getting help

In an emergency situation always call 999 for help.

If you are safe, but need to report a crime such as criminal damage, physical violence or sexual violence, call the Police on 101.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need support, please get in touch with the Stop Domestic Abuse service, our domestic abuse team, for advice and support on 023 9206 5494 or by email. Our experienced specialist team is on hand to discuss your concerns and needs, 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 6pm weekends and bank holidays. Contact can be by phone or face-to-face in a safe location.