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Domestic abuse FAQs

General information to help increase your knowledge and awareness of domestic abuse / violence.

  • What is domestic abuse

    Physical, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called ‘honour crimes’. Domestic violence may include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are in themselves inherently ‘violent’.

    The new definition of domestic violence and abuse now states from the Government:

    Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

    Controlling behaviour is:

    A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

    Coercive behaviour is:

    An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

    Just because someone does not look like a 'typical victim' does not mean he or she is not suffering from domestic abuse. Domestic violence can happen to anyone.

  • What are the different types of abuse

    Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour that includes emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. It’s about using power and control over the other person. Domestic violence generally doesn’t happen just once, over time it tends to happen more often and becomes more serious and severe.

    Domestic violence doesn’t always have to be physical; it often also includes emotional, financial and sexual abuse. Many of these behaviours are crimes. Abuse is not an accident – it is behaviour that is done on purpose to control and intimidate the other person. The impact on the abused person can be devastating – physical injury, psychological injury, depression, living in constant fear, self-harming.

    • Physical abuse e.g. hitting, punching, burning, strangling, punching, slapping, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving.
    • Sexual abuse e.g. forcing unwanted sexual acts, including rape, using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don’t want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
    • Emotional abuse – e.g. constant criticism, insults, undermining capabilities.
    • Isolation e.g. preventing someone from having or developing family, social or professional relationships, preventing from working, monitoring or blocking your telephone calls.
    • Financial abuse e.g. withholding money, making a person account for every penny they spend, taking your money without asking.
    • Threats e.g. making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.

    Domestic abuse is often a combination of several, if not all of the above.

  • How do I report domestic abuse

    Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police – there are also other organisations who can offer you help and support.

    Call 999 if it’s an emergency or you’re in immediate danger.

    The police take domestic violence seriously and will be able to help and protect you. If it’s not an emergency ring 101.

    Contact any of the following organisations to get help and advice about domestic abuse:

    English National Domestic Violence Helpline
    Tel: 0808 2000 247
    Web: www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

    Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline
    Tel; 0808 80 10 800
    Web: www.livefearfree.gov.wales

    Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland)
    Tel: 0800 917 1414
    Web: www.womensaidni.org

    Scottish Women’s Aid
    Tel: 0800 027 1234
    Web: www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk

    Men’s Advice Line
    Tel; 0808 801 0327
    Web: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

    Broken Rainbow (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)
    Tel: 0300 999 5428
    Web: www.brokenrainbow.org.uk

  • What does domestic abuse concern

    Anyone can experience domestic violence/abuse – either as a victim or a perpetrator – it can happen in all kinds of relationships and for any reason, regardless of age, race, sex, sexuality, disability, wealth, geography and lifestyle. It is rarely a single event.

    Children and Young People are also affected by domestic abuse. Their health and overall well-being can be adversely affected by living in a household where there is any form of domestic abuse.

    Stockport Domestic Abuse Forum works to prevent violent and abusive behaviour within partner and family relationships.

  • Why do people stay in abusive relationships

    People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons. Many victims do not stay and many others come and go. The primary reason given by victims for staying with their abusers is fear of violence and the lack of real options to be safe with their children. This fear of violence is realistic. Some perpetrators repeatedly threaten to kill or seriously injure their victims should they attempt to leave the relationship.

    There are many reasons for staying in a violent relationship, and they vary for each victim. They may include:

    • fear of violence and the perpetrator
    • difficulty accessing accommodation to provide transitional support and safety for the victim and children
    • lack of real alternatives for employment and financial assistance, especially for victims with children
    • difficulty obtaining legal assistance
    • being immobilised by psychological and physical trauma
    • believing in cultural / family / religious values that encourage the maintenance of the family unit at all costs
    • continuing to hope and believe the perpetrator’s promises to change
  • How are children affected by domestic violence

    Children can ‘witness’ domestic violence in many different ways. For example, they may get caught in the middle of an incident in an effort to make the violence stop. They may be in the room next door and hear the abuse or see their mother’s physical injuries following an incident of violence. They may be forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play. They may be forced to witness sexual abuse or they may be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim. All children witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused.

    Children are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. Below are some of the effects described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004).

    They may:

    • become anxious or depressed
    • have difficulty sleeping
    • have nightmares or flashbacks
    • be easily startled
    • complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
    • start to wet their bed
    • have temper tantrums
    • behave as though they are much younger than they are
    • have problems with school
    • become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people
    • have a lowered sense of self-worth
    • Older children may begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs
    • begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves
    • have an eating disorder
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Page last reviewed 24/11/2016