What is Domestic Abuse?

Within any relationship, there are ups and downs – people say and do things to each other that are hurtful, however, there’s a difference between a normal argument and abusive, fighting and threatening behaviour, this is domestic violence or abuse.


Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse as:

Physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse 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”.


The Government defines domestic violence as:

‘Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.” This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called ‘honour killings’.


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 abuse 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.

Is there a reason for violence, like drinking or drugs?

There’s never any excuse for violence or abuse.

• All types of abuse are wrong and the victim is never to blame.

• Children and young people are also never to blame for domestic violence that happens between adults. It is not their fault – even if the argument is about them!
• Domestic violence is about power and control. The abuser feels powerful and strong by hurting the other person and making the other person feel frightened or intimidated about themselves.
• Violence is a choice.
• Domestic violence is not caused by drink or drug use. Drinking and drugs can make the abuse worse, but they do not cause the abuse to happen.
• Abusers might say that they are feeling stressed because of money issues or because they don’t have a job. Lots of abusers will say they only behave like this because their partner asks for it or deserves it because of something they’ve done.

But these are all excuses. No one deserves abuse.