A safe, just and equal world for women

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone who is or has been an intimate partner or family member. This can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. The incidents often become more frequent and severe with time.

Controlling behaviour are acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting them, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

It is different from other forms of violence because;

  • it is a repetitive pattern of behaviour
  • it is the misuse of power and control
  • it is intimate by nature and often involves trust and betrayal
  • It occurs overwhelmingly in private and behind closed doors.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. Whilst domestic abuse happens in all relationships, the vast majority of domestic abuse incidents are carried out by men towards women.

Domestic abuse is a crime. We can all help women and girls to be safe and lead violence-free lives. We can all play a role to end violence against women and girls.

Spot the signs of domestic abuse

  • Is your partner excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Does he have sudden changes of moods, being charming one minute and abusive the next?
  • Is he stopping you from seeing your family and friends? Do you feel isolated?
  • Is he constantly criticizing you and putting you down?
  • Does he embarrass you often in front of family and friends?
  • Does your partner play mind games and make you unsure of your own judgment?
  • Does he tell you you’re useless and couldn’t cope without him?
  • Does he control your money and how you are spending it?
  • Does he tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, what to think?
  • Does he pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry?
  • Does he monitor your movements? Or check up on you via your email, texts and social media?
  • Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten you and make you comply with his demands?
  • Has your partner ever threatened you, or intimidated you?
  • Are you forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner’s reaction?
  • Are you blamed for their behaviour, saying you were “asking for it” or deserved it?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may be experiencing domestic abuse. Abuse is not your fault.  We will listen confidentially and not judge you.

How you can help if you are concerned about someone you know

  • Listen to her, don’t blame her. Tell her that she is not alone
  • Support her as a friend to make her own decisions – don’t tell her to leave if she hasn’t decided to.
  • Offer to go with her to a hospital or to see her GP, to the police or a solicitor.
  • Help with information on organisations like Advance that offer help to women experiencing domestic abuse and their children.
  • Offer your friend your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages
  • Ensure that any help you offer is safe for you to do so
  • Help her to think of where she would go in an emergency, how she would get there and what she would take
  • Suggest that she keeps some money on her if it is safe to do so to ensure she has money if she needs to flee
  • Do not judge her

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic abuse, click the button below.

Facts about domestic abuse

An estimated 1.6 million women and girls from 16 to 75 years old experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2021 (Domestic abuse prevalence and trends, England and Wales)

There were 845,734 recorded domestic abuse-related crimes, an increase of 6% from the previous year.

What we know;

1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime in England and Wales.

At least two women, on average, are killed every week in England and Wales.

Each year more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured.


The police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour

Nine out of ten high-risk victims experience multiple forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, harassment and stalking and coercive control.

A quarter of 13-18 year old girls experienced physical abuse in their own intimate partner relationships, and one-third sexual abuse.

The impact on women and children is often devastating and long-term.

On average victims at high risk of serious harm or murder live with domestic abuse for 2 to 3 years before getting help.

Around three women a week commit suicide as a result of domestic violence.

Almost half of homeless women say domestic abuse contributed to their homelessness. ​

One in five children in the UK has lived with an adult perpetrating domestic violence. ​

Six out of ten children in households where domestic abuse is happening have also been directly harmed ​

Types of domestic abuse

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the main human rights violations globally, with one in three women suffering domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Gender-based violence occurs against women precisely because of their gender and involves power imbalances where, most often, men are the perpetrators and women the victims.

Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone who is or has been an intimate partner or family member.  This can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.  The incidents often become more frequent and severe with time.

Emotional and psychological abuse

Domestic abuse is perpetrated in many different ways and much of the domestic abuse that is carried out doesn’t involve physical violence. Often, this kind of abuse is confusing and a survivor might be unsure if what is happening is in fact abuse or that any one would take them seriously if they did decide to speak up.

Emotional abuse may include the techniques of manipulation, intimidation and humiliation, as well as threatening behaviour. A perpetrator might be belittling, jealous; they might accuse a survivor of flirting or cheating and they might prevent a survivor from seeing friends and family or going to work. They might place all blame on the survivor for any issues within the relationship including their own abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the most recognisable form of abuse. It can range from a slap or shove to a black eye, cut lip, or broken bone and in the most extreme cases it can result in death.

Threats and intimidation

Threatening behaviour can be used to keep a survivor in perpetual fear and is a tool of power and control. Forms of intimation can be carried out in many ways. A perpetrator might threaten to hurt or kill the survivor; they might also threaten to hurt or kill themselves, the survivor’s children or loved ones. They might stand over a survivor and invade their personal space as a way of intimidation. They might harass and follow a survivor and they might destroy their things. There are many ways threatening and intimidating behaviour can be displayed and it is all domestic abuse.


In many instances of abuse, the perpetrator will seek to isolate the survivor from their friends and family in order to gain increased control. They might even intimidate them into quitting their job. This is also a form of emotional abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can involve the use of force or threatening behaviour over a survivor into having sex, performing sexual acts they are not comfortable with, criticising their performance or coercing them into unsafe sex. A perpetrator might use sexual abuse to assert their authority and control.

Economic abuse

One of the most powerful ways a perpetrator can control their partner is by using financial abuse. There are many different forms of financial abuse, but it might include the abuser taking their partners money, the prevention of work, placing all the bills or debts in the survivors name or monitoring how money is spent i.e. controlling the bank account or forcing the survivor to account for all money spent.

Sexual Violence and rape

Rape involves the force of penetrative sex, or carrying out the act without your consent or agreement. This includes the penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus without consent.

‘Assault by penetration’  involves the act of penetration with another body part or object, other than the penis.  

The act of grabbing or touching in a sexual way that you do not want and without your consent is sexual assault. If you are forced to kiss or do something else sexual against your will it is sexual assault.

It is a matter of consent which includes both individuals agreeing or consenting to what is happening. If you have not given your consent, it is wrong.

Stalking and harassment

Individual incidents might include a rude remark in the street, lingering outside the house, or persistent phone calls. These can also involve threats of violence, aggression, criminal damage and worse. This can go on for long periods of time. This can also include Cyber-stalking and online threats.

Trafficking and exploitation

Women and girls are often forced, coerced or deceived to enter into prostitution and/or to keep them there.

Trafficking can often involve the recruitment, transportation, transfer and exploitation of women and children for the purposes of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or domestic servitude across international and national borders.

Honour based Violence

Honour based violence is disproportionately carried out on women and girls. It is often committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of a family and/ or community. Honour based violence might include threats to kill or threats of violence, sexual or psychological abuse, forced marriage, assault, isolation, social ostracism or restriction to family members including children; pressure to move abroad or otherwise, House arrest or other forms of  freedom restriction such as phone or internet.

Forced Marriage

It is the individuals right to chose who they marry and any attempt to physically, emotionally or psychologically force or coerce some one into marriage with out valid consent from both parties is illegal.

Female Genital Mutilation/cutting

This involves the complete or partial removal or alteration of external genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is commonly carried out on young girls prior to puberty- at some time between infancy and the age of 15.

This act is Illegal in the UK and can cause long lasting emotional, psychological and physical effects, causing problems with sex, childbirth and a person’s mental health.