What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is when the behaviour of someone close to you causes you harm. Domestic abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual or financial.

Cover your tracks

If you don't want anyone to know that you're finding out about domestic abuse, find out more about covering your tracks online from Women's Aid and Men's Advice Line.

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Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is not only physical violence.

It also happens where someone close to you controls you through things like bullying, verbal abuse, sexual violence, not letting you have any money or keeping you isolated by stopping you seeing your friends or family.

Domestic abuse can be carried out by a spouse, partner, former spouse or partner, close family member or someone you used to live with.

Domestic abuse and violence can happen in straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual relationships. You can be affected by domestic abuse regardless of your gender or sexuality or the gender or sexuality of the person who is abusing you.

Find out more from Gov.uk about the definition of domestic violence and abuse.

Physical and sexual abuse

Physical attacks are the most obvious sign of domestic violence. They don't need to leave visible marks to be damaging.

Physically abusive acts can include:

  • slapping and punching
  • hair pulling
  • scalding or burning
  • strangling
  • throwing and breaking things
  • the use of weapons such as knives

Sexual abuse can include rape or being forced to take part in sexual acts you're uncomfortable with.

Mental or emotional abuse

Mental abuse attacks your personality and your emotional well-being.

Mental abuse might be less obvious than physical abuse but it can be just as harmful. It can include:

  • humiliation or constant criticism
  • verbal abuse and name calling
  • unreasonable rules and ultimatums
  • stopping you seeing or talking to friends and family
  • threats against you or others you are close to
  • destroying your belongings
  • excessive jealousy and possessiveness
  • control over what you wear and how you look

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is one way that your partner can control you.

It is not always obvious what is going on but it can include:

  • stopping you getting a job
  • making you explain to them what you have spent money on
  • not allowing you to have any money to spend on yourself
  • stealing from you

Staying in or leaving your home

Consider if you should leave your current home, or stay in your home and improve your safety.

How to deal with domestic abuse

Contact Women's Aid if you are a woman facing abuse or violence.

If you're a man dealing with domestic abuse, contact Men's Adviceline, a specialist helpline offering listening, emotional support, information and advice.

Contact Childline if you're a young person needing advice about domestic abuse.

Call the National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 999 5428 for confidential support and advice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who have experienced domestic abuse.

Get in touch with Karma Nirvana for support because of forced marriage or 'honour-based' abuse.


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