What Is Domestic Abuse?

The government definition says that domestic abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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.

The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Financial

This makes it clear that someone doesn’t have to have bruises or other visible injuries to have experienced domestic abuse. Often it is about the abuser finding ways of having control over the victim and the circumstances around them. It is an abuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable.

It says 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.

Find out more about signs of domestic abuse 

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