Domestic abuse is behaviour that is intended to dominate, threaten, coerce and control someone else in an intimate relationship. Domestic abuse is not only about violence and physical harm. It can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.
Forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called “honour”-based violence are also forms of domestic abuse.
If someone is being abused, they may be experiencing some or all of the following:
- Mocking, humiliation, insults, criticism
- Being checked up on, followed, or stalked
- Pressure, threats, intimidation, or violence
- Destruction of their possessions
- Isolation from family and friends
- Being forced into sex
- Having money taken or controlled
- Lying, blame and denial of the abuse
Domestic abuse can happen in any relationship.
Someone can experience abuse from a partner or a former partner, in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, or from children or other family members.
Who does domestic abuse happen to?
Anyone can experience domestic abuse no matter their age, race, sex, gender identity, sexuality, (dis)ability, wealth, or lifestyle.
However, domestic abuse is a gendered crime. The vast majority of domestic abuse is experienced by women, and perpetrated by men. In general, women experience incidents of domestic abuse more often, over longer periods of time, and are at higher risk of serious harm. Domestic abuse is rooted in gender inequality in our society.
How common is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is very common. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. It can be very difficult for someone who is experiencing domestic abuse to reach out to an expert support service or to the police. This means that the scale of the problem is not well recognised in everyday life.