Domestic abuse is the emotional, physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse of power and the exercise of control by an individual or individuals of a family member, partner or ex-partner regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation.
Research shows that domestic abuse is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men.
Anybody can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, age, class, disability or lifestyle.
Domestic abuse can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships, and can involve other family members, including children.
What are the signs of domestic abuse?
This list may help you recognise whether your partner is controlling you:
- Are you afraid of your partner?
- Do you feel isolated? Do they cut you off from family and friends?
- Are they jealous and possessive?
- Do they humiliate or insult you?
- Do they verbally abuse you?
- Do they say you are useless and couldn’t cope without them?
- Have they threatened to hurt you or people close to you?
- Do they constantly criticise you?
- Do they have sudden changes of mood which dominate the household?
- Are they charming one minute, abusive the next? Like Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde?
- Do they control your money?
- Do you feel dominated and controlled?
- Do you change your behaviour to avoid triggering an attack?
- Are you unsure of your own judgement?
- Do they damage your possessions?
- Do they smash up the furniture?
- Do they threaten to kill the pets?
- Do they threaten to kidnap or get custody of the children?
- Do they drive fast because they know it scares you?
- Do they lock you out of the house during an argument?
- Do they tell you what to wear or how to do your hair?
One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Two women are killed by a partner or ex partner every week in the UK. Almost half of women in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking during their lifetime.
Though only a minority of incidents of domestic violence are reported to the police they still receive one call about domestic violence for every minute in the UK, an estimated 1,300 calls each day or over 570,000 each year. (Stanko, 2000). However, according to the British Crime Survey, less than 40% of domestic violence crime is reported to the police (Dodd et al, July 2004; Walby and Allen, 2004; Home Office, 2002).
Repeat victimisation is common. 44% of victims of domestic violence are involved in more than one incident. No other type of crime has a rate of repeat victimisation as high (Dodd et al, July 2004).
Children living in households where domestic abuse is happening are now identified as "at risk" under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. From 31 January 2005, Section 120 of this act extended the legal definition of harming children to include ‘harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others, especially in the home.’
At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence. Nearly three quarters of children on the 'at risk' register live in households where domestic violence occurs (Dept. of Health, 2002).
In 40 - 70% of cases where women are being abused, the children are also being directly abused themselves (Stark and Flitcraft, 1996; Bowker et al., 1998).
Where can I get help?
There are many organisations that are able to offer support and guidance, follow the link - Domestic abuse - sources of help. However, in an emergency always dial 999.