Domestic Abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. For the first time, a legal definition of domestic abuse was introduced as part of the Domestic Abuse Act, which became law in 2021.

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive Control is a form of domestic abuse that became a criminal offence in 2015. It is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used by perpetrators to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. These behaviours are designed to make the victim dependent on the perpetrator, removing their independence, isolating them from support networks, and controlling their everyday behaviour and activity.

What is Stalking & Harassment?

Stalking and harassment is “a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.” This could be physical and in-person, or through communications such a social media, texts, phone calls, or emails. Perpetrators of domestic abuse often use stalking and harassment to monitor their partner or ex-partner’s movements, as well as using these tactics to threaten their partner to comply with their wishes. National stalking charity Paladin found that in 96% of stalking cases, the victim knew their stalker. It is a tactic increasingly used by perpetrators to maintain power and control.

Signs of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse can be any form of physical, sexual, psychological, coercive control, or financial abuse carried out by a partner, ex-partner, or family member. This includes honour-based violence and forced marriage, as well as stalking and harassment. It doesn’t matter what your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, wealth, or lifestyle – domestic abuse can occur in any relationship. In the year ending March 2020, 2.3 million adults aged between 16-74 experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales. Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on the lives of so many people.

Domestic abuse is not solely physical, and perpetrators will often try to control someone in several different ways. This is commonly recognised as coercive control and may include monitoring who you are contacting, who you see, and what you wear, or they may criticise, humiliate, belittle, or embarrass you in front of friends or family. You may have also felt that you have had to change your behaviour because of fears of how your partner may react. In the year ending March 2019, there were 17,616 offences of coercive control recorded by the police, nearly double the total of the previous year. This is a common form of domestic abuse and, thankfully, awareness is increasingly improving.

  • Do they enforce rules and regulations and there is a consequence if you do not follow these?
  • Having to account for where you are and what you are doing when away from home.
  • Making you dress in a certain way.
  • Monitoring who you see and who you talk to.
  • Forcing you into doing something you do not want to do, but you know something will happen to you, or someone else, if you don’t.
  • They may discourage you from working, limiting your financial independence.
  • Do you have to pay your earnings into a joint account, but are unable to spend money? You may be given an allowance.
  • Do you have multiple jobs, whilst they do nothing?
  • Do you have to provide receipts for everything that you buy?
  • Are you made to do things that you do not want to do or make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Are you made to feel guilty or scared if you don’t have sex with them?
  • Have you been forced to take/send intimate pictures or videos?
  • Do they demean you sexually in front of others?
  • Do they distort your reality – gaslighting?
  • Embarrassing you in public or in front of family and friends.
  • Do they create a false impression around others and change their behaviour when alone with you?
  • Do they call you names, put you down, or shout at you?
  • Your partner may blame you for their behaviour or say that you are making it up.
  • Are you afraid to go out in public in case you see them?
  • Do you receive unwanted communications (social media, calls, texts, emails) that make you feel scared?
  • Do they appear in places that you go?
  • Do they ever hit, push, spit at you, or pull your hair?
  • They may damage your property or personal belongings.
  • Do they ever throw objects at you or threaten you with them?

These are just a few examples of the different forms that domestic abuse can take. It is often a pattern of behaviours over a prolonged period of time, so you may experience more than one form of domestic abuse. These can also be very subtle, and you may be unsure whether you are experiencing domestic abuse – your partner may have also explained their actions by saying “I’m only doing this because I love you” or similar words to that effect.

Help and Support from NIDAS

Contact the team at NIDAS

National Support Services