Domestic abuse and violence

The Gov.UK website gives information on domestic abuse and how to report it.

What is Domestic Abuse?

The Government defines domestic abuse as "Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

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."*

*This definition includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Family members includes mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or step-family.

How does it affect children?

  • Domestic abuse may teach children to use violence.
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways.
  • Where there is domestic abuse there is often child abuse.
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic abuse.
  • Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families.
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents set for them. Domestic abuse teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:

  • It can teach them that violence and abuse is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.
  • They learn how to keep secrets.
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for abuse, especially if abuse erupts after an argument about the children.

Many people find it difficult to understand why people remain in or return to abusive violent situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for partners with children to leave and some may not want to.

Effects upon children

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include: feeling frightened, becoming withdrawn, bedwetting, running away, aggressiveness, behavioural difficulties, problems with school, poor concentration and emotional turmoil.

The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are. These can include:

  • A lack of respect for the non-abusive parent.
  • Loss of self-confidence, which will affect their ability to form relationships in the future.
  • Being over-protective of parent.
  • Loss of childhood.
  • Problems at school.
  • Running away.

What can I do?

There are free services for women and men experiencing Domestic Abuse, to access advice and support on a wide range of issues including housing, legal and benefits.

Listed here are some of the organisations that can support you:

If you are a male victim of domestic violence, contact: