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  • Writer's pictureJosephine Peacock

What is Domestic Abuse?

Updated: May 6

Domestic abuse remains a pervasive issue globally, cutting across all economicm social, and cultural boundaries. It is a deeply destructive pattern of behaviour used by one partner in a relationship to gain or maintain control over another. Domestic violence can manifest as physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse, and its impact can be devastating. This blog aim to shed light on the complexities of domestic abuse, discuss its various forms, and offer guidance on seeking help and supporting victims.

What is Domestic Abuse?

​At its core, domestic abuse involves an imbalance of power and control. It isn't just about physical violence. Emotional and psycholgical tactics often precede or accompany physical attacks, and in some cases, are prevalent without any physical abuse. Abusers might use intimidation, degradation, isolation, and threats to exert control. Financial abuse is another form where one partner seizes control over the other's access to financial resources, stunting their ability to support themselves and effectively leaving them trapped in the relationship.

The Uk governments definition of 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: -

· psychological 

· physical

· sexual

· financial

· emotional

Forms of Domestic Abuse

  1. Physical Abuse: This is often what most people think of when they hear domestic violence. It includes any form of physical force used against a partner, from hitting and slapping to more severe forms of violence like choking or assault with a weapon.

  2. Emotional and Psychological Abuse: These forms are more subtle and can be are as damaging as physical violence. Tactics include constant criticism, public embarrassment, name-calling, and manipulation. Over time, the victim's self-esteem is eroded, often leaving them feeling worthless and isolated.

  3. Sexual Abuse: This involves any situation where force or threats are used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity. Coercing a partner into sexual activities against their will, even if by intimidation rather than physical force, is also abuse.

  4. Financial Abuse: This type of abuse is common and particularly insidious because it can be so covert. It might involve controlling a partner's access to financial resources, stealing or withholding money, or preventing a partner from working.

Recognising the Signs

Recognising abuse is complicated by the fact that many victims may try to hide their suffering due to fear, shame, or love. Signs of domestic abuse can vary widely but generally include;

  • Physical Signs: Unexplained bruises or injuries, or frequent "accidental" injuries

  • Behavioural Signs: The person may seem anxious, depressed, or withdrawn.They might also be unusually secretive about their personal life or appear fearful about upsetting their partner.

  • Financial Signs: Sudden lack of access of bank accounts, credit cards, or car keys. The individual may also have insufficient funds to buy basics when they

previously did not have any financial issues.

Impact of Domestic Abuse

The impact of domestic abuse is profound and far-reaching. Physically, the risk of injuries can range from minor to life-threatening. Psychologically, victims can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Children in homes where domestic abuse occurs are also affected, whether they witness abuse directly or grow up surrounded by its aftermath. They may exhibit emotional and behavioural disturbances that can persist into adulthood.

Seeking Help

Leaving an abusive relationship is incredibly challenging. Victims often face barriers such as fear of further violence, concern for their children, or financial dependence. However, several resources are available:

  • Domestic Violence Hotlines: 0808 2000 247

  • Men's Advice Line: 0808 801 0327

  • National LGBT+ 0800 999 5428

  • Karma Nirvana 0800 5999 9247

  • Shelters: Safe places where victims of abuse can stay and receive both emotional and practical support.

  • Legal Aid Services: Help with restraining orders and legal advice. Provides anonymous support and advice.

Supporting Victims

Supporting someone in an abusive relationship can be delicate:

  • Listen Without Judgement: Provide an open ear. Let them know you believe them are are there to help, not to judge.

  • Provide Information: Offer information on local resources, such as shelters and hotlines.

  • Stay Connected: Abuses often isolate their victims. By maintaining your connection, you can help counteract that isolation.

Domestic abuse is a critical issue that requires a collective societal effort to understand, recognise, and combat. It thrives in silence, and by educating ourselves and others, we can contribute to breaking this cycle of violence. If you suspect someone is in an abusive relationship, encourage them to seek help or reach out of their behalf. Remember, addressing domestic violence abuse is not just about responding to incidentsm but about fostering a culture where such behaviours are universally recognised as unacceptable and where victims feel supported and empowered to come forward.


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