Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse

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Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Find out how to recognise the signs and where to get help.

Have you ever felt afraid of your partner or someone close to you? Have you ever changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what someone might do to you?

Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen against anyone, and anybody can be an abuser.

Signs of domestic violence and abuse

There are different kinds of abuse, but it’s always about having power and control.

If someone answers yes to any of the following questions, they might be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse

emotional abuse

Does your partner or someone close to you ever:

  • belittle you, or put you down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or downplay it?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • stop you going to college or work?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
  • control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?
  • monitor your social media profiles, share photos or videos of you without your consent or use GPS locators to know where you are?

Threats and intimidation

Does your partner or a person close to you ever:

  • threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy things that belong to you?
  • stand over you, invade your personal space?
  • threaten to kill themselves or the children?
  • read your emails, texts or letters?
  • harass or follow you?

Physical abuse

The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways. Do they:

  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you?
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you?
  • choke you or hold you down?
  • throw things?
Getting help for domestic abuse

People shouldn’t wait for an emergency situation before finding help. It’s important to tell someone and remember that they are not alone.

If anyone is a victim of abuse they can:

If emailing for support it is important to specify when and if it is safe to respond and to what email address:

The Survivor’s Handbook from the charity Women’s Aid is free and provides information for women on a wide range of issues, such as housing, money, helping your children, and your legal rights.

1 in 3 cases of domestic violence and abuse against women starts during pregnancy. If the relationship is already abusive, it can get worse.

Find out more about domestic abuse in pregnancy.

If you decide to leave

The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you’re not alone and it’s not your fault. Before you go, try to get advice from an organisation such as:

Women’s Aid or Refuge for women

Men’s Advice Line for men

Galop for LGBT+

If you’re considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It’s important your partner does not know where you’re going.

Women’s Aid has useful information about making a safety plan that applies to both women and men, including advice if you decide to leave.

Helping a friend if they’re being abused

If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.

helping friend who is being abused

They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.

If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:

  • listen, and take care not to blame them
  • acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
  • give them time to talk, but do not push them to talk if they do not want to
  • acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
  • tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
  • support them as a friend, encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
  • do not tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision
  • ask if they have suffered physical harm and if they have, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
  • help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
  • be ready to provide information about organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse.
Other sources of support

For more information.

and the UK Government ‘Enough’ campaign website


Karma Nirvana – 0800 599 9247 or visit (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) . You can also call 0207 008 0151 to speak to the GOV.UK Forced Marriage Unit.


Respect phoneline – For those acting in an abusive way, seeking help. Tel: 0808 802 4040

For further help and support, please contact