The government defines domestic violence and abuse as:
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:
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.
It’s abuse if your partner or a family member:
- threatens you
- shoves or pushes you
- makes you fear for your physical safety
- puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
- controls you, for example by stopping you seeing your friends and family
- is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
- frightens you
Where can you get help?
You don’t have to wait for an emergency situation to seek help. You can:
- talk to your doctor, health visitor or midwife
- women can call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge
- men can call the Men’s Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) or ManKind on 01823 334 244
- in an emergency, call 999
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.
Broken Rainbow UK provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.
Anyone who needs confidential help with their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline on 0808 802 4040.
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:
If you’re considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It’s important that your partner doesn’t know where you’re going.
Women and men who have been sexually assaulted can get confidential help, treatment and support at a sexual assault referral centre. Find your nearest sexual assault referral centre.