What is domestic violence/abuse?

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the most recognisable form of abuse. It can range from a slap or shove; to a black eye, cut lip, or broken bone. In the most extreme cases it can result in death.

Physical abuse doesn’t always leave visible marks or scars. Having your hair pulled or an egg thrown at you is domestic violence too. Don’t underestimate what is happening to you. Over time the violence usually gets worse.


Emotional abuse

Many women and men experience domestic violence without ever having been physically abused. Sometimes they’re not sure if what is happening to them is domestic violence. They worry that no-one will take them seriously if they talk about it.

If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused. Emotional abuse is an attack on your personality rather than your body.  As time goes on, this undermines your confidence and often leads to a loss of self-esteem, which can lead you to question everything you do or say.  Ultimately, it is quite common for the person being subjected to this type of abuse, to eventually think that the abuser’s actions are their own fault; a result of something THEY have done wrong.  They may finally believe that the abuser is right; that they are stupid, or intolerant, or unstable, or a terrible mum or dad – whatever the abuser’s target subject is.  It is an insidious and calculated process of someone’s self-belief being chipped away at; very often resulting in them believing that they are not fit to make any decisions or judgements of their own.

Emotional abuse can be just as harmful, if not more so, as physical abuse and often leads to physical violence over time.

Sexual abuse

Your partner should not use any degree of force or threaten you in order to make you have sex. They should not make you perform sexual acts with which you are uncomfortable, and should not criticise your performance.

If any of the above is happening to you, it means that they are using sex to assert their authority in order to control you.


Financial abuse

One of the most powerful ways a woman or man can control their partner is by using financial abuse.

There are many different forms of financial abuse; it may include your partner taking your money, stopping you from working, placing all the bills or debts in your name, monitoring how you spend money and other financial resources – such as the telephone/car, etc.

If you feel that your partner is limiting your financial independence, you are experiencing financial abuse.