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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is any violent or abusive behaviour used by one person to control and dominate another with whom they have or have had a personal or family relationship. This includes sexual, emotional, psychological, physical, verbal or financial abuse.

Domestic abuse or domestic violence is defined as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading or violent behaviour, including sexual violence. In the majority of cases the perpetrator is a partner or ex-partner, but it can also be by a family member or carer.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Online or digital abuse

Any woman can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, class, or disability, but some women who experience other forms of oppression and discrimination may face further barriers to disclosing abuse and finding help.

Domestic abuse exists as part of violence against women and girls; which also includes different forms of family violence such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so called ‘honour crimes’ that are perpetrated primarily by family members, often with multiple perpetrators.

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Thanks to Women’s Aid for allowing us to use their description of domestic abuse and domestic violence.