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Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence 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.'

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • Physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons.
  • Sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography.
  • Financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work.
  • Emotional abuse / coercive control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015.
  • Digital / online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate or control someone.
  • Honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation  

How we can help

We believe that all survivors of domestic abuse should be able to get the help they need, and the support that will empower them to move on from the impact of abuse. We don’t just help people who’ve recently experienced domestic abuse – we’re here to support both men and women, weeks, months and years afterwards.

We have different services in different parts of the country. All of our services are confidential, free and available to anyone who's experienced domestic violence. We can help, regardless of whether you’ve told the police or anyone else about the abuse.

  • Our IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocates) services are staffed by specialist caseworkers and supported by specialist volunteers. These workers will help you to decide what action you want to take and the support and help that feels right for you. IDVAs often support survivors through the criminal justice system, if you choose to report the crime, and co-ordinate health and support services.
  • We have domestic abuse outreach services, which are provided by specialist caseworkers and volunteers who will work with you in the community, co-ordinating support and providing direct practical and emotional support. We work from health services, police stations, hospitals and community centres to provide information and support to a wide number of people.
  • Our victims’ service supports people affected by any crime. We’ll help you decide on the range of support and help that might benefit you.

Find out about our confidentiality policy.

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