What is domestic abuse?
Domestic Abuse is defined by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 as the behaviour of a person towards another and that both people are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other and the behaviour is abusive. Abusive behaviour consists of the following:
- physical or sexual abuse;
- violent or threatening behaviour;
- controlling or coercive behaviour;
- economic abuse
- psychological, emotional or other abuse.
Furthermore, it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse and sexual violence. It can occur in both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ relationships, and can effect anyone, young or old, any ethnicity or sexual identity, any religion and social background.
It is a pattern of behaviour which is motivated by the abuser seeking to establish and maintain power and control over another person.
Abuse doesn't have to be physical, and includes a range of behaviours which will be experienced everyday. It may involve a process of isolating you from family and friends. There are likely to be rules which if broken will result in consequences and this will create a sense of fear which is how the power and control is maintained.
Am I being abused?
Does you partners or member of your family frighten you?
It may not be easy to recognise that you are being abused. The person abusing you is likely to tell you that it is “your fault” or that “it’s not that bad”. They may try to convince you that it’s perfectly normal or that no-one else would believe you.
You will probably have changed the way you do things to try and maintain calm and keep the abuser happy. However, it is likely that no matter what you do the abuse continues and possibly gets worse, the level of abuse may escalate, and it is likely to happen more often.
Isolation is a key tactic used by abusers to establish power and control, and to try and make you completely dependant on them. An abuser seeking to isolate you may:
- Prevent you from seeing family and friends
- Encourage you to quit your work or study
- Monitor your movements
- Monitor your online activity
- Restrict your access to money
- Deny you access to buy basic necessities.
Domestic abuse should be understood as a pattern of behaviour, it is not a series of isolated "incidents". The statistics show that this is some of the most dangerous behaviour and by recognising that you are being abused you can start to identify risks and think abut ways you might be able to stay safer.