Domestic abuse can happen to anyone.
Does your partner or a member of your family frighten you? Abuse doesn’t have to be physical, there are services that can offer support and give advice about keeping safe.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse, or domestic violence, is defined across Government as any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality (CPS, 2017).
Domestic abuse 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 is not limited to physical assaults and encompasses 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?
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. A useful way of trying to understand what’s happening to you could be to ask yourself “Would I be worried if this was happening to someone I cared about?”
Domestic abuse is not acceptable, it effects people of all ages including teenagers.
Help is available
Whether you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, have recently left an abusive relationship or think you may be in an abusive relationship it is important to know you are not alone. There are services that can help you better understand what is happening to you, they will be able to offer advice on staying safe, provide practical support and help you to work through any decisions you want to make.
Try talking to someone you trust or contact an organisation for support:
- If you are in immediate danger or fear for your life you should always call 999.
- Additional support services can be found by searching on the Suffolk InfoLink.
Isolation is a key tactic used by abusers to establish power and control. 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.
All of these behaviours are part of the process of isolating you and trying to make you completely dependent.
You are not to blame
You may have been told “it’s your fault”. You will probably have changed the way you do things to try and maintain calm and keep the abuser happy. However, it’s likely that no matter what you do the abuse continues and possibly gets worse. Abusers choose to be abusive; it is their intention to frighten, control and dominate and no matter what you do you will not change their behaviour only they can do that. You are not the one causing harm they are.
Understanding the risks - thinking about your safety
It can be difficult to recognise you are being abused, your abuser will convince you that it’s your fault. It is not easy to accept that someone you love would want to cause harm. It is also likely that there will be times when your relationship is good, and you remember the person you fell in love with. You may even get an apology and be told “it won’t happen again”.
However abusive behaviour is likely to get worse, the level of abuse may escalate and it is likely to happen more often. Domestic abuse should be understood as a pattern of behaviour, it is not a series of isolated “incidents”. The statistics demonstrate that this is some of the most dangerous behaviour and by recognising you are being abused you can start to identify risks and think about ways to you might be able to stay safer.
Only leave when it is safe to do so
Leaving is a process. During this process and the period following separation the risk to you (and your children) is at its highest. If you are thinking of leaving it is important that you have a plan and some support to keep yourself safe. Speak to someone about what is going on and consider getting support from a specialist agency who can offer advice on the best ways to leave safely and how you can stay safe post-separation.