Domestic Abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provides a clear, statutory definition of domestic abuse for the first time in the UK. It defines domestic abuse as:

Behaviour of a person towards another person where they are each aged 16 or over and personally connected to each other and the behaviour is abusive.

 Abusive behaviour includes abuse which is:

  • Physical or sexual
  • Violent or threatening
  • Controlling or coercive
  • Economic
  • Psychological, emotional or other abuses

It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

Economic abuse

Economic abuse means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s ability to:

  • acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or
  • obtain goods or services

Children living with domestic abuse

A child who sees or hears, or experiences the effects of, domestic abuse and is related to the person being abused or the perpetrator is also regarded as a victim of domestic abuse.

Whatever form it takes, domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident, and should instead be seen as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim, often escalating over time. Domestic abuse can start and occur in a relationship at any time, including after a couple has separated. It may not only take place in the home but also in a public place.