Domestic Abuse

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What is Domestic Abuse?

Any incident of pattern of incidents 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 gender or sexuality.  This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional


Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This cross-government definition includes so called 'honour’ based violence (HBV), female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage (FM).  Domestic abuse occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth, and geography.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates of domestic abuse are based on a Government definition that includes young people aged 16 to 17 and coercive or controlling behaviour. 


How big is it? 

  • 8.3% of women and 4% of men were estimated to have experienced domestic abuse in 2014/2015, equivalent to an estimated 1.3 million female and 600,000 male victims.
  • 27.1% of women and 13.2% of men had experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16.  These figures were equivalent to an estimated 4.5 million female victims of domestic abuse and 2.2 million male victims between the ages of 16 and 59.
  • Domestic abuse accounts for about ¼  (23%) of all violent crime in the England and Wales
  • An average of 2 women are killed by their partner or ex-partner each week.


What is Coercive Control?

A new criminal offence of coercive or controlling behaviour against an intimate partner or family member came into force on 29 December 2015 and carries a maximum penalty for someone found guilty of five years imprisonment.  Coercive control is:

An act or pattern of acts of

  • Assault
  • Threats
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Other abuse – used to harm, punish or frighten victims

 A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependant by 

  • Isolating them from sources of support
  • Exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain
  • Depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance or escape
  • Regulating everyday behaviour

You can visit our Campaigns page for more information about coercive control


Domestic Abuse – Everyone’s Business

If you think a friend or family member, or a colleague or client is experiencing domestic abuse, there are things you can do to help.
  • Find out information about local specialists services and help.
  • Offer any practical help you are able to, such as the use of your telephone or address for information or messages.
  • Offer help to protect them.  For example, you could offer to inform the police or support agencies on their behalf or encourage them to talk to a counsellor.
  • As an employer, show executive commitment and workplace policy to prevent domestic violence, to support employees affected by domestic violence, including referral to specialist services.
  • Speak up when you hear or see attitudes or behaviours that support violence against women.
  • Provide promotional materials and information to help raise awareness of domestic violence.


Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse

If you have been a victim of domestic abuse you can access support by contacting Victims First or find your local domestic abuse service by searching in our directory. The type of support available could include a help line, practical or emotional support, face to face support, group work and/ or counselling to help you cope and recover from the impact of the crime. 

More information on domestic abuse and ways you can get support can be found on the website below: