What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is a pattern of abusive behaviour that includes emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse between people who are or have been partners, whether or not married and whether or not living together. This includes same-sex relationships and can be inter-generational and take place between family members. People experience domestic abuse regardless of their social group, class, age, race, disability, sexuality and lifestyle. It can happen in the home, or in a public place. Domestic abuse is one person using power and control over another person they have a relationship with; domestic abuse rarely happens just once, over time it tends to happen more often and becomes more serious and severe. Many of these behaviours are crimes; abuse is not an accident – it is behaviour that is done on purpose to control and intimidate the other person. The impact on the abused person can be devastating: physical injury, psychological injury, depression, living in constant fear, self-harming.
What is Coercive & Controlling Behaviour?
Controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another
Being put down and told they are worthless
Being stopped from working or going to school/college/university
Having their money taken away or controlled
Being isolated from friends and family
Having access to food, drinks and day-to-day products restricted
Having how they spend their time and who with being monitored
Having their social media accounts – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – monitored or controlled
Being tracked by their partner via mobile devices or spyware
Being told what they should wear
Being threatened with violence if they do not behave in a certain way
Being threatened with damage to personal property.
What are the different types of abuse?
Physical abuse e.g. hitting, punching, burning, strangling, punching, slapping, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving.
Sexual abuse e.g. forcing unwanted sexual acts, including rape, using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don’t want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
Emotional abuse – e.g. constant criticism, insults, undermining. Isolation e.g. preventing someone from having or developing family, social or professional relationships, preventing from working, monitoring or blocking your telephone calls.
Financial abuse e.g. withholding money, making a person account for every penny they spend, taking your money without asking.
Threats e.g. making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.
Forced marriage and “honour based” violence.
‘So-called honour based violence’ is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community
Forced Marriage: A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both people do not consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.
Domestic abuse is often a combination of several, if not all of the above.
Who is affected by Domestic Abuse?
Anyone can experience domestic abuse; it can happen in all kinds of relationships and for any reason, regardless of age, race, sex, sexuality, disability, wealth, geography and lifestyle. It is rarely a single event. Children and Young People are also affected by domestic abuse. Their health and overall well-being can be adversely affected by living in a household where there is any form of domestic abuse.
How are children affected by Domestic Abuse?
Children can ‘witness’ domestic abuse in many different ways. For example, they may get caught in the middle of an incident in an effort to make the violence stop. They may be in the room next door and hear the abuse or see physical injuries following an incident of violence. They may be forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play. They may be forced to witness sexual abuse or they may be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim. All children witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused. Children are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. Below are some of the effects described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004). They may:
Become anxious or depressed
Have difficulty sleeping
Have nightmares or flashbacks
Become nervous or jumpy
Complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
Start to wet their bed
Have temper tantrums
Behave as though they are much younger than they are
Have problems with school
Show aggressive behaviour or become withdrawn
Have a lowered sense of self-worth
Older children may begin to play truant or start to misuse alcohol or drugs
Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons. Many victims do not stay and many others come and go. The primary reason given by victims for staying with their abusers is fear of violence and the lack of real options to be safe with their children. This fear of violence is realistic. Some perpetrators repeatedly threaten to kill or seriously injure their victims should they attempt to leave the relationship. There are many reasons for staying in an abusive relationship, and they vary for each victim.
They may include:
Fear of violence and the abuser
Difficulty accessing accommodation to provide transitional support and safety for the victim and children
Lack of real alternatives for employment and financial assistance, especially for victims with children
Difficulty obtaining legal assistance
Being immobilised by fear and trauma
Believing in cultural/family/religious values that encourage the family to stay together at all costs
Continuing to hope and believe the abuser’s promises to change
How can I report Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police – there are also other organisations who can offer you help and support.
Call 999 if it’s an emergency or you’re in immediate danger. The police take domestic violence seriously and will be able to help and protect you.
If it’s not an emergency ring 101.
Contact any of the following organisations to get help and advice about domestic abuse:
English National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 mensadviceline.org.uk
Stockport Without Abuse Tel: 0161 477 4271 stockportwithoutabuse.org.uk
Stockport Women’s Centre Tel: 0161 355 4455 thewomenscentre.uk.net
Karma Nirvana for Forced Marriage and Honour based Violence Tel: 0800 5999 247 https://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/