Domestic Abuse Helpline

24 hour domestic violence helpline

What is Domestic Abuse?

Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse [1] as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behavior, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse [2]
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Online or digital abuse

Domestic abuse is a gendered crime which is deeply rooted in the societal inequality between women and men. It takes place “because she is a woman and happens disproportionately to women.”[3]

Women are more likely than men to experience multiple incidents of abuse, different types of domestic abuse (intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking) and in particular sexual violence. Any woman can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, class, or disability, but some women who experience other forms of oppression and discrimination may face further barriers to disclosing abuse and finding help.

Domestic abuse exists as part of violence against women and girls; which also includes different forms of family violence such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so called “honor crimes” that are perpetrated primarily by family members, often with multiple perpetrators.

Perceptions of abuse

The Crime Survey of England and Wales data on violent crime and sexual offences, for the year ending March 2015, shows that of 4,564 adults questioned, 92% believe it is always unacceptable to hit or slap their partner in response to their partner constantly nagging or moaning (91% of men, 92% of women). These levels of objection decrease among adults when asked about partners cheating, 77% of adults surveyed believe it is always unacceptable to hit or slap their partner in response to their partner having an affair or cheating on them (76% of men and 78% of women). [4]

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