What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is sometimes called ‘domestic violence’ and it can involve an adult threatening, bullying or hurting another adult in their family or who they’re in a relationship with.

Recognising domestic abuse

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

Does your partner, ex-partner or someone you live with:

  • cut you off from family and friends and intentionally isolate you?
  • bully, threaten, or control you?
  • take control of your finances?
  • monitor or limit your use of technology?
  • physically and/or sexually abuse you?

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:

  • coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
  • economic abuse
  • online abuse
  • threats and intimidation
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse

If you believe that you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs that you can look out for including:

  • being withdrawn, or being isolated from your family and friends
  • having bruises, burns or bite marks on you
  • having your finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food, medication or pay bills
  • not being allowed to leave your house, or stopped from going to college or work
  • having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails or letters
  • being repeatedly belittled, put down or told you are worthless
  • being pressured into sex or sexual contact
  • being told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting

Get help and support

All forms of domestic abuse are not acceptable in any situation.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse and feel frightened of, or controlled by, a partner, an ex-partner or family member, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault and there is no shame in seeking help.

It may seem like a difficult step to take, but there is support available and #YouAreNot Alone.

Free, confidential support and advice is available to victims and their concerned family members or friends, 24 hours a day.

How to help someone experiencing domestic abuse

If you are worried that someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, either because they are experiencing it in their home or because they are in an abusive relationship with another young person, you should let them know where they can get help and support.

It’s not okay…

  • kicking, punching, hitting

  • threatening to kill someone or hurt them

  • controlling behaviour, like telling someone where they can go and what they can wear

  • controlling someone’s finances by withholding money or stopping someone going to work

  • making someone feel guilty, criticising them or making them feel small and stopping them from standing up for themselves

  • reading emails, text messages or letters

  • making someone do something sexual when they don’t want to.

Domestic abuse can happen inside and outside of the home, it can happen over the phone or online using the internet or social media. It can happen in any relationship and in any family and can continue once a relationship is over.

If an important adult in your life is acting this way toward another adult who is important to you, you may be feeling frightened, anxious, sad or angry. It is important to remember that it is not your fault, and that you can ask for help.

Understanding an unhealthy or toxic relationship

There are some common factors in relationships that might mean that it is unhealthy and even abusive.

Every situation is unique, but there are some common factors in relationships that might mean that it is unhealthy and even abusive. Just thinking about these red-flag behaviours is an important first step and get some support if you’re experiencing one, or more of them in your relationship.