Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, 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.
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I have never been cared for with so much compassion and respect. Everyone I have encountered has not judged me because of my past, everything they have been doing has been to build me, I feel like I am making very positive steps every day.
Feedback to a health visitor from a women in a refuge for families
Domestic abuse can include
- 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
- physical or sexual abuse
- financial abuse
- harassment and stalking
- online or digital abuse
- female genital mutilation
- honour-based violence
The above list is not exhaustive. Domestic abuse can include many other behaviours.
Although women are more likely to experience multiple incidents of abuse, men can be affected by it too and can find it harder to report it.
Domestic abuse can occur between partners, but also between other family members, such as siblings or parents and children. It also includes honour based crimes, such as forced marriage.
How are children affected?
Children’s mental health can suffer long term effects if they witness abuse between their caregivers. Shouting, arguing, threats of violence make children anxious and fearful and they can become angry themselves or hide away. Many women and men can experience depression and anxiety if they are in an abusive relationship. It is also important that the primary care giver protects the children from harm and witnessing the abuse.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please speak to your health visitor. We support many families experiencing domestic abuse and can give you ongoing support. We can also help you access advice from independent domestic abuse experts and the police if needed.