Real-life examples of Domestic Abuse


The following examples of domestic abuse are loosely based on real experiences.

Domestic Abuse PosterEmotional abuse

Emma’s story

At 25-years old I had been with my partner for two years. James and I shared a flat and for years we were the envy of our peer group.

In recent months, though, the relationship had turned sour.

James would put me down in front of friends and loved ones and would call me fat and ugly- even comparing how I looked to other women. I was never good enough. He never actually physically harmed me when he’d get angry James would throw things around in our apartment, or even worse, would completely ignore me. This was his favourite ‘punishment’ could go on for days.

A few weeks ago, I finally spoke to a friend who advised me to seek help and contact a support service. When I spoke to a specialist they signposted me to a resource online that showed a wheel highlighting the types of abuse victims faced. Just viewing this made me emotional as it outlined how a person didn’t have to be beaten up to be a victim of abuse.

For so long I thought everything was my fault so to be told that it wasn’t normal and that something was wrong gave me a sense of relief. The support service gave me advice on the steps that I could take in order to break free from the relationship. I kept in touch with them throughout the whole process, even once I was free from James. I also found the courage to tell my friends and family - they hadn’t realised what had happened and were only too happy for me to be rid of him.

Our advice

  • Many women experience domestic abuse without ever being physically abused. Sometimes they don’t realise that this is the case and they worry that no-one will take them seriously if they talk about it.
  • If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react you are being abused.
  • Emotional abuse is an attack on your personality rather than your body and it can be just as harmful as physical abuse. Over time it can lead to violence.
  • For more information you can contact the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or if you are from an LGBT relationship you can contact Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428. Male victims can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

Sexual abuse

Angela’s story

I had been with Matthew since I was 16-years old and I’m now 35. We would do everything together and shared the same friends.

In the beginning, our sex life was great but, with all things in life, we got older and our priorities changed. Work commitments and the responsibility of two children meant that it couldn’t be the same focus that it used to be.

Even later into our relationship I reckon we had more sex than other couples but somehow it was never enough for him. We’d both come in late from work and there would be dinner to cook, the house would be a tip, and all he could think about was when we’d have sex. If we left it more than a couple of days the tension was terrible – he’d hardly even look at me and I felt like he hated me. More often than not I’d do it just to get the man who loved me back again.

In recent months my mum has been suffering from cancer so she has had to be my main focus. This took me away from family duties, including my relationship, and I wasn’t able to give it the same level of time and attention. This included our sex life. Matthew would suggest that my not wanting to have sex with him was because I didn’t love him and was seeing someone else.

The accusations led to tension at home and I would dread the prospect of coming home from work. 

One day he came home and he raped me, twice. Afterwards, he said that raping me wasn’t wrong and that it was his right as my partner. It was then that I decided to leave, taking the children with me. It wasn’t easy and I lost a lot of friends as a result. It really was my darkest hour.

I contacted a support service who found me a refuge to stay in before I was able to sort more permanent accommodation for us. Without their help and my own strength I don’t think I would have been able to break free.

Our advice

  • Your partner should not use force or threats to make you have sex. He should not make you perform sexual acts with which you are uncomfortable and he should not criticise your performance.
  • If he does any of the above, he is using sex to assert his authority and control you.
  • For help and advice you can contact the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or if you are from an LGBT relation you can contact Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428. Male victims can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

Financial abuse

Laura’s story

Adam was controlling from the start of the relationship but I never thought anything of it - if anything I found it nice that he was paying attention and seemed concerned over how I spent my money and how looked after myself.

For ten years I had the money I drew out and spent monitored and scrutinised, right down to having to explain the type of soap and washing powder I was buying.

Towards the end of the relationship Adam changed and his desire to control my money turned into him spending it. Any time he wanted anything he would take cash from my purse or my bank card without asking and buy what he wanted.

Now, six months on I am free from the relationship. Financially I am in a worse position at the moment but I am in control, and that’s the most important thing - to have control is the best feeling you can ever have. To have my life back feels amazing.

Our advice

  • One of the most powerful ways a man can control you is by controlling your finances.
  • This can include taking your money, stopping you from working, placing all the bills or debts in your name or monitoring how you spend your money.
  •  If you feel that your partner is limiting your financial independence, you are experiencing financial abuse.
  •  For help and advice you can contact the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or if you are from an LGBT relationship you can contact Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428. Male victims can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

Physical abuse

Rachel’s story

Neil and I were together for about nine years but he wasn’t abusive for all of them.

When we first started seeing each other everything was great and I felt like the luckiest person in the world, but after four years it all started to change after we had a miscarriage, losing our baby.

Neil would call me names, he’d tell me I looked ugly and that I was lucky to be with him. He would belittle me in front of other people and make me feel insignificant.

The abuse made me feel small but I would often convince myself that no relationship was perfect, that it was just a blip but a few weeks later I experienced my darkest hour.

We were out for dinner when a guy I worked with came over to say hello. Neil snapped at him, asked him who he was and why he was speaking to me.

Then later that evening at home all hell broke loose. Neil slapped me, he told me I was a slag and said I was good for nothing. I was horrified - Neil had never struck me before. I picked myself up and rushed to the bathroom to see what he had done. I could hear him coming towards the door, shouting how sorry he was. I didn’t know what to do.

A few weeks later it happened again when Neil hit me after a ‘bad day’. I was in disbelief. I’d done nothing wrong and knew I had to do something.

The following day Neil left for work and I pretended to get ready to leave too. Once he left the house I rushed around and packed all of my things - I didn’t want to leave anything behind.

I put my things in the car and left for a friend’s house.

It was really hard to do but I’ve never looked back. I think about where we were and where we are now and I think that this is the best thing for both of us. I’ve got advice from a support service and am taking the steps to be completely free.

Our advice

  • Abusive behavior and violence is often used to control you.
  • When around others they control themselves and in public they act like everything is fine. It is when they are on their own with you that they lash out.
  • Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.
  • For help and advice you can contact the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or if you are in a LGBT relationship you can contact Broken Rainbow on 0300 999 5428. Male victims can contact Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.

Psychological abuse

Alan’s story

Before I met Anna I had a huge group of friends and was very close to my family, but this all changed several months into our relationship.

Anna would regularly tell me how I didn’t need anyone else when he was by my side. I didn’t think anything of it at first and thought if anything it made us closer but after a while I started to get concerned.

She would tell me what to wear, would put me down and tell me I looked hideous and fat and every time I would call my parents she would make me feel guilty. Anna claimed that my relationship with them wasn’t healthy and that I needed to put an end to it.

Her behaviour gradually got worse and it got to a point where she would not allow my friends in the house. The torture I was feeling was making me suicidal because I couldn’t take the isolation.

One day I decided I’d had enough and I looked into ways of leaving.

Now, a year on I’m single and happy. I have my family and friends around me and they are the best support I could ever have.

Our advice

  • Domestic abuse includes controlling behaviour. This can include being worn down with psychological mental torture to the point where you feel suicidal.
  • This is another way for perpetrators to control you and the situation. They transform a previously confident person into a shadow of themselves. You may become withdrawn and you may stop seeing friends and family but our advice is to stay connected and keep the line of communication open with those that matter the most. They will be your saviour.
  • For help and advice you can contact the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or if you are from an LGBT relationship you can contact Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428. Male victims can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.
© Greater Manchester Police 2017