What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is a crime in which the abuser seeks power and control over their victim and can affect women, men and children. It includes any threatening or controlling behaviour such as psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse and can range from:
- Being forced to do things (being pressured)
- Being frightened to say 'no'
- Being frightened to say what you think
- Feeling that you are 'walking on eggshells' all the time
- Being watched and checked up on
- Having your freedom unreasonably restricted
- Being stopped from seeing your family and friends
- Being made to feel small
- Forced marriage
- Violence, including ‘honour-based’ abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Threats to you, your family, your pets or your possessions
- Being made to feel too tired, too depressed, and too frightened to fight back or leave
- Destructive criticism
- Disrespect and breaking trust.
It can affect anybody, regardless of gender, age, race, sexuality or social background. It is not acceptable in any circumstance.
Recognising the Signs
It’s never easy to come to terms with knowing that someone is suffering. While every domestic abuse case is different, there may be telltale signs that indicate abuse is taking place. These include:
Injuries – Bruising, cuts or injuries or walking stiffly or appears sore. These injuries may come with explanations that don’t fit with the description.
Excuses – the victim may excuse their injuries by claiming they are clumsy or gives the same explanation each time.
Stress –displays physical symptoms related to stress, other anxiety disorders or depression, such as panic attacks, feelings of isolation and an inability to cope. They may even talk about suicide attempts or self-harming.
Absent from work - often off work, takes time off without notice or is frequently late.
Personality changes – you may notice personality changes when the victim is around their partner, appears to ‘walk on eggshells’, may be jumpy or nervous.
Low self-esteem – low self-esteem or lack of confidence regarding their relationship or life in general and may seem sad, cry or be depressed.
Lack of opportunity to communicate independently – perhaps their partner talks over them, or for them. Their partner may appear controlling or regularly belittle the victim.
Self blame – may take the blame for anything that happens, whether it’s at work, with the kids or with friends. They may blame themselves for the abuse.
Lack of money – never seems to have any money because their partner is withholding money to control them.
Stops socialising – makes excuses for not going out with friends, or suddenly pulls out of social meets at the last minute.
Partner displays irrational behaviour – their partner is jealous, irrational or possessive. Their partner may accuse them of having affairs, flirting or may read their emails, check their phone or constantly phone to check up on them.
Unwanted pregnancy/termination – pregnancy often triggers the start of domestic abuse. A individual may be unhappy at being pregnant, not wish to continue with the pregnancy, or be forced into having a termination.
Substance abuse –may use alcohol or drugs to cope or even prescribed drugs such as tranquillisers or anti-depressants.
Damage to property – there may be damage to the home or even harm to pets.
Unwilling to give out personal details – may not give friends and colleagues their address or telephone number and may insist that they contact you, so that you don’t turn up on their doorstep.
Honour Based Abuse (HBA) includes Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation are harmful practices which we know affects not just the most vulnerable people of society but also those who we would ordinarily believe to be empowered enough to come forward and seek help but unfortunately don’t.
The concept of dishonour exists in all walks of minority communities including Asian, African, Middle Eastern and European societies. The victim can be male or female made further vulnerable because they are a child. Other vulnerabilities can be mental health, learning difficulties or physical disabilities that the globe of perpetrators can exploit. A victim may be a UK citizen, a foreign national or a probationary spouse unable to speak English.