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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is the exercise of control by one person over another within an intimate or close family relationship; the abuse can be sexual, physical, financial, emotional or psychological. The abuse can happen in the home or elsewhere.

It is usually a pattern of behaviour, and happens regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion. However the gender of the victim and of the perpetrator influences the severity, risk, and harm caused.

There are many different forms of domestic abuse, these include but are not limited to:

  • coercively controlling behaviour (a pattern of control, isolation, degradation, intimidation and the use of threats)
  • emotional / psychological abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • harassment and stalking

The cross UK government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.¹

How domestic abuse affects children and young people

Anyone affected by these forms of violence and abuse should be able to access help and support when they need it and every case should be taken seriously. The Live Fear Free Helpline is a 24 hour helpline for women, children and men experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or other forms of violence against women on 0808 80 10 800.


¹  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-violence-and-abuse

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