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Domestic Abuse: How to report it and support those affected

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 12 August 2015
  2. Family
  3. 0 comments
Domestic abuse

It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives, as well as 1 in 6 men.

If you think someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help them.

Identifying domestic abuse

The definition of domestic abuse was expanded back in 2013. It now covers a range of controlling and coercive behaviour between partners or ex-partners who are 16 or older, including physical, psychological, and emotional abuse.

Physical abuse and sexual abuse

Physical abuse covers any type of physical harm caused by a partner – an obvious example of this would be through hitting them or pushing them over.

However, there are other forms of physical abuse which are less obvious – for example, starving someone, depriving them of water or imprisoning them are all examples of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity which the victim has been forced or coerced. This includes rape and sexual assault, both of which are crimes regardless of whether the partners are married or in a relationship. 

Psychological and emotional abuse

Psychological abuse and emotional abuse come in many forms, which can make them quite hard to spot. They are usually intended to control the partner by making them feel worthless, helpless, or guilty.

The abuser could do this by insulting and putting down the victim, or by preventing them from going to work or seeing their friends. They might try to convince the victim that the abuse is their own fault, or that they are mad.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse happens when the abuser takes control of the victim’s money against her will. The abuser could do this by demanding she give him control of her wages or benefit payments, or by withholding money from her and preventing her from getting or keeping a job.

Even if he does not directly control the victim’s money, he could demand that she show him every receipt and account for everything she spends.

He could also run up debts in her name, making her take out loans or credit cards so he can use the money.

Or, it could be that he takes money from the victim or makes significant financial decisions without asking her.

Abuse from ex-partners

A victim does not need to still be in a relationship with the abuser for it to be considered domestic abuse – abuse from ex-partners still falls under this definition.

Domestic abuse against men

While the majority of domestic abuse is directed at women, a quarter of victims are men. Domestic abuse against men is just as illegal as it is against women.

How can I get help?

If you think a victim of domestic may be in immediate danger, you should call 999. The National Centre for Domestic Violence can give the victim support and help them to get an injunction to put a stop to the abuse.

There are a number of other services which can be of help, based on the circumstances.

Help for women and children

Refuge and Women’s Aid

24 hour helpline: 0808 2000 247

All Wales Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Helpline

24 hour helpline: 0808 80 10 800

Help for male victims

Men’s Advice Line

Helpline: 0808 801 0327

Help for LGBT victims

Broken Rainbow

Helpline: 0300 999 5428 (freephone: 0800 999 5428)

Helping abusers change their behaviour


Helpline: 0808 802 4040

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