About domestic abuse

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Domestic abuse is defined as any behaviour which is abusive towards you from a current or ex-partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexuality, provided you are both aged 16 or over.

The abuse could be physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, psychological or emotional abuse.

It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or forms part of an ongoing pattern of abusive behaviour. The relationship does not need to include all of these forms of abuse to be considered abusive.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can access help and support  from services in our borough.

In an emergency always call 999. The police have officers specially trained to offer you support and advice, and your safety will be their priority.

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Types of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can take many forms. It is not just physical - domestic abuse can be emotional, sexual, economic and psychological abuse and can include behaviours such as:

Physical abuse - the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person such as hitting, strangling, kicking, pushing etc.

Emotional and psychological abuse - putting you down, making you feel bad about yourself, threats to your children or using children to make you feel guilty, calling you names, making you think you're 'crazy' or making you doubt things you've said/done.

Coercive and controlling behaviour - regulating your everyday behaviour; when you leave the house, who you see, what you wear, or making you feel guilty for those choices, making threats of harm to you, your children, or threats to harm themselves if you do not do what is asked/expected, 'gaslighting' you or minimising or denying the abuse.

Sexual abuse - rape, sexual assault, sharing or threatening to share intimate photos of you (sometimes known as 'revenge porn'), pressuring you into sex or making you feel like 'no' isn’t an option. Being married or in a relationship does not mean that your partner has the right to have sex with you against your will, or that you are obligated to have sex with your partner.

Harassment and stalking - contacting you excessively or through several means, making different social media accounts to contact you, loitering outside your home or workplace, attending your home or workplace without notice, contacting your friends to try to contact you.

Economic abuse - stopping you from managing your own finances, taking or spending your money without your consent, taking out loans in your name, deliberately sabotaging your credit score.

Domestic abuse can also include:

Female genital mutilation (FGM), the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This is also child abuse.

Honour based violence (HBV) is a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour.

Forced marriage (FM) is where one or both people do not (or in cases of some people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage as they are pressurised, or abused to do so.

View how to protect children and adults from abuse in the UK and abroad.

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Domestic abuse and children

Children who see, hear or experience domestic abuse or its effects are recognised as victims of the abuse in their own right.

Children who are victims of abuse respond in different ways and may become anxious, withdrawn, depressed or angry. They may try to interpret what is happening and worry about their roles in causing violence to happen, or they may try to protect the parent who is being abused in different ways. It is important to explain to them that it is not their fault and they must not intervene, and to teach them how to get help or call 999 in an emergency.

If you are concerned about a child suffering domestic abuse, visit our domestic violence and children page for advice and guidance.

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