Domestic violence is the systematic pattern of behaviour on the part of the abuser designed to control his partner.

The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused. It can begin at any stage of the relationship. Domestic violence is rarely a one-off. Incidents generally become more frequent and severe over time.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. Whilst domestic violence happens in all relationships (heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), statistics show the vast majority of domestic violence incidents are carried out by men and experienced by women.

Domestic violence is a crime. We all have a role to play in bringing domestic violence to an end.

Recognising Abuse

Violence against women and girls (also called ‘gender-based violence’) is rooted in inequality between the sexes; it is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women. It takes many forms including domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and modern slavery, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour’ violence. No matter what your experience of gender-based violence, there are organisations and social work services available to help you.

Domestic violence describes any violence or abuse that is used by someone to control or obtain power over their partner. It can include physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional and financial abuse. If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused.

Many women experience domestic violence and other forms of abuse without ever being physically abused. Remember: non-physical forms of abuse can be as destructive and as undermining as physical violence.

Whilst the vast majority of those who experience domestic violence – and all forms of gender-based violence – are women, it can affect anyone.

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