What is Domestic Abuse?

Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid uses the Home Office definition of domestic violence which is:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Domestic abuse is about the misuse of power and the exercise of control within a relationship.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”*

*This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. Domestic abuse is about the misuse of power and the exercise of control within a relationship. It is most often experienced by women from someone they know, usually a man. This could be a partner, carer, friend or family member.

It is more common than you think with 1 in 3 women experiencing it at some time in their lives and during one day 1 in 8 women will being experiencing domestic abuse. Any woman can experience domestic abuse as it occurs regardless of age, class, race, weath, social group, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.

Women who experience domestic abuse may feel isolated, alone and afraid. It can be hard to believe that someone you care about can behave in such a way and many women assume that they are to blame for the abuser’s behaviour. This is not the case as it is the abuser’s behaviour that needs to change. It is important to accept that you are not to blame and to seek help if you require support.

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