Domestic abuse 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

Domestic abuse can be very isolating and often goes unreported because the victim feels trapped and alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone over 16. It can happen to anyone of any gender, religion, race or sexuality. It can happen in short or long-term relationships, with ex-partners or family members.

Staying safe

If you think you are experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.

If you are unsure, go with your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. You may feel alone and that no one can help you, but many people experience abuse and there are many services that can provide support.

You can speak to your teacher, GP, work colleague or any other trusted professional. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.

A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children, by planning in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave. Women's Aid provides information about domestic abuse and keeping safe in their survivors handbook.

Further help and information

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and you would like to speak to the police, you can do so over the phone (by dialling 101), in person at a police station or you can report it online.   If you feel in immediate danger, dial 999 straight away and try to wait in a safe place for the police to arrive.

If you don't feel confident speaking to the police there are lots of other agencies that can support you.  A detailed list of support organisations specialising in domestic abuse is provided on this website in the directory of services.