Frequently Asked Questions
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is the repeated, random, habitual controlling behaviour used by one person to intimidate another, within an intimate or family type relationship. It is the misuse of power in order to gain control.
Domestic abuse can be:
- Physical – such as slapping, punching, kicking, pushing you around, pulling your hair.
- Sexual – forcing you to have sex with your partner or others.
- Parental – abuse of children
- Emotional – threatening to kill themselves if you leave
- Psychological – calling you names, putting you down, humiliating you in public, stopping you from going out or seeing your friends and family, turning your children against you, mind games, controlling your life.
- Financial – stopping you from having money of your own, keeping you with not enough money for the things you and/or your children need.
- Domestic abuse is a crime. We all have a role to play in ending it.
Why does domestic abuse happen?
Domestic abuse is caused by one person’s desire for power and control over another. Although anyone (man or woman) can be an abuser, statistics at the moment show that domestic abuse is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men.Abusers are careful about who they abuse and about when and where and how they carry out abuse- this shows that they are making a choice and therefore, have not ‘lost control’ but, in fact, the very opposite.
There is no single reason as to why domestic abuse continues to happen but these are some of the things which are understood to contribute:
- Stereotypes and inequality – Men are still seen as more important than women in our society – better jobs, higher wages, the main earners, head of the household and women are seen to be ‘care givers’- looking after their men, children, parents, going without to provide for others.
- Society’s tolerance or acceptance of the use of violence – failure to prosecute/minimising of the charge (ABH reduced often to common assault)
- Society’s belief that the victim is to blame for causing the abuse- ‘she/he provoked him/her’, ‘she/he asked for it’.
- Friends, families, communities and society as a whole collude with an abuser- denying, accepting and/or covering incidents of abuse. Abusers continue to ‘get away with it’
- Lack of resources to enable victims to leave- inappropriate or inadequate housing, limited childcare, insufficient support for victims with complex needs.
- It continues because perpetrators are allowed to get away with it.
- It is not caused by alcohol, drugs, unemployment, stress or ill health. These are only excuses or justifications for an abuser’s behaviour
Who does domestic abuse happen to?
- Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Domestic abuse happens to people regardless of:
- Social background (class)
- Ethnicity (race)
- Sexual orientation
* Statistics at the moment show that most abuse is perpetrated by men on women; however, domestic abuse can happen to men. Domestic abuse can happen to someone in a same sex, bi-sexual or transgender relationship as well as in heterosexual relationships.
Who is an abuser?
- An abuser can be anyone. An abuser chooses to use abusive behaviour in order to get what they want. It doesn’t matter about their:
- Social background (class)
- Ethnicity (race)
- Sexual orientation
Abusers usually behave differently in public than they do in their intimate/ family type relationships. Many abusers may seem charming, hold down important jobs, be well respected in their communities and appear helpful to others – this makes it even more difficult for people to believe that abuse is happening.
- Does domestic abuse happen that much?
- Here are some recent statistics
- 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives
- 1 in 6 men (aged 16 or over) will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime.
- Every 3 days a women escapes a domestic abuse relationship
- It can take on average 7 or 8 times for a women to leave
- For every three victims of domestic abuse: two will be female and one will be Male
- The percentage of gay or bi-sexual men who suffer domestic abuse is double that of heterosexual/straight men
- There are four organisations running four male refuges (with 23 spaces) in the UK
- There are over 400 organisations with 500 refuges (with 7,500 spaces) in the UK specifically for women
- Over 90% of incidents are in the hearing or sight of a child
Am I or is someone I know being abused?
A person’s experience of domestic abuse will be very individual but all abusive relationships have some common factors- things that lots of victims have said happened to them. If you have to regularly change your behaviour because you are scared of your partner/family member’s reaction, you are probably being abused.
This list might help you to think about whether you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.
- Verbal abuse: criticising your clothes, body, parenting, housekeeping, cooking, shouting, mocking, accusing, name calling, verbally threatening, humiliating you verbally in public.
- Pressure tactics: sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
- Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
- Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
- Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives either directly or by making it uncomfortable when you do try and see them.
- Harassment: following you; checking up on you; opening your mail; repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you; reading your texts; looking at your emails; embarrassing you in public.
- Threats: making angry gestures; using subtle body language that only you and the abuser know in order to threaten you; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children.
- Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts with the abuser or someone else; having sex with you when you don’t want to have sex; any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
- Physical: punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling.
- Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen; saying you caused the abusive behaviour; being nice to you in public; crying, saying sorry, begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.