Domestic abuse

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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined as:

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

As the definition suggests, domestic abuse does not discriminate between age, class, race, religion or sex and anyone can be the victim of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is a hidden crime - a crime that occurs behind closed doors when often there are no witnesses. It is also a personal crime, where people who experience it are often reluctant to confide in others including family and friends


What to do if you are experiencing domestic abuse

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or you think a friend or relative may be experiencing abuse from a partner or relative:

  • Call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for advice on what to do and where to access support
  • Visit the Women's Aid website at www.womensaid.org.uk

Male victims of domestic abuse

Although women are more likely to experience domestic abuse and to experience repeat and severe forms of violence, men may also experience incidents of domestic abuse.

The Men's Advice Line provides a range of services aimed at men who have or are experiencing domestic abuse from their partner. Call 0808 801 0327 for advice and support.


Did you know?

  • One in four women experience domestic violence over their lifetime
  • One incident of domestic abuse is reported to police every minute, however less than 40% of domestic violence crime is reported to police
  • 45% of women and 26% of men experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse in their lifetime
  • Women are much more likely than men to be the victim of multiple incidents of abuse
  • On average two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner
  • The total number of women supported by domestic violence services in England on one typical day (in 2006) was 11,310
  • In 75% to 90% of incidents of domestic violence, children are in the same or the next room
  • Children who live with domestic violence are at increased risk of behavioural problems and emotional trauma, and mental health difficulties in adult life
  • Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic systems, eating problems and sexual dysfunction
  • 75% of cases of domestic violence result in physical injury or mental health consequences to women

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Last updated: 15 March 2016