What is domestic abuse?
Sometimes referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse in the home can take many forms. The government defines it as “Any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 16 and over, who are or have been intimate partners or are family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.” This definition includes so-called ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
You can find more detail on the types of abuse in:
Who is affected by domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse happens across all social backgrounds and cultures and causes lifelong harm to victims and their children. Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse. However, in the vast majority of cases, domestic abuse is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. It is estimated that four to nine in every 100 pregnant women are abused during their pregnancy or soon after the birth. Bi women and trans women are also particularly affected.
For other groups of people, the inequalities they face in society, such as racism, ableism, homophobia and poverty will compound the impact of domestic abuse and pose challenges to seeking support.
What are the signs of domestic abuse?
Here are some possible signs to be aware of:
- Changes in behaviour including uncharacteristic withdrawal, depression, anxiety, distraction or problems with concentration.
- Changes in the quality of work for no apparent reason.
- Arriving late or leaving early.
- Reduced attendance or increased sick leave or high presenteeism without an explanation
- Needing regular time off for appointments.
- Taking frequent or excessive calls during work time from a partner.
- Repeated injuries or unexplained bruising or explanations that do not fit with the injuries.
- Substance use/dependence.
- Inappropriate or excessive clothing (that might be hiding injuries or bruising).
It is not easy to spot the signs, or to start a conversation with someone you think may be being abused.