What is Domestic Abuse?

POSTED ON 24/08/2020 IN Emotional Wellbeing

Domestic Abuse is a hidden crime because it often occurs within a home, which is something that only those who are living within the household may have the opportunity to experience or witness. It is also a crime that is not always reported or disclosed to other people, but it is seen to be very common with society. It has been found that the police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour, which is one of the reasons why I think it is so important to understand what it is, and what help and support is available within our society to people who experience it either as a victim of it or as a witness to it.

While women are more likely to experience domestic abuse, it can happen to anyone, regardless of a person’s age, gender, gender identity, ethnic background, sexuality, or class. Both men and women can be abusers or be abused, and the abuse can happen in any relationship even when a relationship has ended. Domestic abuse is any incident, or pattern of incidents, where there has been controlling, coercive, or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people (aged 16 or over) who are or have been intimate partners or family members. These types of abuse can include the areas of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, and the abuser consistently tries to maintain power and control over their victim(s).

Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, threatening, bullying, or violent behaviour between people in a relationship, and can happen inside as well as outside the home environment. It can also happen on the internet, on social networking sites, or over the phone. The different types of abuse can be carried out in a variety of ways including; reading text messages, letters, or emails; controlling behaviour such as telling someone what to wear, where they can go, not letting them leave the house, or controlling their finances; threatening behaviour such threatening to kill or harm someone, or threatening another family member or even a pet; or violent behaviour such as sexual assault or punching, kicking, cutting or hitting.

When domestic abuse occurs within a family environment, it is not only something that happens within a couple, children are also involved whether the couple realise this or not. If a child witnesses domestic abuse, this is classed as child abuse. Witnessing this kind of abuse has a huge impact on children and young people which can be long-lasting. It has been found that 14.2% of children and young people under the age of 18 (one in seven) will have lived with domestic abuse at some point in their childhood. A child can experience short and long term emotional, behavioural and cognitive effects, but it is important to note that every child responds to trauma differently. Such effects may include anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty in sleeping, aggression, guilt, insecurity, and having a lowered sense of self-worth. There is specialist emotional and practical support available for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse, and more information can be found in the references section.

There is a wide range of support and information available, including helplines, websites, group therapy, counselling, and support groups. Domestic abuse services provide helplines, refuge accommodation and outreach support, resettlement and drop-in support, and specialist services for children and young people. Some support for domestic abuse is aimed at women, but there is also information tailored towards men which can be found in the references section as well as within the support helplines listed below.


24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line – 0808 8010327


Sarah Keeping MBPsS MSc PgDip GDip BA (Hons) Cert HE

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