Domestic Abuse is a crime in which the abuser seeks power and control over their victim and can affect women, men and children.
Domestic Abuse can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, social background, gender, religion or sexuality. It can happen in short or long-term relationships, with ex-partners or family members. It is not acceptable in any circumstances.
Domestic abuse is categorised by 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:
This definition includes honour-based abuse and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically, just one encounter counts as abuse, and it can be an ongoing pattern of behaviour. However, the one constant element of domestic abuse is the abuser's consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the victim.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality or social background. If you are suffering from physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, or are being threatened, intimidated or stalked by a current or previous partner or close family member, it’s likely you’re a victim of domestic abuse.
You may be feeling frightened, isolated, ashamed or confused. If you have children it may be that they too are suffering, whether they witness abuse or not.
Remember, you are not to blame for what is happening. You are not alone, and above all you do not have to suffer in silence.
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts performed by the abuser and designed to make their victim subordinate and/or dependent. These acts include but are not limited to:
- isolating the victim from sources of support
- exploiting the victim's resources and capacities for personal gain
- depriving the victim of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
- regulating the victim's everyday behaviour
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used by the abuser to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Physical abuse and sexual abuse
Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.
Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence.
Emotional or psychological abuse
Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimised or overlooked—even by the person being abused.
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behaviour also fall under emotional abuse.
How can I protect myself?
If you are experiencing Domestic Abuse, the most important thing to do is to tell someone you trust about what is happening. This could be your teacher, work colleague, GP, a neighbour or close friend, 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.
If you are unsure about whether you are experiencing Domestic Abuse or not, 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 people who can help. It is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.
Never be afraid to ask for help and always remember to dial 999 in an emergency.
Here is some practical advice to help you:
How to leave home safely:
- Have a small bag packed with spare clothes, keys, phone numbers and money in case you have to leave quickly. If you're afraid that it will be found, leave it at work or with a friend;
- Talk to your children beforehand about the possibility of leaving in an emergency if it's appropriate;
- You may want to agree a code word or a plan with them;
- Make sure you take your children with you when you leave;
- Only leave when it is safe to do so;
- If you later discover that you have left something behind, you can arrange to collect it with a police officer - don't return by yourself;
- Tell somebody you trust that you are leaving;
- Take some identification with you that might help others protect you from the abuser, such as a recent photograph.
How to keep safe during a violent incident:
- If you are in immediate danger, you should always call 999;
- If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to the operator then cough, or tap the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance and the police will provide support;
- Try to leave the phone off the hook so that the operator can still hear you;
- If you can't ring 999, telephone or text a friend, relative or neighbour with a pre-arranged code word indicating that you need help so that they can call the police for you;
- Plan escape routes before you need to use them;
- If you have been injured and you have not been able to call the police, go to see your doctor or attend hospital as soon as possible.
Keeping safe if you decide to stay:
- Make sure you seek help from support agencies where you live;
- Let the support agencies know how they can contact you e.g. at work or at a friend's address;
- Make sure you remove all traces of contact with support agencies and delete your computer history if you have been on their website;
- Dispose of phone records;
- Use the internet in your local library or internet café to avoid leaving a trace;
- Make sure you receive medical help for any injuries ensuring that they are recorded and photographed. These may be used at a later date to support court cases or re-housing applications.
Clare's Law (Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme)
Clare's Law or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme gives members of the public the ‘right to ask’ police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past.
Request information under Clare's Law here.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO) protect victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.
Where can I get help or further information?
For support and help, call freephone the 24hr National Domestic Violence Helpline (run by Refuge and Women’s Aid) on 0808 2000 247
In a non-emergency, call Merseyside Police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
If you do not feel confident speaking to the police there are lots of other agencies that can support you, independent of the police. If you’re worried about taking the step of reporting Domestic Abuse, need advice or even just someone to talk to, a detailed list of support organisations specialising in Domestic Abuse in your area can be found on the ‘Who Can Help?’ page of this website, or by clicking here.
The Hideout is a website created by Women’s Aid to help children and young people to understand domestic abuse and how to take positive action if it's happening to them.
You can also contact your registered social housing provider.