What is Domestic Abuse?



Definition of Domestic Abuse and Violence


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:


  • psychological

  • physical 

  • sexual

  • financial

  • emotional


Controlling behaviour is:


a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.


Coercive behaviour is:


an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.


This definition, which is not a legal definition,  includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.



Domestic Abuse arises from the misuse of power & control by one person over another. It is rarely a one-off event, but tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time.


Physical abuse can include:


  • Slapping


  • Punching


  • Pinching


  • Beating


  • Kicking


  • Assault with a weapon


  • Strangulation


  • Suffocation


  • Destroying your possession

Emotional Abuse can include such things as:


  • Pressure tactics


  • Sulking


  • Constant criticism


  • Being told that you are useless, ugly or worthless


  • Threats to kill or harm you, your children or your pets


  • Threats to commit suicide


  • Threats to take the children away or report you to Children’s Services


  • Embarrassing you in public


  • Intimidation


  • Bullying


  • Being locked in or kept in isolation away from family and friends


  • Not being allowed money, food, sleep or freedom


  • Being controlled


  • Stalking and harassing you especially after separation

Verbal Abuse can include:


  • Being called names


  • Being constantly shouted at


  • Making threats

"Abuse isn't always physical" - by the UK Home Office

WARNING: the content may contain material that could be upsetting for the viewer

Sexual abuse can include:


  • Being forced to have sex against your will


  • Being made to perform acts that you are not happy with


  • Being forced to watch or make pornography or take pornographic pictures


  • Being forced to have sex with or in front of other people


  • Being degraded on the basis of your sexual orientation

You are NOT alone!

"Sex with someone who doesn't want to is rape." - by the UK Home Office

The word rape is often associated with a violent assault by a stranger. Although this does happen, the majority of rape and sexual assault happens where two people know and trust each other; they could be friends, partners, family members or know each other from school, college or work.

WARNING: the content may contain material that could be upsetting for the viewer

Financial Abuse can include:


  • Forcing you to take out loans or debts


  • Withholding money


  • Forcing you to beg for money


  • Not allowing you to earn your own money or have access to joint accounts


  • Making you account for any money spent – produce receipts or bills


  • Constant monitoring or questioning of your finance


The lists above are not exhaustive but just a few of the ways in which some people are affected by domestic abuse!


Abuse in the home is more widespread than you think. It affects men & women of all ages, ethnicities, orientations and income levels, regardless of ability. 


It is not easy to accept that a loved one can behave so aggressively and because you cannot explain the behaviour, you assume that it is your fault.  You are not to blame for your partner’s behaviour.


Everyone has the right to live life free from threats, violence and abuse and help is available.


You are NOT alone!

"#Violence Is Violence: Domestic abuse advert" by the ManKindInitiative

40% of domestic violence is against men in the UK. Violence is violence, no matter who it's aimed at.

WARNING: the content may contain material that could be upsetting for the viewer

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Useful Numbers:


Surrey Domestic Abuse 9am - 9pm Helpline 01483 776822


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999 (emergency) 
101 (non-emergency)

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Email: support@esdas.org.uk

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