What is Domestic Abuse?

You may be more familiar with the term Domestic Violence. Both of these terms are used to describe any form of abuse against women and children, perpetrated by a partner, an ex-partner, or family member.

Using the term Domestic Violence can be,limiting and confusing if people believe it only describes physical acts of violence such as:

  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Spitting
  • Stamping
  • Burning

However, the term Domestic Abuseis a more expansive term describing the many ways women and children are victimised and affected.

To help people identify what Domestic Abuse actually is, it can be broken down into categories:

  • Physical Abuse(examples above)
  • Emotional Abuse, such as:
    name calling
    destroying self-esteem and confidence; making you believe you are worthless
    tracking, controlling movement, timing actions, isolating you from family and friends
  • Financial Abuse, such as:
    taking control of money; benefits, wages
    claiming monies, benefits, arranging loans/debt without your consent
    asking for receipts
  • Sexual Abuse, such as:
    putting you under extreme pressure, bullying you into having sex or to engage in sexual activity, never letting you say NO
    degrading you sexually, making you behave in ways you do not want to, involving other people, leaving you feeling humiliated
    persuading you to have sex in exchange for money or rewards
    only showing affection in order to get what he wants
  • Stalking
    following you or members of your family
    hacking/checking your emails, social network sites
    phoning, texting constantly
    making demands so that you have to justify and explain your movements

These categories do help people identify violent and abusive behaviours so that they can understand what domestic abuse is. However, it is vital to remember that all abusive acts have an emotional impact on a victim. Perpetrators of domestic abuse will employ tactics and behaviours intended to frighten, scare their victim, ensuring that they are exerting control and holding the power in the relationship. So, while the perpetrator may threaten and commit physical violence this will be underpinned by their ability to hurt the victim emotionally. Currently, people are talking about the emotional impact of domestic abuse using the term Coercive Control: it 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’.

Domestic Abuse in summary – Frequently asked questions
Further reading on Domestic Abuse
Power Control Wheel
To find about Durham Constabulary’s Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme aka Clare’s Law

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