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What is domestic abuse?

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Together, we're supporting domestic abuse charities through our Community Champions scheme.

As the country goes through uncertain times, we're helping charities that have seen an increase in demand for their vital services.

It can be tricky to recognise domestic abuse as many survivors try and hide it. But it’s important to look out for the signs so you can give them a helping hand.

Domestic abuse can take the form of either: physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse within an intimate or family type relationship which forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.

This can include forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based abuse’ and domestic abuse in the LGBT+ community.

It may also include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which include physical violence.

Many people assume that they are not experiencing domestic abuse, if they have never been physically assaulted. However, this is not true. You don’t need bruises to be abused! Usually the most damaging effect of domestic abuse is the emotional impact that abuse has on a person.

What are the signs to look out for?

  • Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting, mocking, accusing, name calling, verbally threatening you, making you feel bad about yourself.
  • Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with their demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
  • Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people, not listening or responding when you talk, interrupting your telephone calls, taking money from your purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Breaking trust: lying to you, withholding information from you, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.
  • Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.
  • Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.
  • Threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.
  • Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don’t want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
  • Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.
  • Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.
  • LGBT community specific signs: Using someone’s “dead name”, threatening/outing partner/family member, ridiculing body parts or assaulting medically altered body parts.

If you’d like to find out more or would like to contact one of the domestic abuse charities we’re supporting, please go to our current champions page.

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