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Types of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse often falls into one of four broad categories:

  • Physical abuse – violence, such as punching, kicking, biting, burning, choking, spitting, slapping and throwing objects. You may notice or be shown marks or bruises, or a person may change their clothing or use makeup to disguise an injury.
  • Emotional abuse – constant criticism, threats to an individual or their family, putting them down in public, accusing them of lying, sulking, cheating, verbal abuse and name calling. This may lead to changes in behaviour, someone becoming withdrawn or tearful, they may suffer from lack of sleep, or become angry and irritable. They may start to drink heavily or develop eating disorders.
  • Sexual abuse – sex against their will or in ways that make them feel uncomfortable or humiliated. Sexual abuse is likely to effect someone’s behaviour in the same way as emotional abuse; they may also contract a sexually transmitted disease or have an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Financial abuse – such as not allowing them to have money, spending food money, running up debts in their name. You may notice that someone is unable to pay their bills or pay for treats and activities. They may ask to borrow money, and there may be little food in the house or they or their children may be hungry.

Domestic abuse also includes:

  • Coercive and controlling behaviour, which involves making the victim do things that they don’t want to do, or stopping them from doing things. This includes isolating the victim from family and friends, monitoring or blocking phone calls or use of social media, and preventing the victim from attending appointments.
  • Forced marriage is defined as ‘a marriage conducted without the valid consent of one or both parties, where duress is a factor’. A Forced Marriage is distinct from an arranged marriage, which is arranged by families but the choice remains with the individuals who give full and free consent. For more information please visit the DACT website or the national guidelines.
  • Honour Based Violence (HBV) occurs when perpetrators believe a relative or other individual has shamed or damaged a family’s or community’s ‘honour’ or reputation (known in some communities as izzat), and that the only way to redeem the damaged ‘honour’ is to punish and / or kill the individual. For more information please visit the DACT website.
  • Female Genital Mutilation is the name for ‘procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. For more information, please visit the DACT website.
  • Stalking and harassment involves obsessive jealously, and following the victim and checking up on them. Sometimes the victim is purposefully embarrassed on social media or in public. The victim often becomes worried about being followed, anxious about going to certain places, or being seen somewhere.
  • Denial is when the abuser won’t admit to their actions, or blames the victim by saying that it is their fault. The abuser may also beg for forgiveness and promise that it’ll never happen again.
  • Revenge porn is becoming increasingly common as another ‘method’ of inflicting abuse on ex-partners.