What is domestic abuse?

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour that is used to maintain power and exert control over victims. Domestic abuse can be any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, economical, financial or emotional) between people who are or have been intimate partners, ex-parteners or family members, this so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Who does domestic abuse affect?

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality or social economical status.

What is the Government definition of domestic abuse?

In September 2021, it was announced that the Government definition of domestic abuse would change. The Goverment has created a statutory definition of domestic abuse, which is based on the existing cross-government definition.

The definition of domestic abuse is in two parts. The first part deals with the relationship between the abuser and the abused. The second part defines what constitutes abusive behaviour.

The first part states that the survivor and abuser must be aged 16 or over and that they are ‘personally connected’.

Personally connected means any of the following:

  • they are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other including, married, civil partners, engaged or they share a child
  • they are family

The second part looks at the type of behaviour that could be abusive:

  • physical or sexual abuse:
  • violent or threatening behaviour;
  • controlling or coercive behaviour;
  • economic abuse (means the abuse stops or effects the survivours:
    • ability to get, use or have money or property, stops or
    • obtain goods or services)
  • psychological, emotional or other abuse; and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

The definition of domestic abuse also now includes children (anyone aged under 18) as victims of domestic abuse, which means if a child sees or hears, or experiences the effects of, the abuse and the child is related to the abuser or abused.

What is Controlling and Coercive behaviour?

In 2015 the Goverment introduced the offence of Coercive or controlling behaviour. This meant survivours who experience this type of behaviour that stops short of serious physical violence, but amounts to extreme psychological and emotional abuse, can bring their perpetrators to justice. coercive or controlling behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of incidents that occur over time in order for the abuser to gain and exert power, control or coercion over the survivour.

What is controlling behaviour?

‘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.

What is coercive 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.’

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