What is Domestic Abuse

Many people think of domestic abuse only as a physical assault by a man on a woman, but it can take many different forms. Domestic abuse can be any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between people who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender. This includes forced marriage and abuse within same sex relationships.

Domestic abuse is very common and affects one in four women in their lifetime. Although most victims of domestic abuse are women and most abusers are men, domestic abuse can affect anyone. Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviour that is used to maintain power and exert control on victims.

The Home Office and AVA have produced Information for Local Areas on the change to the Definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse
The document aims to help local areas consider how the extension to the definition of domestic violence and abuse may impact on their services and identify potential gaps and opportunities for working with 16-17 year olds. In September 2012, it was announced that the Government definition of domestic violence would be widened to include those aged 16-17 and wording changed to reflect coercive control. The decision follows a Government consultation which saw respondents call overwhelmingly for this change. We will also be changing the title of the definition to ‘domestic violence and abuse’. This will be implemented from 31st March.
The Government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
‘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 members1 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.’ The Government 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.
It has been widely understood for some time that coercive control is a core part of domestic violence. As such the extension does not represent a fundamental change in the definition. However it does highlight the importance of recognising coercive control as a complex pattern of overlapping and repeated abuse perpetrated within a context of power and control.om April 2013 the Government has changed the definition of domestic violence/abuse. click here for the document

Why not take our questionnaire to help identify if you need some help and advice about domestic abuse.