What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse (sometimes called ‘domestic violence’ or ‘intimate partner violence’) is an incident or a pattern of behaviour that is used by someone to control or obtain power over their partner or ex-partner. It is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it, and it is a crime.

If you need help you can call our National Domestic Abuse Helpline or access our Live Chat.

What forms can domestic abuse take?

A common myth is that it’s only domestic abuse if it involves physical or sexual violence. In fact, many women experience domestic abuse without ever being physically harmed. Remember: non-physical forms of abuse can be as destructive and as undermining as physical violence.

Domestic abuse could involve…

  • Emotional abuse, including gaslighting
  • Coercive control
  • Physical abuse
  • Tech abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Sexual abuse

If any of the above apply to you, then you may be experiencing domestic abuse. Remember, you are not overreacting, and you are not alone. Domestic abuse is never your fault, and we are here to help.

Who is at risk from domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender identity, sex, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. However, statistics show most domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women. 1 in 4 women will experience abuse in her lifetime and two women a week are killed by their current or former partner. Read more facts and statistics about domestic abuse.

Next steps

If you have experienced behaviour from a partner or ex-partner that has made you feel afraid or unsafe, you can reach out for help on our National Domestic Abuse Helpline or live chat. We have a number of resources available to help support you. You can also learn more about Domestic Abuse and your rights through the links below.

If you think that someone you care about is being abused, or you are a professional looking for information to support someone, resources and guides can be found in the links below.