What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is not only physical violence- it includes emotional, physical, sexual, spritual, economic and psychological forms of abuse. It is a pattern of , coercive, controlling, threatening, bullying or violent behaviour by a  partner, ex-partner or a family member.  Abusive behaviour can happen in any relationship and does not always end when the relationship ends or ties are severed. It also doesn’t matter how old someone is, what race or ethnicity they are, what class they are, whether or not they are disabled, or whether they have children – anyone can be a victim of abuse.


Every situation is different and the forms of abuse may vary in different communities, domestic abuse may be perpetrated by extended family members, or it may include forced marriage, or female genital mutilation (FGM).  The foundation of all forms of domestic abuse is coercive control. This is where perpetrators use a range of different tactics to make their victims feel fearful, intimidated and completely dependent on them. They strip away their sense of self by taking away the victim’s liberty, freedom and essentially their human rights. 

Forms of abuse vary; Some can be subtle while others overt.  Here are some examples of abuse we see daily in the course of our work: 

Emotional and Verbal Abuse

  • Trapping you in your home and stopping you from leaving
  • Threatening to have you deported due to your immigration status
  • Threatening to hurt themselves
  • Blackmailing you into doing things you do not want to do
  • Stopping you from seeing family or friends
  • Calling you names and putting you down
  • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or accusing you of cheatingPutting rules in place about how you do things, for example how long you have to answer calls or texts
  • Threatening to have your children taken from you if you leave
  • Making threats to hurt you and your children or others you care about including pets
  • Giving you the silent treatment
  • Blaming you for the way he behaves or saying that you are making it up
  • Telling you what to wear, whether you can wear makeup or not
  • Telling you that you can’t do anything right
  • Making you feel like a bad daughter/parent

Physical abuse

  • Physically assaulting you; for example  slapping, punching, kicking, pulling hair, choking, biting ect.
  • Hurting you with objects or weapons
  • Controlling what your food and drink
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Harming your children, family or pets
  • Not allowing you to sleep 

Sexual abuse and coercion

  • Ignoring you if you say you don’t want to have sex
  • Withholding or controlling your access to contraception and protection
  • Threatening to share intimate images of you with your friends, family, community or online
  • Pressuring you into having sex or performing sexual acts
  • Making you feel guilty or like you owe him sex through threats or force

Economic abuse

  • Not letting you have any access to the bank account or money
  • Taking out debt in your name or making you take on debt for him
  • Not giving you money towards household bills when he lives with you
  • Not paying maintenance for children when the relationship has ended

Digital Abuse

  • Watching your social media accounts i.e. keeping track of who likes your posts, who messages you
  • Sending you negative or insulting messages
  • Using technology to track your movements and activities
  • Constantly texting you and making you feel you can’t be separated from your phone

You can find out more by reading these real-life stories of EHUK Clients: (Link to Client stories)

If you or someone you know needs advice about a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence helpline free on 0808 2000 247. They will be able to offer advice and guidance.

If you or someone you know is ready to leave a domestic violence situation and wish to come to EHUK, you can send us an email to: info@ehuk.org

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call the Police on 999.