Domestic abuse affects people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic groups. But what is domestic abuse? It can often be hard to recognise, harder to live with and sometimes even harder to move past.

The Cross Government definition of domestic abuse is: 

"Any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”  www.cps.gov.uk/domestic-abuse

Leaving abusive situations is often extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous meaning that people are forced, or feel forced, to continue to live with the abuse. Children who are victims of domestic abuse are often left feeling powerless, scared and alone. 
 

Types of abuse

Domestic abuse consists of many different elements and a person is experiencing domestic abuse if one or more of the following situations apply to them:

Emotional/ Psychological Emotional, psychological and verbal abuse are all very similar and can be broadly explained as any non-physical act that aims to damage a person’s self-worth, confidence, and to diminish their opinion of themselves.
Financial Financial abuse involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice. It includes controlling a person’s ability to acquire, use and maintain their own money and financial resources.
Physical Physical abuse means any deliberate bodily harm inflicted on another person. This can include, but is not limited to, punching, hitting, slapping, biting, kicking, burning, throwing objects, poisoning, cutting or fabricating illness in order to incorrectly medicate.
Sexual Sexual assault can happen to anyone; adult or child, and involves any unwanted sexual behaviour, advances or acts that take place without consent or understanding.
Controlling Behaviour Covers a wide range of indicators and can be hard to define or wrongly justified as ‘caring’ behaviour or ‘caring too much’. It involves anything that limits a person’s freedom and ability to make their own choices and, as a result, it often overlaps with many other forms of abuse such as financial or sexual.
Coercive Behaviour This is another way of controlling the victim by punishing, harming, degrading or intimidating the person; usually using a series of insults, threats, and humiliation tactics.
 
How domestic abuse can affect you

It is important to remember that every individual has a different story, a different journey to recovery and different support needs. Having said this there are common effects that domestic abuse has on survivors, both physical and psychological.

Physical symptoms of domestic abuse can include

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle tension
  • Involuntary shaking
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Menstrual cycle or fertility issues in women

Psychological effects of domestic abuse can include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts
  • Depression, including prolonged sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Questioning sense of self
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

 

"I don’t think people realize how much strength it takes to pull your own self out of a poisonous situation with someone you love deeply. So if you’ve done that today or any day, I’m proud of you"  Horacio Jones