Supporting women affected by abuse

What is domestic & sexual abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents 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.

The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behavior is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploring their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior.

Coercive behavior is an act or pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

The definition includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called ‘honour based violence’, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in laws or stepfamily.


Physical abuse can include but not exhausted to:

  • pushing
  • throwing
  • kicking
  • slapping
  • grabbing
  • hitting
  • punching
  • beating
  • choking
  • shaking
  • pinching
  • biting
  • restraining
  • confinement
  • assault with a weapon
  • burning

Sexual abuse includes:

  • sexual assault: forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity
  • sexual harassment: ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices
  • sexual exploitation (such as forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making)

Verbal and emotional abuse can include:

  • threatening or intimidating language
  • yelling or screaming
  • name-calling
  • constant harassment
  • destruction of persons property and possessions, or threats to do so.
  • violence towards children or a pet.
  • embarrassing, making fun of the person, either alone, out in public, or in front of friends and family.
  • criticizing or diminishing accomplishments, goals or daily activities such as cooking, redoing housework.
  • disregard of persons opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
  • Cause a person to doubt themselves.
  • Forcing someone to do meaningless tasks such as cleaning soles of shoes.
  • telling the person that they are worthless, no one else will want them.
  • has control over finances
  • isolation from friends and family
  • constantly wanting to know persons whereabouts and who they are with.
  • Control over what the person can wear.
  • Verbally and emotionally abusive when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse for their behaviour.
  • blaming the non abusive partner for how the abuser acts or feels
  •  They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
  • emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time- ignore/ silent

What is stalking?

Stalking is now a specific offence in England and Wales

As of 25th November 2012 amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act have been made that makes stalking a specific offence in England and Wales for the first time. The amendments were made under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.


Possible signs of being stalked:

  • repeated phone calls
  • following,
  • finding the person through public records, online searching, social media
  • suddenly showing up where the person is, at home, school, or work
  • sending emails, numerous texts
  • sending unwanted packages, cards, gifts, or letters
  • monitoring phone calls or computer-use
  • contacting friends, family, co-workers, or neighbours to find out about person
  • threatening violence to family, friends, or pets
  • damaging the person’s home, car, or other property