What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour, by a partner, ex partner or family member. But it isn’t just physical violence – domestic abuse includes emotional, physical, sexual, economic and psychological abuse. Abusive behaviour can happen in any relationship and it can continue even after the relationship has ended.

Tactics of Abuse

Every situation is different and abusive partners/family members will use a range of different tactics to make you feel worthless, confused, frightened, and as if there is no hope for escape.

Some can be subtle, others overt, here are some the tactics we see daily in the course of our work:

Worried About Your Relationship?

Domestic abuse can be confusing and difficult to recognise…asking yourself a few questions can help.

Does your partner do the following:

Worried about someone you know?

If you’re concerned about someone else, we can help you help them.

You may be worried about someone you know. There may be things you have heard or seen that don’t seem right or they may have confided in you. Trust your gut instinct – if it feels wrong, it probably is. Your friend, sister, mum, cousin or work colleague may not be ready to accept help and this can be frustrating. Don’t give up on them. 

Once there is abuse in a relationship it doesn't stop - it often gets worse, more frequent and more serious.

We know it is hard to speak up about what is going on 'behind closed doors' but please be reassured there is lots of help available.


Will my partner find out I have spoken up?

If you call our helpline, our advice is confidential – your partner will not find out you have spoken to us. If we have imminent concerns about your safety we may have to call emergency services but we will let you know before we do this.

My partner hasn't hit me - is this still domestic abuse?

Most victims of domestic abuse experience a pattern of coercive control in the relationship first. This means that you feel pressured into doing things or agreeing to things that you wouldn’t usually agree to – you are not ‘allowed’ an opinion and maybe fearful of repercussions. Emotional abuse and controlling behavior, often accompanied by jealousy are very powerful tactics and are intended to destroy your confidence and self-esteem, which makes it harder for you to leave. Physical abuse often, but not always, comes later, so please seek advice before this happens.

Should I try harder to make the relationship work?

In most abusive relationships, there is one person who clearly has power and control over the other. There is never any justification for abuse , but perpetrators of abuse will often try to share the blame with you. No matter how hard you try, they will always find some excuse to justify their behaviour, so no, trying harder or going to relationship counselling won’t work.

If I leave, will I have to go into a refuge?

We are there for you – to offer advice on the different options you have, to let you know what your legal rights are, and to help you with whatever you choose to do. Deciding to leave an abusive relationship isn’t easy – there are many things to consider such as where you will go, how you will manage financially, where your children will go to school, etc. Many women we support manage to remain in their home area, with additional safety and support in place. Your safety and that of your children should ALWAYS be your first priority – everything else can be explored later and we can help with that.

There is never any excuse for abuse and it can happen to anyone, at any time.