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In the UK, domestic abuse is categorised by any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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.

This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Sexual
  • Financial

This definition includes honour-based abuse and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically. Just one encounter counts as abuse, or it can be an ongoing pattern of behaviour. However, the one constant element of domestic abuse is the abuser's consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the victim.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality or social background. If you are suffering from physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, or are being threatened, intimidated or stalked by a current or previous partner or close family member, it’s likely you’re a victim of domestic abuse.

You may be feeling frightened, isolated, ashamed or confused. If you have children it may be that they too are suffering, whether they witness abuse or not.

Remember, you are not to blame for what is happening. You are not alone, and above all you do not have to suffer in silence.

Types of domestic abuse

Read more about the different forms that domestic abuse can take, including controlling behaviour, physical abuse and others.

Types of domestic abuse

Recognising domestic abuse

Find out how to spot the signs of domestic abuse in your own relationship, and recognise when it might be happening to a friend.

Recognising domestic abuse

Help for Women

Call on the freephone, 24- hour, National Domestic Abuse Helpline

0800 247 2000

More information

Help for Men

Call the National Respect Men's helpline, open Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm.

0808 8010327

More information

Supporting a Survivor

If you're currently supporting a survivor of domestic abuse or dealing with a disclosure, read these tips for how do to so safely and effectively.

Supporting a survivor