Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It is about power and comes in many forms including...

  • Physical assault

  • Sexual dominance which can include rape

  • Verbal abuse, shouting and screaming

  • Continual put downs and ridicule: telling you that you are stupid, attempts to make you feel worthless

  • Control of family finances in an attempt to have total control over what you do

  • Limiting or stopping contact with friends and family

  • Irrational jealousy, if you even smile or look at a member of the opposite sex whilst shopping for example

Who are the main victims of domestic violence?

Domestic violence can affect anybody regardless of age, class, occupation, culture, race, disability, sexuality or gender. Attacks are predominantly against women by men, but men can be victims too.

How widespread is domestic violence?

The following statistics might put domestic violence into perspective:

* In the UK a quarter of all reported violent crimes are domestic
* Over half of all victims of domestic violence are subject to more than one incident
* Every minute in the UK the police receive a call reporting an incident of domestic violence
* Three-quarters of victims suffer post separation violence which can be verbal abuse, physical or sexual attacks or threats towards themselves and their children

How will it affect my children?

Children can often be abused too both physically and pyschologically. They can also get hurt when trying to protect one parent from the other. However, there is evidence that witnessing the violence in itself can be damaging and some children try and imitate the behavior they have seen. Many perpetrators of domestic violence witnessed violence in the home themselves as children.

Children can be angry, blame themselves, be afraid, lose confidence, become withdrawn and develop behavioural problems at school. Having come out of a violent relationship you should inform your child's teacher and ask them to monitor any behavioural changes carefully. Speak to your GP or school about counselling for your child.

Where can I get help?

The organisations listed on the right can offer help and advice to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. You can also try your local police station and Citizen's Advice Bureau for details of local organisations and refuges.

If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence as a way of preventing you from seeing your children or to prevent access to your home by an ex spouse click here. See also our section on Children

How can I secure my safety now my ex has left?

  • Many victims suffer post relationship abuse but there are practical steps you can take to minimise the risk:

  • If you are seriously threatened or an attack takes place ring 999. The police can move you to a place of safety if there is an immediate risk. They have the power to arrest where a physical assault has taken place or where you have been seriously threatened or harrassed.

  • Seek advice from a solicitor to help you get a court order preventing your ex from coming near you or your home. If you are not working you should be entitled to assistance with your legal fees. Click here for information on finding a solicitor.

  • Ensure your home is secure and you take practical steps to protect yourself when out and about. See our section on Personal Safety.

  • Inform a trusted neighbour, family member or friend who lives close to your home. Have an emergency telephone number to hand in case you are worried that your ex might show up.

  • If the above steps fail, consider moving to a place of safety. Seek safe haven in a refuge specially provided for the victims of Domestic Violence. Contact your local police or Citizen's Advice Bureau for details, or visit one of the organisations listed above.

  • Do not fall for an apology and accept your former partner back with the promise that they will change before they have had a chance to seek help regarding their violent behaviour. Only then consider that they may have changed but be cautious, most perpetrators do not change and may be apologetic or try to blame you for their actions - this does not excuse their behaviour.