What is domestic abuse?


Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by a partner or family member.

Domestic abuse is a crime and includes all relationships. It can be hard to know if you’re experiencing domestic abuse. The below questions could help you recognise the signs of harmful behaviour. If you are concerned about any of the below questions, please contact us.

woman with head in hands

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when the perpetrator has physically caused you harm by any means. It does not matter if your abuser has not ‘raised a hand’ to you, if they have physically hurt you in any way, this is physical abuse. This includes cutting your hair against your will. 

Woman sat on bed with knees on chest

Psychological Abuse

Pyschological abuse is where the perpetrator ‘gets inside your head’. They can make you feel like you’re not good enough, or make you doubt your own sanity. Coercive control and gaslighting fall under this category.

Two women hugging

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when you are touched in a way you feel uncomfortable with, or made to do sexual things, which you do not like and did not give consent to. If you are coerced or forced to have sex, this is rape, even if you are in a relationship. Being in a relationship does not mean that someone has access to your body – only you can give access to your body. 

Women looking at laptop holding credit card

Economic abuse

Financial abuse, also called economic abuse, is where the abuser uses money as a form of control. There are many ways this abuse can manifest, but examples include restricting access to your own bank account, having the amount of money you’re ‘allowed’ controlled by your abuser, or running up bills or debt in your name. The majority of abusive relationships have experienced financial abuse at some point.

woman head down being comforted

Coersive control

Coercive control is a behaviour where the abuser uses ongoing oppression to instill fear. This can be a much more subtle form of abuse, such as telling you which friends you can or can’t see, texting you repeatedly to find out where you are, and telling you you’re overreacting if you try and address this behaviour (also known as ‘gaslighting’). Although this abuse does not leave physical bruises, it is still domestic abuse, and is a law in its own right in England.

Find out more

woman sat facing another woman

Honour based and forced marriages

In some communities, the concept of ‘honour’ is taken very seriously. This is where you must behave in a way to not bring the family’s name into disrepute. When an act or behaviour occurs which is seen to compromise this honour, there can be consequences in the form of physical or emotional abuse. This counts as domestic abuse.

Forced marriage is when you are forced to marry someone you do not want to marry, and do not consent to.

To find out more about ‘honour’-based abuse and forced marriages, visit Karma Nirvana.

Am I experiencing domestic abuse?

It can be hard to know if you’re experiencing domestic abuse, especially if your relationship is all you’ve known, or if their behaviour is changable, but read through the questions below, and if the answer is “yes” to any of them – you have experienced domestic abuse.

  • Have they tried to stop you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Have they partner stopped, or tried to stop you from studying or working?
  • Do they constantly check up on you or follow you?
  • Does your partner get jealous, for example accusing you of flirting or of having affairs with others?
  • Does your partner belittle or humiliate you, or regularly criticise or insult you?
  • Are you ever afraid of your partner?
  • Have you ever changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you?
  • Have you ever changed your clothing because of something your partner said, or out of fear of their reaction?
  • Have they ever deliberately broken or damaged any of your possessions?
  • Have they ever hurt or threatened you or your family?
  • Have they ever forced you to do something that you really did not want to do?
  • Have they ever tried to prevent you from taking necessary medication, or seeking medical help when you felt you needed it?
  • Have they ever tried to threaten you about your immigration status?
  • Have they ever threatened to tell your family about your sexuality?
  • Have they ever threatened to take your children away if you left them?
  • Have they ever made you participate in sexual activities that you were uncomfortable with?
  • Have they ever tried to stop you from leaving the room, or your house?
  • Does your partner blame their use of alcohol or drugs, mental health condition or family or relationship history for their behaviour?

Call for help now

0808 2800 999

Open Monday - Friday, 9.30am - 4:30pm (closed for half an hour lunch at 1pm)
Our One Front Door helpline is completely free and confidential, and the call will not show up on itemised bills.

We are a domestic abuse and sexual violence charity working across the Bradford area. We support women, men and children who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

We know that people experiencing domestic abuse heal quicker from the trauma if they can continue living in their own home with their support networks around them. Our service works to keep victims in their homes- hence our name Staying Put.

Solace Housing is a subsidiary of Staying Put. Their mission is to transform lives by providing housing to those who have experienced domestic abuse, with short- and long-term options. Their inclusive homes are for anyone who needs them.

Note: Check out our accessibility page to get this website in a different language.

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