What is domestic violence/ abuse?

Definition and national context

For information on domestic abuse services, policies, procedures, guidance and training please visit the Local Safeguarding Children's website

Safer Cumbria supports the Home Office definition of domestic violence,

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:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

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

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim."*

Domestic violence currently claims 150 lives a year, and affects millions more.

Domestic violence is a serious public health issue and that the statistics are shocking.  It will affect 1 in 4 women aged 19-44, 89% of the victims who suffer sustained domestic violence are female, however we also know that domestic violence can affect  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and male victims. It has more repeat victims than any other crime.

Domestic violence can be perpetrated by family and extended family members, through forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and so-called 'honour crimes'. More worryingly, a recent survey by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) revealed that far too many of our young people are already being subjected to relationship abuse in their teenage years. This illustrates the extent of the problem and that we still have much to do to create a cultural change that makes domestic violence socially unacceptable for the next generation.

Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening

Pressure tactics: threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies about the children, lying to your friends and family about you

Disrespect: putting you down in front of other people, interrupting your telephone calls, taking money from your purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.

Breaking trust: lying to you, withholding information from you, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.

Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.

Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.

Threats: using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.

Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.

Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.