What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can happen in any relationship and can happen to anyone.
What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is described by the Home Office as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.'

There are lots of different forms of domestic violence, but basically it is the misuse of power and exercise of control of one adult over another. Domestic violence may be a one-off incident or may be repeated many times - each incident helps the perpetrator gain greater power and control over the victim. Some organisations use the term ‘violence’, some use ‘abuse’; generally the terms are interchangeable.

Victims can be men or women, and perpetrators can be men or women. Domestic violence can occur in any relationship - gay/straight, old/young.

Research suggests that gay, bisexual & transgender men experience domestic violence and abuse at slightly higher levels than heterosexual women.

Victims of domestic violence often lose the freedom to make choices about their own lives and their health, employment, finances and housing situation can all suffer.

Domestic violence deaths hit a five year high in 2017 when 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides. Three-quarters of those killed by a partner, ex-partner or family member are women; suspects are mostly men.

What are the types of domestic violence?

There are different types of domestic violence. Individuals might experience one or more types, and none is more, or less, acceptable than any of the others. The following is a general list and everyone has different experiences of abuse. A great deal of abuse happens behind closed doors, the first step out of the situation for perpetrators as well as victims is breaking the silence and getting some help.

Physical abuse

Probably the easiest type of abuse to identify and includes: pushing, biting, hitting, punching, slapping, burning, strangling, and kicking or using a weapon, throwing things and ultimately, murder.

Emotional or psychological abuse

This can include:

  • Constant criticism and belittling comments, threats to your partner, their family, the children.
  • Embarrassing or humiliating your partner in private or publicly, lying, making them feel stupid or crazy.
  • Isolating them from friends and family, controlling where they go and what they do.
  • Harassing and following them, checking up on them, opening their mail, checking their mobile phone.

Verbal abuse

This can range from constant criticism, sexualised taunts and humiliation in public, through name calling to out-and-out foul mouthed abuse.

Sexual abuse

This includes all forced and unwanted sexual activity. It may also include withholding affection to ‘punish’ them for not obeying your rules. This can also include them feeling, or being, forced to have sex when they don’t want to.

Financial abuse

  • Obsessive control of all monies so that they do not know what is being spent and when. 
  • Having to ask you for money and account for what they have spent.
  • Being suddenly faced with huge debts that they knew nothing about.

​You may also hear the term coercive control which Women's Aid call 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. Coercive control is a criminal offence.

I am dishing out domestic violence - click here
I am on the receiving end of domestic violence - click here

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This content is wholly based on the Men's Health Forum's man manual Domestic Violence - affecting me, involving men with some additional statistics added. Follow the links for more information or to buy copies.

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