Every minute in the UK an incident of domestic abuse is reported to the Police. It is estimated that on average 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some stage in their lifetime. Domestic abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, financial, psychological, sexual and “honour based” violence.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is an 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 include but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

What is controlling behaviour?

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
  • regulating their everyday behaviour

What is coercive 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.

Coercive control involves repeated, ongoing, intentional tactics, which are used to limit the liberty of the victim. Those tactics may or may not necessarily be physical. They can be sexual, economic, psychological, legal, institutional, or all of these.

By deploying these tactics, the abuser can create a world where the victim is constantly monitored and criticised and every move and action checked. Victims often describe coercive control as not being ‘allowed’, or having to ask permission to do everyday things; and being in constant fear of not meeting the abusers expectations or complying with their demands.

Coercive tactics can include:

  • Destroying other relationships and isolating her/him from friends, family members, co-workers and others. This can include restricting them from going to work, caring for their children, seeing family members, or going out with friends socially.
  • Control of resources required for autonomous decision making and independence. This could involve restricting access to finances or being made to account for every penny spent. It can also include being pressured to take out loans, credit cards or hand over money.
  • Monitoring of time and micro-regulation of daily activities, restricting mobility and transportation.
  • Restricting access to communication, such as contacting family members or friends.
  • Restricting the wearing of certain clothes or makeup.
  • Unreasonable and non-negotiable demands. This includes intimidation and threats of negative consequences for noncompliance.
  • Stalking – surveillance and unwanted contact.
  • Manipulation through minimisation, excuses, blame, denial, lies, promises, etc.
  • Controlling partner’s access to information and services.
  • Sexual abuse and violence; reproductive coercion.
  • Extreme jealousy, possessiveness and unwarranted accusations of infidelity.
  • Ignoring their partner’s needs, opinions and feelings, and the harm that their behaviour does to her/him.