What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members. This is the case whatever their gender or sexuality.

This behaviour involves a pattern of psychological, economic and sexual coercion of one intimate partner by the other. This is accompanied by the intermittent use of physical violence or credible threats of physical violence. The partners may be married, single, co-habiting, separated or dating.

People who are abusive cause serious physical and psychological damage to their victims and any children involved. This damage to partners and children can last the whole of the victim’s lives.

What are the effects of domestic violence?

Consequences for women: Cuts, broken bones, depression, panic attacks, alcohol and drug dependence.

Children in families experiencing domestic violence suffer a higher risk of physical harm.They also experience adverse psychological effects including – anxiety, aggressive behaviour, depression and substance abuse, self harming and educational problems which can last into adulthood.

In the UK each week 2 women are killed by their intimate partners.

Male perpetrators have a high risk of depression and suicide.

The majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women.
However some women do abuse their male partners. Domestic violence also occurs in same sex relationships.

We believe that violence towards a partner is intentional and learned behaviour which a perpetrator can decide to change.

People can be abusive without being violent.
We can also help people to address and change this behaviour.

Abusive and Controlling Behaviour Checklist

You probably already have an idea of whether you are abusive or not, or whether you are a victim in an abusive relationship. Perhaps you are confused by your experiences. The list below will help you confirm or understand better the abusive and controlling behaviour in your relationship.

physical abuse

Slap, punch, grab, kick, choke, push, restrain, pull hair, pinch, bite, rape, use of force, threats or coercion to obtain sex. Use of weapons, throwing things, keeping weapons around which frighten her. Abuse of furniture, pets, destroying her possessions, tearing or spoiling her clothing. uninvited touching, covering her mouth to stop her talking.

psychological abuse

Threats of violence, verbal or non-verbal, direct or indirect, self-inflicted injury eg. hitting your head on walls or threatening suicide. Intimidation eg. standing in doorway during arguments, angry or threatening gestures, use of your size to intimidate, standing over her, driving recklessly.
Harassment, eg. uninvited visits or calls, following her, checking up on her, embarrassing her in public, not leaving when asked.
Isolation, preventing or making it hard for her to see or talk to friends or relatives and others. Making derogatory comments about her friends.
Yelling, swearing, being coarse, raising your voice, using angry expressions or gestures.

verbal abuse

Criticism, name calling, swearing, mocking, put downs, ridicule, accusations, blaming, humiliating. Angrily waking her up from sleep.
Interrupting, changing subjects, not listening or responding, picking up the paper when she wants to talk, twisting her words, topic stringing. Claiming the truth, being the authority. Claiming the right to define what is logical, rational, reasonable or fair in the relationship. Calling her stupid or otherwise defining her behaviour as illogical, unreasonable irrational etc. Logic chopping, lying, withholding information about your activities, infidelity.

financial abuse

Economic harassment, getting angry with her about ‘where the money goes’, not allowing access to money, the car or other resources, sabotaging her attempts to work, believing you are the provider and thinking that she could not survive without you, saying that the money you earn is yours.

emotional abuse

Pressure tactics, rushing her to make decisions, hurry up, walking in front of her, using guilt, sulking, threats of withholding financial support, manipulating the kids. Using pornography, including home videos, against her wishes.

Not helping with child care or housework, saying that you have already done a days work. Not keeping to agreements. Abusing your power over the children, either emotionally or physically.

Feeling stressed and tense and using this to get into a frame of mind when you blame her for everything which goes wrong:- things you can’t find, mess, etc. This is usually a prelude to a violent attack and you should pay particular attention to this so that you can stop before you reach flash point.

Emotional withholding, not expressing your feelings or giving support, thinking your problems are more important than hers, not giving attention or compliments, not respecting her feelings, rights or opinions.

Not taking care of yourself and refusing to learn basic life skills, cooking etc. Abusing drugs, alcohol, not eating properly, not making friends and seeking help and support from them. Believing you have the right to define appropriate wifely and motherly behaviour and not offering your expectations to negotiation. Criticising her motherly qualities or performance. Accusing her of neglecting the children or using threats of taking the kids away, etc.

Telling her that if she doesn’t like it she knows what she can do, pack, leave etc. Not acknowledging that the relationship is important to you, telling her that you don’t need her or love her etc.

This list is not exhaustive. You might wish to add to it other types of abusive behaviour you come across on our programme.

As you can see men can be seriously abusive without being violent. We can help change this behaviour also.